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Heart of Gold

By´╝ÜFrankie Love

eath that this man who lives alone is the woods is going to care about custom wedding rings either.

Jokes on them, because my rings are fucking amazing.

They just don't understand.

"Do you work with stones?"

"I do. I know people say diamonds are girl's best friends, but I like more precious gemstones... Ones that are more unique."

"And you use gold for all your metalwork? Right?" Taylor asks, adding to the conversation.

"I didn't realize you had taken an interest in my artistry," I tease.

"Not me, I've just seen the website, Sophia was showing me some of your work. She had some ideas of how you could revamp your website and possibly get more clicks if you reworked your SEO." Taylor starts rambling about CPC and targeted campaigns and I zone out.

"Gold?" Samson asks, breaking through my mental fog. "Where do you source it from?"

"There's a guy in Portland who I buy wholesale from. It's not what I want exactly, but it works. Do you know anything about precious metals?"

Samson shrugs. "Not much." He has a duffel bag slung over his shoulder and for a fleeting, stupid moment I wonder what hotel he is staying at tonight.

Realizing the conversation has once again hit a dead-end I offer Taylor a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

"It was nice meeting you, Sam." I intentionally leave off the son, wanting to give him a little wiggle room in case he wanted to flirt.

"It was nice to meet you too, Ava Grace."

Okay. So, he wasn't looking for an in as much as a goodbye. Roger that, ruggedly sexy man from the middle of nowhere.

I leave the restaurant and the November night is chillier than I expected. I run my hands over my arms and look around the empty street for a cab. Of course, there are none to be seen. I pull out my phone and bring up the Uber app. I request a ride and prepare for a ten-minute wait.

"You just planning on standing out here in the cold?" Samson says, coming up beside me.

I smile, his face warming my heart. Okay, let's be real. His face is warming up my pussy. "I'm just waiting for a ride. I don't have a car."

"I don't have a car here either."

"At home you do, though, right? Or have you sworn off cars too?"

"I'm guessing you've heard some stories about me?"

"Yeah, I heard you were some creepy loner," I tell him, deadpan. I've heard no such thing. Taylor says his brother took care of him for years but then just went off the rails. No one said anything about him being a creep. "I heard that you're out in the sticks, living off the land. Is that, about right?"

"Something like that."

"So... Did you need a ride too?" I ask. I know it's totally insane, but part of me is wondering if I could end up with him tonight. I mean, I want to end up with him tonight, but he's exactly the kind of man I have written off.

Unavailable. Unstable. Prone to wander.

If someone wanted to track the last four years of my relationships, I think they'd all be categorized in one of those three ways. Winning!

"Can you ride?" he asks, his voice low, his eyes on me. Is he checking me out? I pull in a deep breath realizing, yes. Yes, he is checking me out. Definitely checking me out. This hunk of a mountain man is eying me up.

Can I ride? What does that even mean?

I look down at myself, trying to see what he sees. I'm in bright pink tights. Un-sexy black ballet flats. My top has little ponies printed all over it. Yes, I am that girl. That dork of a girl who shops the sales rack at Forever 21 mostly to spite my mother. But also, because they have some freaking adorable clothes.

Not getting a response, he repeats himself, "Do you ride horses?" His hand brushes the shoulder of my top.

Oh. Ponies. Horse Riding.

"I ride, I ride hard," I smirk. "But not horses." I cover my mouth because I'm laughing. Because I literally just said that out loud to my sister's fiancé's brother. I know, completely inappropriate.

Samson is unfazed. "So, what do you like to ride hard, Ava Grace?"

His eyes narrow, and I think this is his version of flirting. Maybe living in the mountains has made him lose some of his game, or maybe he is one of those guys who thinks less is more.

It emboldens me.

"I like to ride things that are solid. Things that are big. Something that knows what to do with a girl like me."

"A girl like you?" His dark eyes sparkle-in a way I didn't even know brown eyes could-and he takes a step closer.

"Yeah," I say leaning closer. "A girl like me. A girl who has no filter."

"Why do we need a filter tonight?" He licks his lips, his question plain. Simple.

In the next millisecond, a thousand flimsy excuses run through my brain. But for some reason, they don't seem like they would work on Samson. Telling him that my sister might get mad seems so inconsequential. The truth is, I want this. He's letting me know he wants it too.

And I have literally nothing to lose. I don't only wear ponies on my sleeve; my heart is there too. The universe is telling us something.

"I guess we don't need a filter."

The Uber pulls up, Samson opens the door without asking permission. Then he slides in after me.

The car speeds off, and I smile to myself, knowing this won't be our only ride tonight.

Chapter Three

Ava Grace is like a gust of wind. Like wildfire on the loose. She's both a burning star and a fanning flame and I don't think even she knows what she is.

And that's okay because tonight we don't need to know.

Tonight isn't about figuring out our shit, tonight is about having good old-fashioned fun. And I can tell that this girl is a firecracker.

I watched her all through dinner. She didn't think I was, but damn, there's no way in hell I could keep my eyes off her.

She kept touching her hair, smoothing it down, as if she could tame the wildness that is in her.

When I heard she made jewelry, worked with gold, I could just imagine he