TWO YEARS AGO
“…even his jeans are sexy, Kennedy. Look at him.”
My best friend Blaire is lying on the chair beside me going on about the new guy hanging out next door at Travis’s house, but the only thing I’ve been able to concentrate on is my best friend’s younger brother doing tricks on his skateboard from the other side of the wrought iron fence.
Watching him skate around Travis’s pool makes me feel guilty, but apparently not guilty enough to stop ogling the way his abdomen flexes every time he works his board. I’ll admit—as much as I hate Colson Bennett at times—the ink peeking out of his jeans just above his waistband from where they’re hanging dangerously low on his waist has had me wiping drool on multiple occasions since we started sunbathing over an hour ago.
He’s just riding around now, not even doing tricks anymore, yet here I am still watching him like some pervert. His wild, dark hair is wet from sweat and hanging in strands around his face as he reaches for a cigarette and lights it with a match.
After extinguishing the flame with one flick of the wrist, he places the smoke between his lips and leans his head back, pulling in a long drag. He’s oblivious to the fact that he’s being watched; either that or he just doesn’t care. You can never tell with him.
“Thank God Travis decided to drain the pool next door. Look at that Paxton guy move,” she continues. “That ass is incredible; so firm and tight. Oh, the things I’d do to it. Do you think he has a girlfriend?” Blaire pauses for a moment as if to consider it. “Shit, I hope not. There hasn’t been a guy that hot to come through town in years. I call dibs.”
“You don’t have to call dibs, Blaire. I’m not interested.” I pull my eyes away from Colson the moment I realize he’s watching me watch him. Every single girl next door is watching him, dying for a chance, yet it’s me who gets caught doing it. He’s barely looked their way since they arrived over twenty minutes ago. In fact, he barely gives any girls the time of day. I’ve noticed, even though I shouldn’t. I’d love nothing more than to not notice Colson, or anything about him for that matter. “He’s cute and all, but Dax and I are just on a small break. I’m not looking for any guy trouble. One guy is enough to deal with.”
Blaire releases a sound of disapproval and sits up in her lounger. “Just because you and my brother have dated since you were sixteen doesn’t mean you have to stay with him forever. I love him, don’t get me wrong, but you guys have broken up how many times now? Four… five? He may be my brother, but you’re my best friend. I’ll always choose your side. Dax can be a dick. Everyone knows it.”
“Three times, actually. Not that I’m counting. And all couples have issues, Blaire. Stop being so judgmental when it comes to Dax.” I pull my sunglasses down to cover my eyes, not wanting her to see me get emotional. Dax confuses me, with his back and forth and negative attitude at times. I’ve thought about us breaking up permanently in the past, but every time I say I’m done for good, I stay, because I love him and have since we were teenagers. “I can’t just switch off my emotions for a guy I’ve known since I was a kid. Some couples just need a break from time to time to work through things. It’s not like we’re dating other people while we do it. We just take some personal space. That’s all.”
“And I get that, I do, but it’s been two weeks since you guys have seen each other. It has to get old. I mean… come on. You’re twenty-two and you’ve only dated one guy. You’re taking over management at your grandmother’s bar someday and there are plenty of guys who would die for a date with you. There is nothing wrong with showing Dax he needs to fight for you.”
“Might be taking over the bar,” I remind her. “Dixie doesn’t seem to think I’m ready yet, even though I’ve been busting my ass day and night to prove to her that I am. Today is the first day I’ve taken off in months.” I pause to exhale. “And I’d rather not talk about mine and Dax’s break. I want to relax and enjoy my time off. No more talk about your brother. Got it?”
“Okay, babe. All I’m saying is to keep your options open before deciding if you want to get back together with my brother. Like I said, you deserve someone who’ll fight for you. I don’t see Dax being that guy. Hell, Colson has fought for you more than Dax ever has and he’s not even the brother you’re dating.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” I ask, confused.
“Nothing really. I’ve just seen Colson knock a few assholes out for mentioning you in inappropriate ways. You have no idea how many guys in this town talk about wanting to hook up with you whenever you and my brother take a break. It just never gets around because Colson puts them in their place.”
“I didn’t know that.”
Our conversation dies out, me not wanting to talk about her brothers anymore. Especially after learning what I just did about Colson. I came to her dad’s to relax and clear my head, not talk about her two insanely hot brothers. Okay, and maybe because I secretly wanted to watch Colson skate at Travis’s now that I don’t go to the park anymore.
I know I’m wrong for enjoying the view. But looking is all I’ll ever do. I have eyes. Dax has eyes. Everyone looks on occasion. At least that’s what I like to tell myself when I find myself looking at his brother for an extended period of time.
“Speaking of my other brother. If you keep staring at him the way you have been, he’s going to think he has a chance with you. I’m pretty sure my brothers would never speak again if that happened.”
“What?” I shake my head when she pulls my sunglasses off to look me in the eyes as if to confirm she’s right. “I haven’t been watching him, Blaire. That’s in your head. Even if things never worked out between Dax and I, there’s not a chance in hell I’d be interested in Colson. I’ve made sure he’s very clear on that. We used to be friends and nothing more.”
“Is it in my head? Then how come your head follows his skateboard? I’ve been watching you for two solid minutes, and guess what? My brother is the only one on that side of the pool.” She drops my sunglasses in my lap and shakes her head. “When I said you need to keep your options open, I didn’t mean my younger brother. There’ll be a damn war in my family if you cross that line.”
“I don’t have a thing for Colson,” I say a little too defensively and way too loud. “Please don’t ever say that out loud again.”
As if Colson can hear our entire conversation, he hops off his skateboard in front of the fence. The muscles in his arm flex as he grabs his board and tucks it under his arm. His eyes stay on me as if he can read my thoughts about wanting to touch him, and it has my heart working overtime. It’s as if he’s telling me with his eyes that he’ll get what he wants someday, and I hate it.
The dickhead is very aware of how sexy he is. There isn’t one male in our town more attractive than him, Dax included. I know it, he knows it, and so does everyone else with eyes.
Lucky for me, his asshole ways are enough to keep me from giving in to that aching need that’s been hitting me right between my legs lately.
Giving myself away like an idiot, I keep my eyes on his dark ones, unable to turn away until Jett Garrett rolls up beside him on his board and says something to him.
Instead of responding to whatever Jett said, Colson flexes his jaw, before stepping into his personal space, towering over him. There’s a moment of complete silence between them, all eyes on them – mine included – before Colson slams his forehead into Jett’s nose, sending him to the ground.
“What the fuck is wrong with you, dude?” Jett immediately covers his bleeding nose and attempts to jump to his feet, seeming a little disoriented as he stumbles before catching his balance.
Without a word, Colson backs away, his eyes meeting mine for a split second before he turns and heads for Travis’s sliding glass door.
“What the hell did Jett do this time?” Blaire mumbles beside me, sitting up in a hurry. “Can my brother go a day without making someone bleed? Or can his friends at least go a day without pissing him off?” She’s silent for a moment, before adding, “You’re staring at my brother again.”
“Blaire,” I scold, pulling my attention from Colson right before he disappears through the door. “Of course I’m staring. He just smashed someone’s face in. Who isn’t staring?”
“Yeah, except they’re all staring at poor Jett, watching him bleed all over the concrete. Even those half-naked girls over there that have been trying to get my brother’s attention since the moment they showed up.”
“I don’t like Colson like that. Do I find him attractive? Yes. Every girl does. Lots of guys are hot. That doesn’t mean I like or want to date him.”
“But you want to sleep with him just like every other girl in this town has been trying to do since the day he turned nineteen and developed muscles?”
“God no, and I’m disappointed that you would even insinuate that. I’d never touch your other brother and you know it. I’d never do that to you or Dax, so drop it. Now.”
“What about letting him touch you? Because the way you were just looking at him–”
“No, Blaire,” I say more sternly this time. “Can we drop this ridiculous subject?” I sit up and face her, pretending to look interested. “So, what about this Paxton guy? Did you get his number at the skatepark earlier?” I lift an eyebrow. “He watches you whenever he thinks you’re not looking.”
“Ha!” She gives me a suspicious look and flips her phone over to send a text to someone. In fact, I think she’s been texting someone this whole time. “Now you’re interested in what I have to say? Is it because my brother is out of sight or you’re afraid that I’m right about you wanting him?”
“Neither. Tell me about Paxton. When did he move here? I’ve never seen him until today.”
She gives me a questioning look, before going into more details about their conversation from earlier at Underground Pit. I only manage to concentrate on some of what she says, because I’m too busy questioning my sexual desire for Colson and when the hell it started.
He went to California to help a friend’s dad’s business for the summer and came back a couple of weeks ago with the body of a man and facial features that resembled every girl’s wildest fantasy. He somehow grew into himself in the months he’d been gone, and just like every other girl who isn’t related to Colson, I noticed. Such a shit thing to do.
I should’ve stayed far away from this house the day he came back looking the way he did—all grown up and sexier than hell—but since Blaire is moving into my place tomorrow, I told her I’d help her pack.
“Looks like you were right. Maybe you weren’t staring at my brother. Not the entire time at least.” She shoots up from her seat in a hurry and opens his message. “He wants to take me to a movie.”
“Are you going to say yes?”
“I think so.” Her smile widens. “He’s super-hot. It’d be crazy for me to say no, right? I haven’t been on a date in six months. I need some fun.”
“Then say yes. What could it hurt?”
“But what about you? Are you going to be okay if I leave you alone for a few hours? Clearly, my brother is in a shit mood.”
I nod. “Yeah. I’ll just stay upstairs and catch up on some shows until you get back. It’s cool. Go and have fun with Paxton. I’ll lock myself in your room.”
“Good, because I already told him yes like two minutes ago. Looks like the skating party ended early. Not that I’m complaining.” She stands up. “I should shower and get ready. I’m all sweaty and smell unladylike.”
“Yeah, I agree on the shower part,” I joke, causing her to give me the middle finger. “I think I’ll lie here for a bit longer while the sun is still out. It’s not like I’ll be able to do this in a couple of weeks. We don’t have many warm days left.”
“Whelp, enjoy it while you can, because the sun is about to go down soon, babe.”
After she walks away, I close my eyes and take in the warmth of the sun, enjoying what’s left of it. It’s hard to believe that summer is almost over. It sucks, because we’ll probably be spending the rest of it moving and unpacking.
I don’t know how long I’ve been lying here when I smell food coming from the house. If it wasn’t for my stomach rumbling, I’d ignore the mouthwatering smell and continue to wait out here for Blaire. But as much as Colson frustrates me, he’s an incredible cook. There’s no denying it. It’s the only thing that keeps me in his presence willingly for any amount of time these days.
Grabbing my towel, I wrap it around me and push my sunglasses on top of my head as I make my way to the sliding glass door that is cracked open just enough to entice me inside.
I stop at the door and exhale, before opening it. The asshole knew I’d come inside, wanting a taste of his food. I always do.
“What did you cook this time?” I slide the door shut behind me and mentally curse myself when he flashes a cocky grin my way.
“They’re leftover pork tacos from yesterday. Cooked these bad boys for over twenty-four hours. So fucking good…” He brings one to his mouth and growls out his pleasure while taking a bite. I hate with everything in me just how sexy that little growl sounds. “Go ahead. Make yourself one, babe.”
My stomach twists into nervous knots at being called babe by Colson. Not that it’s the first time, but it’s a foreign feeling from when his brother calls me it. “I’m not your babe, so don’t call me that.”
He shrugs, watching me make myself a taco. “You say that now… but I have ways to change your mind.”
“I doubt that.” I bring the taco to my lips and desperately take a bite. Holy shit. This is the best taco I’ve ever eaten. “And if you think this is the best taco I’ve ever had, it’s not.”
“It is,” he says back quickly, so damn sure of himself.
“Maybe in your opinion, little Bennett.”
A smirk graces his lips as he pushes away from the counter and walks over to stand in front of me. He’s close. Too damn close. I play it off as if his closeness has no affect on me. “I’m not so little anymore, Kennedy. And from the way you’ve been checking me out recently, you see it too. Trust me, I’m bigger than most men. I’ll show you before I go back to California if you want.”
