NOT REALLY THE OUTDOOR TYPE
Jason still hadn’t come back by closing time, which made her even more curious about where he’d gone off to. Nicole and the Darren, the other high school kid who worked at the store, headed out shortly after the last of the customers, leaving her alone in the store. She considered waiting for Jason in his office, but decided to hang out by the lake instead.
As she sat on the bench, her gaze strayed from the crystal waters of the lake to the hothouse to make sure those nasty crickets hadn’t figured out a way to open it. They were probably all over the place by now. God, those things made her skin crawl.
The door to the store opened, making her jump. She almost laughed. What did she think, it was some big, bad cricket coming to get her? Getting to her feet, she walked over to Jason. She’d worn shorts and a pair of low-heeled sandals to work, and her pulse skipped a beat when she saw his eyes go to her long legs.
“Hey.” She gave him a smile. “I was wondering where you were.”
He didn’t return her smile, or answer her question. Instead, he frowned and looked past her at the hothouse. “One of the locals said he came in looking to buy some crickets and you told him we were out of them. In fact, he said you told him we were out of all the live bait.”
“Um…” She knew she should own up to it and tell Jason what happened, but for some reason, her self-preservation kicked in “I don’t really remember. We were so busy today. Maybe he talked to someone else.”
Jason lifted a brow, the look in his eyes making Kendall think he didn’t quite believe her little fib.
She hurried on before he could press the issue. “I waited because I thought you might like to come over for…”
The words trailed off as Jason walked past her and headed down the dock toward the hothouse. She hurried after him.
“Wh-where are you going?”
He gave her a sidelong glance. “To see if we’re out of live bait.”
Kendall grabbed his arm. “You can’t!”
He halted in his tracks and turned to face her. “Why not?”
She tried to come up some lie he’d believe, but she couldn’t think of anything. “Because…”
His brows drew together. “What did you do, Kendall?”
She chewed on her lower lip, hesitating. When she didn’t answer, Jason turned on his heel and headed for the hothouse again. Kendall followed.
“I wouldn’t go in there if I were you,” she said, stopping him just as he reached the door. “At least not without a really big flyswatter or something.”
Jason turned to look at her in confusion. “A flyswatter. What are you talking about?”
Kendall sighed. “I went in there to get that guy his stupid crickets, and the next thing I know, those creepy, disgusting things were jumping all over the place.”
He frowned. “Didn’t you use the net?”
“I tried. But before I could, they attacked me.”
Jason lifted a brow, a smile threatening to break the seriousness of his expression. “Crickets attacked you?”
“Yes,” she insisted. “You should have seen it. They were all over me. In my hair. On my clothes.” She shivered just thinking about it. “I can’t believe it’s even legal to keep those things. They’re dangerous.”
He chuckled. “The only thing dangerous in there is you, honey. Believe me, those crickets are more afraid of you than you are of them.”
“I seriously doubt that.”
“You know, it probably would have been easier if you’d just used your hands instead of the net.”
Her eyes went wide. “My hands? You’ve got to be kidding me. They could have bitten me.”
“Crickets don’t bite, Kendall.” He jerked his head toward the hothouse. “Come on. I’ll show you how to catch them.”
Kendall blinked. He didn’t seriously expect her to go back in there with those things, did he? “No way. If you haven’t noticed, I’m not really the outdoor type. That means anything dealing with nature is off-limits.”
Jason shook his head. “You’ve been living in LA for way too long.”
“Yeah, well at least I don’t have to worry about crickets attacking me there.”
He snorted. “No. There, you just have to worry about people attacking you.”
She made a face. “Go take care of your stupid crickets. I’m going home.”
Kendall turned on her heel to storm off, only to trip over a plastic bucket beside the hothouse. It fell to the wooden dock with a thud, the contents inside spilling out all over her feet. This day just kept getting better and better.
Cursing, she shook her feet, trying to get the dirt off. That was when she realized there were slimy, wiggly things crawling around in it. Kendall jumped back with a scream, frantically kicking her feet. While the dirt fell off easily, the squirming things living in it only clung to her skin. She backpedaled wildly, cringing as they squished under her sandals.
“Get them off me,” she shrieked.
Jason ignored her. Instead, he crouched down to hurriedly scoop up handfuls of the nasty little creatures and put them back in the bucket.
“Dammit, Kendall, you’re stepping on them. Just pick them up. They won’t hurt you.”
Kendall stared at him in disbelief. He wanted her to touch those disgusting squirmy things?
“Pick them up yourself!” she shot back.
Heedless of the worms crawling around underfoot, she started for the door when Jason caught her arm and spun her around.
“You didn’t learn anything from that spanking I gave you the other day, did you?” he growled.
Kendall gasped. He wouldn’t dare spank her again. But as he strode over to one of the benches alongside the building, she realized he intended to do just that.
The rest of what she was going to say came out in a whoosh of breath as he sat down on the bench and flung her over his knee. Kendall immediately tried to push herself back up, but the strong arm wrapped firmly around her waist held her fast.
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