About That Kiss:A Heartbreaker Bay Novel(4)

By: Jill Shalvis


“Cute,” Joe said. “Does he fetch?”

“Of course.” But truthfully, fetch wasn’t Vinnie’s strong suit. Grunting, farting, or snoring—these were his strong suits. He also often went off the rails with no warning, zooming around a room in a frantic sprint until he started panting and then passed out. But he did not fetch, not that she’d admit it. “Vinnie, fetch,” she said hopefully and tossed the ball a few feet away.

The dog gave a bark of sheer joy and gamely took off, his short bowlegs churning up the distance. But as always, stopping was a problem and he overshot the ball. Overcorrecting to make the sharp turn, he careened right into a wall. He made a strong recovery though and went back for the ball.

Not that he returned it to Kylie. Nope. With the mini–tennis ball barely fitting in his mouth, Vinnie padded quickly into the back, presumably bringing his new treasure to his crate.

“Yeah, he’s great at fetch,” Joe said with a straight face.

“We’re still working on it,” she said just as a man came out from the back, joining them at the counter.

Gib was her boss, her friend, and her very longtime crush—though he knew only about the first two since dating her boss had never seemed like a smart idea—not that he’d ever asked her out or anything. He owned Reclaimed Woods and Kylie owed a lot to him. He’d hired her on here when she’d decided to follow in her grandpa’s footsteps and become a woodworker. Gib gave her a chance to make a name for herself. He was a good guy and everything she’d ever wanted in a man—kind, patient, sweet.

In other words, Joe’s polar opposite.

“Problem?” Gib asked.

“Just trying to make a purchase,” Joe said, nodding to the mirror.

Gib looked at Kylie. “Told you it was remarkable.”

It was pretty rare for Gib to hand out a compliment, and she felt her chest warm with surprise and pleasure. “Thanks.”

He nodded and squeezed her hand in his, momentarily rendering her incapacitated because . . . he was touching her. He never touched her. “But the mirror’s not available,” he said to Joe.

“Yeah,” Joe said, although his gaze didn’t leave Kylie’s. “I’m getting that.”

Suddenly there was an odd and unfamiliar beat of tension in the air, one Kylie wasn’t equipped to translate. Because her parents were teens when she was born, she’d been primarily raised by her grandpa. She’d learned unusual skills for a little girl, like how to operate a planer and joiner without losing any fingers, and how to place bets at the horse races. She’d also grown up into a quiet introvert, an old soul. She didn’t open up easily and as a result, not once in her entire life had two guys been interested in her at the same time. In fact, for long stretches of time, there’d been zero guys interested.

So to have that bone-melting kiss with Joe still messing with her head and now Gib suddenly showing interest after . . . well, years, she felt like a panicked teenager. A sweaty, panicked teenager. She jabbed a finger toward the back. “I’ve, um . . . gotta get to work,” she said and bailed like she was twelve years old instead of twenty-eight.





Chapter 2





#IfYouBuildItHeWillCome



Out of sight of both Joe and Gib, Kylie leaned back against the workshop door and put her hands to her hot face. Good going. Way to be cool.

“What’s wrong?” asked Morgan, a new hire and a part-time apprentice to Gib. After a few missteps with the law, Morgan had recently turned her life around, and though she had no woodworking experience, she seemed eager enough to learn.

“Nothing,” Kylie muttered. “I didn’t say anything.”

“No, but you moaned a little.”

Kylie sighed and poured herself a huge mug of coffee from a sideboard against one wall where they kept caffeine and, if they were very, very lucky, sometimes snacks. “You want to know what’s wrong? Men. Men are what’s wrong with life.”

Morgan’s laugh said she agreed as she went back to hand-sanding some teak for a project of Gib’s. Other than that, the shop was quiet. There were two other woodworkers who were employed here as well, but neither was in today, leaving the big, cavernous workshop feeling peaceful and calm.

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