“Fuck you, Colson.” My pulse races as I unwillingly look him over in his form fitting jeans, before quickly pulling my eyes away. That V of muscle leading down to his jeans is enough to make any girl stupid. “I don’t want you to, and I doubt your brother would either.”
“Really? From what I can tell, you and my brother are on a break… again.” With his eyes locked on mine, he moves his hand down to unbutton his jeans. The movement has my insides going wild with excitement. “I know you’re lyin—”
“How does this outfit look?”
The moment Blaire appears in the doorway, I step around Colson and hurry my way over to Blaire to check out her cute little embellished jumpsuit with a ribbon on the waist and the black heels that she paired it off with. Her strawberry blonde curls are pulled into a messy side bun that tops the look off nicely.
“You look beautiful, Blaire. Let’s go upstairs to your room and throw on some of that new perfume you got for your birthday. I’m sure Paxton would love it on you.”
Really, I just want as far away from Colson as I can get. It’s so hard to resist him when he’s looking and talking the way he is. He’s a disaster waiting to happen. A huge one. I’m not sure what has come over him suddenly, but it’s fucking with me big time. He’s always flirted in ways, but not to this extent. If he’s trying to piss his brother off, this will definitely do the trick.
“Oooh. Good idea. I almost forgot about it.”
I loop my arm through hers and hurry her out of the kitchen. I can practically feel Colson’s eyes on me, and I know he has that cocky little smirk on his face that I want to slap right off.
He and I both know if Blaire hadn’t have come downstairs that he would’ve had me right where he wanted me—me wanting him and that’s the last thing I should do.
Blaire left an hour ago, and instead of catching up on some shows as planned, I started packing some of her stuff by myself. The quicker we can get her stuff out of here, the better. I haven’t talked to Dax in weeks and being here with his brother alone feels like a very bad idea.
In fact, I know it’s a bad idea after that happened downstairs earlier.
It’s not until I’ve packed a few boxes that I realize the packing tape previously on her dresser when I started is now gone, along with the permanent marker.
Colson’s room is down the hall, which means the little asshole probably creeped in here on the way to his room just to piss me off and make me believe I misplaced them. I don’t think so. I’m not going to spend my night searching this room like an idiot just for him to get a kick out of it. He’s always liked hiding things from me just to work up my nerves.
“Sneaky little fucker…”
Pissed off and ready for a fight, I storm my way down the hall and enter his bedroom without knocking. I immediately wish that I didn’t just barge in the way I did, because the sight of him sitting on the bed with his hand down the front of his jeans has my entire body lighting on fire.
I’m unable to move for a second. I can’t react at all, because the sight of his perfectly sculpted body covered in sweat has me paralyzed.
My brain catches up. “Holy shit! I’m sorry. I didn’t…” I throw my hand up to cover my eyes and begin backing out of the room, but before I can make my escape the door slams shut, trapping me inside.
His heavy breathing hits my neck as he moves in closer, surrounding me with his body. His scent, his heat, everything that is him envelops me and it’s so damn intoxicating. Colson Bennett. The guy that every girl wants a taste of. “You didn’t knock,” he growls out.
“Obviously that was a mistake,” I breathe out, panic setting in. “I didn’t see anything. Just move and I’ll leave and we’ll forget this ever happened. Okay.”
“Maybe I don’t want that.” I hear his zipper slowly move down, the sound teasing my body, because I know what he plans to do right here in front of me. “I’d rather you stay for this.”
“Let me out, Colson,” I say quickly, unsure of how to react right now. My body wants one thing while my head is screaming at me to run, to get as far away from his room as I can. Dax and I may be on a break, but I still consider him my boyfriend. This is wrong. So wrong.
But he doesn’t listen to my demand. Instead, I open my eyes long enough to see him slide his hand back down his jeans, before it begins moving up and down in a slow, steady rhythm.
This cannot be happening right now. He’s not jerking himself off just inches away from me!
But he is, and with each growl of pleasure he releases into my ear, the pulsing between my legs becomes stronger. I can barely breathe without moaning out, so I hold my breath and pray that I don’t pass out.
“There’s nothing wrong with me touching myself for you, Kennedy.” He runs his bottom lip over my ear, causing goose bumps to break out over my entire body. “I won’t tell anyone you enjoyed it if you don’t. My brother never has to know… unless you want him to.”
I squeeze my eyes shut, the sounds of his heavy breathing haunting my mind the closer he gets to his release. Why are you still in here? I can’t force my feet to move. Instead, I stay planted, listening as he strokes himself. His movements are slow and a perfect rhythm to my breathing. It’s so incredibly hot that my skin is on fire. I’d probably burn anyone who touched me right now.
Within minutes, he growls out his release, his heavy panting against my neck causing the muscles between my legs to throb. It’s no longer just a pulse. It’s a full-on throb, just waiting to explode. This is bad. Very fucking bad.
“Fuck…” He runs his lips against my cheek, stopping close to my mouth. My heartrate speeds up when I feel his thumb trace my bottom lip. On reflex I run my tongue over it, not expecting the taste of his release on it. It’s almost enough to make me come without even being touched. “Does it feel good to know you’re the first person to get a taste of me?” He grips my throat with his free hand and speaks close to my mouth. “Think about that later when you’re fucking yourself to thoughts of me. Not my brother.”
Just like that, he backs away and I’m left standing here, fighting to catch my breath. Swallowing, I open my eyes in just enough time to see him zip his jeans up and toss one of his shirts across the room. “I told you to let me out, Colson. That was fucked up and you know it.”
“From what I could tell you enjoyed it just as much as I did.” He calmly nods to his dresser as if nothing inappropriate just happened. “There’s the tape and marker you came in here for. Need any help?”
“Fuck no, Colson! Not from you. Just stay away from me for the rest of the night. I mean it.” Angry at myself, I snatch what I came for from his dresser and step out of his room, slamming the door shut behind me.
Then I go straight to the bathroom and wash his taste off my lips, hating myself for letting him get to me just now. I just listened to Dax’s younger brother touch himself. I could’ve yelled until he let me out, but I didn’t. And because of that, I now know what he tastes like. I know what he sounds like when he comes and it’s the hottest thing I’ve ever experienced.
And now, I’ll be fucking myself to thoughts of him, and not just tonight like he said, but probably for a long time to come, and he knows it. He made sure of that, and I hate him for it.
I’m supposed to be trying to figure things out with Dax, and in all the years we’ve dated, he’s never once made me as hot as I am this very moment. All Colson did was confuse me more. I love his brother. Just because I’m not as sexually attracted to him doesn’t mean shit. Right?
Minutes later, I’m still standing in the bathroom trying to gather my thoughts when the doorbell rings. Blaire’s dad is gone — he’s always gone — so I’ll let Colson answer it. I’m in no condition to face anyone at the moment. I’m too ashamed to even look at myself in the mirror.
Turning off the water, I stand here in my messed-up thoughts for a few minutes before I exit the bathroom. I’m just about to head to Blaire’s room when I hear Dax’s voice come from downstairs, yelling about how the door was locked. “Shit. What is he doing here?”
Since Colson and Dax don’t get along—haven’t in years—Dax only comes here when he has to. Dax is just asking for trouble by coming here right now. He knows not to come here when Colson is around. And usually he stays away when I’m hanging with Blaire. It’s just my luck that he’d choose now to show up. As if this night isn’t already messed up enough.
Wiping my hands over my face, I take a second to compose myself before rushing down the steps in hopes of stopping something between them before anything can start. I need to get Dax away as quickly as possible, because if he finds out what his brother just did, they’ll kill each other.
Dax’s eyes widen the moment they land on me as I enter the living room. “I thought you said she wasn’t here, asshole. Is that why the door was locked?”
Colson runs a hand through his hair, a cocky grin on his face. “I lied.”
“Fuck you, Colson.” Dax turns to me, hurt evident on his face. “Why are you alone with my brother? I know Blaire isn’t here, because I saw her with some guy a few minutes ago.”
“Blaire left to go on a date. I’ve been packing up her things. Besides, it’s not like I’ve heard from you in two weeks. Don’t give me a hard time.” He moves in close enough to wrap an arm around my waist, but I push him back a little, feeling guilty about what I just witnessed his brother do. How can I touch him after that? “You wanted this break, remember? You need to calm down.”
“Not anymore I don’t. Fuck that.” He yanks me closer to him, not giving me a choice but to touch him. “Break is over,” he says, mostly to his brother.
“You heard her. You’ve got five seconds to release her and walk the fuck out of here before I throw you out.” When I look over, Colson is leaning against the island, pulling out a match. He’s calm and collected as he strikes it and lights up the cigarette between his lips. “Your five seconds starts now, Brother.”
“Shut the fuck up and let me talk to my girl. I’m here for her and I’m not leaving without talking to her. You stay out of it.”
Colson takes a long drag off his cigarette before exhaling the smoke and putting it out on the island behind him. “Time is up.”
Before I can make out what’s happening, Colson grabs Dax by the back of his neck and yanks him away from me, before swinging out and punching him across the face.
They both get in a few swings, before Blaire and her date walk in and he manages to separate the two.
“You’re lucky you’re leaving again, you piece of shit!” Dax spits blood into his hand. “Hopefully you stay gone for good this time. I’m not an idiot. I know you’ve always wanted what’s mine. And as long as you’re around, I’m going to want to hurt you.”
“Dammit, Dax! Just go!” Blaire shoves him toward the door, so I help her get him outside before anything worse can happen. Once he’s outside, I join him and slam the door shut behind us.
“Dammit, Dax! Why did you come here? We’re on a break. Why start shit with your family? You know what happens every time you and Colson end up in the same room together.”
“Because I fucking miss you. That’s why. It’s been two weeks. I was sitting alone, thinking about you. About us. The fight we had was stupid. I should’ve never asked for a break.”
“I can’t do this with you right now. I have too much shit on my plate with the bar and helping Blaire move. This is bad timing. You can’t just show up here, start shit, and then expect us to work things out on the spot. I’m tired.”
“Stop it, babe. Come here.” He grabs my face, but I back away, unable to handle his touch right now. Not when Colson’s taste was just on my tongue. It’s incredibly messed up and I know it. And I should probably tell him, but I know what’ll happen if I do. Colson has always been hot-tempered. It’ll be Dax who ends up with a broken nose. Besides, it’s not like Dax didn’t do worse on our last break.
“Don’t babe me, Dax. And don’t come looking for me until you’re ready to commit to us.” I shake my head and take a step back, needing to be strong. I’ve given in too many times and it’s time I put my foot down. “No more fucking around. If we get back together this time, there will be no more goddamn breaks. I mean it. This is the last one. I’m so sick and tired of not knowing where we stand. It plays with my emotions too much.”
He flexes his jaw. “If we get back together? What are you saying? That you don’t want to? Did my brother get to you?”
“No. And I’m not saying that. But I’m tired of this same shit. There will be no getting back together unless we’re both all in. This shit ends now. Make a choice, Dax. Either commit or walk away for good.”
After a few seconds, he throws his arms up in defeat. “Fine. No more breaks. It’s you and me for good this time. I promise.” He moves forward and grabs my face, kissing me before I can stop him.
My heart hammers out of my chest from guilt of what happened in Colson’s room just less than ten minutes ago. I might’ve washed away his taste, but I can’t erase it from my mind. Truth is, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to for a long time.
“I want us back, Kennedy,” he says the moment our lips part. “Tell me I have that and I’ll leave. I won’t cause a scene. I’ll let you and Blaire finish packing so you can get far away from my brother. You have my word. I’m in no mood to fight with him tonight. I have an early morning at the bank.”
“Fine. You have that,” I force out, unsure I’m making the right decision. “You have me. I promise.”
He smiles and kisses me on the forehead. “Then I’ll see you tomorrow night after work. I’ll be at your place waiting.” He backs down the steps but stops, his jaw hardening. “But if Colson touches you… I’ll kill him. I won’t be able to stop myself and you know it. Don’t let him get to you. Promise me that.”
