It was just the two of them. Standing nearly chest to chest in a downpour. Not speaking. Not moving. And Cora felt torn between the desire to hug him for coming after her and hit him for provoking the anxiety she managed to keep battened down tight ninety-nine percent of the time.
“I was a dick,” he said.
“Yep,” she agreed.
He stared at her for another long moment. “I’m kinda fucked up over here, Cora.”
Her lips almost twitched in humor, but she bit back the impulse, because those seven words were quite possibly the most honest, personal thing he’d said to her in three months of working for him. And it felt . . . important, like some wall had come down between them. Or, at least, started to. “I know, but on some level, aren’t we all?”
He didn’t answer, but what he did say still hit her square in the chest. “You’re the best thing that’s happened to my boys in years. I don’t want to mess that up for them. I’m sorry if I have.”
“You haven’t,” she said, shaking her head, rain catching on her eyelashes as she peered up at him. “But don’t do it again.”
Slider gave a single nod, then leaned forward, his face coming close and then pausing a hairsbreadth away. For a moment, Cora was sure he was going to kiss her, but then he grasped the handle and yanked opened the squeaking door. “Now get in.”
Shaking a little—from the chilly rain, she told herself—she climbed onto the old bench seat. The rain had plastered Slider’s T-shirt to his chest, giving her a pretty clear view of the lean, muscular frame beneath. And she found herself wondering what kissing him might’ve been like. How hard his body would be against hers. How far she’d have to tilt back her head to meet his mouth. How ticklish his whiskers would be against her lips.
The wondering made her shiver.
He slammed his door and frowned at her. “You okay?”
“I’m wet, cold, and irritated, but sure. I’m great,” she said defensively. Because she was still a little miffed at him for making her freak out—and for making her feel curious about kissing him.
Just a little curious. Hardly at all, really.
The corner of his mouth lifted. Not much, but the movement was there. And it made Cora stare. Because the change in his face, small and fleeting though it had been, made the corner of his eye crinkle a little, too. “Well, I think I can help with two of those,” he said, putting the truck in gear and swinging a hard U-turn.
“Wait, where are we going? The clubhouse is the other way.”
“Uh-huh,” he said, slanting her another glance. All the amusement was gone this time, though, and in its place was something intense she couldn’t name. “I’m taking you home.”