Playing for Keeps (Heartbreaker Bay #7)(10)

“So this is about . . . work?” Sienne asked.

“No,” Caleb said and didn’t further explain, hoping to cut off his sister’s curiosity at the knees. “And you were just leaving, remember?”

“Yes, but I forgot to give you this.” Sienne handed him a food container and a fork. “My famous homemade baked mac and cheese.”

He slid her a look. “You know I’m not ten anymore, right?”

“Physically, no. Mentally?” She smiled. “There are whole days . . .”

He snorted and took the container and the gesture for what it was. The mac and cheese was his comfort food, always had been. There’d been times when they’d lived off boxed mac and cheese because it’d been cheap. When things had gotten better, Sienne had learned to make it from scratch, though these days she usually had to be bribed to do so.

Sienne gave him a long look he couldn’t quite decipher and left.


Lollipop was back on the screen, demanding attention. Caleb certainly had enough women in his life demanding attention, but he felt a pinch in the region of his heart and smiled at her. “Hey, baby, how you doing?”

Sadie poked her head around Lollipop’s. “We’d be doing better if someone had made us mac and cheese.”

“I deliver,” he said without thinking and . . . the call disconnected and his screen went dark.

Sadie grimaced and shoved her phone into her pocket. “He was going through a tunnel,” she told Lollipop. “Bad connection.”

Her phone buzzed.


She pulled the phone back out of her pocket and looked at the screen. Do Not Even Think About Falling For This Guy was FaceTiming.

She bit her lower lip. “Dammit,” she said and answered. “I’ve got bad reception.”

“Clearly,” Caleb said dryly.

He was still in his office, a big-ass fancy one at that, with floor-to-ceiling windows behind him and an incredible view of the city at night. And he was kicked back in his chair, coat and tie gone, sleeves rolled up, eating the mac and cheese, and making her mouth water.

“Wow,” she said, going for sarcasm rather than reveal how it’d felt to get a glimpse into his and his sister’s relationship, which seemed far more real and open and honest than she’d ever had with any of her family. “Spoiled much? I mean you can get a box of mac and cheese for what, a buck?”

But her teasing quip had the very opposite effect than she’d imagined. Caleb’s face closed up to her, including his warm eyes and contagious smile. All gone in a blink.

“You don’t know enough about me to go there,” he said lightly.

“Go where exactly?” she asked. “I was just teasing.”

“You were judging. Again.”

Since that might very well be true, she shut her mouth and put Lollipop back in front of her. “Just say goodnight.”

“Because, let me guess, you have to go.”

Okay, so he was onto her. Still, she held his gaze and stood her ground because holding her ground, small as it might be, was what she did. “I do have to go, I’ve got an early morning. And . . .” She blew out a sigh. “I’m sorry. For hanging up on you.”

“But not for the judging?”

Dammit. “Maybe a little for the judging. But I’m not going to lie,” she said. “I’m probably not done judging you. I mean I’ll try to work on it, but it’ll be a process.”

His mouth quirked. “Fair enough.”

“And you’re sorry too, right?”

“For . . . ?”

“For assuming the worst of me when I was just kidding around.”

He stared at her for a beat. “I do tend to assume the worst and then go to a dark place to mull that worst over.” He paused and some amusement came back into his eyes. “I’ll try to work on it.”

She gave him a small smile of her own. “It’s okay. I’ve been to some pretty dark places myself.” An understatement. A huge understatement. And why she’d even told him such a thing about herself, she had no idea. It made her itchy because really, what the hell was she doing? Flirting with him? It sure felt a whole lot like exactly that and this made her even itchier.

Flirting led to intimacy, even love. But she’d never been loved for who she really was and she was pretty sure she never would be. So she wasn’t about to go looking for it, and in fact she probably wouldn’t even recognize it if it hit her in the face. It was why she’d given up on men three years ago. And in those three years, she’d not found herself interested, not once. She’d promised herself she’d take a long break from hurting people and getting hurt. She’d needed to figure out her own shit.

And yet here she was, tempted by a hot smile. “I’ve really gotta go.” And this time when she disconnected, she also turned off her phone to avoid any further temptation.

A temptation she hadn’t seen coming.

Chapter 4


When Caleb finally dropped into bed at midnight, he was reeling in a lot of ways, not the least of which was why couldn’t he take his mind off a certain pair of deep, haunting eyes?

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