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Home > Jagged (Colorado Mountain #5)(6)

Jagged (Colorado Mountain #5)(6)
Author: Kristen Ashley

Or, perhaps, she shouldn’t make that call ever.

Finally, Ham spoke.

“Are you okay?”

“Ham, darlin’, no fun havin’ a guy you care about show up on the TV while they’re reporting on the multistate killing spree of a freaking ax murderer but he’s very dead and you’re not so, yeah. I guess I’m okay.”

“Okay,” he replied and I could hear the smile in his voice.

God, I missed him.

Shit, I missed him.

This was a bad idea.

“Talked to Jake,” he stated unexpectedly and I knew right then for certain this was a bad idea.

Jake worked at The Dog. Jake had worked at The Dog for ages. Jake was installed behind the bar at The Dog in a way that everyone knew he wasn’t going to leave.

It wasn’t just about longevity in the job. It was about the fact that The Dog could get crowded and rowdy, which meant he got good tips. I suspected it was also mostly because it got crowded and rowdy, half that rowdy crowd was female and drunk, so Jake also got a lot of action.

Jake was a Gnaw Bone native, like me. And, in his position of working at the bar in town where the locals frequented, Jake knew more of what was going down in Gnaw Bone than the police did.

So that meant, if Jake talked to Ham, Ham knew about me and Greg.

“Ham—”

“Says you split up with your man.”

Okay, totally certain this was a bad idea.

And totally certain that, when I could next afford to buy a drink at The Dog, I was going to drink it and then throw my glass at big-mouth Jake.

“Yeah,” I confirmed.

“First stop,” he declared.

“What?” I asked.

“Comin’ to see you. First stop.”

Oh God.

Not only was calling Ham a bad idea, it was a catastrophic one.

“Ham—”

“Babe, you shot of him?”

“Yes, Ham. Though I wouldn’t refer to it as ‘shot of him,’ but—”

“First stop.”

I wanted that. I so very much wanted that.

But not now. Not after what I did to Greg. Not with all that was going on.

And probably not ever.

Because seeing Ham might destroy me.

I’d walked away from him once and that was hard enough.

I didn’t think I could endure watching him walk away from me.

“Darlin’, I think—” I began.

“Care about you, cookie, you know I do. Been years, sucked, not knowin’ what’s up with you but, babe, I just got an ax embedded in my shoulder. You think shit through when that kind of thing happens, trust me. And, Zara, you matter. I can give respect to you and him. You’re together, hitched, you both deserve that. You shot of him, this disconnect we got goin’ ends.”

“I—”

“First stop. I’ll be there tomorrow.”

I lost my cool and exclaimed, “Ham!”

He didn’t care that I lost my cool.

“Tomorrow, babe,” he replied.

Then I had dead air.

I stared at my phone for several beats before I told it, “Yep, that was not a good idea.”

The phone just sat in my hand.

The news anchor droned from the TV.

I got up and headed to the kitchen.

I came back with a glass of ice, a two-liter of ginger ale, and a bottle of vodka. The last of my vodka that I’d been saving for the right time, seeing as I couldn’t afford to replace it and I couldn’t see on the horizon a day soon when I would.

This was definitely that time.

Ham’s voice slid through my head.

Tomorrow, babe.

I decided not to bother with the ginger ale.

Or the glass.

Chapter Two

Tatters

I heard the growl of a big truck’s engine.

My eyes shot open.

That growl was coming from my driveway.

Then it stopped.

That was when my body flew into motion. I threw the covers back and jumped out of bed.

It was dark. I didn’t care. I rushed through my bedroom into the hall and straight to the front door.

I unlocked it, yanked it open, and Ham was standing there, one arm in a sling, the other hand lifted toward the doorbell.

I threw myself at him, wrapping my arms around him.

He grunted, part in surprise but mostly in pain.

I jumped back.

“God, sorry!” I cried.

He stared at me through the shadows. The only illumination we had was dim and coming from the muted streetlamps of my development. I felt his eyes move over my face as I drank him in.

Then his hand shot out, hooking me at the back of the head. He yanked me to him, planting my face in his chest.

Cautiously this time, I rounded him with my arms.

“Cookie,” he whispered into the top of my hair.

Warmth washed through me and I closed my eyes.

“Ham,” I whispered back.

“Missed you, baby,” he said softly.

I closed my eyes harder and pressed my face into his chest.

He let me, and we stayed that way a long time.

Finally, he broke the moment by lifting his lips from my hair and saying, “Let’s continue this reunion inside with a beer.”

Shit, I didn’t have beer.

And shit again, I forgot in the thrill of hearing his truck in my drive that I’d spent that entire day alternately freaking out about the state of my life and freaking out about the fact that Ham was coming back and what I was going to do when he did, with Ham winning most of my freak-out time. Though, even with all the time I gave it, obviously, I didn’t come up with a plan, nor did I steel myself against the thrill of hearing his truck in my drive.

And shit a-freaking-gain. In the thrill of hearing his truck in my drive, I forgot to throw on at least a robe so I was standing there in a clingy, sexy rose-pink, spaghetti-strapped nightgown that showed cle**age, exposed some skin through strategically placed lace, and had been purchased in a time when life was a whole lot better.

I tilted my head back, leaving my arms where they were, and he curled his hand around the back of my neck.

“I don’t have beer,” I informed him and watched his brows shoot up.

“Did hell freeze over and I missed it?” he asked and I wanted to keep distant. I wanted to control this “reunion.” I wanted to guard my heart and my time.

I just couldn’t.

So I smiled.

“Don’t have a line to the devil, Ham.”

“Bullshit, babe. Somewhere along the line, you made a deal with him. No woman who gives head the way you do hasn’t sold her soul for that ability.”

I blinked at this quick, explicit reminder of our bygone intimacy.

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