Made for you the best mi.., p.14

Made for You (The Best Mistake), page 14

 

Made for You (The Best Mistake)
 


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  “Will,” she blurted, standing to grab his hand. “What’s going on?”

  He took a deep breath and searched her eyes for what felt like an eternity before very slowly the anger faded from his face. “Nothing’s going on, Princess. Just a little blue balls is all.”

  Brynn refrained from mentioning that he didn’t have to answer the phone when it rang, but instead she let herself wiggle closer, intentionally rubbing braless breasts against his torso. “Oh yeah? Think we can find a way to fix that?”

  He very gently put hands on her shoulders and moved her back a few inches. “Actually, I think I need a minute. You know, to recharge. You think you can stomach another movie?”

  Brynn swallowed in confusion. She was offering sex and he wanted to watch old movies? “Um, sure. Or I could go…”

  Will was already nodding. “Sounds good. I’ll grab your coat.”

  Ten minutes later, Brynn was standing in her own kitchen, feeling confused.

  Once again, Will Thatcher had thrown her a curveball. Something had definitely just happened.

  But once again, she had the distinct feeling she was missing something crucial.

  CHAPTER SIXTEEN

  Jealousy is for the emotionally unstable.

  —Brynn Dalton’s Rules for an

  Exemplary Life, #30

  Brynn couldn’t believe she’d ever had the audacity to think she knew or understood William Thatcher.

  She’d pegged him as the quintessential guy—the kind that lived and breathed sex.

  But this was twice now that he hadn’t taken what she offered. And not only that, but now he wasn’t calling her back.

  Brynn wanted to think it was all part of his game. That the recent friendliness between them was disguising some scheme to destroy her life. That he had some diabolical plan that involved trying to string her along like a lovesick ninth grader.

  Not that anyone had ever tried to string her along when she was a ninth grader.

  Well, she wasn’t playing along. If he wanted to turn down perfectly good—okay, fantastic—sex, then that was his problem.

  But on the sixth day of not having heard from him, Brynn began to consider an even worse possibility. What if Will wasn’t playing games at all?

  What if he was just…done?

  It wasn’t like he was known for long-term relationships. What had made her think that she could keep his interest?

  And why did she care? Wasn’t the entire point of a fling that it wasn’t supposed to last? It wasn’t like she was looking for commitment from the guy. And whatever this thing was between them had an expiration date in a couple weeks anyway when she went back to work, went back to blonde.

  Went back to boring.

  Brynn scowled and scrubbed harder at the bathroom mirror she was trying to get streak-free as the unbidden thought popped into her head. Her normal life wasn’t boring, it was just structured. And if these past couple weeks of carefree living had been some of the best of her life, it was simply because she’d needed a break.

  It certainly had nothing to do with a certain six-packed neighbor.

  Brynn’s phone rang, and even as her brain ordered her not to drop everything and dash at the phone in hopes that a certain jackass was calling, she found herself scampering just a little bit back to her nightstand to answer it.

  But the name on the phone wasn’t his.

  “Hey, Soph,” Brynn said, forcing her tone into a bright voice.

  “Hey, Soph? You dodge my calls for weeks, and I get a Hey, Soph? I thought you were dead. Or pregnant. Or had some sort of weird rash like that one you had in seventh grade—”

  “Gee, I can’t imagine why I haven’t picked up the phone before now.” Brynn caught her reflection in the mirror above her dresser and wandered closer to inspect her skin for new wrinkles. There were two.

  “So what gives?” Sophie pressed. “Mom is completely freaking out. Dad thinks you’ve turned into a liberal and are too scared to tell them about it.”

  Brynn rolled her eyes even as she felt a twinge of guilt. Her parents were the slightly stiff, semi-neurotic, supercontrolling type. But she’d always had a great relationship with them. Probably because she’d always done everything they’d wanted her to. Hell, probably because she practically was them.

  But telling them that she was taking some time off from work and needed a “mental break” without any kind of explanation hadn’t been considerate.

