Hard Working Hero (Hard Working Hero 1)

Page 17

I dart my eyes away and lower my head. “Fine, the truth is you're right, there's something about her I like.” Downing the rest of my beer, I shake the empty glass and nod to the bartender that I'm ready for another. “She surprised me for sure. She worked hard, she didn't just sit back and expect me to do everything. The thing that surprised me the most was she wasn't afraid to get dirty.”
“I bet she wasn't,” he says, jabbing me in the ribs with a closed fist.
I don't give him the answer he's looking for, and I won't. Hardin might be my best friend, but it doesn't mean I'm giving him all the details.
“I'm serious, she's gotten under my skin in a way I can't explain.”
“Well, where is she now?”
“Fuck if I know. I haven't seen her in a couple days. She got all weird the last time and took off without a word.”
“You have her number?” he asks.
“Yeah.” Mr. Thayer gave me Narissa's number just in case I needed to reach her. I'm pretty sure he thought the same thing I did, that she might not show up that first day.
“Call her then.”
“No, I can't call her.” I dismiss the idea instantly. If she wanted to see me, she would have shown up at the shop or at the work site by now. Obviously, she'd rather not.
“That's a bullshit answer. What's stopping you?”
“I don't know. It'd be weird for me to just call her. She's my client’s daughter, and the only reason she's been around is because she fucked up the cabinets I made. If it wasn't for that, we'd probably never cross paths.”
“I'm calling bullshit again. Nothing has ever stopped you before, and now you're going to turn into a coward. If you feel something, you feel something. You've never backed down from a challenge before. Why start now? It's how you got us this job to begin with. You didn't take no for an answer from the elite Ethan Thayer, and look what happened.”
“This is different.”
“No it's not. The point I'm making is if you want something, don't think about all the reasons you shouldn't pursue it. Think about all the reasons you should.”
“This isn't the same as going after a job. She's not a contract up for bidding.”
“Will you stop being a pussy and just call her already?”
“Look, she ran off for a reason. She knows where to find me if she wants to. Why should I go after her when I wasn't the one who left?”
“You're going to make me do it aren't you?”
“Do what?” I ask as my brows fold down.
“You know what.” Hardin has a thick smile. “I'll totally do it.”
“Dude, I don't know what the hell you're talking about.” Letting out a soft laugh, I shake my head. “I can't read your mind.”
“All right, I'm not giving you a choice then. I dare you to call her.”
“What are you, ten? No, that's not going to work. You can't dare me to do something and think it'll force my hand.”
“Okay, I double dare you, then.” His voice is louder as he smiles wide.
“Not doing it.”
“Fine, I triple dog dare you.”
“You're a fucking idiot, you know that?”
“All right, I get it. You're too fucking scared.” Hardin finishes his beer, orders a second and a shot for each of us. “Here, this'll put some hair on your balls. Maybe that will stop you from being such a chicken shit.”
What the hell is he trying to do?
Calling her isn't going to change a thing. She probably won't even answer.
Rolling my eyes, I reluctantly give in. “Fine, you want me to call her, I'll call her. I'll show you the girl doesn't want anything to do with me. Will that make you feel better?” I dig my phone out of my pocket and scroll through my numbers until I find hers. My thumb hovers over the call button, close but not close enough to actually hit it.
Hardin notices, reaching out and pushing my thumb the last hairsbreadth. I glare at him with wide open eyes, and he laughs, very pleased with himself.
“You're a dick,” I bark.
“I know.” He smugly grins and shrugs a shoulder.
I lift the phone to my ear, listening to the deafening ring with a nervous pain in my chest. I want her to answer. There's a need to hear her voice, to see her, to feel her again in my hands.
“Your call has been forwarded. . .”
Hanging up the phone, I say, “She didn't answer.”
“At least you didn't wuss out and hang up.” Hardin grabs the menu and flips through. “Want to order something? I'm fucking starving.”
“Yeah, why not.” Laying my phone on the bar top, I push it aside and take a menu for myself.
We order some food. Hardin orders a giant plate of nachos with the works. Sour cream, olives, refried beans, shredded chicken, and I have no idea how he's able to eat the entire thing.