The Vincent Brothers, Page 2Abbi Glines
“It’s been six months, bro. How long you gonna be pissed over this?” Jake asked from the backseat.
Why was this any of their business? Neither one of them knew what a committed relationship was like. They’d both been through so many girls during our four years of high school I couldn’t even name them all. Explaining to them that I’d planned my life with Ashton as the center from the time I was twelve years old wasn’t exactly easy. So instead, I leaned forward and turned on the radio to drown out any more of their interrogation.
“You can turn on music all you want but the fact is you got to let this go. He’s your cousin and your best friend. A chick can’t come between that. Not for long.” Ethan was watching me from the passenger seat. I knew he was waiting on a response from me but I didn’t give him one. His comment about Beau being my cousin was reminder enough that no one really knew me, except Beau and Ash. He wasn’t my cousin. He was my brother but once Beau found out the truth from his mother, he’d decided to keep that information locked away where it’d been his whole life. He didn’t want to claim my dad as his own and I couldn’t really blame him. It wasn’t like my dad had ever done anything to help Beau’s home situation growing up. Beau held nothing but disdain for my father, our father. He chose to remember our father’s brother as his dad. He’d been the only dad Beau had ever known. Even though he’d died when Beau was in first grade, he’d been a fond memory for Beau—unlike his real father.
“Hey! You passed Hank’s,” Ethan announced, pointing his finger toward the burger place we normally went to eat.
“Not going to Hank’s,” was my only response. They were the ones who jumped in my truck. If they didn’t like my need to get out of Grove then they could walk back to town when we got to where I was headed.
“You leaving Grove?” Jake asked.
Ethan sighed and leaned back in the seat, “We may end up in Florida before he stops this damn truck.”
“Florida? I’m starving and a cheeseburger from Hank’s would’ve fixed that,” Jake grumbled.
Slowing down the truck, I pulled over and glanced back at Jake, “You’re welcome to get out and walk back.”
His eyes widened and he slowly shook his head. “No man, that’s okay. I’m good.”
I pulled back onto the road and ignored the exchange between the guys. They both thought I was nursing a broken-heart. Well, they were right.
No one said another word until I pulled the truck into the parking lot of Wings. I’d driven about twenty miles south to the next town big enough for decent restaurants.
“You should’ve told me you were headed to Wings. I’d have shut up,” Jake made an excited whoop as he jerked open the backdoor of the truck and jumped out.
This was somewhere I’d never eaten with Ash. There weren’t many places that I didn’t have a memory of her so my choices had been limited. Tonight, I needed to get my mind off her and focus on my future—or at least my summer.
“I’m gonna eat my weight in some wings,” Ethan said in reply to Jake’s excitement over my choice of restaurant. At least I’d made them happy. Not that it mattered.
Opening the door, I went inside and stopped at the hostess stand. A tall girl with long blond hair pulled back in a ponytail smiled up at me with an appreciative gleam in her eye that I was used to. It had been habit for me to ignore that look in other girls’ eyes for so long that I automatically brushed it off. Tonight, I wasn’t going to do that. It was time I started flirting back.
I flashed a grin that I knew was pretty damn impressive because it was one Ashton always commented on. “Three please,” I told her and watched as her brown eyes got bigger and she blinked several times. She wasn’t exceptionally pretty but seeing her get all flustered was a nice balm to my ego.
“Oh...um... okay... yes... uh,” she stammered, reaching for the menus and instead knocking them to the floor.
I bent down beside her to help pick them up.
“I’m sorry. I’m not normally so clumsy,” she explained with two bright red splotches of color staining her cheeks.
“So, it’s just me then?” I teased.
A nervous giggle erupted from her and I realized she’d never do. I didn’t like giggles. Ash wasn’t a giggler.
Handing her the menus, I stood back up and pointedly shifted my attention elsewhere. I didn’t need to flirt with her anymore. She’d get the wrong idea.