  Brynn had always been the quiet, deal with your own shit type of coper, but at the underlying concern in her sister’s voice, she found herself seeking a little validation that she wasn’t totally losing her mind or irrevocably screwing up her life.

  “Soph…have you ever felt, you know…lost? Like you don’t know your purpose in life?”

  There was a moment of silence on the other end. Finally Sophie responded. “Yeah, Brynn. I totally do. In fact, I even have a name for it. I call it my twenties.”

  Brynn let out a relieved laugh. Of course Sophie would get it. Brynn might have had the rough childhood while Sophie was a perfect little angel, but somewhere along the line, they’d gone and switched places. Sophie had gone from good grades, good schools, good hobbies, to, well…

  Their mother had called it “insane free spirit.”

  Not that Soph had gone drugs or hippie or anything. She’d just sort of been a floater. Bartending gigs here, waitressing jobs there. It wasn’t until she’d met Gray and been mistaken for a hooker—true story—that she’d finally decided to grab her life by the balls and figure shit out.

  But Sophie’s crisis had led her straight to the love of her life.

  Brynn was suspecting hers would lead her right back to where she’d started.

  “What’s going on, Brynny? How come you’re avoiding everyone?”

  Not everyone. But she could hardly tell Sophie that in her time of need she’d turned to an enemy instead of a friend. Even if she wanted to explain it, she couldn’t. Because she still hadn’t figured it out for herself.

  “I just needed some space, you know? After James…”

  “I have tampons with more personality than James.”

  Brynn winced. “Eeew.”

  “Seriously, though,” Sophie continued. “Take as long as you need to lick your wounds or whatever, just know that everyone thinks you’re better off without him.”

  “Everyone?” Brynn prompted with a knowing smile.

  A beat of silence. “Well, okay, just me. Mom and Dad loved James. And Gray says he’s ‘upstanding,’ although if that’s not a condemnation, then I don’t know what is.”

  “Yeah, it’s really upstanding to leave your girlfriend for another woman,” Brynn grumbled.

  “I am sorry about that part,” Sophie said in a softer voice. “That must have stung.”

  “Yeah. But…not as much as you might think, you know? Mostly I just can’t figure out why he went for someone so completely wrong for him. This woman’s a total train wreck. I mean, he won’t even let people drink water in his car, and this woman has fruit punch in a flask.”

  “Fruit punch? Who let her out of the penitentiary?”

  Brynn wandered over to the window. “You know what I mean. They just don’t…match.”

  “That’s the way it works sometimes, Dalton. But that doesn’t mean that you cut out your family.”

  “I know,” Brynn said, her eyes inadvertently scanning the windows in Will’s house for any sign of movement. “I’m sorry. Drinks on Friday?”

  “Definitely. I’ll come over there since you live in a boy-free zone.”

  Not as boy-free as you might think.

  For a crushing second, Brynn had the urge to tell Sophie everything. And by everything, she meant Will. About that night three years ago. About the multiple nights recently. But, most important, about the nights that weren’t about sex and that weren’t about fighting.

  But there was always the risk that Soph would slip up and say something disastrous to Will th
at would give him the wrong idea and send him running. Some things were simply destined to be secrets. She and Will were one of them.

  Realizing that staring at his windows wouldn’t reveal anything going on inside Will’s head, she started to turn away from the window when her eye caught on movement in his driveway. Brynn frowned at the unfamiliar vehicle. She didn’t know the first thing about cars, but this one was dark red and unremarkable. Rental-car variety.

  It definitely wasn’t Will’s car and neither was it a delivery truck. Will had a visitor.

  Brynn made the requisite mm-hmm noise as Sophie chirped on about some gloriously cheesy dip she would bring over on Friday, but her eyes were locked on that car.

  Correction. Her eyes were locked on who was getting out of the car.

  Will didn’t just have a visitor. He had a gorgeous, twentysomething, leggy, big-boobed brunette visitor.

  Brynn had been in enough yoga classes to know a good female butt when she saw one, and this woman had cornered the market on tight and curvy. The slim gray pencil skirt and fuck-me heels didn’t hurt either.

