The Vincent Brothers, Page 3Abbi Glines
Lana nodded her head, reached out, and squeezed his arm. “Yes, I do. I’m sorry,” she replied, trying to keep the huge grin off her face.
Ethan’s body language said he didn’t mind at all as he leaned into her touch and began that damn whispering again. Those two were lost in their own little world.
“She isn’t normally good with guys. They make her nervous,” Jewel pointed out.
She didn’t look nervous to me. Although, I had to agree, the Lana I remembered was quiet and reserved. What had changed other than the fact she had gone from forgettable to gorgeous in a few short months?
Jake said something to Jewel and she turned her attention to him. Finally, I had some relief. Maybe she would grope his thigh now and leave mine alone.
Lana reached for her drink and her eyes met mine. She paused briefly then smiled at me. She really had a nice smile. And those freckles... damn they were cute.
“Enjoying your dinner?” I asked.
She snuck a peek over at Ethan who was still staring at her like a lovesick puppy. She’d managed to wrap him around her little finger rather quickly. “Yes, thank you,” she replied, then took a sip of her drink. Those lush lips wrapped around the straw and I had to swallow hard to keep from groaning. How had little Lana McDaniel become so skilled in the ways of seducing a man?
“Lana mentioned we were giving her a ride to Ashton’s,” Ethan said and I tore my gaze off Lana and her straw to glare at him. Why I was glaring, I wasn’t sure. He’d done nothing wrong. He’d entertained Lana and made sure she felt comfortable at the table. Forcing my face to relax, I nodded. “Yeah, I figured since we were going that way I could take her and Jewel could continue on toward the beach.”
Ethan appeared a little too pleased. “Good idea,” he replied with a smile and leaned over to say something to Lana that caused her to grin.
Paying for the meal and getting out of there had been my number one priority. I was ready to send Jewel on her way. Girls who didn’t take a hint annoyed me. I signed the receipt and stuck my debit card back in my wallet.
“Here,” Jewel said in an unhappy tone as she handed the waitress her receipt and a twenty dollar bill.
“Ethan, no,” Lana’s voice broke into my thoughts and I watched as she frowned up at Ethan who was grinning in return.
“I need out. I’ve got to go to the restroom before I hit the road again,” Jewel said. I stood up and let her by but didn’t take my eyes off Lana and Ethan who appeared to be arguing or at least Lana looked like she was arguing and Ethan was enjoying himself.
“Those two are about to make me gag,” Jake muttered, getting out of the booth. “Besides, why the hell would he go and pay for the chick’s meal if he just met her? It ain’t like this is a date.”
He’d paid for her meal? Why hadn’t I thought of that? It was the polite thing to do. She was Ash’s cousin. I should have paid for it. Except, I’d been so focused on getting away from Jewel I hadn’t thought of anything else.
“Come on E, let’s roll,” Jake didn’t try to mask his annoyance. He must have struck out with Jewel.
Lana quickly scooted out of the booth and stood up. Ethan was right behind her with her small red purse in his hand.
“You forgot this,” he said as he stepped up behind her.
Lana flashed him a grateful smile and thanked him.
Stalking toward the door, I didn’t glance back to see if anyone was following me. I needed to get outside and get some fresh air before I went off on someone for absolutely no reason.
Sawyer was quiet. I tried not to stare at him as he and Ethan took my things from Jewel’s car and loaded them in the back of his truck. He seemed in a hurry to leave. Maybe Jewel had laid it on a little too thick with him and he was ready to get away from her. The thought made me smile.
Peeking over at him through the veil of my hair, I could see he’d relaxed since we’d gotten in the truck. Ethan had offered Jake the front seat and said he’d sit with me in the back but Sawyer had said that he wasn’t making me crawl into the back of the truck. I didn’t really consider the extended cab with the comfortable backseat “crawling” into anything but I hadn’t argued. His angry scowl had made me scramble into the front seat. Thankfully, he’d seemed to calm down once the other two got into the back.
“You can change the station if you want,” Sawyer said, glancing over in my direction.