“Okay, um, this way,” I heard her say. Both Ethan and Jake quickly fell in behind her. I started to follow when my gaze stopped its uninterested appraisal of the bar to focus in on a female I would happily let giggle all she wanted.
Auburn hair hung down her back and curled on the ends. Two very long legs were bare and crossed as she sat on the barstool and a silver backless high-heeled sandal dangled off the toe of a very dainty foot. I hadn’t seen the face of this one yet but from the back, she was a head turner. Major potential.
“You coming or what?” Jake yelled but I didn’t turn my head to see how far they’d gone or where they were being seated. Instead, I stood frozen watching her. Jake’s loud voice caught her attention and she turned in her seat and glanced over her shoulder toward him. The creamy smooth complexion was dotted with freckles. Normally, I wasn’t a fan of a lot of freckles but the bedroom look to her green eyes and full, almost unreal, looking lips made it all work. She started to turn back around after seeing what the yelling had been about when she froze and her eyes locked with mine.
Surprise, pleasure, and anxiety all flittered across her face as she studied me. I was fascinated. The bartender came up behind her and said something and she glanced back at him.
“Sawyer, man, come on,” Ethan called out this time. Tearing my gaze off the redhead, I made my way toward the table where the hostess was standing with our menus.
“Sawyer, wait,” a familiar voice stopped me in my tracks. Disbelief settled over me as I turned back around to see the pretty redhead making her way toward me. A short denim skirt stopped several inches above her knees as I made my way up her body appreciating the view. The white top she was wearing tied at her waist in some sort of loose knot and small glimpses of flat smooth stomach peeked out as she moved. Finally, I managed to get my focus off the impressive cleavage the shirt displayed to see her face. A small smile tugged on those ridiculously plump lips and recognition dawned on me.
No fucking way.
“Lana?” The incredulity in my voice was unmistakable. The last person I’d expected to see was Ashton’s cousin. The fact she was the girl I’d been checking out was even more shocking.
“Sawyer,” she replied with a full grin on her face.
“What’re you doing here?” I asked, thinking more along the lines of what the hell happened to you? She looked nothing like the girl I’d seen about seven or so months ago. That girl had been sweet, prim, and proper. This one in front of me was a walking sexual fantasy.
“Eating,” she quipped and I realized I was smiling. A real smile, not a forced one, for the first time in months.
“Well, yeah, I kind of gathered that. I meant what are you doing here, in south Alabama?” She pressed her lips together and then her tongue peeked out and nervously licked them. Hmmm... I wouldn’t mind tasting those lips either.
“I’m staying with Ashton this summer. My friend is headed to the beach so she’s dropping me off at Ash’s after we eat.”
Ash. Damn. Did she have to bring up Ashton? My good mood evaporated and I was once again forcing a smile. She glanced over my shoulder toward the table I had been headed to and frowned.
“You guys are already seated at a table?” She shot her frustrated gaze over toward the hostess stand. “Figures,” she muttered. I followed her gaze and saw the blonde hostess watching us with an irritated frown on her face.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, turning my attention back to Lana.
She sighed and looked back at me. “We’ve been waiting on a table for at least fifteen minutes.
Ah. The waitress had given us their table. I could fix this problem.
“Go get your friend and y’all come sit with us.”
Lana flashed a bright smile, “Okay, thanks. I’ll be right back.”
I watched as she spun around and walked back to the bar. Her backside was impossible not to watch as her hips swayed gently from side to side. Damn, Lana looked good.
“Ohmygod, did you just flirt with that hottie? Dang girl, when you decide to flaunt it you shoot high.” The awe in Jewel’s voice made me want to laugh. However, the fact I felt like I was about to throw-up kept the humor at bay. Sawyer had checked me out. His eyes had slowly scanned up my body. He’d paused at my boobs. I felt the need to fan myself with the stupid coaster under my drink.
“I know him. And we’re sitting with him and his friends,” I announced reaching for my purse and soda.
