Playing for Keeps / Page 42

Page 42


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It was just another reminder of what he did last night. She still couldn't believe he'd hurt her like this. Despite Jason's flawed dating past she'd trusted him, more than anyone. He was the only person that never took advantage of her "doorstep" tendencies.

He'd been kind, sweet and considerate with her and never tried to manipulate her into doing something she didn't want to do. When they were intimate he'd never once pushed for more than she was willing to give him. That alone had made her love him even more. Too many times in her past men had gone out their way to coerce her into taking a step she wasn't ready to take.

When she'd refused they tried to sweet talk her, manipulate her, guilt her, until they finally got pissed. More than one man had ended things with her when she wouldn't sleep with him. She'd been called a bitch and a tease more times than she cared to remember. The fact that she'd been upfront about her sexual comfort level hadn't mattered.

There had been several men that ended things as soon as she told them she wouldn't have sex with them, but others thought she was lying, teasing them, or setting up a challenge. When they eventually realized she hadn't lied things would end, they'd turn cold and mean. Some had hung around a little longer hoping to change her mind, but she never did.

That is until Jason.

His reaction had been anything but typical or expected. Instead of arguing or questioning her, he'd readily accepted what she told him with a smile and a little teasing. Every time they became intimate she'd prepared herself for Jason to push her into having sex, but he never did. Not once. Even those times when she knew he was dying to take her he hadn't. He'd grit his teeth and accept whatever she offered him, which was why she felt comfortable and ready to make love to him last night.

Taking the next step with Jason had felt so natural last night. It wasn't until after his little announcement that she regretted what they'd done. He'd done it because he thought she was playing him only to end up playing her. Last night he'd manipulated her into sleep with him to prove something and then actually had the balls to announce it like it was no big deal.

She wiped away a tear. It was a very big deal to her. She'd waited all her life for the right man and the right time only to be used by the man she thought cared for her. He said he loved her last night, but he really didn't. There was no question that he cared for her a little, but love? No. Last night proved beyond a doubt that Jason wasn't capable of loving her. If he loved her he wouldn't have treated her so callously.

The simple truth was, Jason was stubborn. It was the reason why he slept with her to prove something and the same reason he hid in her car and was being bullheaded about this breakup. She doubted he'd ever been dumped before and he probably wasn't handling it well. Jason liked to call the shots when it came to women and having his shy little neighbor dump him probably grated on his ego.

There was absolutely no doubt in her mind that if she took him back he'd dump her ass in a matter of weeks just so that he could be the one to make that decision. It was better for everyone that they ended things now. This way she was only disappointed in Jason and didn't hate him, although maybe that would be for the best as well.

She paused in the bathroom doorway and sighed heavily as she took in the steaming bubble bath Jason had drawn for her in the deep claw footed bathtub. He even set out a towel and her favorite tee shirt to change into afterwards.

"Stupid jerk," she mumbled, once again stopping herself from melting. She just had to remember that this was all a game to him and she'd be fine.

Chapter 22

"You f**king moron."

Jason couldn't argue with that. He'd seriously screwed everything up and desperately needed to find a way to fix it, which is why he called in the big guns.

His father.

"Tell me this is some sick joke," his father said warily.

"I wish I could, Dad," Jason said, looking over his shoulder at the small cottage as he walked along the edge of the water.

For the past three hours he'd been out here pacing, trying to figure out what the hell he should do. Finally he came to the conclusion that he was in way over his head here and needed someone with a history of charming his way out of f**kups with women and only one person came to mind.

His father f**ked up more times with his mother than should be humanly possible. Not that his father screwed around on his mother. She'd simply kill the man if he ever even thought of it. No, his father could be an arrogant, hardheaded bastard that drove his mother to the brink of insanity countless times over the years.

"Let me get this straight, you let some dumb bar bimbo convince you that my poor sweet little Haley," his father said, making him shake his head ruefully. Haley managed to wrap his father around her little finger with those cupcakes and bought his undying love with fried chicken, potato salad and M & M cookies. The man's obsession with food was really pathetic.

Thank god he didn't have that problem.

"-could ever do something so heartless? Then you go ahead and screw it up instead of talking to her? What in the hell is wrong with you?" his father practically yelled, making Jason hold Haley's cell phone a good foot from his ear.

"I know I messed up, Dad," Jason said once his father stopped yelling. "Look, I need help figuring out how to fix this."

"You don't deserve my Haley," his father simply said.

Jason barely stopped himself from rolling his eyes. His father was such a food slut.

"Has it occurred to you that if I don't fix things with Haley that she'll never make you that Boston cream pie she promised you?" he said, knowing the way to get his father to focus was to threaten his food.

His comment was met with a short pause.

"Okay, this is what you need to do," his father said, all business now. "You need to back off and stop apologizing."

Jason frowned. "Stop apologizing?" That didn't sound right.

"Mmmhmm, no need to keep reminding her how big of an idiot you are. She already knows, trust me. Right now you need to work on being there for her. Don't pressure her. In fact I would suggest you work on reminding her how much you care about her and how good you are for her."

He nodded slowly. "I could do that."

His father snorted his disbelief.

"I can," Jason stressed, promising himself that after Haley took him back that he'd get her to make him a Boston cream pie just so he could rub it in the old man's face.

"Just try not to f**k this up, because if you cost me Haley I'm disowning you," his father said before he hung up.

Jason placed the phone in his pocket and headed back to the cottage, deciding there was no time like the present to get started. He'd remind her how good they were together and why she adored him. It shouldn't be too hard. In fact, he was certain that one little problem was going to guarantee that she couldn't live without him.

He stepped into the kitchen just as Haley stomped angrily into the room wearing nothing but her "Geek" tee shirt. She threw him a glare and muttered something about his balls that he decided to ignore as she headed for the refrigerator. She grabbed an ice cold soda and sipped it as she glared at him.

She looked exhausted, he noted as he leaned against the counter. He had to stop himself from grinning. This was going to be so easy.


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