What if I want more conditions?

Kirby smiled. “Are you wondering if he’s worth putting on makeup for?”

I narrowed my eyes. “Get out of my head. I don’t understand why he wants me to meet his brother. What purpose would it serve? What would it mean if I did?”

“You need to get out of your own head.”

I considered that for a moment. Taylor had been behaving the opposite of what I’d expected from a hotshot, especially one who looked like him. He was all badassery and confidence until I threw him a curveball, and then he’d turned into Jim Carrey.

I had to cover my mouth to stop myself from laughing.

Anything more than a chuckle felt foreign in my throat, and Taylor had been the reason for two emotional outbursts. He had held me, made sure I was okay, made plans, and asked me to meet his brother.

For the first time in years, a guy hinting that he was interested in me didn’t feel like a violation.

I rubbed on foundation and then ran the mascara wand over my lashes.

After some quick blush and lip gloss, I halfheartedly modeled for Kirby. “Good enough?”

I had made a decent effort at fixing my hair and makeup with the limited tools I had at my disposal, but I still seemed to look the same.

“You look hot. And he’s hot. You would make beautiful babies.”

My face fell, and I groused at my reflection in the mirror. I was a screwup. Assuming I was going to mess this up, too, was not unreasonable. Taylor had that something about him, more than just charm. He wasn’t the asshole he tried to be—at least, not to me.

But is he worth the risk?

“Falyn, go. Stop overthinking it. You spent the entire day together, and you still want to see him. That’s saying something, especially for you.”

Thinking of the disappointment on his face, I grinned at Kirby. “You make a good point. Wait here for Gunnar.”

I grabbed my keys and trotted down the stairs, leaving Kirby alone in the loft.

The muffled music from Cowboys could be heard before I even made it out of the Bucksaw. My heart beat faster, knowing Taylor was less than a block away.

I pushed open the glass door, breathing in the night air. People were passing by in groups, already making their way toward the ridiculously long line snaking down the sidewalk. I wondered if I could slip by even though I wasn’t with Taylor.

I sucked in a breath, nerves swirling in my stomach. Something bigger than just a night at Cowboys was about to happen.

Tejon Street was busier than usual with both cars and people. Topless Jeeps full of families and young men and women were cruising up and down at negligible speeds, allowing the pedestrians to intermittently jaywalk to get to one destination or another.

Taylor was standing alone in front of the club, looking around with his hands shoved in his pockets.

“Are you ready to go in? Or are you waiting on anyone else?” I asked.

He shook his head once, his eyes pouring over me. “Just you.”

I arched an eyebrow and then gave the bouncer a nod. “Hey, Darren.”

Taylor and I sailed through, not even expected to pay a cover. I wondered what Taylor had done or who he knew that he could bypass the line. He followed me to the same table we’d occupied before.

He looked at me differently, like we were meeting for the first time.

“I’m not surprised at all.” He glanced around the room, and then his eyes were back on me. “I’m just trying to figure you out. Want a drink?”

“You’re not going to get one?” I asked.

The air between us felt weird. He was a million miles away but acutely aware of me at the same time. Something was off.

“You know what? This was a bad idea. I’m going to go,” I said, standing.

“No. I don’t know. I guess I’m just tired. It’s been a long day.” I sat, feeling drained.

“Yes, it has.” He looked out on the dance floor and then to me. “I guess you’re too tired to dance?”

Dancing with Taylor had been fun. Being in his arms again was tempting. But it had been too long since I hiked Barr Trail. My legs ached from my hip sockets to my toenails. I had done well with walking across the street and halfway down the block to Cowboys.

He thought about it. “I guess.”

The guy who had been huffing and puffing at the summit of Pikes Peak this afternoon guessed he was tired? Why is he acting so strange?

“I’ve seen a lot of good-looking women in this town,” he said.

“But you’re fucking gorgeous. Has anyone ever told you that?”

“Just you,” I said, staring at him like he was nuts. “I forgot to mention I’m the pariah around here.” The irony amused me. When we’d first met, I’d sought to stay away from him and his kind when, in reality, he would be more likely to get a bad reputation from hanging out with me.

“Nothing. Contrary to popular belief, men don’t flock to the town whore.”

His face twisted to anger. “Who’s called you a whore?”

“To my face? Just my parents.”

He seemed taken aback by my answer. “That’s crazy.”

“Any guy in this town not chasing you is an idiot.”

“Why?” I asked. I wasn’t sure what his angle was, but he was annoying me with his bizarre antics. “There is nothing about me that would justify that statement.”

“Well, for one … look at you.”

“You just said there are a lot of attractive women here, so I’m throwing a bullshit flag, a big bright yellow one.”

“That, right there. Most women don’t call bullshit. Most women are willing to forgive ninety-eight percent of it just to see if a guy who might be paying attention to them will turn out to be anything more.”

“I’d love to see where you got that statistic. GQ?”

“Personal experience. You, however, don’t let shit slide. I knew that the second you opened your mouth. You’re more than just attractive. You aren’t looking for someone, and you need no one. That’s hot.”

He leaned in, staring at my lips. “What is ridiculous is the sudden urge I have to kiss that smart-ass mouth of yours.”

He took a few steps around the small table, stopping just inches from me. He was so tall that I had to lift my chin to look him in the eyes. Something had changed since the last time we were together. There was a hunger in his eyes, but it was absent of familiarity, lacking any emotion other than lust.

“Oh. Okay.” The words were more absurd than the scenario, but I was so taken off guard by Taylor’s behavior that they were the only things I could say.