Real Men Don't Break Hearts

By: Coleen Kwan



Bloody hell! Nate just couldn’t help himself. Ally marched across the shop, clomping her heels on the wooden floorboards, and Tyler sprang back. “Have to dash off and pick up Chloe.” Grabbing her shoulder bag, Tyler hoofed it out of the shop.

Nate straightened up, slipping his hands into his trouser pockets. “Everything okay?” he said to Ally and Mr. Cummings.

“Oh, everything’s capital. Ally just had a few concerns,” Mr. Cummings answered breezily. “But I’ve set her mind at ease, haven’t I?” He rubbed his hands together and started bouncing on his heels again. “I’d better be off and have a word with my lawyer before he clocks out for the weekend. I’ll see you two later.” With an exaggerated bow to them, he exited the shop.

Ally sucked in a deep breath and turned to Nate. Okay. They were alone now. No need for any pretense; they could speak their minds. But instead of speaking, he strolled around the shop, inspecting the goods, moving with the animal grace she couldn’t help remembering. The cut of his suit highlighted his superb physique, the charcoal gray accentuating his olive coloring. Even though she despised him, she had to admit he looked as handsome and alluring as ever. Alluring but bad for her, like cinnamon doughnuts.

She frisked her upper arms, annoyed at how he still got to her, no matter how much she resisted.

He stopped in front of a rack of hand-knitted Angora sweaters. “Wow. Who buys this…stuff?”

Hmm. She was sure he’d meant to say, Who buys this crap, before he’d corrected himself.

She answered stiffly, “You’d be surprised.” And so would she. The Angora sweaters had been languishing in her shop for ages. Privately she detested the twee knitwear, but the woman who made them was an old friend of her nana’s, and Ally would never hear the end of it if she dropped the Angoras.

He moved on to the glass cabinet housing Tyler’s eye-catching jewelry. “Now this I like. You should sell more of this stuff.”

She scowled at him. Who did he think he was, waltzing about like he owned the place? Hang on. He would own the place soon…

“I can’t believe you bought this building half an hour after you ran into Mr. Cummings. It sounds too irrational to be true.”

“But isn’t that the kind of crazy thing you expect from me?” A mocking smile flitted over his lips.

“I expect a lot of crazy things from you, but not buying a property sight unseen. Why, you haven’t even had a pest inspection done. There might be termites under the floor.”

“Are there termites under the floor?”

“Not as far as I know…”

“Looks like I’m safe, then.”

“But—” She shook her head, perplexed. “But why buy any building here in Burronga? It’s not as if you live here anymore.”

“I do still have a house here.” His expression grew a little cagey.

She remembered the house. Nate had gone to live with his older brother Robbie after some arguments with his stepfather, according to Seth. A few times she’d picked up Seth from his cousins’ house but had never ventured inside. Robbie had been a rough and ready kind of bloke. He’d roared around in his souped-up truck, his muscled biceps hanging out the window, swaggering and obnoxious but mysteriously attractive to countless girls. And Nate had been no better.

She tipped up her chin and sent him an insolent glare. “So, what, you’re going to move back here or something?”

He couldn’t miss the meaning in her look. He jutted his jaw back at her. “You have a problem with that?”

Callous brute. He still couldn’t resist tormenting her. She felt like picking up one of those lavender soaps and hurling it at his stupid head. Wasn’t it enough to learn Seth was getting married right here in her hometown without Nate barging into her shop and stirring the memories even further? Didn’t he know he’d picked the worst time to announce he was thrusting himself into her life? Or maybe he did know, and he just enjoyed rubbing her nose in it. He knew about Seth and Paige, and he’d deliberately come here to watch her squirm. Well, to hell with him. She wouldn’t give him the satisfaction. Not by a blink of an eyelash would she betray what she knew about Seth’s upcoming marriage.

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