“I promise.” I swallow and watch as he turns and walks away. It’s not until he jumps into his car and drives off that I feel like I can breathe again. I take a few minutes to compose myself before walking inside, straight past Colson, avoiding eye contact.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to face him again. Especially since Dax and I just made a deal. It’s what I always wanted. No more breaks. I’ll be damned if I’m going to be the one to fuck that up and ruin it. Colson is about to leave town again, and possibly for good, so it couldn’t have come at a better time. “Let’s finish getting you packed.”
I look around the bar. It’s hard to believe that I’ll be managing it in two weeks. It’s small — not even big enough for a kitchen — but to me, it’s perfect. Ten stools around the bar. Six round tables for chilling with friends and one pool table for the regulars that like to hang out and play all night. This place is like a second home to me.
My grandmother opened Dixie’s Alibi when I was seven, and I can still remember the day she brought me here and sat me on this old mahogany bar top, telling me that one day I’d manage this place when I was older. It should’ve been my mother to take over, but I guess Dixie knew way before the day came that she wouldn’t be sticking around long enough to run the place for her. She was right because on my fifteenth birthday my mother left to buy me a birthday gift and never returned. That was nine years ago.
So the day I turned twenty-one — Dixie as she likes to be called — waltzed into GiGi’s, the tanning salon I’d been working at with Blaire and told me to grab my shit, because I had a bar to run, and that would take time to learn. To say I’m anxious about taking over is an understatement. I’ve been working hard to prove to her that I’m ready.
“Everything good, child? You’re thinking too hard over there. It’s scaring me.” Dixie looks me over and brushes her graying hair out of her face.
I close the lid on the fruit and move on to stock the straws that sit at both ends of the bar. “Stop worrying. I’m just thinking about the huge changes coming soon. It’s all I’ve been thinking about for months now. I’m ready. I promise.”
“Good.” She motions for me to stand up straight, before grabbing my shoulders and looking me in the eyes. “You should be thinking about them. I won’t be around much once you take over. I’ll only be here once a week to check in on things. You sure you can handle that? It’s a lot of responsibility. We have other options if not. Sally can take over for a couple of years if needed. Just say the word and I’ll make the arrangements.”
“No, I’m more than ready. I’ve been working my butt off to make sure of it. It’s not that. It’s just going to be hard replacing Roger with someone who can run the food truck. He’s been cooking for this bar since you opened it. I don’t even know where to start looking. I’ve checked online, in newspapers, and looked through applications, and I haven’t liked anyone I’ve interviewed. They’re all wrong for the job and I’m running out of time.”
My grandmother’s smile widens as she gives my left cheek a light tap. “Don’t you worry about that, child. I’ve already found the perfect replacement. He’s out front training with Roger right now. That was about to be our next conversation.”
“Really?” I question, relieved. “He has experience on a food truck?”
“No.” She walks away to pour herself a glass of Jose Cuervo. I know this before she even grabs the glass from the shelf. It’s something she does often before leaving for the evening. “But he’s a hell of a cook.”
“How do you know this? You’ve tasted his cooking before?”
“Oh yeah.” She laughs and sets her glass down in front of her. “You have too. It’s just been a while.”
I narrow my eyes at her, my stomach twisting into knots at the first person that comes to mind. He’s the last person I would want working here. Outside in the food truck or not, it’s still here. “He’s back?” I swallow nervously.
“You haven’t heard?” She finishes off her tequila and cracks her knuckles. “He got back the other night. Do you have a problem with him working here?”
The way she’s studying me as if she knows something has me uneasy, so I lie, pushing that night from two years ago out of my head. “Nope. I just didn’t know he moved back. Apparently, Blaire forgot to mention that little detail to me.”
“Maybe it was a last-minute decision. Either way, I’m glad he’s back. That kid has always been good in the kitchen. Bad everywhere else, albeit, but I know you can handle him. You’ll prove me right.” She winks and snatches her keyring off the hook above the register. “Plus, that one is a looker. It’ll bring in business, which we need. We all know Roger’s old butt wasn’t luring the ladies in. This place needs a change. A younger crowd is what will keep it going. I’m counting on you to make that happen.”
Perfect, even my sixty-five-year-old grandmother finds Colson Bennett attractive. “Not if he chases them away with his attitude. You know he’s a smartass and always has been. He’s short tempered and uncontrollable.”
“I think we both know that won’t be a problem with you keeping an eye on him,” she says, mostly to herself, already making her way for the exit door. “Call Libby if you need backup. She called earlier asking for extra hours, so I put her on call.”
“I’ll be fine. It’s a Tuesday night. I’ll be lucky to get a handful of customers.” I don’t know what she’s thinking. As if Colson just being here is going to magically bring in the entire town.
“If you say so,” she says, seeming to know something I don’t. She’s clearly delusional. “Have a good night and… good luck.”
“Not that I’ll need it, but thanks anyway. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
The moment my grandmother exits the bar, I get an urge to go out to the food truck for a glimpse of the new Colson. I’ve gone two years avoiding him at all costs. I’ve even gone as far as to block him on social media accounts, so I wouldn’t have to see the man he’s grown into. Just last week he turned twenty-one, and based on the talk of the town, apparently into a God as well.
I’ve heard the rumors. Supposedly, he’s sexier than he was when he left town and that’s just by going off his social media posts. If that’s true, then seeing him will be bad; very fucking bad, and I was hoping I wouldn’t have to ever again. Things have been rocky between Dax and me again and if he’s anything like he was before he left, it could be bad news.
Colson Bennett is back it couldn’t be any shittier timing.
Pushing that thought from my mind before it tempts me to go outside, I jump right into taking inventory, hoping that between it and deep cleaning, I won’t think about him so much. He’s outside training with Roger thankfully, so I won’t have to deal with him right away. Maybe I can avoid seeing him for a bit too.
I won’t think about his mouth and how sexy it was that night when he was touching himself. Or what he tastes like, and how I was the first girl to experience it. I’ll admit, on my bad days, I’ve wondered just how many girls have gotten a taste since me. I hate the fact that thought even crosses my mind.
“Ugh, stop thinking about that asshole.”
“What asshole?” Harry, one of the regulars, takes a seat at the bar and sets a container of food down in front of him. He’s an older gentleman in his fifties and hasn’t missed a night of coming here since before I even started working for Dixie.
“No one, Harry. Just someone from my past that I’d like to avoid.” I grab a clean glass and pour his usual, sliding it in front of him. “What’d you order?”
“No clue,” he says, uncovering his food. “The kid in the food truck took one look at me and said he knew what to cook, so I took a chance and let him decide. He was pretty convincing.” He nods in approval while examining his food. “Looks like some kind of steak taco. The guy’s a genius, because you know I love steak. It’s my only weakness.” He holds up his beer. “Other than this, that is.”
“Lucky guess it seems, but I wouldn’t call him a genius.” I grab the notebook from beside the register and open it to the first blank page. “I’ll be doing inventory if you need me.”
He nods and shoves one of the tacos into his mouth, practically dying before me. “This…” he points to his half-eaten taco before taking another quick bite, “is the best goddamn taco I’ve ever tasted. Definitely a genius, Kennedy. Please tell me he’s Roger’s replacement. I could get used to this.”
“For now,” I mutter.
“Well I vote to keep the guy permanently and I might just have all my meals here.”
“Sounds expensive. You already spend enough of your money here.” I laugh and walk to the first cooler, taking a seat on the floor to start inventory. “Maybe that’s a good reason not to keep him. Someone’s got to look out for you.”
Not even ten minutes into inventory, the bell on the door dings, letting me know that I have another customer, so I set my notebook aside and stand up, expecting it to be Benny coming in sooner than usual, but am surprised when I see two girls I recognize from high school instead.
They’re going on about something I can’t make out, and they’re both smiling and acting all giddy as they pull up a couple of stools and sit down with their food. Looks like the Colson trance is starting again.
“Hey, girls.” I smile and place two coasters in front of them. “What will it be tonight?”
“Hey, sweetie.” The brunette I recognize as Amber turns away from Rochelle long enough to offer me a smile. “Colson suggested Vodka and Cranberry with our meals. We’ll take two.”
“Sure thing, ladies.” I work on making their drinks, surprisingly anxious to get back and see what Mr. Genius decided was the perfect meal for them.
“Wow…” Rochelle says on a sigh. “This is delicious. It’s soooooooo good.”
“What kind did you get?” her friend asks, while already jumping in for a second bite of hers, clearly just as impressed as Harry was with his food.
“Chicken.” Amber smiles at me when I set their drinks down in front of them. “If Colson is going to be working the food truck from now on, expect to see us more often. Wow, just wow. I could eat his food and look at him all night. You might need to add a third picnic table out back, Kennedy. Some might decide they want to eat outside from now on. I just might.”
“Same,” her friend adds. “My boyfriend won’t appreciate it, but what’s the harm in looking?”
Yeah, I used to ask the same thing. Then I found out.
“And drooling and fantasizing,” her friend adds. “But at least you’re not touching. I hope to change that someday for myself, because holy hell he’s fine. I didn’t think that man could get any hotter than before he left. I was dead wrong.”
The bell on the door dings again and just like before, it’s another person I wasn’t expecting. Tuesdays are usually for regulars. It’s very rare to get a random person stopping in for drinks.
After serving another girl I recognize from high school, I check on everyone to see if they’re good before picking up my notebook and pen and making my way around to the second cooler. I barely get done counting it when a small group of people walk in. This time two girls and a guy.
“See what I mean?” Harry says. “The kid’s got skills. His looks don’t hurt business either.”
“Apparently,” I mumble to myself, walking off to help my new customers. I don’t know why I’m so angry. My bar is filling up with paying customers and all I can think about is how much of an ass Colson is. I don’t know what it is that he’s doing to get these customers in, but I can bet he’s going to be extra cocky about it later.
Within thirty minutes, seven of my ten bar stools are occupied and there are a few girls sitting at one of the tables talking about how sexy Colson is, as if it’s news.
If this is any indication of how the rest of the night is going to go, looks like I’ll need that backup after all. My other regulars haven’t even made it in yet, and things have been fast moving since the food truck opened tonight.
As soon as I get caught up on everyone’s drinks, I reach into my back pocket and pull out my phone to call Libby. But before I can hit ‘send’ the door opens to her rushing inside.
“I’m here!” she says, rushing behind the bar to get to me. “I got here as fast as I could.”
“How did you…” I shove my phone back into my pocket. “Did my grandmother call you?”
She shakes her head and laughs. “Uh no. Haven’t you seen the bar’s Instagram page?”
“No. I’ve been too busy trying to keep up on drinks.”
“Well, this was posted less than an hour ago. The same thing is posted on Colson’s page too.” She holds her phone out and unlocks the screen. It’s on Dixie’s Alibi’s page already and on it is a picture of the food truck along with the caption: Come to Dixie’s Alibi for a mystery meal that’ll knock your panties right off. -Colson Bennett
“Are you fucking serious!? How did he even get access to our social media account? He’s been here for less than two hours.”
“Dixie, I’m guessing.” She shrugs. “It definitely was not me, so don’t be mad. I didn’t even know he was back. But it looks like everyone will know now. Dude has like twenty thousand followers. Just saying.”
“Let me see that.” I grab the phone from her long enough to see that the post has eighty-three likes and ten comments. Panic sets in as I scroll through the comments.
I’d let you knock my panties right off any day.
Be there in ten!
Are you the mystery meal, Colson? That would for sure knock my panties right off…
Wish I lived closer. #Roadtrip
Before I can get any more pissed than I already am by his unprofessional post, I delete it and hand the phone back to Libby. I’ve worked too hard to show my grandmother I can handle this place to have him come in and screw it all up. “I’ll be right back. Keep an eye on things.”
“Sure thing. I’ll be fine.”
My heart pounds against my ribcage with anger as I make my way through the bar and to the back door, leading to our small patio. Just like before he left, he doesn’t think before he acts or speaks. I’m not sure why I expected any differently from him just because almost two years have passed.
I shove the door open, my eyes widening when I take in the line at the food truck. Just off the top of my head, I’m assuming there are at least eight people, plus a few sitting at one of the picnic tables. As I walk past them to get to the back of the food truck, I’m not surprised to see that a majority of them are women. And they’re probably all as equally desperate to get his attention. Just like the summer before he left.