I hadn’t been paying any attention to what was on the radio. I’d been more worried about figuring out why he was being so surly all of a sudden. I wasn’t used to seeing Sawyer like this. Normally he was all smiles and politeness. This must be Sawyer after Ashton. The thought made me sad.
“Ah, man, don’t let her choose. She’s a chick. She’ll pick some awful boy band shit,” Jake complained from the backseat. “Umph, ow, what the hell,” he snapped. I turned to see Ethan glaring at him.
If only Sawyer liked me as much as Ethan obviously did. Then again, Ethan was more in my league.
“I’ve a good mind to let her crawl back there and slap you,” Sawyer said with an amused tone to his voice.
“S’okay, I think E bruised my ribs. I’ll shut up.”
The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful. There wasn’t much talking except for Sawyer asking me if I was comfortable. He’d turned the air vent toward me and told me to close it if I got cold. He’d changed the channels several times and always asked if I liked that song. This was the Sawyer I was used to. The attentive, polite one. Not the moody guy I’d witnessed all night.
When Sawyer pulled onto a dirt road, that I knew led out to the field parties, I searched the parked cars for Ashton’s car or Beau’s truck. I wasn’t sure I was ready to witness Ashton with both of the Vincent boys just yet. If Sawyer was still hung up on her it would almost kill me.
“I’ll see y’all later. I’m going to go ahead and take Lana to Ash’s.”
Ethan cleared his throat drawing my attention from the parked vehicles to him.
“Uh, I can take her,” he said in a cautious tone as he stared at Sawyer. Sawyer, on the other hand, hadn’t even turned around to look at him.
“I got this, Ethan,” he replied in a cool hard voice.
Ethan shifted his gaze from me to Sawyer, then let out a defeated sigh and opened the door and got out.
Once he’d closed the door, Sawyer backed up and turned around. I was silently thrilled he’d wanted to take me to Ashton’s but then the nagging reminder that he was probably doing it in hopes of seeing Ashton squelched my joy.
Instead of torturing myself with different scenarios in my head, I decided to ask him about Ashton.
“So, how are things with the three of you?” I didn’t have to elaborate. I knew he would know exactly who I was talking about.
He tensed up then let out a breath and cocked his head to the side and cut his eyes toward me, “Would you believe me if I said we were doing great?” The sad smile on his face broke my heart.
“No,” I replied.
He let out a small chuckle and ran his hand through his dark hair. “You knew about them last time you were here, didn’t you? I remember that time at the field party. Something had been off about that whole scenario. For starters, you weren’t Beau’s type and Ash wouldn’t have gotten all worked up if he had flirted with you because they’d mended their fences,” he shook his head, “guess you were the only reason I believed that story. I didn’t figure you for a liar.”
I always knew that lie was going to come back to haunt me. When Sawyer had found Ashton and Beau having a lover’s spat because Beau had followed Ashton into the woods so he could sneak a kiss, I couldn’t stand the thought of Sawyer finding out the truth that way. So, I’d lied and told Sawyer that Beau had hit on me and Aston didn’t think he was good enough for me. I’d told Ashton later that she had to choose or let them go because what she was doing to Sawyer was wrong.
“I’m sorry,” I replied. Because I was.
dded, “Yeah, me too.”
The rest of the drive over to Ashton’s was fairly quiet. He didn’t ask me if I was comfortable and he didn’t turn on the radio. Why had I opened my big mouth? Reminding him about my part in his cousin and girlfriend’s deception had been stupid.
“Ash’s car is here but I doubt she’s home. She was with Beau at the field earlier.”
I nodded and reached for the door handle. I’d said enough tonight. I needed to get out of his truck before I said anything else stupid.
“Wait, Lana,” Sawyer’s hand reached out and his fingers wrapped around my upper arm. Chill bumps from his rough warm skin popped out all over my skin.
“Uh, yeah,” I managed to choke out.
“Look, I was a jerk. I’m sorry. It isn’t your fault. That crap with Ash and Beau, none of it was your fault. I just needed an outlet to vent and you were the only person around. I was wrong,” he paused and I glanced back at him. “Forgive me?”
