Sweet little lies, p.15
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       Sweet Little Lies, p.15

         Part #1 of Heartbreaker Bay series by Jill Shalvis
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  managed.

  “I’m hoping not,” Finn said.

  She needed to move but couldn’t find her limbs to save her life. Finn didn’t seem to have the same problem, he used his arms to lean over her and kiss her, eyes open like maybe he was taking her vitals.

  She quivered for more. Good God. Since when was she addicted to sex?

  Finn caught the look in her eyes and he laughed low in his throat. Sexy as hell. “Give me a minute,” he said, voice husky.

  She arched a brow, impressed. “Just one?”

  “Maybe one and a half,” he said, his gaze dropping to her mouth. “Tops.”

  Her good parts actually fluttered. Seriously, what was wrong with her?

  “How’s the road rash?” he asked, helping her down off the counter and rewrapping her up in the towel.

  It took her a moment to get her brain organized enough to even remember what he was talking about. “Good.”

  “Liar.” His voice was quiet and very, very sexy. She wondered if he’d ever considered a side job as a phone sex operator. He’d be fantastic at it. Or maybe he could just read her a book, any book at all . . .

  His phone buzzed once more and he blew out a sigh. “That’s twice. I’m sorry, I have to look.” He pulled his phone from his pocket and glanced at the screen.

  A frown creased his brow as he accessed a text.

  And then his easy demeanor vanished. He rose to his feet.

  “What’s the matter?” she asked.

  He pulled her towel back around her, tucking it in between her breasts, stopping to brush a sweet kiss to her lips. “I’m sorry. I have to go. Sean’s in trouble.”

  Her heart stopped. “Do you need help?”

  “No, I’ve got it. We’ve been around this block before, more times than I can count.”

  “But . . .” She ran her gaze down his body, letting it catch on the unmistakable bulge behind his button fly. “Now?”

  “Yeah.” He ran the pad of his thumb along her jaw and kissed her again. “Thanks for giving me a taste of you,” he murmured against her mouth. “I already want another.”

  And then he was gone, leaving her sitting there, mouth open, blinking like a land-locked fish at the open doorway he’d just vanished through.

  “I want a taste of you too,” she said to the empty void he’d left behind. She looked around her at the steamy bathroom. “I don’t even know what just happened,” she told it.

  But she totally did—she’d just complicated things even more. And in an irreversible way, too.

  Dammit, she was supposed to be fun whispering him. Instead, she’d fun whispered herself!

  Chapter 16

  #MyBad

  Finn took the stairs rather than wait for the elevator, and then jogged across the courtyard to the pub, his body practically vibrating with adrenaline.

  He could still hear Pru’s soft, breathy, whimpery pants in his ear. She’d stilled for his touch like she’d been afraid it would all stop too soon.

  She’d even begged him. Please, Finn, don’t stop . . .

  If Sean hadn’t called, they’d have moved to her bed by now and be in the throes of round two.

  Not once in the past eight years since his life had changed so drastically had he’d had such a wildly hot, crazy sex-capade, but Pru brought it out in him. There was no denying that he felt more alive when he was with her than he’d felt in . . . well, shit.

  A fucking long time.

  There’d been few opportunities when he was busy working 24/7 and trying to keep Sean on the straight and narrow.

  But Pru had gotten under his skin, and like her, he wanted more. So much more. He wanted to know her secrets, the ones that sometimes put those shadows in her eyes. He wanted to know why she wanted to bring him fun and adventure, but didn’t seem to feel like she deserved it as well. He wanted to know what made her tick. And more than anything, he wanted to taste her again.

  Every inch of her.

  He wanted to see more of her and he had no idea how she felt about that. For the first time in he had no idea how long, he was thinking about more than the bottom line of the pub.

  He was thinking about a future, with an adventurous, frustrating, warm, sexy woman he couldn’t seem to get enough of.

  Skipping the crowded pub, he entered directly into his office, while thumbing through his email on his phone. “So what the hell’s so important that—” He broke off as a sound permeated through his thick skull—the soft sigh of a woman experiencing pleasure.

  Sexual pleasure.

  Jerking his head up, he took in the sight on his couch and whipped back to the door, which he slammed behind him. Grinding his back teeth into powder, he strode around the courtyard to the pub door and went directly to the bar.

  Scott, the night’s bartender, started toward him but Finn waved him off and grabbed a shot glass to serve himself.