Once I make my way around the food truck, I yank the door open, stepping inside. Colson’s back is toward me as he works the grill, and like an idiot, I take the opportunity to check out his firm ass, enjoying the way his faded jeans hug it.
I don’t remember it being this firm. My eyes trail up to get away from his ass, and when they do, I take notice of the way his back muscles flex beneath his white long-sleeved shirt as he chops up whatever’s on the grill.
“Did you come in here to check me out or are you going to welcome me back home?”
“Neither,” I say to his back. “Where’s Roger?” I ask, finally taking my eyes off him long enough to realize he’s alone.
“Sent him home.”
“You did what?” I swallow in anger. “You’re supposed to be training, Colson. You’re not in any position to send anyone home.”
He does a few more chops, before setting his spatula aside and turns to face me. My insides heat up the moment my eyes trail up his firm chest and land on his perfectly sculpted face that I’ve spent years wondering what would look like now that he’s a little older and more mature.
It doesn’t disappoint; in fact, it does the complete opposite. His full lips are now surrounded by stubble and his perfect jawline is sexy enough to knock any girl’s panties off. He definitely didn’t look like this before he left. The way his dark strands hang messily around his face only tops it off, giving him the bad boy vibe that most girls dream about.
“I have it under control. He wasn’t needed, so I sent him home. I’m sure Dixie won’t mind.”
“That’s bullshit. You’ve been here for less than two hours. You can’t just show up and start throwing out orders. You don’t run this place. You don’t even have any experience.”
“You’re right…” His intense amber eyes lock on mine, peeking at me through his messy hair, and I almost lose my shit at how hot it is. “Because you’re about to run this place. When I heard you needed help, I came to the rescue.” He takes a step forward, leaning in close to my lips. “You should be thanking me,” he breathes. “I have many ways you can do that. But it’s best to wait until we’re alone before I name them.”
“Fuck off, Colson.” I place my hand on his firm chest to put some space between us. His closeness has my entire body igniting into flames. “I won’t be thanking you for shit. No one asked for your help. I know I certainly didn’t. In fact, I had no idea you were even back in town. Your sister failed to mention that little disappointing tidbit to me.”
“I doubt it’s that much of a disappointment. From what I remember, babe, I left you with a little something to remember me by and we both know you enjoyed it. Let’s not pretend.” His eyes lower to the natural bulge in his jeans, and following his trap, mine do as well. “I bet you still fantasize about my taste, don’t you? Does my brother know?”
“You’re disgusting.” I say, my pulse racing with need when he grips his dick through his jeans and bites his bottom lip. “If you must know, I haven’t thought about you in months. In fact, I almost forgot you existed until you showed up here.”
“We both know that’s a lie…” He smirks, before flipping over the piles of pork and steak covering the grill. And just like that, his attention is back on me, his wandering eyes making my legs shaky. “Pretend to hate me all you want, but we both know you need me, Kennedy. And not just to bring the bar business, but to finish the job I should’ve before I left and let you get back with Dax.” He rolls his sleeves up, revealing his firm forearms, before crossing his arms across his chest. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a job to do. Women’s panties to drop and all. No one likes false advertising, now do they?”
“You may be twenty-one now, but you’re just as immature as the nineteen-year-old boy who left.” I spit out, losing my cool. “And don’t ever post unprofessional shit like that on the bar’s social media again or you’ll be fired. I’m not going to have you fucking things up for me.”
He’s in the middle of dishing out his food and accepting a tip, but quickly turns back around. “In two weeks, maybe…”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“Dixie promised me a position here for as long as she’s still managing the place.” He slaps some more meat down on the grill and begins chopping it up. “Tonight was Roger’s last day.” He faces me again and moves in uncomfortably close, until his mouth brushes my ear. “So, unless you know someone else who can take his place, get used to seeing a lot of me. I’ll show you every inch of me if you’d like.”
“Fuck off,” I spit out, angry at my grandmother now, on top of Colson. She should’ve told me about her arrangement with Colson, but then again, I never told her we stopped being friends. Looks like that was my mistake. “Just do your job and stay the hell off social media. The comments on that post are disgusting.”
The confident grin he flashes before I walk away has me needing a few moments to myself before going back into the bar.
As if the pressure of showing my grandmother I’m ready to manage the bar wasn’t hard enough, now I have Colson Bennett to deal with.
If I’m not careful, he’s going to fuck everything up for me, because he sucks just as much as before. He’s still the same, rude, tempting asshole that screws everything up, and I refuse to let him do that for me.
I tense my jaw and watch as Kennedy makes her way through the parking lot to her car instead of inside like she should, where customers are waiting. I’ve been back in town for a day and have already managed to piss her off. It’s what I do best when it comes to her. At least lately.
It’s the only way to get a reaction out of her, and like the asshole I am, I use that to get under her skin because it turns me on to push her. The way she reacts to me gets my dick hard. She pretends she doesn’t want me inside of her when we both know she does. Fuck, it gets me heated unlike anything else.
I knew she wouldn’t let me touch her before I left because of Dax. But I wasn’t about to leave without giving her something to remember me by. I had hoped by the time I came back that Kennedy would realize staying with my brother is a mistake and leave him for good, but it looks like she needs another push from me. I’m prepared to do what it takes now. She might hate me at first, but that’ll change. I’ll make sure of it.
“This smells… delicious.” The cute blonde in front of me has me turning away from Kennedy’s car to look at her. She’s giving me the same eyes every girl that’s been to this window tonight has. “I’ll be counting on my panties coming off later, Colson. Here’s my number.”
Giving her false hope — my asshole way to bring business in — I wink and grab Kacey’s number, not giving her any indication that she doesn’t have a shot in hell with me. The moment she walks away, I toss her number into the same basket as the other eight I’ve gotten tonight and get right back to work.
It takes a good two hours before the line dies down enough for me to take a break. The second I’m freed up, I connect my playlist to my portable speaker after sending a quick text to my buddy Travis. Then I step outside to light up a much needed smoke. Seeing Kennedy has always wound me up tight. She’s the reason I tried my first cigarette freshman year.
There are still a few girls lingering around eating their tacos. To avoid talking to them, I grab my board to give them a show instead. The longer they stick around, the thirstier they’ll get; hopefully for drinks and not my body. Kennedy may be pissed at the little stunt I pulled today on the bar’s social media page, but it showed her that it worked. It was inappropriate — I don’t deny that shit — and had girls flocking to the place within minutes, but it increased business.
It’s been a while since I’ve been home, but I haven’t forgotten the way all the girls looked at me my senior year. Hell, women twice my age were noticing me by that point; all of them wanting a taste of the bad boy Colson Bennett, Kennedy included. She’ll never admit that about Blaire’s asshole little brother. To her, I’m just the punk kid who got in trouble practically every day for fighting and skateboarding in places I wasn’t supposed to. As my sister’s best friend and my brother’s girlfriend, I don’t blame her for keeping her crush on me a secret.
I saw the way she looked at me that summer before I left. She could hardly keep her eyes off me. The same way she did tonight when she saw me again for the first time. I didn’t miss the look of need in her eyes when I grabbed my dick for show.
“…Colson. Think you can show us a few tricks for old time’s sake?”
I knew I recognized those girls. They were seniors when I was a sophomore. They used to hang out at the skatepark, always checking me out. One of them gave me her number the week before I moved away. Just can’t remember which one.
I nod and take a long drag off my smoke, before handing it to the brunette when she reaches out for it.
She grins and places it between her lips. “Give us a good show and we might buy some tacos to take home.”
Smiling, I yank my shirt over my head and shove the corner of it into my back pocket. The girls look me over with satisfaction. They aren’t interested in skateboarding. It doesn’t matter what tricks I do. They just want to fantasize about my body and the things it could do to them.
“That’s a good start.”
“A real good start,” another one adds.
Within minutes, Travis shows up on his board and joins me. I knew he’d be close by at the skatepark today, and I also knew some of the people hanging out there would follow him here, which means more business for the bar. With the music playing and my old buddy here, we get lost in Underground by MISSIO and skate, giving the girls something to video for social media. It’s getting dark out, which is making it hard to see, but they don’t seem to care. No one appears to be leaving anytime soon.
A few songs play through before I look up to see Kennedy standing against the building, watching me. The second she notices me looking her way, she turns away and walks back into the bar. Just like in the past, she’s pretending she doesn’t enjoy watching me skate.
“All right, man.” Travis stops beside me and jumps off his board. “I’ma let you get back to work. I brought you a few customers and spread the word at the park.” He grins when he notices my attention is still on the spot Kennedy was watching me from. “She’s sexy as shit, but you know you don’t have a chance with her. She’s with your brother, man. You know those two won’t be breaking up anytime soon. They’re the couple around here.”
“We’ll see about that.” He clearly has no idea what I have planned. “Thanks for swinging by with some people. Appreciate it.”
“Anytime, brother.” He drops his board and jumps on, before riding off. I slip back into my shirt and get back to work, talking those girls from earlier into buying a dozen tacos to go.
It’s quiet once the new crowd has been served and leaves, just a few random customers here and there. Three hours have passed, so I pull out my phone and check the bar’s Instagram page. My post is gone, as expected, which explains why business died down after a couple of hours. It was probably the few posts that the bar was tagged in with me and Travis tonight that kept it going after Kennedy deleted it. I knew I should’ve left it up on my page. I just didn’t want to overwhelm the girls inside, so I only left it up for an hour. I know how some of these girls on social media work. I’ve had girls drive for hours to get to places I’ve posted on my page in hopes of catching me and getting a chance with me. That’s why I have to be careful what I post there.
Running a hand through my hair in frustration, I shove my phone into my back pocket and grab some steak from the cooler, tossing some onto the grill. Kennedy sent Libby home over an hour ago, and there are only a few cars left in the parking lot.
As far as I can tell — unless she brings her food — she hasn’t eaten tonight. I make six tacos, fixing three of them up with her favorite toppings, before shutting off the grill.
When I walk into the bar, Kennedy is scrubbing down the stools, lost in her head. I take a moment to check out her perfectly round ass in the jeans she’s wearing. She looks up seconds later, disappointment taking over once she sees it’s only me. “Your shift doesn’t end for another hour.”
“I know. Eat up. We both know you’ve been dying for a taste all night.” I flex my jaw and slide the container forward. “You can thank me later. I’ll let you decide how.”
Before she can argue, I turn my back and walk away, making my way outside to the food truck. Enjoying the silence, I kick back and eat the other three tacos I made, before cleaning up for the night.
After locking up, I grab my board and toss it into my truck, before grabbing the joint from the center console and leaning against the front of my pickup truck to light it up.
I’ve been craving this since I laid eyes on Kennedy earlier. I wasn’t expecting her to be even sexier than she was before I left. I’ve always loved her big green eyes and plump lips, but top that shit off with her now fire-red hair and half-sleeve tattoo and it’s enough to bring any man to his knees, me included.
I’m halfway through my joint when a white truck I recognize pulls into the back parking lot. Taking another hit, my body races with adrenaline as my brother steps out of it. The fucker still drives that thing?
Dax ‘Golden Boy’ Bennett. I’ve hated my prick of a brother for years. Ever since him and Kennedy hooked up. Every time I saw him drive by the skatepark when I was outside, I had the urge to swing my board through his driver’s side window. Now I wish I had.
He doesn’t notice me standing here or he’s ignoring me by refusing to look my way. Gives me a chance to see what the dick has grown into since I’ve been gone. He looks the same as when I left: boring as fuck. Slicked back dark hair and a clean-shaven face. There’s no mystery to the poor prick. Never has been.
The thought that he might be here to touch or kiss Kennedy has me putting out my joint and debating whether or not I should go inside and show him I’m back. The dick doesn’t use social media, so I doubt he knows yet.
In fact, if I see him with his hands on her, I’ll likely fuck him up, so I jump into my truck and drive off instead. It’s too early to get fired. As much as Dixie loves my cooking — always has even though I was a fuck-up — beating the shit out of someone inside her bar would be enough for her to fire me. It’s too early for that. I need all fourteen days if I’m going get to Kennedy the way I want to.