The sincere look in his eyes made me melt. He was like a sweet wounded puppy. Ashton had been crazy to hurt him. I mean, who does that? He was so perfect. How can you hurt someone so incredibly perfect?
“Yes, of course.”
A smile lit up his face and he squeezed my arm then let go. “Phew, thank you.”
We both got out of the truck and I met him on the other side to get the luggage he was lifting out of the back and setting on the driveway.
“I’ll help you. Don’t get the heavy stuff,” Sawyer said as he reached for the last bag. I didn’t normally pack so much but now that I wore makeup and styled my hair and had an actual wardrobe I had quite a few pieces of luggage.
“I didn’t peg you as a girl who packs a lot,” he observed.
I shrugged, “Things change.” I reached down to pick up my cosmetics and toiletries bags. They were the smaller two.
“Yeah, they do, don’t they.” His gaze shifted back to the house and I knew he was staring up at Ashton’s window. He was so not over her.
“She’s an idiot... for what it’s worth,” I would have slapped my hand over my mouth if I hadn’t already had them full. I couldn’t believe I’d just said that.
Sawyer swung his attention back to me. His dark eyebrows arched in surprise at my statement and I was sure my cheeks were bright red.
“You think so?”
Well, I couldn’t exactly deny it now. So I nodded.
Sawyer took a step closer to me and my heart beat so hard against my chest I felt the need to gasp for air. His green eyes studied me carefully. It was as if he was looking at me for the first time. His eyes dropped to my mouth and I fought the urge to lick my lips nervously.
“You think I’m a better choice than Beau? He’s the bad one, you know. The dangerous one. Girls like bad boys.” His voice had dropped to a low rumble. I shivered as he took another step closer, his eyes never leaving their study of my lips. It had been awhile since I’d reapplied lip-gloss. I wondered if they were dry.
Forcing myself to remain calm, I responded, “Not all girls.”
He raised his hand and gently ran the pad of his thumb over my bottom lip. I mentally imagined biting his thumb and pulling it into my mouth to suck but I didn’t. Instead, I just stopped breathing.
“They are as soft as they look... maybe softer,” he whispered, then he lowered his head and before I could take a calming breath his mouth was on mine.
Forcing oxygen into my lungs via my nose, I dropped both the bags in my hands and grabbed onto his arms to keep from passing out due to the overwhelming fact I was actually being kissed by Sawyer Vincent.
His hands settled on my waist and squeezed the bare skin they touched gently. I think I may have moaned when he pulled my bottom lip into his mouth to suck on it. Before I could completely throw myself at him, he was gone. Dizzy and completely shaken , I lost my balance and reached out to grab the side of the truck.
“Whoa,” Sawyer’s hand shot out to steady me.
Now, that was embarrassing. I took a steadying breath and lifted my eyes, once I got them focused again, to look at Sawyer. Instead of having an awestruck expression like I was sure I had plastered on my face, he was frowning. No, make that scowling.
“I shouldn’t have done that Lana. I’m sorry. I was upset and I just didn’t think,” he reached down and grabbed my two heavy suitcases and headed for the front door without waiting on me to respond.
That hadn’t been the way I’d pictured our first kiss ending. And trust me, I’d been fantasizing about that kiss for years. Most of my life. Although the kiss itself was spot on perfect, the ending was way off course.
Anger suddenly took the place of disappointment and I snatched up the remaining bags and followed him. How dare he kiss me like that, then apologize and walk off.
The front door swung open ending my sentence, which was probably a good thing since I was about to let him have it.
“Lana, sweetheart, you’re here,” Aunt Sarah beamed at me as she pushed open the screen door.
Shooting Sawyer an angry glare, I pushed past him and into the house.
That couldn’t be good. I mentally cursed myself for making such a jackass move. Jerking my truck door open, I started to climb inside when Beau’s truck pulled in behind me. Perfect. Not what I needed right now. I needed to wrap my head around that stupid kiss with Lana. Not face Beau and Ash.