  He was trying to lose himself in the happy sounds of the crowd around him, pouring a double when Sean appeared, shirtless, shoeless, buttoning his Levi’s.

  Behind him was a tall, curvy blonde in a little sundress, her hair tousled, her high-heeled sandals dangling from her hand. Shooting Finn a wry smile, she turned to Sean, ran a hand up his chest and around his neck and leaned in to give him a lingering kiss. “Thanks for a good time, baby.” With a last lingering look in Finn’s direction, she padded out.

  “Fuck,” Finn said.

  “Exactly,” Sean said with a sated grin.

  Finn shook his head and headed down the interior hallway to his office.

  Sean followed.

  “What the hell’s the matter with you?” Finn asked.

  “Absolutely nothing.”

  “I’m working real hard here at not chucking this shot glass at your head,” Finn said. “You want to come up with better than that and you want to do it quick.”

  Sean blinked. “What the hell’s your problem? Why are you raining on my parade?”

  “What the hell’s my problem?” Finn sucked in a breath for calm. It didn’t work. “You texted me that you had an emergency. I dropped everything and race over here to find you fucking some girl on the couch in my office.”

  “I told you, you have the better office.”

  Finn stared at him, and some of his genuine temper and absolutely zero humor of the situation must have finally gotten through to Sean because he lifted his hands. “Look, you got back here faster than I thought you would, all right? And Ashley just happened to stop by and . . . well, one thing led to another.”

  Finn tossed back the smoothest Scotch in the place and barely felt the burn. “You told me there was an emergency. That you needed me. Exactly how long did you expect me to take getting here?”

  “Longer than sixty seconds,” Sean said. “I mean I’m good, but even I need at least five minutes.” He flashed a grin.

  Finn resisted the urge to strangle him. Barely. “Emergency implies death and destruction and mayhem,” he said. “Like, say, our last emergency. When dad died.”

  The easy smile fell from Sean’s face, replaced by surprise and then guilt, followed by shame. “Oh shit,” he said. “Shit, I didn’t think—”

  “And there’s our problem, Sean,” Finn said. “You never do.”

  Sean’s mouth tightened. “No, actually, that’s not the real problem. Let’s hear it again, shall we? You’re the grown-up. I’m just the stupid problem child.”

  “You’re hardly a child.”

  “But I’m still a problem,” Sean said. “Always have been to you.”

  “Bullshit,” Finn said. “Get your head out of your own ass and stop feeling sorry for yourself. Now what the hell’s the emergency?”

  Sean paused. “It was more of a pub thing,” he said vaguely, no longer meeting Finn’s gaze.

  And a very bad feeling crept into Finn’s gut. “What did you do?”

  “It’s more what I didn’t do . . .”

  “Spit it out, Sean.”

  “Okay, okay. B
ut before you blow a gasket, you should know. It’s not as bad as the time I nearly burnt the place down by accident. Let’s keep it in perspective, all right?”

  “Accident?” Finn asked. “You opened the place after hours to have a party with your idiot friends and were lighting Jell-O shots when you managed to catch the kitchen on fire. How exactly is that an accident?”

  “Well, who knew that Jell-O was so flammable?”

  Finn stared at him, at an utter loss. “This is a fucking joke to you, all of it.”

  “No, it’s not.”

  “Yes, it is. You think I’m just the asshole making you toe the line. I’m trying to give you a life here, Sean, a way to make a living and take care of yourself in case something happens to me.”

  Sean laughed. Laughed. The sound harsh in the quiet room. “You’re not dad, Finn. I don’t need you to give me a life. I can do that for myself. Contrary to popular belief, I can take care of myself.”

  “Because you’ve done a great job of it so far?” Finn asked.

  “Fuck you,” Sean said and walked out.

  “What’s the damn emergency?” Finn yelled after him.

  But Sean was gone.

  This left Finn in charge of the place for the night instead of getting to go back up to 3B where he’d left his mind, and maybe a good chunk of his heart as well.

  The next morning was Sunday and despite it being a weekend, Finn was back at the pub. He was working his way through some of the never-ending paperwork that seemed to multiply daily when Sean appeared.

  “Where have you been?” Finn asked, hating himself for sounding like a nagging grandma.

  Sean ran his hand over his bedhead hair. “Slept on the roof.”

  Finn shook his head. “Bet you froze your nuts off.”

  “Just about.” Sean paused. “I shouldn’t have walked away last night. I’m sorry for that.”

  “Just tell me the damn emergency already,” Finn said.