The dick can try his best to keep her, but it won’t last long. I’m going to steal her away…
When I wake up, the instant reminder that Colson is back in town and working in the food truck has me groaning and throwing the blankets off.
I can’t remember what I was dreaming about, but from the unusual amount of sweat on my chest and the frustration I feel, I’ll take a wild guess and assume it was him. Only he would find a way to haunt my dreams and get under my skin without even being around. Which reminds me…
Hopping out of bed, I throw my hair up and head toward the living room, hoping that Blaire is already awake so we can talk. She was asleep by the time I got home last night, taking away my opportunity to bitch at her for not cluing me in to the fact that her brother was moving back home.
When I make it to the living room, Blaire holds her hand up as she takes a huge drink of her coffee. “Wait… give me a second to wake up before giving me an earful.”
“This can’t wait. I found out your brother was back last night, but instead of hearing it from you I showed up at the bar to see my grandmother gave him a job in the food truck. A heads up to talk some sense into Dixie would’ve been nice.”
“Wait, what?” She sits up straight, eyes wide. “Colson moved back home? When the hell did this happen?”
“You mean he didn’t tell you?”
She shakes her head while downing the rest of her coffee. “Uh, no, the little shit didn’t tell me! I thought you were going to get on my case for… oh, never mind, it’s not important. My baby brother is back and the little jerk didn’t even tell me.” She sets her mug down and rubs the sleep out of her eyes. “Did you say last night? Apparently, my dad doesn’t know either, because I was just there yesterday and he didn’t say shit about him being home. Where’s he staying?”
“No clue. But he sucks just as much as before, by the way.” I shake my head. “I thought he’d mature while he was gone, but nope. He’s just as good at working my last nerve.”
“And now he works for you?” She laughs and stands up. “Have fun with that. Didn’t see that coming.”
“Not cool, Blaire. Yesterday was anything but fun.” I stand and follow her to the kitchen. “He posted about dropping girls’ panties on the bar’s Instagram page. You should’ve seen the comments.”
She takes a drink of her coffee and spits it out with laughter. “Uh, not funny. It’s a professional business page and Dixie would’ve killed me had she seen it. You know how my grandmother is about us having a clean image on social media and being as professional as possible.”
“It sort of is funny considering it’s a bar. Admit it.”
A small smile forms as I shake my head, trying to convince myself that I’m not the slightest bit amused by his antics. If I was anyone else, I might’ve seen the humor in it. “It wasn’t yesterday. A bunch of desperate women showed up out of nowhere and I had to call Libby in for backup. I was totally unprepared. It makes me look bad, and I won’t look bad in front Dixie. She’s still hesitant that I can manage the bar at such a young age.”
“Oh, you’ll be fine. Colson may be a huge pain in the ass, but maybe it’ll be good for business to have him around the bar.” She shrugs when I narrow my eyes at her. “Look at how slow it’s been for the past few months. You’ve tried social media giveaways and drink specials to get people in, but let’s face it, none of it has worked. The bar needs a change. Maybe my brother is the key to getting Dixie’s back on people’s radar. He’s young, fun, and attractive…” she stops to make a gagging sound “…and girls love him. Always have for some reason.”
“I hate you sometimes…”
She smiles and hands me a muffin. “I know, but it’s true. How many customers did he bring into the bar last night?”
I bite into my muffin, hating that she might just be right about her brother being around; at least for now. “I don’t know. Thirty-plus.”
“Wow. That’s insane for a Tuesday night. Did the bar make good money?”
“More than it has in a while. But that doesn’t change the fact that he is going to be a huge pain in my ass. He does what he wants, when he wants.”
“True, but it may be worth it if he keeps them coming in, though.”
“We’ll see if he does. But your brother just got back home, and people were probably eager to see him again. I doubt tonight will be as busy. I threw Libby on the schedule for later, just in case.”
“I guess we’ll see tonight! I’ll stop by later to talk to my brother, but as for right now…” She rinses out her mug and heads for the hallway. “I’ve gotta get ready for work. Good luck with my brother tonight.” She laughs. “My other brother is going to hate this, by the way.”
“I know, and I’m dreading having that conversation tonight.”
“I would too. Good luck with both of my brothers.”
After she disappears to take a shower, I crawl back in bed and grab my phone to pull up Dixie’s social media page. According to notifications, it’s gotten fifty new followers, give or take, and apparently the page was tagged in a few photos last night; all of them with a shirtless Colson on his skateboard.
When I went outside last night to get some fresh air, I got caught up in watching him just like before he left that summer, and just like back then, the moment he noticed me watching I pretended I wasn’t out of shame. What sucks this time around is that his body is impossible to turn away from. I’m going to have to be even more aware of my actions than before to make sure I’m not losing myself in him too much.
Setting my phone down, I squeeze my eyes shut and mumble under my breath. Whether I like it or not, I have to face that he’s back. I’ll be seeing his face all over the place whether I like it or not. Apparently, I’ll be seeing a lot of his sculpted body too, because he likes to show it off and it’ll be right outside the bar, and most likely all over our social media page.
The worst part is… I’ll probably enjoy watching it more than I did before he left. I’m sure Dax will love that.
After cleaning up around the house to keep me busy and my mind off of Colson — which was a lot harder than I expected — I head to Dixie’s early in hopes of avoiding him in the parking lot.
My shift doesn’t start for another hour, but I figured coming in early would mean missing Colson and not having to communicate with him on my way inside.
As I pull into the back parking lot to find him standing against the door, resting his skateboard above his shoulders, I realize I was wrong. He’s talking to two girls and Travis, but his attention is focused on me parking my car.
He’s cool, calm, and collected, just smoking his cigarette, eyes still on me as I step out of my car and shut the door behind me. Swallowing, my gaze wanders down the plain black T-shirt and ripped-up jeans he’s wearing. No one pulls that look off better than he does. I’ve always found the way he dresses to be sexy.
The tan blonde standing a bit too close in his personal space says something that catches his attention, and that’s when I notice the ass hanging out of those cutoff shorts belongs to Emery Wilson. No one could mistake it for anyone else’s.
Should’ve known she’d still be on the hunt for his dick. She’s a year younger than Colson and has had a thing for him since she was twelve. She learned how to skate just so she could spend most of her time at the park stalking him.
Keeping his attention on me, he says something to his friends before putting out his smoke and disappearing inside. What the hell is he doing?
I hurry inside myself, my attention immediately landing on Colson behind the bar with a towel now over his shoulder.
“What are you doing behind the bar?”
He smirks and slaps a coaster down in front of me. “Maybe I’m just getting a soda. Want one?”
I place the coaster back on the pile, annoyed. “Where’s my grandmother?”
“Said she had to take off a little early. I was here, so she asked me to keep an eye on things until you arrived.”
“So, you’re here alone?”
“Not anymore.” He looks me over, jaw flexing as if he’s holding himself back. “But I would definitely enjoy it if we were.”
“I can take it from here.” I snatch the towel from his shoulder and make my way behind the bar, ready to get him back outside where he belongs. “You can go out back and skate around for a while or something. Anything but hang around in here.”
“Why was Dax here last night? Did he fuck you on the bar?” he asks, his question catching me off guard. I thought he’d left by the time Dax arrived.
“That’s none of your business.”
“Maybe I want to make it my business.”
Exhaling, I toss the rag into the bucket of bleach water and turn to face him. Instead of making his way outside like I asked, he’s making himself comfortable on a stool. The way he’s looking at me is making me the opposite. I can’t deal with his eyes on me right now, so I think of what is necessary to get him outside quicker. “He doesn’t know you’re back yet, but I’m sure he will when he stops in later.”
“Any particular reason you didn’t tell him?” he pushes, grabbing a toothpick and sticking it between his lips. “Guilty conscience?”
“There’s nothing to feel guilty about.”
“You wanting me wouldn’t bother him?”
“You’re delusional if you think I want you.”
“You expect me to believe you’re not thinking about what it’d be like for me to fuck you on this bar right now?” He smirks. I swallow. “We both know my brother isn’t man enough to.”
“Why are you really back, Colson? And why work here when you can work at Underground Pit with Travis?”
“Maybe I missed you and decided it’s time I take you from my brother.”
His confession makes my heart skip a beat. I don’t know how true it is, but doesn’t change the fact it got a reaction out of me when it shouldn’t have.
“Hey guys!” Libby comes rushing through the door, her blonde hair flying all around her. “I came early to help prep just in case it’s anything like it was last night.” She smiles and high fives Colson. “Nice work, man. My tips were better last night than what I usually make on a Friday night. I might just buy you a drink later.”
“At least someone appreciates my hard work.” Colson grabs the toothpick from his mouth and tosses it into the trash. “But I think it’s the boss who owes me a drink. Maybe I’ll swing by her house later to collect. It’s been a while since I’ve seen my sister.”
“She’ll be swinging by to see you tonight. No need to pop in and expect a drink.” I grab an empty glass, fill it with ice, and pour some soda into it. “There’s one right here for ya.”
He smiles down at the glass of root beer when I slide it in front of him. “You still remember my favorite soda.” He picks it up and begins backing away, looking extra cocky. “And you said you forgot I existed before yesterday. Turns out that was a lie.”
I narrow my eyes at him, refusing to say anything else that’ll cause him to stay inside longer. My nerves are shot from yesterday and dealing with Dax’s attitude when he stopped in last night didn’t help.
I’ve been stalking the bar’s social media page since this morning to make sure Colson hasn’t posted anything that will get me into trouble. I don’t need him inside distracting me any more than him working here already has.
Once he exits the bar, I turn to Libby, whose eyes are on me. The way she’s smiling at me has me jumping right into cleaning. “Stop smiling at me like that. It’s weird.”
“Colson Bennett has a thing for you,” she singsongs. “And he’s incredibly hot now. I mean… not that he wasn’t already hot before he left, but holy shit he’s on fire now.”
“Colson Bennett likes to play with every girl.”
“No, he doesn’t,” she points out. “He’s had two girlfriends. I know this, because I follow him on every social media account he has.” It’s true. Colson Bennett has only dated two girls that we know of. “Women throw themselves at him every single day, yet he gives none of them the time of day. The female population in this town is becoming desperate for a taste of him, and there’s only one he seems to want to give it to.”
He already has…
My pulse races, my palms becoming sweaty from the memory. “Well, I don’t want a taste, and I’m sure his brother wouldn’t want that either.” I scrub the spot in front of me harder, my nerves getting the best of me. “I have some bottles of cranberry juice in the car since we ran out last night. Mind grabbing them while I make sure the Vodka is properly stocked?”
When I realized Colson was here it completely slipped my mind to grab the juice, and there’s no way in hell I’m going outside where he’s at. Not if it’s avoidable. I’m going to make sure the whole night is just that.
Once Libby joins me back inside, I focus on doing extra prep work for the night just in case by some miracle Colson gets as big of a crowd in as last night. I’m not counting on it, though. Unless the jerk is offering up orgasms on our IG this time. I wouldn’t put it past him.
“Hey, babe!” I look up to find Libby watching me from over the bar. “What ya doing down there?”
“It’s a little sticky down here. I’m guessing someone spilt a drink and Sally ignored it instead of cleaning it up.”
“And she wants your job…pft.” She walks around to join me behind the bar. “I wouldn’t worry too much about your grandmother letting her run it. You’re far more qualified than she is. Just because she’s been here longer doesn’t mean she knows shit about running this place.”
“My thoughts exactly. But I guess we’ll see soon.” I walk to the back and toss the dirty towel into the towel basket. When I spin back around, I bump into Colson, practically busting my mouth on his hard chest. “Dammit, Colson. What do you need? I’m a little busy right now.”
He smiles down at me, amused as I touch my bottom lip. “You should try harder not to bump into solid things, Kennedy. They could be dangerous for your body.” He reaches out to touch my lip, but I slap his hand away. “Just trying to help.”
“What do you need?” I ask again.
“Stop getting angry. I’m just grabbing some napkins for the truck. Didn’t mean to distract you.”
“You’re not. You’re in my way.” I point toward the storage room. “They’re in there. I’m sure you can find them yourself.”
“What if I’d rather you show me?” he questions, moving in close until there’s no space between our bodies. The way he hovers his mouth above mine, just out of reach, has heat rising to my core.
