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The Wrong Girl - Chapter 6, Part 1


Ellie
“Well, that sounds positive?” Tessa’s long sweatpants-clad legs draped over the side of my swivel chair, and she swirled the glass of wine in her hand. “I mean, from where I’m sitting, it sure sounds like he’s on your side.” She spun in the chair like it was a theme park ride, and I knew better than to comment about it. She’d just go faster.

“Then I’m doing a poor job of explaining it,” I sighed. “It doesn’t feel like he’s on my side. Just when I think he’s seeing things my way, he brings up asking my dad for a freaking list of goals.” I rolled my eyes, certain Tessa couldn’t see it where I lay sprawled on the couch.

“That… also seems reasonable,” Tessa replied. “How are you and your dad ever going to see eye-to-eye if you don’t know what he wants in the first place? It has frustrated you since day one because he didn’t give you a specific job. And now you’ve got Jake here saying the same thing. You can’t be mad at him for it.”

“It’s not that simple, Tess. Sure, it was frustrating at first, but I made it work. I created my own programs, really took ownership of something, you know? And now he’s brought in this guy to tell me all the stuff I’ve done is pointless.”

She paused in her spinning and regarded me skeptically. “Is that really what he said?”

“No, it’s not.” I sat up and retrieved my wineglass from the table. “But that’s how it feels. It would have been great to have him here three years ago, but now? I feel like I’ve got a handle on things. I know what I need to do, and my dad should trust me to do it. It honestly feels like a slap in the face for him to bring this guy in now and try to tell me what to do.”

“I know it sucks, and I’m sorry. Now, do you want to whine some more, or do you want to hear about my latest catch?”

I glared at her, then took another sip. “No, you’re right, I’m whining. Sorry. Tell me.”

“Okay, so this guy came into the brewery and started hitting on me straight off. He was with his buddies, all obviously here for biking, and obviously married.”

“How do you know he’s married?”

She leveled a stare at me. “Please, I’m no amateur. He had a freaking tan line from his wedding ring.”

“Okay, fair enough. Continue.” I gestured and leaned back into the couch.

Tessa sat up in her seat to refill her glass and leaned forward with excitement. “So, he started asking what I did for fun around here.”

Realization set in, and I straightened. “Tessa, you didn’t.”

“You bet your ass I did.” Her grin was incredibly evil.

“How many poor saps have you done that to now?”

She snorted, leaning back in her chair. “Listen, if they’re up here looking to cheat on their wives, they deserve it.”

“I know, but getting tourists to skinny dip with you in a leech-infested lake, then stealing their clothes and ditching them is kind of high school, don’t you think?”

“I don’t actually steal their clothes, Ellie,” her condescending tone was heavily sarcastic. “I leave them one piece every quarter mile or so for the walk back. By the time they get to their car, they’re fully dressed.”

“Yeah, but I bet they don’t realize they’ve brought back hitchhikers until they get into the shower.” The laughter bubbled up in my throat, but I tried to stifle it. “It’s really…” I pursed my lips, trying to keep the giggles in. “It’s really… cruel,” a laugh slipped out, and Tessa started snorting. “What kind of impression are you giving our guests about Aspen Ridge?” Tears were forming at the corners of my eyes as I tried to hold back the peals of laughter that wanted to escape.

“I’m giving them an excellent lesson in karma for being cheating assholes,” Tessa declared triumphantly. “And don’t worry, I send them a text letting them know to check for leeches. And how to remove them. In the morning.” At this point she couldn’t hold in her own laughter, and once she started, I couldn’t help it. We shared a solid thirty seconds of belly laughs before it finally died down.

When we regained control of our senses, I shook my head. “You’re diabolical. What if you meet a truly good guy and you have no idea because you’re too focused on getting revenge against those losers?”

Tessa just shrugged. “I’ll know when I meet a good one. But I might just die from shock.”

“Maybe I should have you meet Jake. I’m pretty sure he’s a good one. Perhaps you two would hit it off.” I said it as a throwaway statement, but she saw right through me.

“Hell no, I wouldn’t touch that guy with a ten-foot pole. I don’t care how good of a guy he is.”

“Why not?” I asked, immediately offended on Jake’s behalf for the rejection.

“Because whether you want to admit it, you like him. And even if things are complicated now, that doesn’t mean they’ll always be. There’s no way I could even attempt something when I know how you feel.”

Sometimes, having a friend who knew you almost too well was annoying.

“Fine. You’re right, I do like him.”

“See? There’s a chance it could work out. You just need to avoid jumping his bones until your dad’s out of the way.”

“If only it were that easy,” I sighed, reaching for the nearly empty wine bottle and pouring the dregs into my glass.

Tessa spun in the chair again. “Is he really that hot, El? I mean, Zach’s pretty good looking and you were never really hot under the collar for him.”

“I know. I know! Yes, he’s hot, but there’s more to it than that. He’s got this whole vibe that’s hard to explain. It’s like two parts Captain America, one part naughty schoolboy, and one part take-charge boss man. It’s a confusing mix. I keep imagining what he’d be like in bed.”

“There’s only one way to find out...” Tessa’s suggestive tone sent immediate warning bells through my head.

“No, no, no. We agreed, no messing around while we’re working together. Period.”

“I’m curious now, I have to admit. Is he going to be at the Fall Fast?”

“I don’t know, honestly. I haven’t really discussed it with him.”

“I think it’s high time your bestie met this complex puzzle of a man. I can help you sort it out. Just bring him by my booth.”

“Sure, because that won’t look obvious,” I snorted into my glass.

“It doesn’t have to be. Just think of it as a chance for me to evaluate if he’s worth all this angst.”

“It’s not angst! It’s… it’s…” I searched for something that sounded more mature than angst.

“Hormones?”

“Fuck off, it’s not hormones. I just like him, and I can’t do anything about it, and it’s frustrating.”

“I can tell you’re very frustrated. You should take out some of that frustration on Captain America. Maybe you can just get it out of your system.”

“God, will you stop already? I thought you were supposed to be my friend.”

“I am, and that’s why I’m giving you permission to jump his bones.” Tessa lifted her wineglass and made the sign of the cross in front of her chest with it. “Go forth and bone.”

I couldn’t help chuckling. “You’re impossible. I can’t.”

“El, your dad doesn’t need to know. Maybe once you scratch that itch, you’ll be over it.”

“Yeah, or maybe I’ll just be even more into it. Did you consider that possibility?”

“Why is that a bad thing?”

“I don’t have space to deal with this right now. I need to be focused on getting my dad to let go of the reins.”

Tessa blew out a breath. “Fine. Want to go tourist trapping with me? I find it an excellent way to get out my frustrations.”

“Look, I don’t judge you for it, but that’s just not my cup of tea. You enjoy, though.”

“Suit yourself! But if you ever change your mind, just know that a lot of these sleazebags would love the idea of a threesome. It’d be easy kills.”




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