  Sean’s jaw went tight, a muscle ticking. A very unusual sight, and a tell that he was actually feeling stressed, something Finn hadn’t known his brother could even feel.

  Sean pulled two envelopes from his back pocket. “You know how I said I wanted to help you with the business side of things and you said I had to start at the bottom, and I said like the mail room? And you said we don’t have a mail room, but yes a little bit like that?”

  “It was a joke,” Finn said. “Because you think you just jump in but there’s a learning curve. So I suggested you start by handling our mail and our accounts payable. And you agreed as long as I didn’t come along behind you to check up on you.”

  “Didn’t need dad in the house looking over my shoulder,” Sean said.

  “Actually, if I’d been dad, I’d have used my fists, or whatever else was handy and just beat the shit out of you,” Finn said. “Or have you forgotten?”

  Temper flashed in Sean’s eyes. Temper, and something else that he got a hold of before Finn could. He didn’t speak for a moment, which was rare for Sean. He just stood there, fists clenched at his side, working his jaw muscles. “Fuck it. Fuck this,” he finally said and started to turn away but stopped. “No, you know what? Fuck you. Sideways.”

  “Mature.”

  But Sean wasn’t playing. He shoved a finger in Finn’s face. “You think I’ve forgotten which one of us dad got off on beating up? You think I don’t remember at night when I close my eyes that you took it for me, every single time? That I don’t know you made sure you were between him and me so I’d be safe? That I survived only because of you? That I’m still surviving because of you? You think I don’t know that I’m a fuckup who’s only here with a semblance of a normal life because you gave it to me?”

  Okay, so the something else in Sean’s gaze had been grief and remembered horror. And Finn shouldn’t have tried to be glib about it, there was nothing glib about how they’d grown up. “I didn’t mean to take this there,” he said quietly. “You’re not a—”

  “I forgot to pay our liquor license.” Sean’s face was hard. Blank. “I forgot and it was due today.”

  Finn stared at him. “That was the one thing I reminded you of two months ago when you took on the bills.”

  “The envelope fell behind my desk and got lost. And it wasn’t alone. The property tax on the house was back there too and that one’s now past due.”

  “Are you kidding me?”

  “Do I look like I’m kidding?” Sean inhaled a deep breath, spread out his arms and shook his head. “See? You were right. I really am just a fuckup. You should demote me back to—”

  “What? Sweep boy?” Finn found his own temper. And hell if he was going to let Sean default to his favorite thing—self-destruction, just because it was easier than growing up. “You wanted to do this, Sean. You wanted in. And now you’re telling me what, things are too hard, you’re too busy having fun that you can’t get your head out of your ass and grow up?”

  Sean’s eyes narrowed. “Guess so.”

  Finn stared at him waiting for regret, for an apology, for any-fucking-thing, but nothing came. Just Sean’s hooded gaze, body braced for a fight, all sullen ’tude. Finn shook his head. “Fine. You win.”

  “What does that mean?”

  “It means I need some air,” Finn said and walked out the door to the courtyard.

  It was late morning and unusually warm. Summer was in full swing, which in San Francisco usually meant a sweatshirt sixty-five-ish and fingers crossed for a hope to get into the seventies.

  But now, in direct opposition to his mood, it was sunny and warm, and it didn’t suit him in the least.

  He had no idea where he’d intended to go, only knowing he was going somewhere, needing to vent the ugly inside him, the ugly his dad had bequeathed him.

  The gym maybe. He’d go punch the shit out of a bag at the gym.

  But to do that, he’d have to walk past Pru standing there watching him, a look on her face that told him she’d heard everything.

  Chapter 17

  #ThereAren’tEnoughCookiesForThis

  Pru stared into Finn’s face, wishing like hell she could go back and vanish before he caught sight of her, or barring that, at least do something to ease the pain and anger in his eyes.

  “Did you get all of that or do you need me to repeat some of it?” he asked.

  “I didn’t mean to get any of it,” she said. “It was an accidental eavesdrop.”

  He blew out a sigh, shook his head, and stared over her head at the fountain.

  Regret slashed through her. She’d been caught eavesdropping many times, all of them accidental. Once when she’d been young, she’d caught her parents going at it on the dining room table with gusto. It’d been ten o’clock at night and she’d been fast asleep only to wake up thirsty. Not wanting to disturb her parents, she’d made her own way to the kitchen.

  At first glance she’d smiled because she’d thought that her dad was tickling her mom. Her mom had loved it when he’d done that, and they’d touched often.

 
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