About last night…”

The words were softly spoken. Almost a question. Still, they were enough to make Aidan Mitchell consider pounding his head against the table. Or the wall. He was pretty sure the table was closer. Not that he was going to pick either because he honestly didn’t need any more head pain. Not with the raging hangover he’d more than earned.

“I have nothing,” he admitted, squinting into the, what seemed to him, overly bright light of Brew-haha, the local coffee place. Because when a man felt as bad as he did, coffee was the only solution. “No excuse, no explanation.”

He wanted to say more. That it hadn’t been his fault. Only it had been.

Aidan wanted to point out that he was usually a decent guy. He loved his mom, paid his taxes and ran a successful business, yet somewhere along the way, he’d become a total jerk. But why state the obvious?

The woman standing next to his table pointed to the empty seat across from his. “May I?”

He nodded, then wished he hadn’t when more pain exploded across his eyes. He reminded himself it was a small price to pay for what had happened.

He pushed aside the steady thudding in his temple and did his best to focus on his new tablemate. Shelby Gilmore was petite and blue-eyed. Delicate, he thought. Pretty enough to get a breathing man’s attention. But not for him, because he had it all figured out. No local women. Tourists were easier. And look where that had gotten him.

Her gaze was steady as she sipped her coffee. She seemed to be trying to figure something out. If it was about him, he should save her the trouble.

“Yes,” he said, aware his voice was gravelly. No doubt yet another manifestation of the alcohol probably still processing through his system. “I’m an ass. I’m sure there’s going to be a memo about it in the paper.”

Her mouth curved up. “The paper’s already out and I didn’t see anything. Of course, I generally avoid the whole ‘ass’ section. It can be depressing.”

“Humor at my expense. Go ahead. I deserve it.”

Her hair fell past her shoulders. It was straight and kind of a gold-blond color. Long bangs covered her eyebrows. He knew she had to be in her late twenties, but she looked younger.

“I like that you’re taking responsibility for what happened,” she said. “A lot of guys wouldn’t.”

“Most guys wouldn’t have gotten in trouble in the first place.” He leaned back in his chair and held in a groan. “I had it all figured out. That’s what kills me. I had a plan.”

“The road to hell?”

Despite how he felt, he managed a grin. “Yeah. That was me. The guy with good intentions.” He stopped himself a half second before he shook his head again. “Avoid entanglements. It was working for me, too.”

Best of My Love (Fool's Gold Series #20)