Beau’s truck door swung open and he got out with an angry snarl on his face. What was his deal?
“Better be a damn good reason you’re parked in Ash’s drive.”
Adjusting to Beau being a caveman over a girl had been almost as hard as seeing him with Ash. Beau didn’t do jealous, until Ashton had become his. Now, he was a freaking lunatic.
“I just dropped Lana off,” I replied, meeting his angry glare. I wasn’t scared of his stupid tough guy shit. I’d been in more fights with him than I could count.
My answer obviously confused him because he raised one eyebrow then turned to look at Ash as she scooted out behind him on the driver’s side.
“She’s here?” Ash squealed, jumping down before Beau could catch her. “Remember, I told you Lana was coming tonight,” she beamed up at Beau then frowned and looked over at me. “Why... how did you get her?”
Ash was adorable when she was confused. “She was eating dinner at Wings when we stopped in to eat. I offered to give her a ride to save her friend the trip.”
Ashton’s frown turned up into a smile again. I liked making her smile—always had. “Thank you! I’m so glad you met up with her.” Ash turned and wrapped her arms around Beau and laid a loud quick kiss on his lips before releasing him and stepping back, “I gotta go see her. I haven’t seen her in months. Call me later.”
Beau grabbed her hand and turned it palm up before kissing it and then licking it. Gross, I did not want to see this. “Yeah, I’ll call you when I crawl in bed,” his voice dropped until it was much deeper than normal and I swear I heard Ashton sigh. I’d seen more than I wanted. I started to climb up in my truck.
“Sawyer, wait,” Beau’s command stopped me. I really just wanted to leave but he was blocking me in so I couldn’t exactly escape.
Ashton ran inside and once she closed the door, Beau turned his gaze toward me.
“About tonight. Don’t do that again. It’s been six months and Ashton goes out of her way to be kind to you. You talk to her that way again and I’m gonna kick your ass.”
Figures it wasn’t an apology but a threat. But he was right, I had been a jerk to Ashton. I didn’t want to push either of them away. They both knew me better than anyone. They’d been my best friends all my life. We shared a secret and we shared memories. It formed a bond so important that I’d given up Ash without much of a fight in order to preserve.
“You’re right. I was a jackass. I’ll apologize to her next time I see her.”r />
Beau seemed appeased. His eyes shifted back to her now lit bedroom window. She and Lana would be inside talking and I wondered if I’d have something else to apologize for the next time I saw her. Because if Lana told her about that kiss then Ash would be pissed. Not because I kissed Lana but because I’d been a complete dick afterwards.
“Good,” Beau started to get into his truck and stopped. “Hey you, wanna go play some pool?”
“Aunt Honey working?”
That meant free beer. I nodded, “Lead the way.”
I’d barely made it inside the door when Ashton had come racing inside squealing. She’d made quick work of getting us past her parents and their questions concerning my parents and up to her room. She closed the door and spun around smiling brightly at me.
“I am so glad you’re here.”
Her long blond hair was hanging loose down her back and her golden tan was already perfect. How did she do that? It had been summer for what now—a week? We shared the same green eyes. That was it. When I was younger, I’d hated her. Not because she was mean but because she looked like a Barbie doll. To retaliate, I’d been the one who was mean.
“Me too,” I replied when she plunked down on the bed beside me. Getting away from my mother and her endless griping about my dad was a major relief. They’d been officially divorced now for three months but she still ranted about him daily.
“We’re going to have so much fun. Kayla Jenkins’ birthday is tomorrow night and she’s having a huge party at her house. She throws one every year. You’ll love it and get to meet everyone. Then Beau and I have been talking about a camping trip. Maybe for a week up at Cheaha. We’re going to invite Sawyer, since hiking is his thing, and some other people. You, of course, are coming too. Then Leann is at the beach all summer at her grandmother’s beach house. So, I told her we’d come visit her one week.” Forcing a smile was hard but I somehow managed.
Pushing Sawyer’s reaction to our kiss as far away from my mind as I could, I put all my focus into talking to Ashton.