Not only that, she was slutty, and while I wasn’t into the whole slut-shaming thing (like I had room to judge after the bachelorette party debacle . . . ugh), I wasn’t naive enough to think he was attracted to her personality. Cooper Romero might have a sweet smile, and he’d fixed my AC, but now I had proof positive that he’d never be into a girl like me.
Specifically, a grown-up with curves.
All righty, then. Probably for the best anyway.
“Just a sec!” I called to her, determined to take the high road, then I grabbed my keys so I could open the door. She pushed inside with her posse, and I do mean pushed. Little bitch shoved me so hard I nearly knocked over the display of antique Russian teacups my mother had lovingly collected. (So far as I knew, she’d never sold a single one of them, but it’d made her happy.)
“Careful,” I warned, and Talia turned on me.
“What did you just say to me?”
“Babe, let’s talk,” Cooper said, catching her arm and pulling her into his body. She squealed, going from aggressive to flirty in an instant.
“You’re all sweaty. It’s sooo disgusting.”
I noted she wasn’t trying to get away. Cooper smiled down at her, a hint of something feral in his eyes. Yeah, okay—whatever smile he’d been giving me, it hadn’t held any of that kind of intensity.
Yours truly was officially chopped liver.
“I was just about to head out and grab a shower,” he told her. “Wanna come with me?”
She pouted. “I can’t. The girls and I need to get fixed up. I’ll see you at the bar, though, right?”
He looked down at her, offering a sexy, indulgent smile. “Can’t wait.”
“Perfect,” she said, reaching around to grab his ass for a quick squeeze. Then she turned and strutted back out without a word to me, her gaggle of girls following like well-trained geese. Sadie gave a little finger wave on the way. The door closed behind them with a cheerful little jingle, and I wondered why the hell I even bothered with Hallies Falls.
I missed Seattle.
So what if it had Brandon? I could drown him in Lake Washington. Problem solved.
“Sorry about that—Talia is a little high-strung,” Cooper said.
“Oh, I know all about her,” I replied, hoping I didn’t sound as catty as I felt. Cooper didn’t seem to notice.
“I’m new to town, but she’s been showing me around,” Cooper continued, stepping over to stand in front of me, hands shoved deep in his front pockets. “I should get going.”
“Of course—don’t let me keep you. What time do you think you’ll be in touch tomorrow?”
“No problem. Looking forward to hearing from you.”
He nodded and pushed through the door, walking down the street without a second look back. I locked up behind him, wondering why all the hottest guys were douchebags. Not that Cooper had acted like a douche, but he had to be my age or older—late thirties—and Talia was the same age as Sadie. She was also a raging bitch. There was only one reason a man like him would date a girl like that, and it had nothing to do with personality or character.
Cooper Romero might be beautiful, but obviously he was shallow. Suppose it was too much to hope for a man who could fix an air conditioner and have a soul at the same time.
“Gonna be a long night,” I told Reese “Picnic” Hayes through the phone. I’d been checking in with my club’s president at least once a day, on the theory that if I didn’t call, he might send someone to save me. Now I was leaning against the side of the diner where I’d parked my bike before going in for lunch. I’d walked over to check out Tinker’s store afterward on a whim. Now I had a job and a cover. Make that a job, a cover, and balls bluer than a Smurf in the dead of winter. “Talia ambushed me with her girlfriends, crawled all over me. Been working all day and I smell like dead squirrel, so I guess that means we’ve hooked her. No other reason I can see a woman comin’ near me right now.”
Picnic laughed. “That was the goal, right?”
“Yeah,” I replied sourly. “You owe me a shitload of beer when I get back, brother. Gonna have to triple-wrap my dick before sticking it in a snatch like that.”
“What’s the problem?” he asked. “I saw her picture—she’s hot, even if she is a bitch. Since when do you care about their personalities?”
Frowning, I glared at my bike. It looked weird without my Reapers whips hanging off the handlebars. I’d stripped off anything that might identify me as a club member. It felt wrong. Everything about this operation was wrong on some level, starting with the fact that I’d been stupid enough to volunteer.
Yes, I’d been sick of managing the Reapers MC’s strip club and I’d wanted a change of pace. But I’d also wanted to leave the crazy bitch-drama behind. Instead it looked like I’d walked right into the queen bitch’s nest.
“Getting laid is great,” I replied slowly. “But this one is nasty. Too young for me, and boring. Never heard someone talk so much without saying a goddamn thing.”
“Thought you liked the young ones,” Pic commented dryly.
He was right, but a few minutes talking to Tinker had reminded me how nice it was to hang with a more mature woman for once. She’d been into me, but she’d been all business, too—no bullshit games . . . just amazing curves combined with hard work and a brain.
I’d taken a few minutes to stalk her on my phone in between clearing out squirrel corpses.
Impressive woman. The tea shop portion of her business was obviously just a storefront, with the bulk of her operation centered on gourmet chocolates she made herself. They were sold in shops all over Seattle, Tacoma, and Portland. So far as I could tell, business was booming.
Talia, on the other hand, didn’t do any real work at all. Not only that, the little twat was skinny and skanky and had a mouth on her that made me flinch, which was sayin’ a lot.
“Talia isn’t just young,” I said. “The bitch never shuts up, and all she does is whine. Everyone’s out to get her, nobody understands her, and her shit doesn’t stink. She’d last maybe five minutes out at the Armory before her ass got banned permanently. I cannot fucking believe that the Nighthawk brothers have put up with her this long.”
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