Home > Just What I Needed (Need You #2)(6)

Just What I Needed (Need You #2)(6)
Author: Lorelei James


“You’re a good cousin.”

He stood and said, “I’m a sucker,” without any real malice in his voice. Grabbing a handful of my hair, he tilted my head back and kissed me.

Holy hell, did he kiss me. The kiss was short, but there was nothing sweet about it.

After ending his onslaught, he eased back slightly so he could gaze into my eyes. “That was in case your douchebag ex is still watching.”

“Uh. Okay.” Eloquent, Trinity.

Walker lowered his lips to mine again for a slower kiss. A deeper kiss. A kiss packed with raw hunger that sent me spiraling. I had to clutch his shirt to ground myself and keep from getting dizzy.

When he pulled back, my dazed look brought out his satisfied male grin.

“What was that one for?” I managed.

“That one was just for me.”

Swoon.

“I have your number so expect a call from me soon. Real soon, because I cannot wait to see you again.” Then he was striding out the door.

As I tried to unscramble my brain, I was aware of a few things:

The man took kissing to a whole new plane.

I couldn’t wait to hear that gravelly voice on the other end of the line when he called me soon. Real soon because he couldn’t wait to see me again.

My euphoria faded fast.

Not only had I given him a fake name, I’d given him my old phone number. There was no way he could get in touch with me.

So I left the bar in the same type of crappy mood I’d arrived in.

Happy Hour. What a freakin’ lie. Happy Hour could suck it.

 

 

Two

 

 

WALKER

 


After washing off the dirt from another lousy day on the Smith Brothers’ job site, I slipped on board shorts and a tank top. A swim in my pool would erase the remnants of this shitty week and I could start the weekend with a better attitude. I snagged a beer out of the fridge and barely had a chance to enjoy that first frosty sip when the doorbell rang.

Tempting to ignore it since I suspected a family member lurked on the other side wanting something from me. Again. I didn’t bother to check the security camera before I disengaged the locks and opened the door.

My older brother, Brady, stood on the threshold, one hand on his hip, the other holding a cell phone at eye level. Right in front of my face.

I heard the click as he snapped my picture. “What the hell, Brady?”

“I’m texting Mom proof that you’re alive.”

“She’s sending you to do her dirty work these days?”

He lifted a brow. “These days? As the oldest it’s always fallen on my shoulders to make sure none of you stray too far from the flock.” He slipped his phone into the inner pocket of his suit jacket. “So you gonna let me in or what?”

“As long as you’re not here to preach the doctrine of love.”

“I’ll endeavor to not wax poetic about Lennox for at least fifteen minutes,” Brady said dryly.

“Smart-ass.” I stood aside to let him in.

He headed straight to the kitchen.

I followed him and wondered how he wasn’t roasting in this heat and humidity in that suit. But then again, Brady had damn near been born in a suit, tie and wing tips. Our clothing choices were only one of the many differences between us.

Brady rummaged in my fridge until he found a Grain Belt beer. He twisted off the cap, took a long drink and leaned back against the counter.

I mirrored his pose across from him. “Mom really sent you over here?”

“Dad did.” He lifted the bottle for another sip. “Which we both know means Mom put him up to it. I planned to give you another week before I showed up to grill you.”

“Considerate of you.”

“I thought so. Anyway, why are you avoiding the family, little bro?”

Little bro. Right. I topped him by two inches and thirty pounds. It’d be easy to slip into the bullshit banter we normally did, but the concern on his face gave me pause. “I’ve been busy. I deal with people all damn day, so on the weekends I want to chill at home. Alone. Mom doesn’t get that. She wants . . .” I’d been scarce because I didn’t want to explain this to any of them. Especially not to Brady. I swigged my beer. “Never mind.”

His eyes narrowed. “Never mind Mom wants . . . what? You to remodel the guest bathroom again and you’re avoiding her?”

“Hilarious. But that’s not it.”

“Then what?”

“Look. Can we just drop it? You can report you were successful and I’ve promised to be at the next Lund family weenie roast.” I reached down and yanked a loose thread from the waistband of my shorts. I crossed to the garbage can to throw it away.

“Walker,” Brady said sharply.

I slowly turned around. “What?”

“It’s me.” He threw out his arm not clutching the beer. “We don’t do this polite dancing-around-the-subject crap. Quit being a dick and talk to me.”

“I’m being a dick?” I repeated.

“Yeah. This Mr. Nice Guy ‘I’m all right’ attitude is passive-aggressive. So quit throwing me softballs. Step up to the plate and let fly.”

Asshole knew a sports analogy would incite me. But he asked for it. “Okay, Mr. Oblivious. Ever since you and Lennox started proving to everyone how disgustingly happy you are, at every opportunity, Mom has been a hard-core pain in my ass about finding the right woman and settling down because, as usual, she wants me to be exactly like you.” I held up my hand to stop his automatic protest. “You’d think she’d learn, after all these years, to stop trying to make me into a blond, blue-collar version of you. But no. She’s redoubled her efforts. Every conversation I’ve had with her in the past three months has been focused on who she plans on pairing me up with if I don’t find a woman on my own. I’m tired of it. So I stopped putting myself in those situations.”

Brady didn’t say anything for several long moments. Then he sighed and raked his hand through his hair. “Mom just wants you to be happy.”

“Then she should just let me be. I do things on my own time frame.”

“How well I know that.” He set his beer on the counter behind him. “How are things at work?”

It surprised me he’d asked; I couldn’t remember the last time we’d talked about anything going on in my life. I shrugged. “One job is chugging along slower than everyone would like. I tried to tell them that restoration of this building would take twice as long as new construction, since every exterior structural change has to be approved by the historical preservation committee. Come to find out that’s not the problem. My crew has been able to finish exactly one interior room. Even that was a struggle.”

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