Control (Everyday Heroes #3.5)(8)

By: K. Bromberg

He chuckles. “You’re right. I’m sorry. I should have taught you nothing while I went and took my psych test again to see if I qualify for the Academy.”

“You’re an asshole.”

“Same could be said about someone who judges others without giving them the benefit of the doubt,” he says and shrugs nonchalantly.

“Look. I was making conversation. I was…” I run a hand through my hair and sigh as I rein in my temper. “Never mind.”

Stop babbling, Des. That’s what got you into this predicament in the first place.

“You better hope you never need to defend yourself—”

“Screw you.”

“—because you’re spending so much time being mad at me that you’re not paying attention.”

“I don’t put myself in situations to…”

Reznor angles his head to the side and takes a step closer. “Ah, but you have though.” His voice is softer, sympathetic. I take a step back and shake my head. “What did he do to you, Desi?”

“Who said anyone did anything to me?” I shove my hands on my hips to match my defensive tone.

He rocks on his heels and stares at me with an intensity I want to shy away from but don’t dare. “You didn’t have to say a word. It’s written in your defiance…in your body language.”

“Maybe my body language is saying I’ve had enough of you and your bullshit.”

“Dodge and defend.” He chuckles, and it grates on my nerves. “I should have figured you’d be one of those.”

“One of those?”

“The person who can’t admit you’ve been caught off guard. That you were vulnerable and someone else took advantage of it.”

“I’m fine.”

“Uh-huh. Types like you always quit,” he says, prompting me to shove my keys in my purse and try to walk past him. But he sidesteps to block my exit. “All talk and no guts.”

“I said it before, and I’ll say it again…screw you and your stereotypes.”

“I’ll be surprised if I see you again on Thursday.”

I glare at him before stomping away. My resolve that I wasn’t coming back is now shattered by my pure stubbornness to prove him wrong. Arrogant asshole.

The night air feels like heaven. It’s still hot and stifling but it doesn’t smell like sweaty gym, and it sure as hell doesn’t smell like Reznor—cool and clean and manly.

Standing in the entry of the high school, all I can do is shake my head and curse the man I’ve tried to abuse over the last hour.

He frustrated me. He tested me. I tried to fight back.

I lost.

Is that why I’m pissed? Because he proved to me there’s no way I could handle myself if I were attacked?

Or is it because he stood there, confronting and frustrating me, making me so angry I totally missed the opportunity to admire how freaking hot he is with his shirt off?

Because what I remember of him…damn.

Get a grip.

He’s nothing.

You’re fine and can handle yourself.

But when I start the car, there’s a niggling feeling deep down that I know all of those are lies.

All three of them.

Chapter Three


The beer is cold, the bar is crowded, and the music is some twangy shit that makes me feel like I’m back in the South…when I left its humid heat and sweet-talking women years ago.

Sweet talking. That sure as hell isn’t what comes to mind when I think of Desi from last night…and yet, she’s been on my mind more than I care to think about.

I nod subtly at the woman eyeing me and then shift to survey the local cop hangout, Hooligan’s. There are definitely boys in blue in here—you can tell by their walk, their attitude, their need to blow off steam—and it feels so odd to be on the outside of the unspoken bond between the men when I’m usually right in the fucking middle. The nucleus. The one they come to when they need advice, to talk, anything…

But this isn’t San Francisco.

This is Sunnyville, California. Home of grapes on the hills, wine in the cellars, and my temporary home for the next few months.

“Reznor fucking Mayne, is that you?”

Talk about a small world.