Shaking off the memories, she continued to look at Caleb. No doubt about it, he was sexy, and those muscles could make a woman feel safe and protected.
“People can change, Lilly.”
She frowned. “I know.” She was very much aware of how people could change. She’d yet to witness it herself, though. Her mother had often been emotional when another “breakup” had occurred. Had sworn off men, and it had lasted a couple of hours before another appeared, saying all the right things. Doing everything she liked, and then bam, she was back in bed.
Lilly was glad she no longer lived with the woman because it had been a constant embarrassment to her.
“How are you getting home tonight?” he asked.
“The same way I do every night. Walking.” She’d owned a car for a short time, but due to the expense of gas and the fact it constantly decided not to start and to get it fixed cost her a small fortune, she’d settled on her legs being the only form of transportation she needed.
Caleb sipped at his beer. “I’ll walk with you.”
“Didn’t you bring your truck?” she asked.
“Nope. I got Rome to drop me off.”
His younger brother.
“If that’s what you’d like.”
Lilly finished the rest of her shift. Caleb continued to sit at the bar, even after closing. He helped to clean up, and as she locked up, posting the key through the letterbox and hearing it drop, she grabbed her cell phone. Then she sent the owner, Edward, a quick text that she had locked up and had delivered the key. They did this most nights when Edward wasn’t working.
He trusted her with the bar, just not with the key.
She remembered the conversation, how red in the face Edward had gotten. He’d told her it wasn’t about her, but about her mother. He believed if the mother got hold of the key, she’d take advantage, and seeing as Lilly agreed with him, she didn’t press the issue.
Lilly turned toward Caleb and offered him a smile. “You really don’t have to do this. Couldn’t you just call your brother?”
“I could, but then I wouldn’t get to help a pretty lady home.”
She snorted. “Does that pick-up line usually work?” She held her hand up. “Not that I’m saying you’re trying to pick me up or implying it.”
He laughed. “Did anyone ever tell you that you’re adorable?” he asked.
She groaned. “Don’t say anything else about this.” They walked into line and Lilly glanced at the night. The only light came from the glow of the lamps. It was a nice warm night. She loved the summer, lived for it.
Winter months were the hardest. When she lived back at the trailer with her mother, she’d grow crazy trying to get it heated.
She pushed those long winter memories out of her mind and glanced at Caleb.
“So, no luck finding another woman to bed?”
“I’m starting to think you’re some kind of pimp or something. Are you determined to get me in the bed of every single woman in town?”
Lilly gasped, putting a hand to her chest. “Me? I thought that was your responsibility. Not mine. You’ve certainly done a fine job without it. You’re older than me, don’t forget.”
“Yeah, when’s your birthday?”
“In a few days, why?”
“What are you doing to celebrate it?”
Lilly didn’t falter in her steps. “I’m going to do what I do every year, work. It’s not a big deal. It’s just a birthday.”
Caleb stopped walking. “No big deal?”
“It’s really not.”
“Clearly you haven’t experienced a Hard boy’s birthday. There’s cake, a small gathering of people. It’s all the norm. You know.”
“Sounds nice.” Her mother had forgotten her birthday years ago. They arrived at Aunt Betty’s house. Lilly thanked him for the company, and he waited until she was inside before walking away.
It was such an odd experience.
Caleb was tired. Not that it was a surprise. After walking Lilly home, he’d gone to his own place and thought constantly about the raven-haired woman with the sad blue eyes. Ever since Eliza had introduced them, he couldn’t get her out of his mind. Even before the introduction, he thought she was a looker and often went to the bar just to catch sight of her. She was the first beautiful woman he hadn’t given chase to. Most fell onto his dick easily.
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