She rested her hand on her chin, studying him a moment. “Why do you think you burn through girlfriends quicker than most guys change socks?”
“Geez, are you my shrink?” It wasn’t a bad question, though.
Kayla shrugged, seemingly unfazed. “No, but one of my sisters just did this communication workshop she was telling me about. It’s all about self-reflection and owning your mistakes and shortcomings in relationships. Not that she needs it, since she’s ridiculously happily married, but she loved it.”
There was that flash in her eyes again—a sign there was more going on inside that beautiful brain of hers. “Anyway,” she said. “She just sent me this book she got at the workshop. All this talk about self-reflection and shortcomings made me wonder if you have a theory about why you’ve been through so many breakups.”
Tony scratched his thumbnail over a mark in the bar and tried to come up with an answer. One that didn’t make him sound like a total asshole, which he probably was. “I don’t know. Lousy schedule, maybe? Smokejumpers are gone so much that it’s tough to have a relationship.”
That was dumb. Grady made it work with Willa. Kayla knew it, too, though she was too polite to say so. “Okay.”
Tony sighed. “Look, I’m just a shitty boyfriend. Maybe it’s that simple.”
She eyed him for a long time, then picked up the coin again. “Call it,” she ordered.
“Tails.” Third time had to be the charm.
“Ha! Heads again. You suck at this.”
He loved the way her eyes crinkled at the corners when she laughed. In a purely platonic, friendly kinda way. He shook his head, fighting to remember the rules of the game. “So instead of a shot, I have to post something or text someone.”
“Hmm.” Kayla tapped his phone, which he’d set on the bar beside him. “Text the sixth contact on your phone and ask if eyebrows are considered facial hair.”
“And you say I’m childish?” Snorting, he picked up the iPhone and scrolled through his contacts. “Willa. Great.”
He tapped out the message, grateful Kayla was taking it easy on him. She could have easily made him text Grady and ask to borrow his underpants. Or Becca. Or about a zillion more embarrassing things.
Setting his phone back on the bar, he held out his hand for the quarter. “My turn to flip.”
She slipped the coin into his palm, fingertips tickling the callused ridges there. “Heads,” she said as he tossed the coin.
He caught it easily, never mind the beers and the Fireball shot. “Heads it is. You flip again.”
Handing the quarter back, he was conscious again of the warmth of her skin.
“Heads or tails?” she prompted.
“Heads,” he called as the silver disk spun.
“Tails. Do I flip again or ask you a question?”
He had no idea, but he liked her questions. Liked talking to her this way, cozy in their own little world with the Fireball warming his belly and her smile warming the rest of him. “Question.”
She thought about it. “Are you sad Becca broke up with you?”
Tony shook his head. “Not really. I should be. She’s great. The best. I just—I wasn’t in the same place she was, you know?”
“Yeah.” Something flickered in her eyes. “I do know.”
He thought about what had been weighing on him since she called with the good news about her contract. “This road trip—are you serious about it?” His question made no sense, so he fumbled in his beer-addled brain for a better way to ask. “I know we talked about me tagging along on your photo shoot, but is that just a pity thing?”
“A pity thing?” Her brow furrowed in confusion. “What do you mean?”
Hell, what did he mean? “Just wondering if you really want the company or if you felt sorry for me.”
Kayla shook her head. “You’re the least pitiful person I know.” She started to say something else, but his phone buzzed on the bar, breaking the moment. He picked it up and scanned Willa’s response.
Are you drunk? Does someone need to come get you?
The bubbles appeared, indicating she was still typing.
Also, yes. Eyebrows are facial hair. But please don’t shave yours.
He laughed and set the phone down as Kayla flipped again. “Tails,” he called, even though he wasn’t sure they were still playing.
“Got it.” She handed the coin to him. “For a drinking game, this doesn’t seem to involve much drinking.”
“You did call it a middle school game.” He gestured to the shot glasses. “But by all means.”
“You go ahead. I’m good with water.”
Interesting. For a fleeting moment, he wondered at the reason she was keeping her guard up. Afraid of falling into bed with him? It hadn’t happened since they split up, but there was a weird sort of energy zapping between them tonight.
Or maybe that was just him.
(C) Tawna Fenske, Entangled Publishing, 2020. Reprinted with permission from the publisher.
After a night of too many drinks, smokejumper Tony Warren and his best friend, photographer Kayla Gladney, come to the realization that they’re both bad at love. They even tried dating each other, but that crashed and burned, too. Now he’s got the hangover from hell and the certain conclusion he’s just a shit boyfriend. But Kayla thinks he’s a straight-up commitment-phobe.
So they make a bet–they’re going to hunt down his exes and decide once and for all why he’s so unlucky in love. Terrible boyfriend or commitment-phobe. Why does either answer feel like he’s still losing?
But between roadside burgers and late night detours, they discover some fires never burn out–like the one slowly smoldering between them. And suddenly losing feels a whole lot like winning again.
Romance Contemporary [Entangled: Amara, On Sale: October 26, 2020, e-Book, ISBN: 9781649370648 / ]
About Tawna Fenske
Tawna Fenske is a USA Today bestselling author who writes humorous fiction, risque romance, and heartwarming love stories with a quirky twist. Her offbeat brand of romance has received multiple starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, one of which noted, “There’s something wonderfully relaxing about being immersed in a story filled with over-the-top characters in undeniably relatable situations. Heartache and humor go hand in hand.” Tawna lives in Bend, Oregon with her husband, step-kids, and a menagerie of ill-behaved pets. She loves hiking, snowshoeing, standup paddleboarding, and inventing excuses to sip wine on her back porch. She can peel a banana with her toes and loses an average of twenty pairs of eyeglasses per year.