“Really?” Jewel squealed happily, snatching her purse out of the seat beside her and standing up. The scarf thing she called a shirt showed off all of her flat tanned stomach. The bar in her belly-button flashed two small rhinestones on each end causing eyes to immediately focus on her exposed skin. Then the Daisy Duke’s she was wearing made my mini skirt look classy. The girl turned heads when she walked if for no other reason than most of her body was on display.
“Come on,” I snapped and headed toward Sawyer who was standing right where I left him, waiting on us. His eyes drifted over to Jewel and I watched him appraise her the same way he had me. A sick knot formed in my stomach and I fought the urge to push her behind me. I didn’t want him doing that slow sexy trek up her body with his eyes.
“He’s so freaking hot,” Jewel hissed beside me. She’d stuck out her chest further and the flip thing she did with her long blonde hair over her shoulders had just happened. She was getting ready to unleash her skills on Sawyer.
“Not him, Jewel. Pick one of the others. Just not him,” I tried not to sound like I was begging but but there was no masking the desperation in my voice.
I heard a small gasp beside me.
“He’s the reason you...” she trailed off as her mind wrapped around what she was just now figuring out. “Oh, wow. I get it. I won’t poach,” she replied.
No, but she was still tanned, freckle free, blond, and well-practiced in the world of men. Those were all things Sawyer liked.
When we reached him, I knew I had to make the introductions as much as I hated it. Why hadn’t I just left her at the bar to flirt with the bartender and pretended like she didn’t exist? Sawyer’s appreciative gaze was locked on Jewel and although she’d promised me she wouldn’t flirt, it was ingrained in her. The girl couldn’t help it.
“Hi, I’m Jewel,” she drawled out in a sexy voice that had me wanting to slap her stupid.
“It’s nice to meet you, Jewel,” he replied, taking her hand in his large one and... did he just squeeze it?! “I’m Sawyer. An old friend of Lana’s.”
The fact I was leaving them to make their own introductions wasn’t lost on me. I just couldn’t open my mouth, afraid I’d let out the angry snarl vibrating in my chest. At the moment, I really hated Jewel. She was going to spend her summer with a guy that was supposed to be her boyfriend but she was unleashing all her charms to get what out of Sawyer? A one-nighter? I shivered at the thought. I just might kill her if she dared.
“Lana?” Sawyer’s voice startled me from my vicious thoughts and I blinked several times to clear my head.
“Um, yes, I’m sorry,” I replied.
“She’s exhausted from the trip,” Jewel explained, covering for me. No doubt she knew what was wrong.
“I asked if you wanted me to drive you back to Ashton’s, after we eat, so that Jewel doesn’t have to.”
Oh, he was offering me a ride. Jewel would be gone. Yes, please.
“That would be great. Thanks,” I managed to keep the excitement out of my voice.
A pleased smile touched his lips and I wanted to reach over and feel them. See if they were as smooth as they looked. How weird was that?
Sawyer led the way over to the booth and two other guys were smiling up at us. You could see the surprised curiosity in their eyes.
“Guys, this is Lana, Ash’s cousin, and her friend Jewel. They were waiting on a table and I offered to share ours.” Sawyer turned back to us, “The guy to the left is Ethan and the guy to the right is Jake.”
Ethan had a nice smile and short dark hair. It was just barely long enough to flip up some in the front. His dark brown eyes appeared warm and amused. I liked him instantly. I needed to pick a side of the half circle booth to slide into and he seemed less threatening of the two. Taking a quick peek at Jake I saw he was drinking in Jewel’s bare stomach with his gaze. The blond curls peeking out of his baseball cap were cute but the sexual gleam in his gray eyes was a little unnerving.
“Jewel,” Sawyer said, motioning for her to slide in on Jake’s side. I moved to slide in on Ethan’s side. I felt extremely grateful; I wouldn’t have to sit beside Jake.
Then I watched as Sawyer slid in behind Jewel and my stomach dropped. He’d had to pick a side and without a second thought he’d chosen Jewel’s. His offer to drive me to Ashton’s now seemed unimportant. He’d done it to be considerate because that’s was what he was. Not because he had been attracted to me or even remotely interested. I was an idiot.
