Tangled Page 21

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“I’m going to say a great big no to that, Saul. See, we have this company policy: we don’t deal with limp-dick, Viagra-popping, dirtbag motherfuckers who try to use their position to coerce women—young enough to be their daughters—into bed. Go peddle your shit somewhere else. We aren’t buying.”

Our stares are locked on one another like two wolves on the Discovery Channel when he says, “Think carefully, Son. You’re making a mistake.”

“I think the only mistake I’ve made is wasting our time here with you. That’s something I don’t plan on doing a second longer. We’re done here.”

And then I turn to Kate and tell her softly, “We’re leaving.”

With my hand on her lower back, we walk to the coat-check room. I hold her coat for her and help her into it. With my hands on her shoulders, I ask, “You okay?”

She doesn’t look back at me, “I’m fine.”

Right. And we all know what that means, don’t we?

For many men, their car is equivalent to the perfect woman. We can build her to look exactly how we want, we can ride her hard and she won’t complain, and we can easily trade her in when a newer, younger model comes along. It’s pretty much the ideal relationship.

I drive an Aston Martin V12. There’s not many things in this world that I love, but my car is one of them. I got her after I closed my first deal. She’s a beauty. She’s my baby. Not that you would know that by the way I’m driving at the moment. It’s the typical pissed-off guy mode of driving. A death grip on the steering wheel, hard turns, fast stops, a smack on the horn at the slightest provocation. I don’t think about how my attitude might be interpreted by Kate, until her small voice comes from the passenger seat.

“I’m sorry.”

I glance quickly at her, “You’re sorry for what?”

“I never meant to send out those kinds of signals, Drew. I would never come on to a client. I didn’t realize that…”

Christ.

Why do women always do this? Why are they so eager to blame themselves when someone treats them like shit? A guy would take a cheese grater to his tongue before admitting he screwed up.

When we were sixteen, Matthew was dating Melissa Sayber. One day while he was in the shower, Melissa went through his sock drawer and found notes from the two other girls he was banging at the same time. She went apeshit. But you know what? By the time Matthew was done talking to her—after he flushed the evidence—not only did he convince her that she had read the notes wrong, but she was apologizing to him for going through his stuff. Unbelievable, right?

I pull over to the side of the road and turn to face her. “Listen to me, Kate—you didn’t do anything wrong.”

“But you said, about my blouse…and his face…”

Great. She thinks she was asking for it because that’s what I f**king told her. Perfect.

“No, I was being an ass**le. I didn’t mean it. I was just trying to get a rise out of you. Look, in this business some guys are just power-high pricks. They’re used to getting whatever they ask for, women included.”

I don’t want to see the similarities between Saul Anderson and myself. But they’re kind of hard to miss. Listening to him tonight made me feel…shitty…about how I’ve treated Kate the last few weeks. My father wanted me to help her, mentor her. Instead I let my c**k and my overactive sense of competition lead the way.

“And you’re a gorgeous woman. This won’t be the last time something like this happens. You have to have a thick skin. You can’t let anyone rattle your confidence. You were perfect at that meeting. Really. Should’ve been a home run.”

She gives me a small smile. “Thank you.”

I turn back onto the road, and we drive in silence. Until she says, “God I could use a drink right now.”

Her comment throws me. It seems like such an un-Kate thing to say. She’s a straight arrow. No nonsense. The kind of girl who hardly drinks, doesn’t eat trans fats, and vacuums behind the couch three times a week. It’s then that I realize that although the woman next to me occupies a permanent space in my thoughts, I really don’t know much about her. Not any more than I did when I first approached her all those weeks ago at REM.

It’s an even bigger shock when I admit to myself that I want to.

At this juncture in my life, my idea of getting to know a woman consists of finding out if she likes it slow and sweet or hard and dirty—top, bottom, or from behind. But the interactions I’ve had with Kate are different from any other woman. She’s different.

She’s like a Rubik’s Cube. So frustrating at times that you want to toss it out the goddamn window. But you don’t. You can’t. You’re compelled to keep playing with it until you figure it out.

“Seriously?” I ask.

She shrugs. “Well, yeah. It’s been a rough night—a rough few weeks, actually.”

I smile and shift my baby into fifth gear. “I know just the place.”

Don’t worry. I don’t plan on plying her with alcohol until she gives up the goodies. But…if she happens to get wasted and rips my clothes off in the alley behind the bar, don’t expect me to beat her off with a stick either.

All kidding aside, this is a new beginning for Kate and me. A fresh start. I’ll be a perfect gentleman. Scout’s honor.

Then again, I never was a Boy Scout.

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