“I actually own the place,” he says with a little laugh, as if he finds my little tantrum funny.

I roll my eyes at that. Or course he owns the place. I would be surprised, but he’s so rich, it’s easy to believe he owns just about everything he touches. He leans in a little more, and I try to pretend I don’t notice his closeness. I pick up my drink and take a few big gulps. The bubbles burn the back of my throat.

“Of course you do.” I try to look anywhere but at him as I put my glass back down on the bar with a hard click.

“I knew that wouldn’t impress you. Not even in the least.” His words are lazy, and I can tell he’s saying them with a smile, but I keep my eyes on the bartender as he makes his way back over with Kenton’s drink. He sets it down and tells us our food will be out shortly.

“Stop looking at him,” he growls next to my ear, making me jump. I finally pull my eyes to his, and I can’t read his expression.

“Do they know?” I ask, wanting to know if my brothers sent him here to check on me because he’s close to them. I wonder if they want to make sure, once again, that a man isn’t within ten feet of me. But Kenton is. He’s so close I can feel the heat of his body. Smell the sun on his skin.

“I’m sure it’s only a matter of time, but no, I didn’t tell them, if that’s what you’re asking.”

I relax a little at that. I’d left them a note telling them I was going away for a few days and not to worry. But nothing I could’ve done would make them not worry. I’m their little sister by a good ten years, a whoops my parents had late in life.

Their overprotectiveness was cute when I was younger, but it took on a whole new form when our parents died. I was fifteen and had been left in their care. It would be a lie if I said I didn’t sometimes like it. It’s sweet, and I know they’re only trying to protect me, but it has been starting to wear me down since I left school.

“Is there something you need? Or can I eat in peace?” I cock my head towards him.

I still can’t get a feel for him. The first few times I’d met him, he made me feel out of place, like he didn’t want me around. Then he’d started trying to talk to me. I just gave him the same icy coldness he’d given me, and I actually think that might have blown up in my face. Now he acts like he wants a piece of me. Boys want what they can’t have, and the saying rang loud in my head. It’s ringing now, and for some reason, I want to hold on to it, because Kenton is cocky. He looked at me like I didn’t belong, but I wouldn’t give him the time of day, and now he’s interested. This feels like a small piece of revenge, and I’m probably enjoying it a little too much.

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“Can’t I enjoy the company of a beautiful woman?” He gives me that half smirk again.

“I’m sure there are plenty of beautiful women to keep you company, Mr. Monroe, but I’m not among them.” I run my eyes over him. “And you’re not my type,” I lie, and I feel his body stiffen around me.

I don’t even know what my type is, regardless of what my late-night dreams tell me.

The bartender comes back, placing our plates in front of us. “Can I get a to-go box, please?” I ask him. He nods and heads towards the back once again. I’m not up for a verbal sparring match with a man like Kenton.

“Don’t go.” His tone is different now. It’s soft and sweet and almost sounds like a plea.

I push my stool back and stand, and he makes no move to get up himself. His arm is still on the bar in front of me, but the other’s fallen off the back of my chair.

“I don’t know what’s going on here. One minute you’re kind of a jerk and dismiss me, then the next you're doing this weird flirt-with-me thing,” I say, shaking my head. At least, I think it’s flirting. My experience with men is almost zero, after all. “Either way, it doesn’t matter. It’s not happening. This,” I motion between us, “would never work. I mean, think about the first night we met. You could barely stand the sight of me.”

“That’s not true. I-”

I hold my hand up, cutting him off.

“Let me just be frank so we can stop this. My brothers work for you, and we keep running into each other. I don’t want it to be weird, and I don’t want them to lose your business, but you and I can’t happen. You’d break my heart.” I grip the edge of the bar, my nails digging into the wood. “When I fall in love, it’s going to be with a sweet man who doesn't scare the bejesus out of me.”

I stress love instead of sex, because for some reason I don't want him to know I’m a virgin. I want to lose my virginity to someone who isn’t going to break my heart in the process. Thankfully, the bartender comes back at the end of my little speech and starts packing up my food. Kenton just stares at me while I just watch the bartender box up the food and grab the bag.

“I got it,” Kenton says, grabbing the check from the bar top.

“Thank you.” I give him a tight smile, like a part of me isn’t aching from shutting down what could’ve been. That I hadn’t thought for a minute that maybe, just maybe, I could spend a few sexy nights with this man in paradise. But the aftermath would be too painful. I’m just like he said--sweet. I have no idea how to begin to be sexy.

I’d have to see him again in New York. And what would it be like if, after all that, I’d have to see him with another woman? Heck, I’d been jealous that night at the charity event and we’d said maybe two words to each other.