The Hustle (Irreparable #4)

The Hustle (Irreparable #4) by Kj Bell Read Free Book Online

Book: The Hustle (Irreparable #4) by Kj Bell Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kj Bell
shrugs. “You did.”
    “Yet, it’s still pink.”
    “You also said to surprise you . . . Surprise!” She claps her hands in front of her chest with the jubilancy of a teenage girl.
    My lip twitches and I can’t hold down the laughter bubbling up in my throat. Peyton’s lack of intimidation when it comes to me is comical and sexy and other emotions I don’t want to feel, but they’re there, tempting me to move beyond my anger and hurt.
    “It’s perfect,” I say, putting on a serious face.
    “You’re so full of crap.” She laughs, hopping up on my desk. “The painters will be back next week to paint it ecru.”
    “Ecru?” I ask, lifting an eyebrow. “Bleh. Nope . . . I’m keeping it pink.”
    “Stop it. What color would you prefer?”
    “This one, so every time I come in here, I’ll remember this moment. I haven’t laughed in a long time. Thank you, Peyton.”
    She purses her lips, shaking her head as though doubting my sincerity, but I meant every single word. Although it’s possible I may not see her again, I want to remember a woman that made me smile and one I knew wanted nothing from me.
    “You’re quite a character, Mr. Hunter.”
    “Please, call me Aidan.”
    “Okay, Aidan. If you change your mind, you know how to reach me.”
    “Oh, I won’t. I’m quite positive you can call me Aidan.”
    She rolls her eyes, her angelic laugh filling the room and me with a pleasure. “The color,” she clarifies.
    “Yes, I know, but I couldn’t resist.”
    She leaps off my desk and launches forward right into my arms. Her perky breasts press into my chest. I’m not certain if it’s her heartbeat or mine beating furiously. As I steady her to her feet, there’s a moment when I feel something more for Peyton than I’ve felt for any woman since Maria. Our gazes lock and her cheeks turn a bright shade of red.
    “I’m so clumsy,” she says, smoothing her long blonde hair. “I’m sorry.”
    I step back, keenly aware of how attracted she is to me and me to her. Any other girl and I’d have her naked by now, but there’s something about Peyton I don’t want to spoil with a quick tawdry fuck and send-off. I want to shield her from Eduardo, but I also want to protect her from me.
    I reach up, cupping her cheek in my hand. For a split second, I visualize feeling her lips against mine. “You should go.”
    “You’re right,” she mumbles, her cheeks still the color of red rose petals and just as soft. “But I thought you were sending me home with an escort?”
    I lower my hand and frown. “They’re downstairs.”
    “Oh.” Her gaze falls to the floor.
    “What’s wrong?”
    “I’m scared.”
    “Would you feel better if I drove you?” She lifts her head and nods. “Get your things.” With a smile of relief she turns and leaves.
    I lean against the desk, staring at the ceiling. Why did I offer to drive her? What the hell am I doing? I once believed it was the chase I enjoyed, but it’s women like Peyton that weaken me. Women who I believe need me.
    Tori needed me to make her laugh and to ease her sorrow whenever her disease consumed her. Maria needed me to protect her from Eduardo, to help her make a better life for Javier. The truth, though, was that neither of them truly needed me. I needed them to appease some deeply rooted psychological problem. They both used me and fucked me over in the end. Yet, here I am considering taking Peyton out on a date. I’ve opened up just a smidge and she’s nudging her way inside.
    It’s my mother’s fault. She never needed anyone and could handle her own issues. I guess I want a woman who is everything opposite of that bitch.
    My hand falls on the toy as I reach in my pocket for my keys. I pull it out and stare at the goofy expression on the engineer’s face before tossing the last reminder of Javier in the trash.
    Peyton’s waiting at the front door for me, her expression still worried. As she steps into the hallway, I grab the box off the table

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