“Then I’d say you’re shit out of luck.” I swallow and take a step back, my pulse racing from his close proximity. “Find them yourself. I’ve got things to do.”
“Afraid to be alone with me? Scared you’ll finally give in and let me inside of you?”
“Absolutely not. I just don’t want to be alone with you. The thought nauseates me.”
“Ouch.” He places his hand over his heart. “That hurt. All lies.”
“Not a lie,” I spit out to his back when he walks away. “Now stop with your flirting. I’ll be your boss soon. It’s unprofessional.” Dating his brother has never stopped him in the past, so I don’t know why I thought being his boss would.
He exits the storage room moments later, pausing to speak in my ear. “And fucking exciting. You know it.” I suck in a breath when his hand grips my waist and squeezes. “See what I mean? But I don’t have time for distractions right now. I’ve got some business to bring in. Again.”
With that, he walks away, leaving me standing here annoyed and pissed off. Nothing new there. “You don’t need any distractions?” I say to his retreating back. “You’re such a jerk.”
“Everything okay back here? Need some help?”
I force a smile when Libby comes into view. “Nope. Everything is good. Just going to grab that box of glasses for backup.”
“Okay, good. I’ll take a quick look to make sure none of the soda syrup needs changing out. I’ll be right out.”
The first couple of hours goes by smoothly without Colson wandering back into the bar to work me up. I’m thankful for that, because If I’m honest with myself, it’s working. He’s getting to me more than I’d like to admit, and he’s only been back for two days.
Since tonight is slow, I pick up my phone and debate on whether or not I should text Dax and let him know that his brother is working here now. I know I should — he’d want to know — but if I do, there’s a chance he’ll show up and start a fight out at the food truck, and that’s the last thing I need while trying to prove to my grandmother I’m responsible enough to manage the bar. So, I toss my phone aside and make the decision to wait until I get off tonight. He’ll probably be pissed I didn’t tell him sooner, but I’ll have to deal with the repercussions later.
“Looks like we did all that extra work for nothing,” Libby says on a bored yawn. “I was hoping last night wasn’t just a one-time thing, but it’s looking like maybe it was. Last night was awesome. I really needed the money too.”
“I’m sorry. You want to go ahead and take off for the night? There’s no need for both of us to be here when it’s this slow.”
She shakes her head and wipes down the bar from the few customers we’ve had. “I’d rather stay and get some hours in if that’s okay. Maybe you can put the inventory into the computer since you didn’t get the chance to last night? I can handle the guys at the pool table for you.”
“All right. You sure you don’t mind being here? You probably won’t make much tonight.”
“Yeah, I’m good. Maybe Colson will figure out how to draw some people in with his good looks again. Maybe you should let him post on social media,” she adds cautiously. “It got a hell of a lot of people in last night. What harm could it do if you delete it before Dixie sees it? It’s just Colson being Colson.”
I exhale and look around the bar, taking in the mostly empty space. We’ll be lucky to bring in five or six more customers on a night like this. As much as I hate the idea of letting Colson post on our social media, I also know that we need something to happen. Libby is right.
“I’ll be back,” I mutter, making my way toward the rear exit door. I step outside and am surprised to see it’s just as dead outside as it is inside the bar. “I’m going to hate myself after this.”
I make my way to the food truck anyway, stopping in my tracks when I find Colson leaning against the truck, his arms crossed over his chest as if he’s amused. “Need my help with something? I’d be happy to post my dick online for you.”
“Dammit, Colson. No one wants to see that.” I purse my lips, fighting to keep it together. “Post something. Just no damn dick pics, all right? Be an adult.”
I go to walk away, but he grabs my wrist, stopping me. With his gaze locked on mine, he steps in close and tilts his head until his lips are above mine, his breaths hitting my mouth. “Clearly, you have no idea how many women would kill to see my dick.” He moves around to speak into my ear. “Very few have seen it, but everyone is desperate to get a glance. It’s the mystery. Last chance before I change my mind.”
My heart beats fast against my ribcage, thinking back to how badly I wanted to see his dick the night he touched himself for me. All I had to do was open my eyes and look down and I have no doubt I would’ve gotten a good view of him stroking it. I’d die of embarrassment if he ever discovered how long I fantasized about him after that night.
“Keep it in your pants, Colson, and stop crowding me.” I push him out of my space so I can breathe. “Just post something simple like saying you’re working tonight. That’s all that needs to be said. Keep it clean.”
Before he can say anything else to get my blood boiling, I walk away. After letting Libby know I’m back inside, I close myself in the office and pull out my sheet from last night, prepared to enter it. But I only get a third of the way through the list before my curiosity of what Colson posted on social media gets the best of me.
With my heart racing, I pull up our IG page to see a selfie of Colson in front of the food truck with the headline:
Come to Dixie’s for a taste… You’ll never taste anything better. Ask Kennedy 😉
“He didn’t…” My skin ignites as I reread the post multiple times trying to figure out if it sounds as dirty as I think it does. Apparently, it does, because I’ve sat here for at least twenty minutes reading the comments that started coming in, dying of embarrassment with each one.
I’m jealous she got a taste first, Colson. I’ve been trying since the eighth grade. What does a girl have to do? ☹
Does Dax know she got a taste? Scandalous but hot.
I bet you’re delicious… 😉
Oh, I’m coming for a taste. See you soon!
I’m lost in our social media, regretting my decision when a knock sounds at the door, causing me to jump and set my phone down. “Come in, Libby.”
The door opens to Libby smiling from ear to ear. “Whatever he did worked, babe! We’re starting to pick up out here and there’s a line forming outside at the food truck. People must be coming from the skatepark. Want me to knock twice when I need you?”
I nod and push my hair out of my face, hoping she doesn’t notice how red I am. “This can wait. Give me a few minutes and I’ll be out.”
She gives me a thumbs up before rushing away when the bell on the door dings. I sit here for a moment, trying to decide whether or not to delete the post, before finally just going in and editing it to take out the part about me. Without my name added it sounds far more PG-13. I doubt Dixie would even take it as anything else.
When I step out to join Libby, there are a few people waiting by the bar to be served, so I jump right in and take care of them. It’s a good mixture of guys and girls this time, a lot of them coming from Underground like Libby assumed.
We’ve been steady for the last hour. It finally died down enough for Libby to take a quick smoke break. Everyone in the bar has full drinks, and most of them went out to the patio to most likely be closer to Colson and hang out.
I pull out my phone again and check on Colson’s post. My stomach drops when I see that it’s edited to include the part about me again. “You little asshole…” I mutter under my breath, before deleting it this time.
“Is it true?” the girl sitting in front of me suddenly asks.
I shove my phone into my back pocket and give her a questioning look. “Is what true?”
She smiles as if I should know what she’s asking. “That you got a taste of Colson Bennett?”
I’m sure my face gives me away, but I play it off anyway, hoping she won’t see right through me. I literally got a taste of Colson. “No, and I don’t want to either. He’s just trying to get under my skin. Want another drink?”
When she just smiles and nods, I’m grateful she doesn’t take the questioning any further. But Colson is going to be less than grateful when I kick his ass later for the little stunt he pulled tonight.
I knew the moment Kennedy realized what I posted on the bar’s social media page that she’d either delete it or edit it, so I was prepared and waiting to jump back in and fix it. She’d be pissed to know that I told most of my customers yesterday not to come tonight until I posted on the bar’s IG page tonight. I wanted her to see that she needs me here and I’m going to do what it takes to get people in because I plan to keep this job a lot longer than the two weeks Dixie promised me. I’ve been planning this job for years. Kennedy just has no idea.
If she only knew how many women asked about her tonight — wanting to know if me and her had a thing at one point — she’d probably rip my balls off with her bare hands or strangle me right here in this truck.
I’ll admit, I loved the idea of all those women being jealous over Kennedy tonight. Her getting what they’ve so desperately wanted for who knows how long. Not only did she get a literal taste, but she’s the only one who has. I’ve only been with two women, and wore a condom with both of them.
Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t just let any woman into my goddamn bed. It’s a big reason the girls around here are so desperate to have me inside them. Very few have had me, but they’ve heard what it’s like.
Truth is… there’s only one girl I’ve ever desperately wanted to be inside of, and that’s Kennedy Ward. But since I was a few years behind her, my asshole brother got to her first. He’s had plenty of chances and has blown all of them over the years.
What he doesn’t know is that I heard what she said that night before I left town. She said it was his last chance. I’m counting on it. It’s time for his little brother to take over.
I turn away from cleaning the grill to Libby’s head of blonde hair poking through the truck’s window, her bright blue eyes on me. “You here to get a taste too?” I tease.
“Seems the whole town was. I’m impressed, Colson. I’m not surprised, though. The ladies have always loved you.” She laughs and reaches for a few napkins. “Since things have died down Kennedy sent me home for the night. I’ll take what’s on special. Make it extra good.”
I cross my arms and lean into the window of the truck. “How did it go in there tonight? Busier than last night?”
“Not quite but close. Might’ve been about the same.” She flashes a smile before I turn away to cook her one of my special stuffed burgers. “I think you being here is going to be a good thing, though. Dixie’s has been slow for a while now, and as much as Kennedy hates to admit it, nothing has worked quite like you coming in. Just give it some time and she’ll be grateful.”
“Is that so? My sister’s voice joining us has me looking up from the grill long enough to wink at her. “Nice to know you’re back, asshole. Why didn’t you tell me?”
Libby points toward the closest picnic table. “I’ll just be over here waiting. Remember, extra good. So big would be nice. I’m starving!”
“Good to see you too, Sis.” I flip the burger and step away to put a potato through the French fry cutter. “Glad to see you missed me.”
“You know I missed you, jerk.” She breaks a smile when I look over my shoulder at her. “I’m coming in to strangle and then hug you.”
“Nothing I’m not used to,” I tease as she steps into the truck.
“Gross. I don’t want to hear that shit.” She gives me a light shove before throwing her arms around me and squeezing. “Where have you been staying? Dad said he didn’t even know you were back until today. You surprised us all. Kennedy most of all.”
“Travis’s,” I say once she pulls away from the hug. “But I have a feeling I won’t be so welcome tonight.”
“Why’s that?” she asks on a laugh. “What’d you do?”
“His new girl was checking me out this morning when I was walking around the kitchen in my boxers. The girl was a hot mess. It took Travis calling her name three times before she realized he was trying to get her attention. It’s just not going to work out.”
“Well, why the hell were you walking around in your boxers? That’s a bit rude. I can see why he kicked your ass to the curb.”
I turn to flip the burger. “Because I slept on the couch. He’s lucky I wore underwear. I prefer sleeping naked.”
She puts her hand up. “Stop. Just stop. I don’t appreciate your oversharing.”
I laugh while putting together Libby’s dish. “Then don’t ask.” I place the burger and fries in the window and wink at Libby when she jumps to her feet and claps. “Enjoy.”
“It smells delicious, so I have no doubt I will. See ya tomorrow.” She takes another whiff of her food before walking toward her car.
“So where are you going to stay tonight? With dad?”
“Is that even a question? You know he’s always gotten along better with Dax.” Grabbing the grill brush, I do a quick clean before walking over to put together a few burgers. “Probably a hotel until I can get into Travis’s apartment building in a week.” It’s a damn lie. Travis kicked his girl out this morning and told me I’m more than welcome to stay for as long as I want. But she doesn’t need to know that.
“Seriously? No. You’re not staying at a hotel. I’m sure Kennedy won’t mind having you crash on our couch until then.” She pauses to give me a look of disgust. “As long as you wear clothes, of course. Your naked ass is not touching our couch or any other surface in our house. Got it?”
“Sure,” I say unconvincingly. “I’ll do my best to keep my ass covered. No promises.”
“You better or I’ll have no problem letting you stay in a hotel or with dad.” She reaches into her pocket for her phone when it vibrates. “That’s Kennedy. Are those for us? I can run Kennedy’s inside to her, because I plan to stay for a drink or two now that you’ll be sleeping on our couch.”
“I’ll bring them to you guys. It’s going to be about five or six minutes.”