“I didn’t know Ash had a cousin,” Ethan said beside me. I tore my eyes off Sawyer as he sidled up to Jewel and focused on the guy beside me. At least he didn’t look upset about getting stuck with me, instead of Jewel.
“Um, yes, I’m the only one. I live in Georgia and only get down to visit her about once a year, at the most.”
Ethan’s easy smile showcased straight white teeth. I liked good teeth on a guy. And Ethan wasn’t bad to look at either. His dark eyes were outlined with really long lashes.
“So, you staying long?”
“All summer,” I replied. Ethan’s smile looked approving and he nodded his head.
“Nice,” he replied, then lifted his gaze to the waitress who’d just walked up.
“What can I get y’all to drink?” she asked, tucking a strand of brown hair behind her ear and forcing a smile that didn’t meet her eyes.
“Coke,” Ethan announced, then glanced down at my almost empty one. “Make that two cokes.”
He’d ordered for me. I liked that. No guy had ever ordered for me. It made me feel oddly special.
“A screwdriver for me,” Jewel said as if she was going to get away with this. I glared at her and she gave me a small smirk.
“ID,” the waitress replied and this time I smirked as Jewel immediately went from looking cocky to irritated.
“Don’t have it with me,” she replied in an annoyed tone.
“I bet you don’t,” the waitress muttered.
“Are you saying I don’t look twenty-one?” Jewel asked as if she were shocked someone would even question it. Because, of course, an eighteen year old girl could pass for twenty-one easily. Whatever.
“Yes, that’s what I’m saying,” the waitress deadpanned.
Jewel opened her mouth to argue, no doubt, and I knew I needed to step in and stop her, before we all got thrown out.
“Just bring her a Diet Coke, please,” I told the waitress with an apologetic smile and then sent a warning glare over toward Jewel.
She harrumphed and crossed her arms over her chest in a pout. Luckily, she didn’t have much in the way of cleavage so Sawyer wasn’t leering down her shirt as she pushed her small boobs up with her ridiculous posture.
Everyone else ordered their drinks. Sawyer leaned down to whisper something to Jewel that made her giggle and I decided I needed to focus on the menu and just get through this. I don’t know why I’d hoped for anything different.
“You handled that well,” Ethan whispered, opening his menu beside me. I peeked over at him and smiled, “Thanks. It happens a lot.”
ned and studied his menu. I did the same.
If the girl giggled one more time, I was going to rip off pieces of my napkin and shove it in my ears. Damn, she was annoying. When I’d first seen her I’d thought she could potentially distract me from Ashton tonight but I’d been so very wrong. All she was managing to do was get on my nerves. If her hand slid up my thigh one more time, I was going to end up shoving her toward Jake.
Soft laughter caught my attention and I turned my attention to Lana. She was smiling brightly at whatever Ethan was saying to her. He’d been talking to her in whispered tones throughout the entire meal. That was grating on my nerves as well. Ever since she sat down beside him, he’d taken up all her attention. It was as if the rest of us weren’t even at the damn table.
“Looks like she’s interested in your friend,” Jewel said, obviously noting where my attention was focused.
“Hmmm,” was my only response.
“How long have you known Lana?” she asked. I thought back to the days of her bright orange ponytails and skinny legs with knobby knees and realized she’d come a very long way. Those freckles that had once made her unattractive now somehow enhanced her looks.
“Since we were kids. I always used to have to take up for her with Ash and Beau. They tormented her.”
“Beau?” Jewel asked. Apparently, Lana didn’t talk much about Ashton to her friend. If she did, she’d know exactly who Beau was.
“My br—uh, cousin,” I replied.
Lana threw her head back and let out a real laugh this time. Not one she was trying to silence but one where she was thoroughly delighted about something and didn’t care who heard her. The long silky auburn locks brushed the edge of the table and I wondered how she’d react if I wrapped one of those locks around my finger.
“You think that’s funny, huh?” Ethan replied grinning like an idiot because he’d made her laugh so hard.