Look the Part (Page 12)

Flint frowns. “Go get set up and I’ll bring them up. But one song, Harrison. That’s it.”

He runs past me and tugs at the door to the building. “Dad, open the freaking door.”

I shove my keys in the lock and enter my code.

“I’m sorry—”

I shake off Flint’s attempt to apologize to me. “It’s fine. We’ll meet you upstairs. I can’t wait to meet your parents.” I bite my bottom lip to contain my smile.

Flint grimaces just before he turns back toward the parking lot. He doesn’t seem as excited about me meeting them.

We get out the guitars and warm up while waiting for Flint and his parents.

“Where do your grandparents live?”


“Where in Colorado?”

Harry focuses on his fingers strumming the guitar. “I don’t know.”

I grin. Of course he doesn’t know, not because he hasn’t been told; he just doesn’t deem that particular detail worthy of his memory.

“What took you so long?” Harry rolls his eyes as Flint and his parents come in the room. “One. Two. Ready. Go.” He doesn’t wait for introductions or so much as a quick hello. I follow his lead, making the occasional glance over at Flint and his parents, who are grinning in spite of the straight line affixed to Flint’s face.

When we finish, they clap, even Flint.

“That was amazing, Harrison!” His grandma gives him a hug which he stiffly accepts.

“Ellen, I’d like you to meet my parents, Gene and Camilla. This is Ellen Rodgers.”

They both shake my hand.

“Harrison has talked about you nonstop.” Camilla smiles.

“So this is the renter you said has nice…” Gene smirks at Flint for a brief moment like they have some inside joke “…teeth.”

Flint narrows his eyes at his dad. I’m not following.

I grin, showing them my teeth.

The older Hopkins men give each other another look. They weren’t talking about my teeth.

“Well, your five minutes are up, Harrison. We need to get to dinner.”

“I know, I know …” He puts the guitar back in its case. “We need to get to dinner so I can go home with Grandma and Grandpa while you go on a date.”

Flint’s back snaps ramrod straight, his gaze ping-ponging between his parents and Harrison.

Camilla gives him an impish grin. “It’s silly for you to sneak around. The last time we were here, I simply explained that you are an adult and you need—”

“Female companionship,” Harrison says flatly. “It’s fine. I get it. Let’s just go. Bye, Elle.”

“It was nice to meet you.” Gene and Camilla nod politely and follow Harrison to the elevator.

“I’ll be right down,” Flint calls to them, keeping his eyes on me.

“Smart kid.” I bite my lips together, eyebrows raised a fraction.

“I don’t bring women to my house. I don’t know how to navigate this part of single parenting.”

“None of my business, Flint.” I slide my guitar in its case. “I think we’ve established the fact that you don’t owe me anything. Least of all any sort of explanation to the hows and whys of where you meet women and what you do with them.”

“Thanks for not saying anything to Harrison or my parents about …”

I cock my head, eyes wide. “About? My arm?” I hold it up. A grunted laugh escapes in a short burst of air though my nose. “It’s fine. I’m mature enough to keep a secret. I’m not twelve.”

“You popped my balloons on my birthday.” He gives me the closest thing to a grin that I’ve seen in weeks from him.

Yeah, there was that. “Don’t you have a reservation? A date? Female companionship awaiting you?”

“Ellen …”

Resting a hand on my hip, I stare at the floor, shaking my head. “I liked it.” I look up. “You touching me. Me touching you. I liked it. It meant something to me, but … not what you think. Not love. Not any sort of commitment. The physical experience mattered to me. I don’t want to taint it with words. When I leave, I don’t want to remember what I said to you or what you said to me. I only want to remember your touch in that moment.”

Yep. I’ve lost him. His eyebrows knit together.

I laugh. “Go. They’re waiting on you. Don’t read into anything. Don’t let what happened the other day deter you from your post-dinner plans. I’m good. There was never a hook to begin with, but if you felt there was, then rest assured you’re off it.”

