Sliding Home

“God, just say no already. Then I can get back to my regular life.”

This was getting curiouser and curiouser. “Are you asking me to say no, or asking me out on a date?”

Now she was even more uptight. “I know I’m not your usual type.”

True that. She was the complete opposite of the bold, fast fuck I usually enjoyed.

“And with my rules, I’m nothing like the kind of girls you usually date.”

The guys snorted at that, and now I was the one feeling indignant. “I’ve gone on normal dates before.” Just not since the AAs.

“I’ll even help you out,” she said. “Pick an answer: A–Connor would kick your ass if you dared get me alone for an intimate dinner.”

I snorted. “Connor could try.”

“How about B then? You’ve got to train or have an early curfew tomorrow.”

“Nah. Just the game, but we should be done by six.”

“Okay then, what about C? You’ve got an appointment with a different lovely lady.”

“Just how many ways have you imagined me rejecting you?”

Her eyes narrowed but her cheeks pinked. I could tell she’d run through this scenario hundreds of times in her head.

“Okay, then there’s D. You’re just not into me.”

That wasn’t true. I’d been into her from the moment she’d walked into the backyard carrying a fruit salad. She’d hugged her mother and kissed her father’s cheek while her freckles fought with her dimples for most adorable feature on her face. There’d been absolutely nothing sexual about her, just an overall sweetness, and I had been hit by a wave a lust that nearly ripped through my jeans.

The thing is, she was exactly my type, which is why I didn’t date girls like her. Sweet, wholesome girls usually started asking about meeting my crappy family by date three, and I just wasn’t going there—with anyone. It was much better to have my fun with someone who didn’t count on a morning after.

The problem was that Ellie clearly expected me to let her down, and I just wasn’t that kind of guy. There was some stupid genetic thing going on in my firefighter family that made us all want to be heroes. We did our best to save the day in the worst way…which meant I had a nearly pathological desire to make good girls happy. I could no more turn Ellie down than I could let her burn to death in a fire. And that’s why I usually avoided good girls. And why I shouldn’t have come to this family barbeque, even though the entire team was here.

“Then we’re down to E. You’ve been struck dumb with shock.”

Not shock. I was just trying to strangle my better nature. But it wouldn’t be silenced and suddenly, I was answering her in the worst possible way.

“Seven,” I rasped.

She looked startled. “What?”

“Seven. As in, I’ll pick you up tomorrow at seven.”

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