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Bad For Me(6)

By:Codi Gary



A zing of pleasure went through him. “How do you know?”

Her cheeks turned a dusty pink. “You’re a local hero, and people talk.”

“Ah,” he said, a little disappointed when he caught her meaning. “So my scars gave me away, huh? I should start wearing a Phantom of the Opera mask; try to be a little more mysterious.”

“No, you shouldn’t,” she said sharply.

“What?”

After a moment’s hesitation, she said, “You shouldn’t try to hide who you are. What you did . . . well, it was very brave. You should be proud of your scars. They’re proof of your heart and your service.”

The statement was so frank that Everett was a little taken aback. Even she seemed thrown by her words. Most people tiptoed around his burns, even his brother and father.

“Well, they definitely make a fascinating conversation piece,” he said, trying to lighten the mood. “By the way, do you have a name, or should I just call you Whiskey?”

“Whiskey?” she echoed.

“Yeah.” He tapped just below his eye. “Your eyes are the color of rich Scottish whiskey.”

“Why Scottish?”

“I went there and took a tour of one of their distilleries. Nobody makes a clearer or better whiskey,” he said, adding, “as the hangovers I suffered during that week will attest.”

“I didn’t know hangovers could be expert witnesses,” she said.

“Are you forgetting Brad Paisley’s ‘Alcohol’?”

“Touché,” she said, her lips twitching like she was fighting a smile.

“Your name is Touché?” he deadpanned. Her soft laugh was exhilarating.

“Callie. It’s Callie Jacobsen. I’m actually the DJ for your brother’s wedding.” Callie tucked a stray curl behind her ear, just as the wind blew five more into her face.

What he wouldn’t give to be able to reach out and push her hair back, the soft strands sliding through his fingers—

Everett’s heart skipped a beat as her words sank in, and he realized she was his Callie. The Callie he’d been calling nearly every morning for over a year.

The one who pretty much thought he was a creep.

Justin had said he’d hired one of the Kat Country DJs, just not which one. What if he admitted who he was and she bailed on the wedding? Despite her friendly manner, there was nothing in her demeanor that said, I am so attracted to you that I’ll forgive the fact you freaked me out.

Better to play it cool, at least for now.

“You host the morning show on the Kat?”

“Yeah, Weekdays with Callie Jay.” Her tone was amused, even if her lips barely tilted up at the corners. Though she’d laughed, he wondered why she didn’t smile. Instead, she just watched him with those amber eyes, as if she wasn’t sure what to make of him.

“It’s . . . it’s a good show,” Everett said, his voice sounding squeaky to his ears.

Get a grip, man. She doesn’t know you’re the crazy stalker.

“Thank you. Well, it was nice to meet you, but I’m actually late for something.” Callie folded her ripped paper.

“Let me buy you a new Rock Canyon Press, as an apology for bumping into you,” he said quickly. He wasn’t ready for her to go yet.

“Really, it’s not your fault—”

“It’s fifty cents,” he said, taking her paper and tossing it in a trashcan. “And it will make me feel better.” He slid two quarters into the newspaper dispenser and waited for the click before opening it and grabbing another paper. “Here you go.”

She took it slowly and seemed at a loss for something to say. “Thank you. It wasn’t necessary.”

“Happy to do it,” he said honestly. The wind tossed her curls over her eyes once more, and Everett resisted another urge to brush them back, just so she would look at him again.

God, when was the last time he’d been so taken with a woman he’d only just met? At least, in person. If his desire to be near her was any indication, too long, apparently.

“Well, thank you again,” she said and tucked the paper under her arm. “I guess I’ll see you at the wedding?”

“Yeah, if not before.” Everett wondered why she kept looking away from him. She had been so frank about his scars, yet she hardly met his gaze now.

Except for that first intense meeting of their eyes.

“Bye, then.” She walked past him with her monster dog, those curls dancing around her shoulders like gold and moonlight ribbons.

“See ya.” He was speaking more to himself, though, since she was already several yards away.

Now that he’d met Callie in person, there was no denying that the connection he’d felt had been real.

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