Craving Page 2

The man even walked sexily. He had to be six-three at least, maybe six-four. I had to power walk to keep up with his long strides and was huffing and puffing before long. Of course, the view of his ass wasn’t torture. His black cowboy boots clomped heavily along the tile floor. Once we reached the door, it opened automatically, and he went through first.

Not much of a gentleman, but what did I care? I just wished he’d walk a little slower. I needed a little more time before the dreaded car ride.

I followed him to a shiny burgundy Mercedes. The Steels had money. A lot of it. While I went home from college during the summers and did secretarial work for my father’s construction company, Marj took whirlwind tours to Europe and cruises to the Greek Isles. One time, during spring break of her junior year, she invited me on a Caribbean cruise with her, all-expenses-paid. I’d had the time of my life despite being separated from Colin.

Talon deposited my suitcase in the trunk and then eyed my carry-on. “You want to put that in?”

I nodded and handed it to him. Then I walked to the passenger door and let myself in.

Talon opened his door and took the driver’s seat. He turned to me. “You don’t talk much, do you?”

I couldn’t help letting out a laugh. I hadn’t said a word yet, had I? He must’ve thought I was some kind of mute. “Thanks for picking me up. I got a text from Marj saying she couldn’t make it.”

“Yeah, she had to go on a job interview.”

“Really? I thought she was going to be working on the ranch.”

“We thought so too. But then it turned out that the local paper in Snow Creek just lost its star reporter, and Marjorie is gunning for the job.”

“Good for her.”

Marj enjoyed journalism. She’d minored in it at school. Her major had been agriculture, as she figured she was destined for ranch work. Her real love, though, was cooking. I’d tried to talk her into culinary school scads of times, but something kept her from taking that leap.

“So Marjorie tells me you’re a lawyer?”

“Yeah. I actually won’t get my bar results for a few weeks yet, but I’m optimistic.”

Talon nodded, keeping his eyes on the road as he pulled out of the airport parking lot.

A few minutes passed with no talking. I looked at my fingernails, picked at a piece of dry cuticle. I eyed my purse on the floor of the car and grabbed it, pulling out my cell phone. Normally I hated when people hid behind their cell phones, but right now, I needed something to occupy myself. The awkwardness in this car was so thick I could’ve cut it with scissors.

Say something, Jade. Anything. This silence is deafening.

But to say something, I had to actually have something to say. For some reason, Talon Steel paralyzed me. He was perfectly cordial but not friendly. Impenetrable. Like a suit of invisible armor covered him from head to toe. He had been in the Marines. Most likely he had seen some pretty nasty shit there, stuff I couldn’t even begin to comprehend. He’d been back now for several years. Marj said he had been honorably discharged the summer after we graduated college.

Still, who knew what he had experienced?

I cleared my throat. “Are there any positions open for attorneys in your little town?”

Talon shook his head. “I sure wouldn’t know.”

“Marj said there might be.”

He let out a chuckle. “I sure don’t know how she would know either.”

Okay. That line of questioning hadn’t led to anything. “How is Marj doing? I’ve really missed her.”

“I think you’d know how she’s doing better than I would. Didn’t you just see her last week at your…wedding?”

Yes, yes. I did just see her at my wedding that didn’t happen. Thank you so much for bringing that up. So much for trying to make conversation. “I didn’t actually get married.”

“I know the whole story. And even if I didn’t, you’re coming out here without a husband and without a wedding ring, so I could figure it out.”

Had he actually looked closely enough at me to notice I wasn’t wearing a wedding ring? Didn’t seem possible. All the Steel brothers would know of my humiliation by now. I fidgeted with my phone a little more, but the battery was about to die. I checked the clock on the dashboard. Damn, we had only been driving for about five minutes. How was I going to get through this?

“Are you hungry? I can take you through a drive-through or something.”

Had he just spoken? Come to think of it, I was little hungry. I’d refused to pay for the crappy overpriced airplane food. Eating would give me something to do with my mouth so I didn’t have to talk. “Yeah, if you don’t mind. Anything’s fine. A burger, whatever.”

He pulled into a Wendy’s and, without asking me, ordered two number one combos with Cokes. I nudged his arm a little.

Without looking at me, he said into the speaker, “Sorry, make one a Diet Coke.”

A little presumptuous. Truth was, I didn’t drink soda. Never had. The carbonation bothered me. I nudged him again. “Iced tea for me, please.”

He let out a huff. “Sorry, nix the Diet. Make it an iced tea.” He turned to me. “Does that satisfy you?”

I shook my head. Was this guy for real? “As a matter of fact, no, it doesn’t satisfy me. You ordered me a burger, not asking me what I wanted on it or anything. I could be a vegetarian for all you know.”

A partial smile curved the left side of his lips upward. “You just said anything was fine. ‘A burger, whatever,’ I believe were your exact words.”

My cheeks heated. Yeah, I had said that. Now I looked like a moron. Great. I played with my fingers until the employee handed Talon the bag of food and the two drinks through the window. He handed the drinks to me, and I checked to see which one was the iced tea. I set his in the cupholder next to the driver’s seat and inserted the straw into mine.

He tossed the bag on my lap. “Unwrap mine for me so I can eat it while I’m driving.”

No “please.” No “would you mind?” Just an order. Well, he had been in the military. Maybe he was used to giving commands. Or maybe he was just rude as hell. I didn’t know Marj’s other brothers that well, but when I’d met them, they had been perfectly friendly. So what was up with this guy?

Since I was still embarrassed about my burger blunder, I did as he asked—or rather told—me to do. The burgers were identical, so I didn’t need to worry about which one was his. I unwrapped it, folded the paper over, and wrapped it back up so half of it was out and he could eat it easily while he drove. I handed it to him.

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