The Bad Boys' Reluctant Woman

By: Sam Crescent

Chapter Three

Zoe stayed behind later to help Vicki with the cleaning up. They usually made their way into work early, but just recently both had spent a great deal of time after work doing it instead.

“I will never forget how messy bars can be,” Zoe said.

“Have you worked in many bars?” Vicki asked.

“No, this is my first one.”

The sound of the brush falling to the floor caught Zoe up short. Vicki was staring at her in shock. “What’s the matter?”

“You’re talking about yourself. I never expected you to answer.”

Zoe let out a sigh. The more she tried to close people out, the more it was starting to hurt. “I don’t do this because I dislike you, Vicki. I’ve never talked about myself before. No one has ever cared.”

She stared at the younger woman and noticed her rubbing her tummy. “Are you all right?” she asked.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Why has no one cared about you? I saw Jake, Brent, and Connor follow you out when you had your break. They care about you.”

“No, they want to fuck me.”

“What’s the problem with that? Fucking can be fun.”

“Because I don’t intend to stay here forever. I’ll be moving on soon, and fucking brings with it too many complications.”

“You’re moving on?”

“I never intended to stay here.” Zoe picked up several loose bottles and a pair of panties. “This is disgusting. To think some woman was being fucked with all those people in the bar gives me the creeps.”

“This is the one place they’ll get it on. Do you ever think a married man would leave his wife?” Vicki asked.

“Excuse me? Vicki, what’s going on?”

“Nothing, forget I mentioned it.”

Vicki moved away, giving Zoe no time to argue with her. If Vicki was involved with a married man, well, all that was going to do was lead to way too much trouble.

She wouldn’t worry about it.

You’re moving on. You don’t care about anyone or anything.

“I’m moving on.”

Zoe finished sweeping the floors as Vicki restocked the beer.

Together they were out of The Dugout by three in the morning. They both worked late as the jobs were scarce and the one place doing well was The Dugout.

Vicki went to her car as Zoe began the walk to her place. She’d pawned her own car when she’d made it into Law Castle. It made her laugh how many times she moved. She was looking for a place to settle her roots, and instead, she spent most of her time trying to sever those roots.

Her mind drifted to Jake, Brent, and Connor. Three men who would undoubtedly be a handful. She thought about the kiss each of them had given her. Jake was demanding while Brent was sweet, and Connor, well, Connor was downright disappointing. She knew he’d kiss really well, and he’d left her hanging. A peck on the cheek and he’d turned away as if it meant nothing to him. She didn’t know what hurt more, the fact he’d left her hanging or the fact she’d wanted to call him back.

“You shouldn’t be walking home alone at night,” Connor said. She turned around to see the man in question leaning up against a truck.

“There is no one around.”

“I’m here.”

“I know you.”

“Do you really?” he asked. His hands were in the pockets of his jeans. Zoe wasn’t afraid as Connor, Brent, and Jake only made her feel safe. It was those feelings alone that scared the hell out of her.

He moved closer. Zoe stood her ground. When he was in her personal space, she wished she’d backed down.

“What exactly do you know about me?” he asked.

“I don’t know what you’re trying to do, but I don’t like it.”

“I’m not trying to do anything.” He stroked her hair then down to her cheek. His touch set off millions of warnings inside her body.

“Will you drive me home?” she asked, exhaustion finally getting the better of her.

“All you had to do was ask.” He took her hand and led her over to his truck. Connor opened the door and helped her inside before moving ‘round to the other side and climbing in beside her. “You’re not arguing with me. You must be tired.”

“I’m exhausted. Please, no funny business and drive me home.”

He nodded his head, turned the key in the ignition and began pulling away from the kerb. She rested her head on her hand while gazing into the darkness.

Connor didn’t speak as he dropped her off near her apartment. It was in a part of town that was considered the roughest part. She liked it. Some of the people were not there because they wanted to be. Zoe loved spending her afternoons before work sitting on one of the swings at the park and watching the kids. Their parents were always busy, and she’d never forgive herself if something happened to them.

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