“Okay cool. It’ll give me a few minutes to talk to Kennedy about you crashing with us for a while.” She exhales, walking toward the door. “Wish me luck.”
She’s going to need it, but knowing Kennedy, she won’t say no. Saying no to my sister is something she’s never been able to do. Best friend status and all.
Ten minutes later, I’m walking into the bar with two burgers in hand. I can tell by the redness of Kennedy’s face the moment her eyes land on me that she’s not too thrilled about my post earlier today. Either that or she’s not too thrilled about me crashing on her couch. I’m going to assume both.
“For how long?” Kennedy’s question is aimed at me, but my sister responds instead.
“One week max. After that, he’s his own problem.” Blaire turns to face me. “Right, Colson?”
“One week,” I say, my eyes locked on Kennedy’s as I set the burgers down on the bar. “That’s all I need.”
“Okay good. Then it’s settled. The couch for one week and you will sleep in clothes. If I find you in your boxers or briefs or whatever bright and early in the morning, ruining my eyesight, I will hurt you. Brother or not. I’ll break a limb and not feel bad about it.”
“I think maybe we need a sleeping pants rule,” Kennedy adds stiffly. “If you don’t own a pair, then I suggest you pick a pair up tonight before you come to our house.” She grabs the burger in front of her. “Thanks for dinner. You owe me after the shit you pulled today.”
“What shit?” my sister asks in between chewing her burger.
“Nothing.” Kennedy shoots me an evil glare. “He just sucks at social media. That’s all.”
“I’d love to see what you suck at, Kennedy.” I say loud enough just for her to hear. “Maybe I’ll find out over the next week.”
Before she can cuss me out or bring attention to us, I grin and back away, loving her eyes on me the entire way to the door.
That won’t be the only thing on me before long…
By the end of the night, I’m dreading going home, knowing that not only do I need to let Dax know his brother is back in town, but also that he’ll be sleeping on mine and his sister’s couch for the next week.
It’s been months since they’ve seen or spoken to each other, but not much has changed since then. Dax still hates his younger brother just as much as before he left. I know this because he likes to bring him up every now and again. When he has nothing else to bitch about, he brings up all the times Colson pissed him off in the past and how he’s glad his brother is gone. I think a small part of that hatred has always been out of jealousy. People have always flocked to Colson, fast to jump into a friendship with him, while Dax has always struggled with being seen.
I park outside my house and kill the engine, glad to see Colson’s truck is nowhere in sight yet. Dax should be here any minute, and I need some time to talk to him first. I wanted to tell him this in person. Plus, with our schedules, we haven’t really seen each other in two days. He’s either sleeping when I’m awake or vice versa and when we are together, we’ve been fighting over pointless shit. Telling him over the phone will only make things more tense between us.
“Where’s your brother?” Blaire is in the kitchen putting the dishes away when I walk inside, so I join her and pour a glass of water. “Did he find somewhere else to stay?”
Please say yes.
“No. He went to Travis’s to grab his stuff. He left about an hour ago, so he should be here soon.”
“Only for one week, right? Not a day longer?”
“Not a day longer. He’s supposedly getting an apartment in the same building as Travis.” Blaire gives me an awkward smile once she notices my grip on the island. “Are you worried about him staying here or something? Anything I should know about?”
“No,” I say rather too quickly. “He just works my last nerve. You know how annoying his mouth can be. Not to mention that Dax hates him. Did you forget about your other brother? The one who’s been fighting with him for the last twenty-one years.”
“Oh, right. I honestly wasn’t thinking about Dax when I offered to let him crash with us. I just felt bad that he planned to stay at a hotel. He shouldn’t have to do that. I’m sorry, but Dax will just have to deal with it. It’s not like he’s going to offer to let Colson crash at his place. It’s time they learn to get along. Dax is twenty-five. He should act like it.”
I don’t see that happening anytime soon. In fact, he’ll probably hate him even more after this week is up. “Why didn’t he just stay at Travis’s or at another friend’s place? He knows everyone. He could’ve stayed anywhere he wanted, yet he chose our couch?”
“I don’t know. Something about Travis’s girl not being able to keep her eyes off my brother. I didn’t really question him much. He’s family. It’d have been rude not to offer. He’s my little brother.”
“I get it,” I force out, wishing that I didn’t. She’s always been closer with Colson than Dax. “I just wish he’d chosen to stay somewhere else.”
“A week isn’t very long. It’ll be over before you know it. Just ignore him. That’s what I do when he gets on my last nerve. He eventually gets the hint and backs off.”
Really? Because I can’t tell.
I nod and force a smile. “I guess one week won’t hurt.”
“Exactly. I’m sure it’ll be fine. What damage could he cause in that amount of time?” She yawns and heads toward the hallway. “I’m going to bed. I told Colson to be quiet when he gets in, so he shouldn’t disturb you once you retire to your room.”
“Sounds good. Thanks.”
“No problem. If he doesn’t listen, you know the drill. Just kick his ass. I won’t judge. Night, babe.”
Once I’m alone, I stare at the couch, stupidly imagining Colson lying there in his underwear, his sculpted chest and abs on display, making my body hot with need. The image in my head has me quickly pouring another glass of cold water to cool off.
I’m so lost in my inappropriate thoughts that I don’t even hear Dax come in until his arms are wrapped around me from behind, his body pressing me against the sink. “Miss me today?”
I smile and kiss his arm, setting my glass down. “Maybe…”
“Are you going to give me a maybe every time? It’s getting a little old.”
I spin around in his arms to look up at him. His brown eyes lock on mine, growing worried. “Sorry. I don’t want to fight tonight. It’s just been a long day and I’m exhausted. That’s all. How was work?”
“The same as usual. It was boring and I couldn’t stop thinking about getting here to you.” His hand tangles into the back of my hair as his lips move in to meet mine. “I really hate your job sometimes. I don’t get why you want to run a bar. Let Sally do it. You could always come work with me at the bank so you could have decent hours.”
“We’ve already talked about this,” I say against his lips. “I’ve worked hard for this opportunity. Please don’t start on that again.” I exhale, frustration setting in. “I need to tell you some–”
“Hey.” Blaire pokes her head out her bedroom door, stopping to make a gagging sound at her brother’s lips on mine. “Didn’t mean to interrupt this disturbing moment. Just wanted to let you know he’s on his way now. Told him to lock the door behind him so you can go get comfortable and not have to worry.”
“Who’s on his way?”
Blaire’s eyes widen once she realizes I haven’t told Dax about their brother yet. “I’ll let Kennedy explain. Off to bed. It’s way past my bedtime.”
She slams her door shut and Dax’s eyes turn to me. “Is someone staying here with you guys that I don’t know about? He?”
I swallow nervously. Thanks, Blaire. “Colson is back in town and needed somewhere to crash for a few days. I would’ve told you sooner, but—”
“Wait, what?” He releases me and takes a step back, his muscles bulging from the tenseness that’s kicked in at hearing his brother is back. I expected this reaction. “He’s back in town? Since when?”
“Yeah. For a couple days now. I just found out yesterday when he showed up at the bar to work the food truck. No one knew he was coming back. He just showed up. Not even your dad knew.”
“Hold up. Not only is my Colson going to be crashing here on the couch under the same roof as you, but you hired him to work the food truck?” He takes another step back and runs his hand through his dark hair in frustration. “I need a drink.”
I stand back and watch as he walks over to the cabinet to pull down the bottle of Vodka he keeps stashed here. He doesn’t even bother with a glass. He just tilts the bottle back, taking a huge swig. “I didn’t hire him. Like I said, I didn’t even know he was back until he showed up for work. Dixie did, though, apparently. I’m not sure when they communicated, but they did. There’s nothing I can do about it now, except learn to deal with it.”
He shakes his head in aggravation. “Yeah, well, Dixie always did have a soft spot for that asshole. I still don’t understand why.” He stops to take another huge swig. “So, what about when you take over the bar? Then what? You gonna let him work there still?”
I shrug and pour myself a weak drink. Just a little something to take the edge off. “It’s not like I can just fire him without cause. So, yeah. There’s a huge chance he’ll be working the food truck for a while. At least until I find someone more qualified.”
“Well, shit!” His face hardens as he grabs my waist and yanks me to him. “I don’t like the idea of him working for you, and I sure as fuck don’t like the idea of him sleeping on your couch.”
“Well, he won’t be sleeping on the couch for long. He’s already been told one week and not a day longer. Your sister says he has an apartment lined up already. I don’t get what the big deal is. Just ignore him until he’s gone. It’s not like you’re here every day anyway.”
“You won’t be either. You’re staying with me for a week. Grab some things and we’ll head out before the asshole gets here. The less time with him the better. I don’t want you under the same roof as him. Not if I can help it.”
“Fuck no. That’s not happening.” I pull away from his grip, not wanting him to touch me right now. Not with him thinking he can give me orders. “If there’s anyone I hate in life, it’s your roommate. Steve has caused way too much trouble between us in the past. I get that you don’t like your brother, but honestly, I’d rather put up with him than see Steve’s smug face every day while you’re at work. That’s why I never spend the night there as it is. What makes you think I’ll pack up my shit and stay a whole week?”
“Come on, babe. Just forget about Steve for now. I know he’s a huge dick, but I’ll make sure he doesn’t bother you. We both know my brother is nothing but trouble. I don’t trust him around you. I never have.” He grips my waist again, moving in until his lips are brushing mine. They’re the only lips I’ve ever kissed, and I know he wants to keep it that way. I do too. His brother being here isn’t going to change that. “He’s had a thing for you as long as I can remember. He’ll probably do everything in his power to be where you are just to piss me off.”
“There are plenty of women throwing themselves at him. Trust me. He’s not going to follow me around like some lost puppy.” I place my hands against his chest to give me some space. He’s holding me so tight I can hardly breathe. My nerves are already wrecked enough tonight, I don’t need this shit. “If he does anything inappropriate, I’ll kick his ass. Simple as that. I’m not helpless. I can handle Colson Bennett. So stop trying to control me. It won’t work.”
“Fine.” He exhales in defeat before grabbing the back of my head and pressing his lips against mine, kissing me long and hard, before pulling away. “I’ll kill him if he touches you. Just know that.”
“He’s not going to touch me. I wouldn’t let him even if he tried.”
“You sure about that?” I stand up straight, my heart pounding at the sound of Colson’s voice. I look around Dax to see Colson standing beside the couch with a cocky grin. “Hello, Brother. Miss me?”
“You’ve been back for less than five minutes and I already want to strangle you, so no.” Dax grumbles, his eyes landing on the duffle bag Colson drops beside the couch. “The couch will be the only place you’re sleeping, so get comfortable, little brother, but not too comfortable, because you’ll be gone in a week. Got it?”
“The couch will do just fine,” he says, his dark eyes on me, making me nervous.
“All right.” My voice breaks a little, and I’m hoping neither of them notice. But this is too intense for me right now. I need to ignore Colson’s sexual innuendo and get far away from him. “Well, now that you boys are reacquainted, I’m going to bed. Dax, I’ll see you in a few. Colson, enjoy the couch while it’s yours. No fighting while your sister is sleeping or you’re both out.”
I disappear into my bedroom and throw on something to sleep in. I’d usually sleep in my underwear and a T-shirt, but since Colson will be in the path of the bathroom, I throw on some shorts too not wanting to give him the wrong idea.
I barely crawl into the bed and turn on the TV when my bedroom door opens to Dax stepping inside. He hardly sleeps over on the weekdays due to him having to be up early for work, but I have a feeling he’ll be making an exception tonight. I sort of hope he does since Colson will be right outside this door. “I’m staying tonight.”
“Good, but no more fighting. Got it?”
I smile and pat the bed, wanting him to see I want him here. I don’t want his brother here, and I need Colson to see that so he keeps his distance. “One week will be over before we know it.”
“I doubt it.” With his face hard, he strips down to his briefs and crawls on top of me. The way he spreads my legs with force causes me to let out a surprised gasp. It’s not very often he’s rough with me, but I’m guessing having his brother here is going to bring out his aggressive side.
