I didn’t even give him a key. How he got in was as much a mystery as his name. But he did. He didn’t come every night, sometimes it was once a week, sometimes twice, sometimes he’d skip a week, once he’d been gone for three which freaked me out and then it freaked me out that it freaked me out.
But he always came back. Always.
With Mystery Man in my life I didn’t need the trouble that Tack had written on him. Okay, so he thought I was cute and another bonus was that I knew his name and he knew mine (which, Mystery Man, by the way, did not know). But my sister owed him over two million dollars and he was scary.
He also said I could get onto “others” radar and get into “situations”. I didn’t want to be on anyone’s radar and I made enough situations for myself, being half my mother’s daughter. I didn’t need Ginger dragging me into her situations.
And lastly, I was thinking about my Mystery Man. The days after he visited I always did. I always wondered what was with me, I didn’t tell him to go. Now I was wondering, when I had what could possibly be the world’s greatest lover visiting me in the dead of night, how I’d move onto someone else. I’d had three dates and no lovers since I met The Great MM. None of them came close to what little I had with MM and therefore none of them got to the second date or second base (yes, the Great MM was that good of a kisser).
He was totally screwing up my life.
No. No, that wasn’t true. I was screwing up my life.
This was what I was thinking after I parked my car in my drive, walked up to my house studying my boots, slid the key into the lock and opened my door.
However, even if I’d been paying attention, I wouldn’t have been prepared for what happened next.
Once I cleared it, the door slammed, hard and loud. Then a hand in my chest slammed me into the door, again hard and loud. Then a man was in my space, his body deep in mine, pressing me into the door and I looked up into a pair of somewhat familiar black eyes.
I’d only seen those eyes once in light. He didn’t turn on the lights when he visited me at night.
God, I forgot how beautiful he was. Even in my daydreams he wasn’t that beautiful.
“What are you doing here?” I whispered.
“Are you f**kin’ insane?” he barked in my face.
I blinked at his surprising tone and angry question. Then I asked, “What?”
“Struttin’ into Ride like you did. Jesus, are you insane?”
I blinked again. Firstly, because I was confused. How did he know I went to Ride? Secondly, I was more confused. What was he doing there during the day? Thirdly, I was even more confused because his unbelievably handsome face showed clearly he was extremely pissed off.
“Answer me, babe,” he demanded.
Yikes. He was scarier than Tack, Dog and the entire biker gang all rolled into one.
“Gwen, I said answer me.” His deep voice was beginning to rumble.
But I blinked again.
“You know my name?”
He stared down at me.
Then he stepped back and ran his hand over his short-cropped black hair at the same time he shook his head but not even for a second did he unpin me from his ferocious scowl.
“Jesus, babe, you’re a piece of work.”
“What?” I whispered.
He planted his hands on his h*ps and leaned back into my face. “Yeah, Gwen, I know your name. Gwendolyn Piper Kidd. Thirty-three years old. Self-employed, freelance editor. You pay your taxes on time, your mortgage on time and your bills on time. Married once for two years to a man who couldn’t keep his dick in his pants and who has since married three other women and is currently engaged in his fourth divorce. Your father is Baxter Kidd, ex-Army, current construction foreman, married to Meredith Kidd, executive secretary to a hotshot divorce attorney who, incidentally, pulled your shit outta that mess you got into with that ass**le. You hang with Camille Antoine who works dispatch for Denver PD and Tracy Richmond who works everywhere, mostly retail. You string along Troy Loughlin, who’d kill to get in your pants but you have no clue and he has no balls. Your sister is the definition of loser. You spend too much on clothes. When you go out, you show too much skin. And the only man you’ve f**ked for a year and a half is me.”
For the second time that day, my jaw was slack.
Then I closed my mouth only for it to fall open again.
Then I closed it only to open it to speak. “How do you know so much about me?”
“Sweet Pea, I know who I f**k,” he shot back and I felt my body move like he’d struck me and that’s exactly what his words felt like, a blow. He didn’t see it, or more accurately, he disregarded it and went on. “Now tell me, what the f**k were you thinkin’ walkin’ into Ride like that?”
“I needed to talk to Dog,” I explained because I couldn’t get out any of the other ten thousand and fifty things I wanted to say.
“You needed to talk to Dog,” he repeated.
“Yes,” I replied.
“Babe, you were coasting under radar, now you’re lit up like a f**kin’ beacon.”
“What does that mean?” I asked.
“It means you’re f**ked,” he answered.
Belatedly, I was getting angry.
“Okay,” I moved an inch from the door, straightening my shoulders, “now what does that mean?”
“I think you get that your sister is a piece of trash,” he informed me.
It was safe to say Ginger was a piece of trash. It was also safe to say my Dad, Meredith or I could call her that. Even Tack and Dog, who she owed over two million dollars, could get away with calling her that.
The person who could not was the man standing in front of me, a man I knew intimately but this was the first time I’d seen his face by the light of day. And one I was discovering was a big, fat jerk!
“Do not call Ginger a piece of trash,” I warned.
His eyebrows flew up and it sucked because he was so goddamned handsome, all that brown skin, those black eyes, that strong jaw, that thick, short, black hair, his beautifully chiseled features and equally beautifully chiseled physique – all of it hinting at Hispanic or maybe Italian and all of it freaking, unbelievably amazing. But the worst for me, right then, was that he could be even more drop dead beautiful with his eyebrows raised in disbelief like he thought I was an idiot.
“You’re sayin’ you don’t know your sister’s trash?” he asked.