Hard Working Hero (Hard Working Hero 1)

Page 16

Every time he touches me I shiver. I can't help it. I get goosebumps and cold chills. The good kind of chills, the ones that tingle and make my stomach knot up.
And I like it. I can't enough of it.
“So, once these are done, then what?”
“Then you're going to help me install them.”
“At my father's new property?”
“Yup. The place is a dump right now, but once I'm done, it's going to look brand new.”
“I haven't been to the new place yet. Knowing my father, I don't doubt he bought something that's crumbling, but he'll turn a good profit after he sells it to some celebrity.”
“You haven't seen it?” he asks as he lifts his head in surprise. “You had to have seen it at some point, it's not far from your parents’ house.”
“Really? Which one?”
“That old place on Belmont, the one up on the hill.”
Belmont. . . No. It's not the one I'm thinking of.
Is it?
Warily I ask, “The big blue one that looks like a church?”
“Yeah, that one. It has the steeple and everything with the octagonal window.”
Oh, no. Nope. No way in hell.
My lungs constrict instantly. I can't breathe. I'm trying like hell to grasp the air and force it in. Cold beads of sweat trickle down the back of my neck, and it feels like my tongue is swelling in my mouth.
“You all right?” he asks, reaching out and touching my elbow. “Narissa? You okay?”
“I. . . I. . . I need to go.” Backing away from the table, I can't even look him in the eyes.
Just the thought of going to that house terrifies me. It feels like my heart is going to jump out of my chest. Acid is bubbling up in the back of my throat and I'm doing my best not to throw up all over the floor.
“Narissa, what's wrong?” Oliver tries to grab my wrist, but I quickly pull away.
“I'm sorry, I can't help you anymore. I did what you asked me to do. We rebuilt the cabinets, they're all set. My job is done.” Holding up my hands, I turn and storm off. Shoving the door open, I don't even look back at him as I leave.
“Narissa!” Oliver calls out, but I ignore him.
I'm not going to that place. I can't do it.
Even all these years later, that place is a sore spot in my life. He can't understand the pain and hurt I feel about that house, and I'm not ready to tell him.
We all have a story that cuts too deep to retell. The house on Belmont is mine.
Some memories are just too hard to share.
“Dude, you dodging me or something?” Hardin asks as he takes the seat next to me at the bar. Waving a finger at the bartender, she comes over and he orders a beer. “I've spent the entire week working over at Greensdale alone. I think you're trying to kill me.”
“Kill you? No, you're no good to me if you're dead. Dodge you, absolutely, because you're annoying as shit.” Chuckling, I catch Hardin cock a brow out of the corner of my eyes. I keep my eyes on my beer, picking at the label. “Nah, man, it's just this fucking house on Belmont. I had to spend the week redoing those cabinets.”
“Yeah, I saw. You and Miss Pink Nails seemed to hit it off pretty well.” He sips his drink, hissing softly as he swallows. “Nothing like a cold beer after a long day.”
“Right.” Taking a long drink, I set the bottle down. “Her name's Narissa.”
“What?” Hardin asks.
“Miss Pink Nails. Her name is Narissa.”
“The only thing I really remember is she brought food. Makes her okay in my book if you ask me.”
“You remembered her nails.” Side eyeing him, the corner of my lip pulls back into a tight smirk.
He holds out his finger and points at me. “That's only because I'm used to seeing your gross hands in our shop. I bet she left with a few chips—if she worked at all.” Hardin grins, his eyes holding all the questions he's not saying.
“I know what you're doing here.”
“Me? I'm not doing nothing. I just don't believe you didn't think about it with her hanging around you all day.”
“The girl is a pain in my ass, that's what she is. She's got a damn attitude I can tell you that.”
“So you like her, is that what you're saying?” He smirks as he sips his beer.
“What? No, that's not what I'm saying.”
“Come on, I'm not blind, Oliver. I saw how you looked at her when she walked in. Your eyes lit up like a kid on Christmas.” Twisting in his seat, he rests his elbow on the bar as he holds his beer in front of him. “You can't play me for a fool. I know you.”