I Bet You (Page 22)
Ryker shakes his head. “Do not do that. That is code for sex. It’s past seven and that’s a booty call.”
I rear back. “Really? Seven is the magic hour for a booty call? I thought that was more like midnight.”
“Nope. Think about it. It will take you a while to get over there—I’m assuming you still have an hour or so left on your shift—then you watch the movie. Voila, it’s midnight and he’s getting all handsy.”
I narrow my eyes. He’s exaggerating, but I play along. “Handsy. Damn. He seems so nice.”
“You never know.”
Another text. “He says he knows how to cook spaghetti and will make it for me if I come over. How sweet.” I glance up at Ryker, who isn’t smiling back. “I told him I like Italian.”
His eyes glitter. “Everybody knows how to open a jar of Prego, pour it over noodles, and sprinkle Parmesan on top. It’s a trick to get you to his place.”
Hmmm. I c**k my hip. “I’ve already eaten, but I do love food. It’d be a good trick if he’d asked me for another time. Do you know how to make spaghetti?”
“Of course. And mine isn’t out of a jar. I did most of the cooking at my house growing up.”
He shrugs. “My mom took off when I was three. It was just my dad and me.”
I absorb that information. I always imagined him living in a white-picket-fence type of family with parents as athletic and beautiful as he is. Everything I know about him realigns. We’ve both lost our mothers, in a way. Then it dawns on me that I don’t think many people know this about him. “And you’d make me spaghetti? Not as a trick, but as a friend because I love it?”
His eyes meet mine. “Right now?”
I shake my head. “No, in your dorm room sometime. You make spaghetti and I’ll bring dessert. You do have a kitchen right?”
He looks bemused, as if this conversation hasn’t gone the way he expected. “I’ve never cooked for a girl before.”
“But you would for me?”
He c***s an eyebrow. “What’s for dessert?”
My body flushes, picturing us in a small kitchen. Pots and pans are everywhere. My a*s is planted on the bar, and I’m reclining back with my knees up and my panties pushed to the side. He’s got his jeans shoved down to his hips, grinding into me—
My phone goes off again. Bless. I exhale. “It’s Connor again.” I type out a response.
Ryker’s lips tighten, and I think I see his fists curl. “What did you tell him?”
“Thank you for the offer but I’m working.”
“What about lunch tomorrow in the student center?”
He shrugs. “I did help you get his interest. I want to know how my investment is going.”
“I’m still thinking.”
His lips compress, but his expression doesn’t change. “I see.”
There’s a lot of meaning in those words, but before I can explore the complexities, the hostess waves at me, indicating a table of five she just sat in my section. I sigh. “Dang it. I have customers.” I bite my lip. “I’m looking forward to my spaghetti soon. Just let me know when you’re ready. I did pretty much invite myself over.” Perhaps I shouldn’t have.
He scrubs at his face and gives me a tired look. “Okay, I need to go. Good night, Red. See you later.”
And he’s gone, heading for the exit with long strides.
My car has a flat.
“Damn you,” I mutter up at the gods who’ve seen fit to not only punish me with a shift where my dad came in, but now have left me stuck in a parking lot with a busted streetlight. Plus, Sugar’s is already locked down and dark, the manager long gone.
I sigh and lean against the car, pulling out my phone and staring at it. Possibilities fly at me. Charisma mentioned how tired she was…and she did take care of Vampire Bill tonight. There’s always my dad. I mean, that’s what a normal father-daughter relationship would be like, right? I consider Connor, but I just turned him down for dinner. There’s Ryker, but…
No. I can do this. I pop the trunk and lug out the small spare.
“You all right?” comes a slow drawl from behind me.
My heart drops at the voice. I mutter a curse as I flip around and squint into the darkness. Using my phone, I turn on the flashlight mode and shine it into the person’s face. “Who’s there?”
It’s a man. He puts a hand up to shield himself from the brightness, squinting at the glare. “Whoa there. No need to put a spotlight on me. It’s Archer.”
“Oh, hey.” I lower the light, keeping it on his chest, not quite at ease with him. My heart is still pounding as I run my eyes over him, taking in the vivid tattoos up his arms, most of them skulls and roses intertwined.
Doesn’t make him a bad person, I remind myself. I adore tattoos but have never had the balls to get one.
“You’ve got a flat. You need some help?”
“Uh, no. I’ve got it. Thank you.” I’m tense as I survey the parking lot, wondering where his car is. My eyes lands on a lone Range Rover, parked several spots away. I nod my head at it, playing it cool when inside I’m shaking. “That yours?”
He nods and sticks his hands in his pockets as he comes closer. “C’est tout, that’s it. Parked it and went to a bar with friends after Sugar’s.”
His accent is thicker tonight, and I know why when the scent of whiskey wafts from him to me.
My danger radar climbs to high alert.
I take a step backward, and he holds his hands up in a placating manner, probably reading my face. “Cher, now, now, I’m just a good ol’ boy. Don’t fret.”
Fear trickles through me, and I suck in air, feeling lightheaded. I don’t like being alone with a drunk guy in a dark parking lot.
He sends me an oily grin and takes a step closer.
I hold my hands up, my voice high and thin. “Don’t come any closer, please.”
He gives me a haughty glare. “You think I’m going to eat you up like a cocodril?”
I lick my lips. He means crocodile or alligator—I think.
The imagery in my head encourages the hair on my arms to rise. I’m picturing him knocking me over the head, stuffing me in the back of his vehicle, taking me out to the swamp, and murdering me. I still have my phone in my hand, and I clench it tight, cursing myself for not calling someone right away. My hand that isn’t holding the phone shifts my keys and pushes them between my fingers in case I have to use them as a weapon. I lick my lips. “I already called someone.”
“You did?” He takes another step closer.
“Ryker’s coming to help me.” I don’t know why I say his name, but the change in Archer’s face is instantaneous.
His expression hardens. “I thought you was with Connor.”
“I can call who I want,” I snap.
He takes another step until we’re close enough that I can count the eyelashes around his eyes. His breath is sharp and pungent as he peers down at me. “You’re a pretty thing. I like how you talk back,” he says, his gaze on my mouth.
Terror jumps inside me, adrenaline fueling me as I shove at his chest. He stumbles back but hardly loses his balance. “I said stay back.”