“You like that?” he breathes into my ear. “I’ve been wanting a taste of my girl for days now. I’m going mad.” His lips move along my neck, his strong fingers working along my body to undress me, and as turned on as I am, I can’t stop thinking about his brother being right outside on the couch. Knowing him, he’s probably listening at the door just to piss me off.
I fight to push him out of my mind as Dax slips a finger between my legs and digs his teeth into my neck. “You’re wet, babe; so damn wet.” He slips another finger inside and I moan out a little too loudly, causing embarrassment to creep in. “Does that feel good? Go ahead. Let my brother know you’re mine.”
“Really?” I shove his hand away and slam my legs closed.
“What’s wrong, baby?”
“Do you really think I want to give your brother a show? Is that why you’re still here? Because if so, then you can leave. I won’t play your game.”
“Oh, come on, Kennedy,” he grunts in frustration, adjusting his thick erection. “The fucker needs to know to stay away from this bedroom while he’s here. I’m just trying to ensure that happens.”
“I don’t have any plans for him to come anywhere near my bedroom, but I’m not going to moan and put on a show for him just to prove a point. Did you forget that your sister is right next door? She doesn’t want to hear that shit and I definitely don’t want her too either.”
He exhales and runs a hand through his hair. “You’re right. I was being an asshole and not thinking.” He moves in and kisses the top of my head. “It’s late and I have to be up in a few hours. Maybe we should just get some sleep and continue this tomorrow night.”
I nod and lay back when he pats the spot beside him. “Probably a good idea. Everyone’s tired and stressed out tonight. Let’s just forget your brother is here and get some sleep.”
“Good fucking idea.” He wraps his arms around me, his scent surrounding me as he trails kisses over my neck. His lips are soft and smooth. I’ve always loved that about him. “Goodnight, babe.”
I close my eyes and lay here for what feels like forever, but I’m unable to fall asleep as expected. Dax, of course, was out like a light within two minutes of me crawling into his arms.
Moments like this make me wish sleeping came easily for me. I can’t shut my mind off, knowing that Colson is right outside on the couch. It doesn’t help that I have to pee. I’m holding off, hoping that he’ll fall asleep first. I don’t want to be alone with him tonight. Not even for a second.
Twenty — maybe thirty — minutes pass before I wriggle my way out of Dax’s arms and quietly open my bedroom door, doing my best not to wake anyone. The living room is dark, so I’m hoping I gave Colson enough time to fall asleep.
The silence leads me to believe that I did, until I exit the bathroom to find Colson standing right outside, half-naked. His boxer briefs ride up high on his thick, muscular thighs, exposing ink that reads – we live with the scars we choose. As my eyes trail higher it’s not hard to see that he’s semi-hard. I hate myself for wondering just how big he’d be fully aroused. You’d think by now I’d train my eyes not to go there. My thoughts too.
“I thought we already established you’d be sleeping in pajamas while staying here,” I say as firmly as possible, trying to hide the fact that my eyes are trailing along the birds tattooed down the right side of his V that leads down into his waistband.
He smiles as if noticing and moves in close to my ear, his breath soft and warm against my skin. “I don’t own any. Besides, touching myself to thoughts of you is a hell of a lot easier with less clothes.” He grips the back of my head, holding me in place as his lips brush over my neck. “But I’m sure you know that with all the times you’ve touched yourself to thoughts of me. We should just do each other a favor and touch each other.”
“No…” I place my hand on his chest and push him back until he releases his grip on my neck. “…we shouldn’t. And I hope you’re lying about masturbating on our couch. That’ll get you kicked to the curb a lot sooner than a week.”
“Really?” He licks his bottom lip, the sight sending heat straight to my core. “In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not out fucking any girls right now, so you can just assume I’ll be fucking myself quite often.” With his eyes on mine, he backs me up until my back is pressed against my bedroom door. I fight the urge to moan out when he suddenly spins me around and pins me to the door with his body. “Unless you want to let me fuck you right here with my brother on the other side of this door. I’d be happy to make you scream for him.”
I swallow, hardly able to think straight with his hard body pressed against mine. How can any girl think in this situation? “Touch me again and I’ll let your brother rip your throat out like he’s been threatening for years. Now. Move.” I throw my shoulders back, giving me space to open the bedroom door and slip inside in a hurry.
I almost slam it behind me but stop myself before I can make that mistake and let everyone in the place know that Colson has already gotten to me. I figured he would at some point, but not on the first night.
Once back in bed, I fight with the blankets to get comfortable, but nothing seems to work. I can still feel Colson’s hand on my neck and his hard body pressed against mine, and it’s driving me insane with need. A need I know I shouldn’t be feeling. Especially after what he said earlier about why he’s back.
There’s an ache between my legs waiting to be taken care of, and it wasn’t my boyfriend who put it there. But it’s an ache that won’t be going away anytime soon and I know it. Colson made sure of it. He’s more than aware of what his body does to women and he’s using it as a weapon; one that will destroy me if I let it.
Feeling ashamed, I slide my hand under the blanket and into my panties, hating how wet Colson left me. I’m not sure I can ever think about him touching himself and not remember the night he did it right in front of me. He did that on purpose tonight. Probably waited for me to come out of my room just to make that lie up. Or… maybe it wasn’t a lie. Maybe he was stroking himself right outside this room on the couch.
Whatever it was, it has me orgasming within minutes, moaning softly into my arm so that I don’t wake Dax beside me.
Yup. Definitely going to Hell for this one…
I’m shocked awake by ice-cold water splashing against my face; the water so cold it almost fucking burns. At least, that’s what my mind registers from being woken up from a deep sleep.
I don’t even need to open my eyes first to know that my brother is standing right above me with an empty pitcher in his hand, most likely wearing his murderous expression. This isn’t the first time he’s done this shit when pissed at me.
“You might want to put some fucking clothes on to keep warm before you catch a cold or a fist to the face, little brother. It’s been a while since we played that game.” With his jaw flexed, he tosses the pitcher at my stomach and walks away. “Don’t let me catch you in your underwear again while you’re sleeping here. Enjoy the wet couch, asshole.”
I smirk as he walks to the door, waiting until he opens it to speak just to piss him off more. He hates for me to get the last word in when he doesn’t have time to stay and fight. It makes him murderous, and I get joy out of that; a whole fucking lot. “I’d be more than happy to lose the underwear too. Let Kennedy see what she’s been missing out on by being with you. Who do you think will be sleeping on the couch when this week is over?”
“I’ll fucking kill you.” He pauses in the door, just about to turn back around when his phone goes off in his pocket. “Dammit, Colson. This shit isn’t over. Don’t go near her. I mean it.” With that, he answers his phone, steps outside, and slams the door shut behind him.
Just pissing him off makes losing sleep worth it. I’ll take a whole pitcher of ice-water to my dick next time if it means I get to piss my brother off in the process.
Standing up, I shake my wet hair out and strip out of my wet boxer briefs, before grabbing a pair of dry ones out of my bag and slipping them on. My brother’s mistaken if he thinks I’m going to get back on the wet couch and struggle to fall back to sleep. He should know me better than that. But apparently, he’s ready to play a game he’s sure to lose in the end.
Without overthinking it, I quietly slip into Kennedy’s bedroom and into her bed. The blankets are kicked halfway off the edge, giving me a perfect view of her ass in her little sleep shorts. I growl and grip my hard dick, considering jerking off to her right here in her bed, but I’d rather her watch the next time I touch myself to her. I want her eyes on my hard body when she gets wet for me this time.
I release my dick and place my hands behind my head to get comfortable. It’s nearly impossible to relax when all I can think about are the ways I could pleasure Kennedy right now. I’m too sexually frustrated. I’ve wanted to make her scream since I was old enough to know what sex was. I’ve pictured me inside of her in many different ways; each of them hotter than the last. I plan to play out every single fantasy, just not tonight. But soon.
I don’t know how much time has passed before my eyes finally get heavy. I’m just about to fall asleep when the bed moving beside me to Kennedy turning over to her back has me opening my eyes to look at her.
I hold my breath, my eyes trailing over her sexy body as her chest rises and falls with each breath. I could easily lift the T-shirt she’s wearing and run my tongue all along her body right now if I thought she was ready to cave, but she’s not. I have a week to get her there, but I’m hoping it won’t take that long.
She’s always been a heavy sleeper — I know this from all the sleepovers with my sister growing up — so she’d probably just think I was my brother. That might be good enough for some, but not for me. I want her to know it’s me when I make her come.
I close my eyes, imagining what she’d taste like on my tongue—her breasts, her pussy and her ass. I want to taste it all. Every inch of what my brother thinks is his—I want to make it mine. She will be mine.
Fuck, I’m losing it right now.
I should just give her another show—right here and now—and force her to watch me as I touch myself for her. I bet my brother never lets her watch him.
“Holy fuck…” My heart skips a beat when Kennedy suddenly turns over, her arm landing across my hard dick as she swings it over, unaware of what she’s doing.
I consider moving it in case she wakes up embarrassed, but I’m not that nice of a guy; not when it comes to getting what I want, and what I want is for her to want me.
No matter the cost.
If anything, I want to lose these boxer briefs to give her easy access to what should’ve been hers all along. My body. Every inch of it. Every dip. Every hard muscle. Every scar. It’s hers for the taking.
I just have to wait for her to crave it.
I feel something hard beneath my arm, realizing that Dax hasn’t left for work yet. It feels much later than it must actually be.
After what happened last night with Colson, I’m just happy to wake up beside his brother. I need to feel him right now to erase Colson from my mind. He’s been on it too much since his arrival and I need to change that and fast.
Not wanting to open my eyes, nor ready to wake up just yet, I slide my hand across Dax’s briefs until his thick erection is under my palm. I lightly run my palm over it a few times, barely touching it, before gripping it with a moan.
It’s so thick and hard, seeming extra big under my palm this morning. It must be my tired mind, but it feels bigger than usual. Thicker. It turns me on even more, my body ready for him to sink between my thighs and take me. I don’t even care that I’m still mad at him from last night. Smiling, I trail my hand higher to trace my fingers along his abs, and that’s when I realize something is off. It’s not Dax’s body that I’m touching. It’s his brother’s. Only Colson has a body this hard and defined.
My eyes shoot open to find Colson’s gaze on me, a crooked smile taking over as I yank my hand back and practically jump off the bed. “Colson! What the hell are you doing in my bed?”
His abs flex as he sits up and runs both of his hands through his hair. It’s impossible to miss how hot he looks right now with his messy hair and scruff. He’s too sexy for his own good.
“You can thank my brother for getting the couch all wet this morning. I wasn’t about to crawl into bed with my fucking sister.” He stands up, closing the distance between us. “I’ll be sure to thank him later myself. I didn’t expect the handy, but I appreciate the bonus.”
“I didn’t know it was… no, just no. Get out of my room. Now.” I shake my head and take a step back, putting some space between us. I can’t handle him so close. Not after just touching his very hard dick. “And what are you talking about? What happened this morning?”
“You can ask my brother when you tell him I crawled into bed with you.” He smirks and steps around me, gripping his dick to adjust it. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go finish what you started.”
The moment he steps outside my door, I slam it shut behind him and lock it. I’m not sure if I should be more pissed at Colson for crawling into my bed or Dax for instigating it by dumping water on Colson this morning; what I’m assuming happened anyway. It wouldn’t be the first time he’s done it. If it weren’t for Dax, Colson never would’ve crawled into my bed, needing somewhere dry to sleep.
Exhaling my frustration, I fall onto my bed and reach for my phone on the bedside table. It’s just past eleven, which means there’s a possibility that Colson was in my bed for two, maybe even three hours. Who knows what he did in my bed while I was sleeping. He probably masturbated right beside me. I don’t know why, but that oddly turns me on and pisses me off at the same time.
Grunting, I toss my phone aside and cover my face, overwhelmed with frustration; sexual frustration to top it off. What the hell am I supposed to tell Dax? Oh, by the way, your brother crawled into bed with me and I felt him up…
I just need to make it through six more nights. As long as I can keep him on the couch and away from my bed, it shouldn’t be a problem. But I have a feeling it will be.
Maybe he wasn’t lying about coming back to steal me away from Dax. Or at least do enough damage to break us apart for good. That part scares me.
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