Home > Hosed (Happy Cat #1)(8)

Hosed (Happy Cat #1)(8)
Author: Pippa Grant, Lili Valente

Maybe it’s the lip-loosening lemonade effect, or those blue eyes I’ve never fully been able to resist, but I find myself telling him more than my standard answer. “Well, no. I miss being close to family. But Mom and Dad retired to Florida last year, so it’s just Savannah here, and I like the anonymity of the city. Between all the press when we were kids, and the gossip here, it’s nice to be in a place where nobody cares who I am. My coworkers are awesome. We all get super spun up when we’re in the early stages of putting a new game together, or when we’re launching, or when we’re battling the bugs in the trenches.” I shrug. “I fit there. We can hit a comedy club or a gaming convention or a concert without driving an hour into Atlanta and battling for parking. The mass transit system is so much better. Not perfect, but….” I trail off, suddenly keenly aware that I’ve been word-vomiting all over him. “Sorry. I’m being boring, aren’t I?”

He shakes his head with a wistful sigh. “Not at all. It sounds amazing. I wish I knew what that felt like. That kind of…freedom.”

What? What was that in his tone? It couldn’t be jealousy? No way. Surely not. I am a person who experiences that emotion, not one who inspires it in others. “Well, it has its downsides, too. Parking is the worst and if I have to watch one more naked dude cruising the Tenderloin on his bicycle, I’m going to take to wearing a blindfold full time.”

Ryan grins. “Seriously? They ride their bikes naked?”

“They do,” I confirm. “But most of them wear a helmet so at least one head is protected.”

He laughs harder this time, letting out a rich, lovely rumble that makes me feel warm all over.

“San Francisco is one of a kind.” I lift a shoulder and take another sip of the lemonade. “But it’s awesome here, too.”

He hums dubiously and I wince, because even I don’t believe me.

“Give it a day.” He winks, and tingles race across my skin in response. “Tomorrow Maud and Gerald will get into it over her sexy cookies or someone’s goat will get loose in town hall and the farmers’ market will be forgotten.”

“Maybe. But I don’t think Happy Cat will ever forget that Savannah opened a sex toy factory here. I’ve only been home a week and a half, and I’ve already heard at least a hundred opinions about Sunshine Toys.” My phone dings, I glance down, and then I lift it to show him. “See?”

It’s a text from Gerald Hutchins informing me that if the mayor won’t shut down Savannah’s company, he’s going to the health department, because it’s in the best interest of the health of the youth of our community not to be subjected to sex on a daily basis.

Ryan rolls his eyes. “You know how much tax money the town gets from that factory? No one’s going to shut her down.”

I sigh, wishing I had ten percent of his faith that this was all going to blow over. “I admire her so much for putting the factory front and center here. I wouldn’t have done it. Not with the gossip train and small-town politics.”

“I hear you.” He leans forward, elbows on his knees, mason jar dangling from his fingers. “But Happy Cat’s more than the gossip and small-town politics.”

I try really hard not to roll my eyes—that’s all I’ve experienced since getting here ten days ago—but I’m pretty sure I’m failing.

“It is,” he insists.

“Maybe for you,” I say. Though, honestly, if I weren’t presently a virgin attempting to run a sex toy company, I might feel differently about being in the center of a business that inspires so much gossip. I don’t need my lack of experience being the next breaking scandal in Happy Cat, and working with sex toys all day makes it all the more likely people will speculate on my love life.

I was more than happy to get out of Happy Cat when I left for college, as much to get out of the “Savannah Sunshine’s older sister” spotlight as anything else. I’m proud of Savannah, but all that attention just isn’t for me. Never has been, never will be. The only kind of attention I enjoy is praise from my supervisors, admiration from my peers, and…the way Ryan is looking at me right now, like he’d enjoy dribbling lemonade across my fingertips and sucking off every drop.

God, be still my heart. Seriously—Be. Still.

If it pounds any louder, surely Ryan will hear it.

“Not just for me,” he insists in this husky voice that makes all the little hairs on the back of my neck lift and my lips feel drunk. Just my lips, which are suddenly hot and kind of numb, but not in a bad way. “You have plans Saturday?”

Plans? What? What is he even talking about with that sexy voice of his? “No,” I finally manage to stammer, “b-but I—”

“Great. I’ll meet you here at nine.”

I blink. “Nine?”

“In the morning,” he clarifies with a grin. “So I can show you the glorious secret underbelly of Happy Cat.”

