Sexy Jerk(8)

By: Kim Karr

Nick bends down to kiss Max’s little toes, and my heart does the oddest pitter-patter, and then he averts those very blue eyes my way and that pitter-patter speeds up. “Are you worried?” he asks.

Both of Max’s feet are bare now, and he jolts up like a jack-in-the-box. Nick follows, and the sight of his long, muscled limbs, and smooth sun-burnished skin curls my fingers, even inside the leather of my gloves. “No, I’m not worried,” I say, pulling my gloves off and then turning to head toward the kitchen to prepare Max’s dinner. “It’s not like I think you’ll do anything to me, besides I know self-defense moves.”

Nick’s laugh is loud. Almost obnoxious. It takes everything I have not to whirl around and scream, “You really are a jerk.” And it’s a good thing I didn’t scream those words because when I turn around, I find myself laughing equally as hard.

He wasn’t laughing at me.

Max has pulled his own long sleeve shirt right over his head. And is pointing to Nick’s very bare chest, to the ridges of his ribs, to the muscle that defines his abdomen, and then to his own pudgy little belly.

This is obviously a thing between the two of them.


Admittedly, it’s rather cute.

Once the laughter finally comes to an end, and Max is proudly hiccupping and kicking a little soccer ball that Nick has pulled out of his bag, Nick strides into the kitchen, opens the refrigerator, and grabs a beer. “Want one?” he offers with his obviously very strong back to me.

Turning the stove on to warm the small containers of chicken, applesauce, and peas I had already pulled from the freezer, I stare at them. Fiona had pre-made the food, either knowing I’m not that great of a cook, or worried I wouldn’t feed him the organic items she insists on. Looking away from the food, I turn my head in Nick’s direction and answer with a, “No thank you, I prefer wine.”

Surprising me, he doesn’t make a smartass remark, instead he pulls a bottle of Pinot Grigio from the refrigerator and sets it on the counter. After reaching for a glass, he pours the wine and hands it to me. “By the way, I wasn’t asking if you were worried because I thought you were concerned about what I might do to you. I was asking because I thought you might be worried about what you might want to do to me,” he snickers.

I narrow my stare at him and mouth, “Jerk.”

Nick just shrugs, takes a sip of his beer, sets the bottle down, and then walks over and grabs his duffle in one hand, and a still hiccupping Max in the other. As he heads up the stairs, he tosses over his shoulder, “I’ll give him a quick bath while you get his dinner ready . . . if you don’t mind that is.”

“That’s fine,” I concede.

“Oh, and Tess,” he says, “Ethan mentioned you aren’t much of a cook.”

My stare narrows to small slits in my eyes.

“So,” he goes on before I can address the comment, “since you were picking Max up, I stopped and got us Chinese for dinner. It’s in the warming drawer. Hope you like it.”

Just before popping the small containers of Max’s food into the steaming water, I call out, “Nick.”

This time he looks over his shoulder.

“Thank you.”

He gestures with that nod that is really starting to infuriate me, and then says, “After we get Max to bed, I thought we could make a schedule for his care.”

He’s such a contradiction that it is now my turn to nod, because really, I am at a complete loss for words.

“See, having me around might not suck after all. In fact, you might even like it.”

At that, I roll my eyes.

Famous last words.

Nick Carrington

PEOPLE THINK THEY know you by what they observe, read, and hear.

Judgment is easily placed.

A native magazine insists I’m the city’s most eligible bachelor, and suddenly women are dying to date me.

Not necessarily a bad thing.

Word spreads on the street that I’m successful because I got lucky, and because of this false rumor my competition neglects to take my emergence seriously.

Again, not necessarily a bad thing.

Tess is no different. She thinks she knows me. That I only care about myself. That I believe the world revolves around me. That I’m a jerk.

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