The third standalone novel in Rachel Higginson’s Opposites Attract series—one of my favourite series EVER—is releasing tomorrow, and I have a sneak peek for you.
“Hey, Wyatt,” Dillon said, breaking the awkward tension boiling between us. “What’s up?”
He didn’t take his eyes off me. “Are you planning on working tonight? Or are you going to hang out here until your shift’s over?”
I attempted to swallow, but my throat had dried out to a husk and I couldn’t manage it. “Here,” I decided. It seemed like a better option than walking back inside. “I’m going to hang out here all night.”
His sneer hit me right in the gut, and a deep swell of panic and insecurity washed over me. I wanted to crawl into a hole and hide. I wanted to walk away from this restaurant and never look back. I wanted to… I wanted to feel nothing whenever Wyatt was involved.
That was my biggest issue with him. He made me feel more than any other person on the planet. When he disapproved of something I did, it killed me. When he got irritated with me, it made me want to cry. When he approved of something I did, my spirit soared. When he touched me, I burned. When he kissed me, I exploded.
My emotions were not neutral toward him. I was all over the place. With every other person I could remain nonchalant, totally unaffected no matter their opinion of me. At the very least I could defer to sarcasm without wanting to cry or run away.
Wyatt brought every single feeling out of me. All at once. I didn’t want to care about him or what he thought. Yet, here I stood, a buzzing, flailing ball of feeling. If Dillon wasn’t here, I probably would have jumped the poor man and picked up right where he’d left off earlier—meaning more kisses. So many more kisses.
I was also contemplating punching him in the kidneys.
It was really anyone’s guess what I would do. But the indecision inside me was concerning.
He turned his glare on Dillon. “Can I have a minute with Kaya?”
She crossed her arms and glared back. “That depends. Are you going to be mean?”
His jaw ticked, and I had to fight to swallow again. Only for entirely different reasons. Damn that jaw.
Damn this boy.
“I’m never mean to Kaya.”
Dillon rolled her eyes, and the confused, over-emotional crazy person inside me threw her hands in the air and cheered for good friends. “Please.”
Wyatt’s jaw ticked again. “Go inside, Dillon. I need to have a conversation with my sous chef.”
She pointed a finger at him. “Be nice.”
His hands dropped to his waist and he glared at the ground until she’d walked past him and disappeared in the building again.
“Am I in trouble?” My voice had more courage than I felt, but I was thankful for the bravado.
His head lifted slowly, his eyes finding mine from behind thick lashes. “You shouldn’t let her set you up. I’ve heard stories about the guys she dates. They’re losers.”
His words made zero sense to me. I blinked at him and tried to put them in the right order. Was he having a stroke? “What?”
“Listen, you’re better than that. You deserve more than club rats.”
My heart kicked in my chest and I struggled to catch my breath. Was that a compliment? But I didn’t know what to say. Or why he was giving me dating advice. I should have said thank you and walked back inside. That’s what I should have done. But like all the times before with Wyatt, for whatever stupid reason, I ended up blurting the truth. “I, uh, she’s not setting me up with anyone.”
His eyes narrowed. “I thought I heard you ask her to.”
Belatedly I remembered that I had asked her to hook me up not that long ago. Crap. But had I even been serious? I didn’t have the time or energy for blind dates and meaningless hookups. Honestly, a night out with one of Dillon’s friends sounded exhausting. Best to move this along. “You must have misheard. Uh, what did you want to talk to me about?”
He remained silent long enough that I wondered if he forgot what he’d wanted to talk to me about. Finally, he said, “There’s a chance that Rebecca Jones will stop by tonight.”
“Whoa.” Rebecca Jones was a food critic in Durham. Lilou had been reviewed by plenty of notable critics while Killian was here and considering the magazines and professionals and acclaimed critics that had reviewed before, Rebecca Jones wasn’t that big of a deal. But for Wyatt, she was the most notable critic to dine at Lilou under his new regime.
This was a good sign for him. People wanted to check him out, see if he had the chops it took to handle Lilou.
He shrugged. “It’s not for sure. But just in case, I, uh, I need you to be extra on top of things tonight.”
Noticing the redness to his eyes and the several days of stubble covering his face, it was easy to see that he still wasn’t sleeping. Unable to help myself, I leaned forward and brushed my thumb over his cheekbone. He leaned into my touch, his eyes fluttering closed.
I had the strongest urge to kiss his closed eyelid. My heart squeezed with the need to soothe some of his exhaustion, the burden stress and perfection had dropped on his shoulders. He was too calm like this, too sweet. This wasn’t the dictator I’d come to resent in the kitchen, this was a softer, more insecure version of him. A version that made me all squishy inside and prone to make bad decisions.
When I realized what I was doing, I dropped my hand. His eyes opened, and my heart kicked again at how tired he looked. Maybe that was what the kiss was about earlier—sleep deprivation.
“Are you still not sleeping?” I asked gently.
He shook his head. “I think I’m still acclimating.”
“You must be doing something right. Rebecca Jones is coming tonight. The city of Durham will soon know you can handle the shit out of this kitchen.”
I had been hoping for a smile and I got one. “Yeah, or the opposite.”
Rolling my eyes, I moved to walk past him. “Don’t worry, I’ll babysit you tonight so that doesn’t happen.”
His arm shot out, wrapping around the front of me. “Thank you,” he murmured near my ear.
We heard the smokers returning at the same time. His arm dropped immediately, and I ducked inside before anyone caught us talking innocently and not at all suspiciously outside.
I looked for a surface to bang my forehead against until my rapidly beating heart and rushing blood returned to normal but settled on prep work and hours of chopping instead.
Get your shit together, Kaya. Or you’re going to end up as red-eyed and glitchy as Wyatt.
And I did not have time for that right now.
I had an executive chef to babysit and a different restaurant to take over.
It was hard to focus after all that had happened between us today. By the time I got home after a grueling fifteen-hour shift and a successful night of impressing Rebecca Jones—or at least I hoped we had— I wasn’t even surprised to find a text message from Wyatt. I might have even been expecting one.
Thanks for taking care of me tonight.
I smiled at the typed words, imagining that they were said with no small amount of reluctance. Are you embarrassed by how much you need me? I asked him.
Not even a little bit, he’d typed back immediately. Pretty sure I’ve needed you for a long time.
The demonic seductress inside me couldn’t help herself. You’ve never said anything before…
I’ve never had an opportunity before.
I nibbled on my lip ring and tried to decide if he was still talking about food. Don’t let this go to your head, chef, but I might need you too.
His reply was simple, to the point, and inexplicably the hottest text I’d ever received. Good.