Matty straightened and pinned his gaze on Jenna. “Has your ex been stalking you?”
The discomfort rippled through her, and she shuddered. “Not exactly.”
“Jenna,” her brother Derek prodded.
She sighed. “I wouldn’t go that far, but I guess some people might call it that.”
“What does he do?” Matty asked, his voice clipped.
“He—he sends me messages or shows up at places where he knows I’ll be. He tries to convince me to give him another chance. Go out with him to dinner or for a drink. I say no.”
“Yet, he hasn’t backed off.” Matty pointed out.
“This is only a recent thing. The marriage ended badly. A few weeks ago, he said he’s had time to calm down and come to his senses. He wants me back. He swears he’d never cheat on me again.” She grunted. “Like I hadn’t heard that before.”
“I don’t like it,” Derek said. “I’ve heard too many stories like this with the situation escalating.”
Jenna exhaled. “You’re overreacting. It’s not going to go anywhere.”
“But with the way he’s not letting you go,” Matty added, “It could escalate.”
She turned to face him and sighed. “Not you too?”
“Derek’s right. You should have someone looking out for you. I’m happy to do so.”
She scrunched up her face and placed her fingers on her temples. “This isn’t some SEAL mission.”
“I know.” Matty asked. “It’s helping out a friend.”
She drummed her fingers on the tabletop. “You can’t just act like my bodyguard just because my brother is worried about me.”
“Why not?” He shrugged. “I’m free from military responsibilities and have nothing else going on for the next few weeks while I figure out what I do next. And I’m right here in Newport.”
She shook her head. “This is crazy. Just because you’re in town—and you’re available—” Possibilities tumbled through her mind and she blurted out one of them with a wave of her hand. “What are you proposing? Like, you’d act like my boyfriend to scare Roberto off?”
The second she heard her suggestion, she bit her lip but it was too late to yank the words back. Matty’s presence after all this time turned her into a hot mess, leading her to amble without grace, spill drinks, and utter half-assed ideas. Too bad an ocean wave couldn’t break through the window and sweep her away from this conversation.
Derek’s eyes gleamed. “I didn’t even think of that. Jenna, that’s perfect.”
She bit her lip and glanced at the ice cubes in her glass. Her cheeks burned. What had she just suggested? A fake relationship with her brother’s friend? One she’d crushed on so long ago?
An uncomfortable silence followed. She couldn’t even look at Matty to witness his horror at her suggestion.
Since she’d run into Matty tonight after all this time, she’d practically been auditioning for the role of the Queen of Awkward Moments.
She grabbed her glass and gulped at the liquid as if she’d find courage at the bottom of the glass. Whether he said yes or no, both could mean trouble.
“A fantastic read… I loved it.”
“Wonderful characters with personalities that pop off the page.”
“I love this story… chemistry and steam aplenty.”