  The woman moved toward the trunk of the car, and Brynn shifted to the other window to get a better view, just like any stalker worth her salt would do.

  Brynn’s jaw dropped.

  The woman had a suitcase.

  “Soph, I gotta go,” Brynn said abruptly.

  “Um, okay?”

  “Sorry, I’ll call you later. Actually, I probably won’t. But come over around seven on Friday.”

  “But, Brynn—”

  Brynn hung up, tossing the phone on her perfectly made bed before dashing to the closet. She didn’t know what the plan was, but when she did figure it out, she needed to look…well, better.

  For the first time since the start of her whole identity crisis, Brynn felt totally at a loss as to what to wear. On one side of the closet she had her massive collection of old-Brynn clothes. Classic cuts, cardigans. Lots of taupe.

  On the other side of the closet was her smaller collection of off-the-deep-end attire. The leather pants. A skirt that looked like ripped ribbons. A bustier that could have qualified as another layer of epidermis. She chewed her lip and slowly eyed one option after the next.

  Compared to Will’s supermodel houseguest, she’d either look like a teenager going through a “phase,” or Pollyanna.

  Worst of all, she wasn’t even sure that it mattered. He’d stopped calling even before the brunette had shown up.

  Letting out a growl of frustration, Brynn grabbed a pair of tennis shoes and stormed out of the walk-in closet.

  The ratty shorts and T-shirt she was wearing were fine. Will Thatcher didn’t deserve anything better.

  Halfway through tying the laces on the second shoe, Brynn’s fingers faltered. What business did she have charging over there? She certainly hadn’t been invited. And she didn’t technically have a reason to go over.

  What’s the plan, Brynn?

  The smart option was to let him be. He’d moved on to the next piece of ass, exactly as she’d known he would. Exactly as she’d hoped he would. Eventually.

  And yet…

  Brynn gave a slow smile as a plan began to formulate.

  It was time to give Will Thatcher some of his own medicine.

  * * *

  “What can I get you?” Will asked. “Water? Iced tea? Beer?”

  “Water for now,” Jenna said, plopping onto his bar stool and pulling her long dark hair into a messy ponytail. “Planes always dry me out.”

  Will poured a glass of water for Jenna before helping himself to a beer. Sure, it was barely past noon on a Sunday, but when dealing with Brynn Dalton—or in his case, not dealing with her—a few vices were allowed.

  “Rough day?” Jenna asked, jerking a chin at the beer.

  “Rough week,” Will said, taking the stool next to her. “But you didn’t fly across the country to hear about me.”

  He gave her what he thought was a winning smile, but Jenna leveled him with a direct gray stare. “It’s like I told you that weekend in New York. Don’t even try to use your charms on me. I have no qualms about crushing your balls if you annoy me.”

  “Ah, I’d forgotten. No charm, then,” he agreed. This is what he liked about Jenna. She was reliably bullshit-free. She didn’t dish it out, didn’t accept it.

  She was the poster child for what you see is what you get.

  And what he was seeing was a whole lot of hotness. It had surprised him not at all when he’d learned that Jenna had spent a few years as a model, followed by a lounge singer, followed by any other assortment of jobs, all of which mostly required her to look good.

  She should have been his dream woman.

  Except she wasn’t.

  “Rumor has it you’ve decided to start using your brain instead of your boobs to make a living?” Will asked, easily adapting to the candid conversation she tended to favor.

  She lifted a shoulder. “Had to do a little winking and wiggling to get there, but yeah, I landed an editorial position at GQ. Mostly it’s just a lot of telling other people when their shit sucks.”

  “So…your dream job.”

  Jenna shot him her slow cat smile. “Precisely. What about you? Still cranking out new business ideas faster than you can crap?”

  Will fidgeted with the bottle. “Taking a little break from the creative side for now. Letting the existing projects ride.”

  Jenna’s gray eyes narrowed on him. “You don’t seem the type to let anything ride.”

  Will hesitated. Just because they’d grabbed dinner a couple times while he was in Manhattan or she was in Boston didn’t exactly make them confidantes.

  Still, a little female advice wouldn’t hurt.

