Sucking in a breath, I open the glove compartment and fish out the bottle of Grey Goose vodka, waving it at the jilted groom. “It’s half empty, but you’re welcome to it.”

I was right about his eyes. That’s my only coherent thought as he ducks into my Honda and straightens, his head resting against the ceiling. His gaze is made of the finest chocolate and just as fulfilling as it lands on me, grateful and weary. “Thank you, ma’am.”

His thick burr rocks me down to the soles of my feet, making me think of cuddling. Cuddling. An activity I’ve never performed a day in my life. Hoping my shock isn’t showing on my face, I twist open the bottle and hand it over. “All dressed up and nowhere to go?”

Humorless laughter leaves him in a slow rumble. “Something like that.”

“I’m so sorry about what happened,” I whisper, without thinking. “No one deserves that.”

He cuts me a look, obviously just realizing I witnessed his humiliation. He becomes aware of more than that, though. Until right this second, I don’t think he was really seeing me. I was just a blurry figure in a car. An escape hatch. Now, his attention travels down to my leather-clad thighs, before shooting back up to my face, alertness inching into his expression. “Who are you?”

“That’s a long story.” I tip the bottle up to his mouth. “For now, I’m Addison. And if you want to avoid the sympathy coming down the steps, I’m your girl.”

Without turning to look at the church, he twists the bottle on his knee. “How so?”

“There are probably very few places you can hide in this town, am I right?”

Weary brown eyes focus back on me. “Yes.”

So much weight and meaning packed into a single word. “I have a place. You can lay low for a little while.”

His body language is still grateful, but hesitant now. “I mean no disrespect, Addison. I’m not assuming a damn thing, either, you understand.” He waits for my nod. “But if you’re thinking of offering me more than a place to lay low, I’m not sure I’m in the right frame of mind for it. Wouldn’t be fair to you.”

Just the suggestion of sex with this man makes me slippery between my legs. Which is pathetic considering he’s just turned me down—not that I was offering. Still. What did I think? I would pull up in my old as hell, chipped paint steed and sweep him away like an avenging cowgirl? The man is reeling from being jilted. Any romantic notions I have that are coming to life against my will need to be put to rest. Immediately. Not so easy to do when I like him more with every genuine word that comes out of his mouth.

Ignoring the clang of doom in the back of my head, I pull away from the curb. “That’s pretty noble of you. Most people wouldn’t be concerned with fairness after something so shitty happened to them.”

“Shitty things happen to people all the time,” he answers, his tone conversational. Not in the least bit preachy. “It’s no excuse to be selfish.”

“No, I guess not.” I barely manage to sound human after hearing him say selfish in relation to sex. Is that how he’d be with me beneath him, if we went to bed this afternoon? Rough and selfish and—Lord. I need to get a hold of myself, right now. Even if he was in the right mind frame for sex…Naomi is his type. Girls with a pedigree. Not a girl who was born out of wedlock and spends her life scraping by, week to week. I would be nothing more than a quick itch-scratcher.

That mental kick in the pants is exactly what I need. I know all too well what becomes of a woman who lets herself be a man’s scratching post. “I’m not offering you anything but room-temperature Grey Goose and a place to watch television for a while.” I take a turn onto the avenue, before flicking him a teasing look down my nose. “You think I want a man who got left out on the curb like yesterday’s recycling?”

When Elijah throws back his head and laughs; the sound sends an appreciative shiver down my spine. Ignore it. “Something told me to get into this car.” His big shoulders are still shaking. “I’m glad I listened.” I pull to a red light, startled when he takes my hand off the wheel, holding it in his warm grip. His head tilts, his brown eyes bursting with character. A torturously handsome, kind-hearted rake with an actual sense of humor. “Friends?”

Feeling as though I’m standing on the edge of a cliff, I roll a shoulder. “I’m reserving judgment.”

His laughter defeats me this time and as I coast through the light, I smile.

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