Home > Jagged (Colorado Mountain #5)(12)

Jagged (Colorado Mountain #5)(12)
Author: Kristen Ashley

And again. Killing me.

“Okay, then tell me this, Answer Man,” I demanded. “I lose my mind and move in with you, who do I get? The Ham I thought I knew or Dickhead Ham who came to my house months ago and broke into my place just now.”

“Never had a roommate, babe, except those four months you lived with me, and we did all right back then.”

My stomach muscles contracted with the force of that blow.

He’d never had a roommate?

Except for me?

I decided not to go there.

“Right, to speed this along, I’d appreciate it if you’d leave so I can consider your gracious offer.”

“Not leavin’ without an answer.”


“Strike that. Not leavin’ without the answer I wanna hear.”

I glared at him before something hit me.

“What are you doin’ here?”

His brows shot together. “Babe, I’m here offerin’ to help you deal with your shit.”

“Not here.” I pointed to the floor. “Here.” I swung my arm out wide. “Gnaw Bone. Why did you take the job at The Dog?”

“’Cause I got a hatchet to the shoulder, made me slow down, think about shit, and reconsider. Don’t mind tendin’ bar. Prefer doin’ it paid a manager’s salary. Been a lot of places and got treated kind. When I thought on it, this one stuck out. Don’t know why. Don’t care. It did. Just happened as I was thinkin’ that shit through, The Dog needed a manager. Jake didn’t want the promotion, he gave me a call. I told ’em I was interested. I’m here.”

That was unsurprisingly forthcoming yet surprisingly thorough.

“And what about me?” I asked. “The town isn’t all that big, Ham, and I doubt I have to remind you that the last time we shared breathing space, we didn’t leave things all that great.”

“Mendin’ fences with you was on my list of things to do.”

I had no idea if he wanted to do this so we could exist in the same town where we would undoubtedly run into each other or because he didn’t like the way things ended the last time he’d seen me.

I told myself it didn’t matter. What mattered was moving on.

To do that, I took in a deep breath, drawing in rational thought as I did so and, on the exhale, I shook my head and said, “Ham, our fight was extreme. I think we need to learn from that situation that we can wound each other, be smart, and steer clear. Gnaw Bone isn’t that big but if you promise to act like a decent person should you see me, I’ll do the same.”

“Zara, our fight was extreme ’cause I just got hunted by an ax murderer. He was a sick f**k, obsessed with Feb, and did something about it to a woman I care about, and I got caught up in that mess. And I walked in on you while you were dealin’ with some serious shit you were not in a place to process with me. We took that shit out on each other. It got outta hand and we wounded each other. Now, I got a life plan and you gotta find a place where you’re safe while you make one. That place is with me. No strings. No bullshit. You work for me and make decent money. You live in my second bedroom. You sort your shit out. You make a plan. You move on. And in the meantime, we find the way to the new whatever-it-is we’re gonna build with each other. No pressure. Nothin’. Just you safe, me not havin’ to worry about you, and us not up in each other’s shit.”

Why did this suddenly sound completely reasonable?

“Honestly, Ham, I need some alone time to think about this,” I told him.

“You can’t have it. You don’t move in with me, I’m sleepin’ on your couch ’cause if police chiefs can kidnap pregnant women one town over, anything goes. So with your chain popped, no f**kin way I’m leavin’.”

I closed my eyes and dropped my head.

“Cookie, you’ve had it shit for a while,” he continued. I opened my eyes and lifted my head to look at him. “Everyone’s worried about you. Way I hear it, they’re doin’ all they think you’ll let ’em do to help you out. Told you, you matter to me. For f**k’s sake, babe, let me help you out.”

“Livin’ together is not a good idea, Ham.”

“Worked for us before.”

“We were lovers before,” I whispered and Ham’s jaw got tight.

Then he stated, “Right. I get your point. So, ground rules. You hook up, you do it at his place. I return the favor. Agreed?”

Me sleeping in Ham’s second bedroom knowing he was out all night, hooking up.

That would be devastating

I wasn’t going to let on that I felt that.

I was also not going to share that I was never hooking up. Not ever again. For the rest of my life.

“That’s a good rule,” I said instead. “Another one, you replace any of my beer you drink.”

His mouth twitched and he agreed. “You got it.”

“And you’re weirdly tidy,” I informed him. “If I leave my shoes out or something, you can’t light into me.”

“Babe, I’m not weirdly tidy. I’m just not a slob like you are.”

“I’m not a slob,” I returned.

“I’ve known three times where you had to take emergency trips to the mall to buy underwear. This somethin’ you actually did instead of laundry.”

“That was before I had a washer and dryer in my house. I didn’t have an aversion to laundry. I had an aversion to that weird guy who’s always sleeping in the Laundromat.”

At that, Ham grinned. “Lucky for you, I got a stackable in the hall.”

“Yippee,” I muttered.

Ham’s grin got bigger.

It faded and he said quietly, “We’ll work it out.”


“Cookie, we’ll work it out.”

I pressed my lips together.

“Tell me what I wanna hear,” he prompted.

“Uh… just sayin’, even if I do, my lock’s still broken, seein’ as you charged in here like a lunatic. Does this mean you’re sleepin’ on the couch until I move in?”

“No, you tell me what I wanna hear, it means we’re loadin’ your bed in my truck right now, movin’ your ass in, and you’re sleepin’ in your new room tonight. We’ll get the rest of your stuff later.”

Something new to learn about Ham. He wanted something, he didn’t mess around.

I made a mental note of this (and underlined it, repeatedly) as I studied him.

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