I would prefer to see your glorious secret underbelly, I think, but thankfully do not say out loud. But I almost do because my lips are under the influence of his sexy voice and his penetrating gaze and the tremendously tremendous smell of him.

“Tremendous,” I murmur, eyes going wide as I realize the word escaped my mouth and that, judging by Ryan’s grin, he thinks I’ve just agreed to the underbelly tour. I hurry to backtrack, “I mean, it would be tremendous if I didn’t have tons of work. Like…tons.”

He arches a dubious brow. “On a Saturday morning? When the factory’s closed?”

“The sex toy business never sleeps?” I say, but even I know that’s weak.

“Savannah misses you, you know,” he says. “She talks about you all the time.”

I narrow my eyes. “Oh, that’s just low.”

“Just saying, maybe you’d come see her more often if you knew what you were really missing here.” He winks at me, shamelessly, wickedly, and maybe…flirtatiously? “Make sure your bike’s ready. We’re going to need it.”

At that, my cheeks go nuclear again, because I can’t think about the bike without thinking about the dildo handlebars and dildos and I still aren’t casual acquaintances. “I do enjoy riding bikes, but—”

“I’ll pack the lemonade.”

He grins again, and I can’t help but laugh. “I think you’re cheating,” I say, swirling the last of the deadly delicious lemonade at the bottom of my mason jar. “This stuff is happy in a glass.”

“Good. I’ll keep it coming, then. Happy neighbors are important. They throw out fewer things for my raccoon to drag home in the dead of night.” He stands. “Nine o’clock Saturday morning. I’ll see you here.”

I start to hand him back his mason jar, but he shakes his head. “You’re not done yet. I’ll get it later.”

He leaves the house, whistling as he goes, and I wonder what on earth I just agreed to. A friendly outing? A guilt trip from a man who thinks I’m not taking my family obligations as seriously as I should?

Or…a date?

“I think it’s a date,” I whisper to the bottom of my glass of lemonade, but the lemonade does not respond. Because it’s lemonade.

Seven

From the town of Happy Cat, Georgia’s community InstaChat page.

* * *

POST BY Gerald_Hutchins

AKA BakeryBoyHC:

* * *

After the nightmare at the Farmer’s Market this afternoon, I think we can all agree that it’s time for that perverted abomination by the post office to be shut down. PERMANENTLY! How can we call ourselves a town that puts families first when we’re harboring something straight out of Jezebel’s Closet right in the bosom of our community?

* * *

COMMENTS

* * *

Tucker87: Ha! He said bosom…

* * *

Ruthie_May_Is_Me: Jezebel’s Closet! That’s a great name for a lingerie store, Gerald. You should open one! Maybe you’d be less cranky if you were surrounded by satin and lace all day.

* * *

Emma_June_Jennings: Doubtful. If being up to his elbows in sugar hasn’t made him any sweeter, nothing else is going to do the job. Get a life, Gerald! There are children starving in the Sudan, and right here at home for that matter. One in six Georgians are food insecure. Think about that the next time you get your panties in a twist about women seeking pleasure without shame.

* * *

Tucker87: You make me insecure, Emma June. How’d you get to be so pretty and so smart?

* * *

Emma_June_Jennings: No, Tucker. Just…no. This isn’t the time or the place.

* * *

Tucker87: Sorry. Are we still on for Saturday night? I’m sorry about what I said at dinner the other night.

* * *

Emma_June_Jennings: Not here, Tucker! Text me. And yes. Probably. If you can stay off InstaChat between now and then.

* * *

AskAnOldManCarl52: Amen, Gerald! About time someone started talking sense around here. I’m sick of covering my granddaughter’s eyes every time I drop a deer head off at the taxidermist’s.

* * *

Emma_June_Jennings: Oh, so exposing your granddaughter to the DEATH OF A NOBLE CREATURE is no big deal? But God forbid you expose her to a picture of a happy sunshine or the idea that her body and her pleasure both belong to her and neither one is a dirty thing.

* * *

AskAnOldManCarl52: She’s eight years old!

* * *

Emma_June_Jennings: Exactly the right age to start talking about sex! A lot of girls start menstruating at 9 or 10. She’s going to be scared to death if someone doesn’t talk to her about the facts of life before she wakes up with bloody underwear.

* * *

AskAnOldManCarl52: You should be ashamed of yourself, Emma June. Your grandmother raised you better than to talk about your woman time in public.

* * *

Emma_June_Jennings: My WOMAN TIME? Are you kidding me right now, dude? Ruthie_May_Is_Me, can you please educate Carl on the way I was raised?

   
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