He nods several times, his signature contemplative thought stuck to his face as he turns and walks toward the elevator. I shut off the lights and close the door behind me. Flint waits for me to step onto the elevator first. A few seconds later when we step off, I ease my hand around his wrist. He looks down at my hand and then at me.

I release him and straighten his tie. “I like this suit. Nothing beats classic black with a red silk tie.” My hand smooths his tie under his jacket.

“You’re humming.”

“Mmm …” Glancing up, I smile. “Go make some lucky lady’s day. Just don’t let her fall as hard as I did.” I turn and don’t look back.



There’s a pack of peppermint gum in one of the inside pockets to my suit jacket and three condoms in the other pocket. My parents are in town to stay with Harrison. He’s given me his blessing to enjoy “female companionship.” I have five numbers in my phone that would be a sure thing tonight—an easy, uncomplicated hookup.

Yet, I crave her. I still taste her. How can she make me irritable, itchy, and so fucking needy at the same time? She looks at me the way Heidi used to look at me. It’s unsettling.

Sitting in my car, parked a few blocks away from my house after dropping off Harrison and my parents, I bring up her number on my phone and stare at it. My thumb hovers over the send button. I cancel out of that screen and bring up one of the five less complicated numbers. I go back and forth from one screen to the next until my thumb hits send of its own accord.

She picks up on the third ring. “Hello?”



“Do you like Jazz?”

“Uh …” She softly laughs. “Yes, I do.”

“I’ll pick you up in ten.”

I press end and dial her address into my navigation. When I park on the street in front of her apartment building, Ellen steps out the door and hurries to my vehicle, tugging the collar of her trench coat close to her neck. So much for showing my gentlemanly skills. I pull my door shut again since she was too quick.

“Brr …” She shivers while sliding into the seat and shooting me a teeth-chattering grin. “You know, I don’t require a fancy night out. I’m good with sex if that’s what you need.”

I put it in Drive and shake my head, pulling away from the curb. “You really should make guys work a little harder for it.”

She denies me a response, but out of the corner of my eye I see her smiling. I don’t know what we’re doing—what I’m doing—but it feels like something I need for whatever reason.

“How’s your arm?”

“It’s fine. Would you forget about it already?” She sighs with a soft hum. “You’re your mom. Anyone ever tell you that?”

I chuckle. I look nothing like my mom. “Did you miss that the tall guy with dark hair was my dad and the short blonde was my mom?”

“Probably to most, you look like your dad. I notice the shape of your eyes—her eyes—earlobes, how you both roll your r’s the same, the shape of your mouth when you smile, and the tone of your laugh. It’s all your mom.”

With each passing second she sucks me into this unfamiliar world of hers. She’s smart and so damn sexy. That’s enough to get my attention. But then I blink and she shines light onto my world in a way I’ve never seen it before.

As soon as I pull into the parking spot along the street, she hops out. I would have opened her door.

“Brr …”

I laugh at her low tolerance for fifty-degree weather. She hugs her arms across her chest, and I rest my hand on her lower back, guiding her to the neon sign above the little dive that’s one of the best kept secrets in the city.

“Elle!” The bouncer at the door hugs Ellen.

I didn’t see that coming.

“Cam, how the hell are you?” She hugs him back.

“It’s all good, girl. Haven’t seen you around here in a while.”

“I moved to a different apartment. It’s not in walking distance.”

“You ever heard of a car or public transportation?”

She laughs. “Yeah, yeah … Cam, this is Flint.”

“I know Hopkins.” Cam gives me a fist bump. “Everyone knows Hopkins.”

“Oh?” Ellen’s eyes widen and her head moves back as her gaze makes an exaggerated inspection of me.

“Clearly you don’t follow football,” Cam says.

“Clearly not as well as I should.” Ellen twists her lips to the side like she’s trying to figure me out.