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"Severely disliking me to the point that she's actually considered doing me bodily harm?" he suggested, chuckling when his friend flipped him off.
"It makes me wonder why she'd agree to go out with you," Andrew mused as he lightly tossed the bottle of water and caught it.
Connor had to snort at that as he reached out and caught the bottle of water. He opened it as he explained, "Because she's desperately in love with me."
Andrew simply shook his head as he said, "No, that's why you're with her."
Connor couldn't help but laugh at that little announcement. "Yeah, okay, buddy," he said, taking a sip.
"Wow, did you actually think that I was going to forget about that faithful little trip of yours to Canada all those years ago?" Andrew asked, cocking a brow in question as Connor choked on his water.
Yeah, he actually had.
"A good friend would forget moments of pure stupidity and never bring them up again," he pointed out with a scowl as he tossed the half-empty bottle of water in the barrel. He was heading back towards the rooms on the far side of the mansion where his men were working when Andrew's next words stopped him.
"She doesn't remember, does she?"
"There's nothing to remember," he said, forcing his mind away from one of the most painful and dumbest moments of his life.
"You never did tell me what happened. Did you end up telling Rory?"
Yes, he had.
It was one of the most frightening moments of his life, but he'd managed to get the words out of his mouth without making a complete ass out of himself. When the words were finally out, Rory gave him the sweetest smile seconds before all the alcohol she'd consumed during the night made a second appearance. After that rather momentous occasion he spent the rest of the night helping her to the jail cell's toilet, helped her drink water and waited for the moment the effects of the alcohol wore off. When that moment came, the look on Rory's face said it all. She didn't feel the same way and probably wouldn't appreciate hearing that he was in love with her, so he kept his mouth shut.
"It was just a childhood crush," Connor said with a shrug.
It was a painful and gut wrenching experience, but one he outgrew with time. He learned to appreciate their little antics, kept an eye out for her, but the palm sweating reaction he used to get just from thinking about her was long gone. It probably also didn't hurt that he'd inadvertently ruined her life that night.
There were a lot of things that he wished he could change about that night, but following her out of that bar was not one of them. If her brothers had been keeping a better eye on her, they would have seen that ass**le leading Rory, who could barely stand at the time, out the back door. The only thing that he regretted was not getting Rory out of there before the bastard managed to pull a knife on him. If he had........
Rory's life would be a lot different than it was now. He knew that much at least. He couldn't go back and change things, but he could at least help make her life easier by keeping her safe. He still planned on enjoying himself while he did it and holy hell was he enjoying himself. There really were no words to describe what it felt like to kiss and hold Rory.
He couldn't get enough of her. He must have kissed her half the night last night and he'd been surprised to discover that he didn't want to stop. He'd still love to get her in his bed, but that wasn't going to happen and he had no plans on trying either. This was more than enough for him. He'd enjoy kissing and holding her until the project was done and then it would be time to move on, for both of them.
"You don't really believe that, do you?" Andrew asked, grabbing another bottle of water.
"It's the truth," Connor bit out.
"Then why did you buy the house next to hers?" Andrew asked with a knowing smile.
"Because it was within my price range and it was the only house on the market at the time that wasn't built in the twentieth century," he explained, again. The fact that Rory owned the house next door was only a bonus. He loved his house almost as much as he loved giving Rory hell.
"Okay," Andrew said slowly. "Then why are you dating her if you're not in love with her?"
"The last time I checked, you didn't have to be in love with a woman to date her. Just want her," he said, not bothering to point out that he really wanted Rory since his friend probably already knew that.
"True," Andrew said, thoughtfully. "But that doesn't explain why she's dating you."
"Is it so hard for you to believe that she desperately wants me?" he demanded, offended that the man thought so little of him. He was a great catch and the man damn well knew that.
Andrew pursed his lips up in thought as he asked, "Do you want an honest answer?"
"Then yes, yes it is," Andrew said with a shrug.
"I hate you," Connor snapped as he turned to leave, but of course the man wasn't done yet.
"What did you do, Connor?" Andrew asked, stopping him in his tracks.
* * * *
"She's going to kill you," Andrew said hollowly twenty minutes later when Connor finished sharing his brilliant plan with him.
"Probably," Connor easily agreed with a chuckle as he grabbed another bottle of water.
"Normally, I stay out of the weird shit the two you have pulled on each other over the years, mostly because it entertains me, but I have to tell you that I think this plan is going to come back and bite you in the ass," Andrew said, sounding completely serious.
"It's just part of the game we play," Connor said with a shrug. "She'll understand it." She'd be pissed at first, but eventually she'd realize that he'd simply played the game better than she did.
"It's fine, Andrew. Just let it go," Connor said, feeling his patience begin to fray. The last thing he needed was his friend getting on his ass about a plan that he knew was going to work.
Andrew put his hands up in surrender. "Fine. It's your life, but just keep that in mind when you f**k this up."
"This is a done deal," he replied, heading for the door and knowing that there was absolutely no chance of him f**king this up.
* * * *
"You're still not talking to me?" Rory asked, biting back a sigh when Jacob continued to ignore her.
"You're going to have to talk to me at some point," she felt obligated to point out as she sorted through the large stack of mail that he'd gone to town to pick up even as she noted that Jacob hadn't picked up her customary extra large hot chocolate and vanilla cream donuts that he normally picked up for her every Saturday when he did the mail run.
Apparently he was still in a mood, she thought with a little head shake as she tossed the bills and junk mail on his desk. She really wasn't sure why he was mad at her. She wasn't even the one that duct taped him to the chair. If he should be mad at anyone it was Connor, she thought, ignoring the delicious little shiver that raced through her body at the mere thought of the man.
Granted, she could have untied him and she'd planned on doing that after she made him sweat it out for an hour or two yesterday. But, was it really her fault that she'd forgotten all about him when she was busy trying to figure out how to get out of the deal she made with Connor? She eventually remembered that she'd left him taped to the chair and sent Bryce a text message to release him. Jacob was probably still upset about the dress and makeup her brothers threw on him. maybe it was the photos, she mused with an inward shrug as she dropped the rest of the mail on his desk.
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