I Flipping Love You (Shacking Up #3)(8)

He asked me out again yesterday. This time for dinner. I’m not 100 percent convinced there’s much of a connection there, but we’re supposed to be a nine out of ten on the compatibility score, so I said yes mostly as a social experiment. Maybe the awkwardness was first-date jitters and the second one will be better.

I’m not sure I want a man in my life, regardless. They make things complicated. I already have daddy issues, and my last long-term relationship went up in flames—that was years ago, right after the rest of my life took a giant crap. I haven’t had a lot of time or energy to invest in another person who isn’t my sister. Also, getting dumped is the worst. If I could get more comfortable with the whole casual fling thing like Marley is, that’d be ideal.

At midnight, as I’m getting into bed, my phone buzzes with a message. I give it a cursory glance, sometimes I get messages on that dating app at this time of night. I assume all the lonely losers are lying in bed, wishing they weren’t alone. Not me. I’m happy to have my entire double bed to myself. Most of the time. And I have a pretty decent vibrator to take care of my physical needs when the loneliness takes its toll and dating is too much effort.

Except it’s not the dating app. It’s a message from a number I don’t recognize. I slip under the covers and key in my password.

Hi. It’s Pierce, the guy you nut smashed with a grocery cart and whose car your sister scratched. Can you shoot me your email address so I can forward you the quotes?

I debate whether or not I want to respond at such a late hour. I decide to wait until the morning. It is midnight, after all. Most people who have to work in the morning are already asleep. Maybe he’s the kind of suit who makes his own hours.

The following morning I wake up to the wisps of a very X-rated dream, which takes place in a grocery store. I also wake to new messages from Pierce—who incidentally was the star in my dream. My imagination has decided he’s very well-endowed.

Pierce: Guess that’s a no.

That message is followed by three pictures, each a quote from a different body shop. They’re all very similar in price. I fire a message back, and blame my lack of forethought on the fact that I’m only half awake.

Rian: My sister was the nut smasher, not me. Do these quotes include the sexist comment discount?

The humping dots appear, indicating he’s composing a message. But after two minutes the dots disappear and suddenly my phone rings, making me jump. I pull the covers up to hide my stupidly hard nipples—not that he can see them.

“Hello?” My voice is still sleep raspy.

“Hi. Is this Rian?” Why does my name have to sound so sinful coming out of his mouth?

I cover the receiver and clear my throat before I answer. “Yes.”

“It’s Pierce. Did I wake you?”

“Yes. I text in my sleep.”

“What else do you do in your sleep?”

“Isn’t it a bit early for innuendo-laden conversation between virtual strangers?” I don’t give him time to answer that question. “So I’ve done some thinking.”

“And what kind of thoughts have you been having, Rian?”

Dirty ones, about you and me in the produce aisle. I keep that inside my head. “I think it’s only fair that you discount the repair bill on account of that sexist comment you made about my cleavage.”

“Is that so?” He sounds amused.

“Mmm. Also, Marley said you parked way too close, so it’s your fault she scratched your car in the first place.”

“Ah. That’s some interesting logic.”

“If you’d left her more room, maybe your car would be fine.” I don’t honestly expect him to discount the bill, but I figure it’s worth a shot.

“Do I need to remind you that your sister fled the scene of an accident and I was kind enough to refrain from calling the cops on her?”

“But can you even prove it was her in the first place? What if you’re scamming us? And really, you kind of stalked us in a grocery store, I’m not sure that’s much better.” Why am I engaging with this guy? I mean, other than to keep him on the phone so I can listen to his sexy voice. Also the lower half of my body has started pinging.

“Well, considering it’s a custom paint color and there’s still lots of it on your bumper, I’m not sure it would be all that difficult to prove. Unless you’ve taken your luxury sedan to the car wash since our introduction yesterday.”

Sarcastic turd. “Maybe I have. Maybe this alleged proof doesn’t exist.”

“Doubtful. I’m willing to negotiate terms, though.”

“Terms for what exactly?”

“The repair bill. We could discuss them, say over drinks?”

“Excuse me?” I can’t imagine I heard that correctly. “Can you repeat that please?”

“We could negotiate the cost over drinks. Just a couple hours of your time during which I’m sure we can come to an amenable agreement.”

“Are you asking me on a date?”

“We can call it that if you want.”

It suddenly clicks what he’s trying to do. “Hold on a second. Are you trying to blackmail me into having sex with you over a car repair? Because if that’s your angle, I’m sorry to tell you, but you can’t put a price tag on my vagina. She is not for sale.”

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