  Jenna let out the tiniest of sighs. “Oooooh boy. Listen, I have two brothers—one being a twin—and way too many ex-boyfriends. I know when a guy has woman troubles. Out with it.”

  But before Will could open his mouth, there was god-awful noise coming from his backdoor.

  “Um. Is that ‘Jingle Bells’?” Jenna asked in confusion.

  Will couldn’t hide his smile, even as he told himself to be annoyed.

  Apparently a certain neighbor had spotted Jenna.

  “Yeah, that’s ‘Jingle Bells,’” he said. “Or at least it’s trying to be.”

  “….OH WHAT FUN, IT IS TO RIDE…”

  “Ignore it,” Will said, his smile turning into a full-out grin. “It’ll be more entertaining this way.”

  He felt a surge of relief that he’d pulled the blinds on the glass door earlier. Brynn wouldn’t be able to see in, and it would drive her absolutely up the wall.

  An obnoxious tapping noise began along with the Christmas carol, although it wasn’t even remotely in rhythm, and Will happily took another sip of beer. This was great. Perfect, even.

  Jenna, apparently, had other ideas. She was on her high heels and moving toward the back door before he could stop her.

  “For God’s sake, someone should put that hyena creature out of its misery.” She jerked open the back door, and it was quickly apparent that the hyena comparison was strangely apt.

  He’d seen wild Brynn, he’d seen stuffy Brynn, he’d seen fancy Brynn…

  But he’d never before seen disheveled Brynn.

  And she was breathtaking.

  Her clothes didn’t match, only one tennis shoe was tied, and there wasn’t a speck of makeup on her face. Adding in the fact that there was just the tiniest line of blonde roots starting to peek through the new dark. Something he’d thought he wouldn’t see until the apocalypse.

  “Whatcha doin’ here, neighbor?” he drawled.

  Brynn’s intense scrutiny of Jenna made it pretty clear what she was doing there, but he wanted to poke at her all the same. Clearly, he should have considered this route earlier. Will hadn’t invited Jenna to stay with him with the intent of giving Brynn a jolt, but he should have. There was nothing like another woman to spur a female into action.

 
; And he’d been waiting a full week for something to spur Brynn.

  He’d assumed it would be her hormones. But…jealousy worked too.

  Without warning, Brynn turned wild blue eyes on him, and had he not been sitting down, he would have taken a step backward.

  “Oh, you know, just came for some coffee,” she said in a slightly manic voice.

  He gave a cocky smile, even as he watched her warily. “Sure, help yourself.”

  But Brynn had already spun back toward Jenna as she stuck out a hand. “I’m Brynn. Will’s…”

  She broke off completely, and Will hated that he was practically holding his breath to hear what she filled that gap with. Boyfriend? Lover? Friend?

  “I know who you are,” Jenna said in her usual husky voice. “We’re practically related.”

  Brynn’s head snapped back a little in surprise, and her study of Jenna was more curious than confrontational.

  Too bad. Will had a feeling he’d just had a near-miss on a really hot catfight.

  “Oh my God,” Brynn said as she met Jenna’s eyes. Eyes that she should now be registering as familiar. “You’re Gray’s sister.”

  Jenna shot a finger pistol at her. “You got it. My brother and your sister are hitched.”

  Brynn let out a low moan before reaching up toward her disheveled hair. She dropped her arm almost immediately, as though realizing it was too late to save her hair. And her dignity.

  Still, he had to give her credit. Instead of slinking off, she straightened her shoulders and took a deep, steadying breath.

  “Sorry about that,” Brynn said with an embarrassed smile. “None of this would have happened if Sophie and Gray had gotten married normally with bridesmaids and whatnot instead of eloping in Vegas.”

  “Yeah, clearly it’s Sophie who’s to blame for this situation,” Will said blandly.

  Brynn glanced over her shoulder at him, and though there was a remnant of heat there, she mostly just looked confused.

  He started to crack, just a little. He’d wanted her to learn how to come to him and to learn to ask for what she wanted. But perhaps he was expecting too much from a woman who didn’t even know what she wanted.

 
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