Made for you the best mi.., p.15

Made for You (The Best Mistake), page 15

 

Made for You (The Best Mistake)
 


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  “You’re staying here?” Brynn asked, her voice still wary, as she turned to Jenna.

  “Yeah, Gray and Sophie don’t have an extra bedroom, so Sophie asked Will to put me up for a few days. I actually think she tried to ask you first, but…”

  “But I wasn’t picking up my phone,” Brynn said with a little groan.

  Jenna shrugged.

  “Well, welcome to the neighborhood,” Brynn said too brightly. “If you need anything, I’m just next door.”

  Will barely registered that Brynn was no longer in his house before he saw her streaking across the lawn like a tattered little bunny.

  Jenna headed toward the fridge. “I think I will take that beer now. And not that I want to get in the middle of any of this, but some advice from a woman…if you don’t go after her right now…”

  But Will was already moving toward the door. He paused briefly, and turned to Jenna just as she popped the cap on her beer. “Look, I hate to go all soap opera on you, but if you could keep this kind of quiet…”

  Jenna held up a hand. “Trust me. I don’t even know what I’d say.”

  And then Will was moving toward Brynn’s house, automatically stooping down to pick up the stupid little fake rock in her backyard where he knew she kept her key. He’d bet his life that she’d have locked the door to wallow in her embarrassment in solitude.

  He let himself in the back door without remorse, and was slightly surprised not to find her eating peanut butter out of the jar, or scarfing chocolate chips, or whatever it was that women did for comfort.

  Will moved quietly toward the stairs, smiling a little when he heard the distant sound of water running. Of course Brynn Dalton wouldn’t wallow in embarrassment with sugar or booze or dairy products. She’d hop in the shower to wash the embarrassment away.

  She’d left the door open, and the vast amount of steam revealed that she liked her showers piping hot, just like he did.

  He had the fleeting urge to pull back the curtain and mime stabbing motions. How often did a horror-movie buff come across the opportunity to surprise a woman in a shower à la Psycho? Somehow he didn’t think that would help his cause. At all.

  Instead he silently lowered himself to the toilet seat as he mulled over what to say.

  Want any company in there?

  Jenna’s just a friend.

  Why don’t you want anyone to know about us?

  But he wasn’t playing his cards until he could get a peek at hers. So instead he simply said, “Hey.”

  He braced himself for a scream. Maybe a bar of soap flying at his head. But instead there were so many beats of silence that he thought she must not have heard him.

  “I thought I locked the door,” she said finally.

  “Yeah, about that…You know the fake rock trick only has a minute chance of working if it actually has other rocks to hide among. A lone rock sitting next to your flower pots is pretty much carte blanche for burglars.”

  “Or cheating perverts.”

  He raised his eyebrow at that. “Now hold up a second. If I were a pervert, I totally would be sneaking a peek at the nakedness behind that curtain. And as for cheating…don’t you have to be in a relationship for that?”

  He leaned forward, resting his forearms on his thighs as he waited for her to respond.

  Finally he heard the curtain slide open, and Brynn’s face emerged, sulky, dripping wet, and painfully pretty.

  “Are you sleeping with her?” she asked.

  He could have punished her. Perhaps should have.

  Instead he shook his head.

  “Are you planning on it?”

  He shook his head again.

  Brynn licked a bead of water from the corner of her mouth as she pushed dripping water away from her face. She glanced at the ground. Glanced at him.

  “Wanna come in?”

  Will didn’t have to be asked twice. It was only after he’d shucked his clothes in record time, and was in the process of worshipping every inch of her wet body, that a nagging thought crept in.

  She’d never answered his question about them being in a relationship.

  CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

  Never kiss and tell. Not even to girlfriends.

  —Brynn Dalton’s Rules for an

  Exemplary Life, #27

  I still can’t believe you’ve been having this whole delicious crisis without me,” Sophie said as she pulled her cheesy spinach dip out of the oven.

  “That was kind of the point,” Brynn muttered as she wrestled with a wine cork.

  Sophie grabbed a carrot stick and dunked it in the dip before jabbing it in Brynn’s direction. “But you dyed your hair. And your pants are red.”

  “Wow, really living on the edge,” Jenna drawled from where she was assembling a salad.

  Sophie shot her sister-in-law a look. “Believe me, for Brynn, this is the equivalent of a tattoo.”

  Brynn nearly fumbled the wine bottle and Sophie looked at her sharply before her mouth dropped comically open. “You didn’t!”

  Sophie pounced in Brynn’s direction, already reaching for the hem of her shirt as though to disrobe her then and there, looking for a mark.

  “A tattoo? Mom and Dad will freak!”

  “Mom and Dad aren’t going to find out,” Brynn said, grabbing a wineglass and using it to fend off her sister. “And if you want some of this delicious red, I suggest you promise to keep your babbling mouth shut.”

  “Fine, fine,” Sophie said. “But I want to see it.”

  “It’s not for public consumption,” Brynn said primly as she poured three wineglasses. “It’s for me.”

  “Just you?” Jenna said, smoothly plucking a wineglass out of Brynn’s hand and giving her a long look.

  Brynn narrowed her eyes just slightly on this gorgeous woman who was her brother-in-law’s baby sister, her sister’s new best friend, and…Will’s houseguest.

  She should like Jenna. She didn’t have any reason not to like Jenna.

  But she didn’t have to like that Jenna looked like a Victoria’s Secret model and was sleeping down the hall from Brynn’s man.

  Nor was Brynn crazy about the fact that Sophie and Jenna were so buddy-buddy. It had always been just Brynn and Soph, and now there was a newcomer who had New York written all over her designer clothes and smug attitude. And did the woman even have pores?

  The sad fact was, Brynn was jealous. Brutally so.

  Not just because everyone in Brynn’s life seemed to be a card-carrying member of the Jenna fan club (to which Brynn hadn’t even been invited), but because Jenna was so damn confident.

  Brynn wanted that.

  But then, Jenna probably hadn’t ever sat alone at a lunch table, or been asked by the popular kids to hand out party invitations to a party she wasn’t invited to.

  Jenna probably hadn’t had to transfer schools because some immature jerk spread rumors that she’d made a “fat sex tape.”

  Kids could be cruel.

  But she bet they hadn’t been cruel to Jenna.

  “So how long are you staying with Will?” Brynn asked, taking a small sip of wine and deliberately avoiding Jenna’s question as to who else might have seen Brynn’s tattoo.

  “I fly out Tuesday morning. Just came in to check up on the brothers, and escape the wretched summers in the city.”

  “Ah yes, New York,” Brynn said, helping herself to some of Sophie’s dip. “You’ve lived there awhile?”

  “A few years. I’ve moved around quite a bit, but New York seems to be the one that fits. For now.”

  “But all your family’s here…You must have a boyfriend there?”

  Brynn hoped nobody would notice that her knuckles were white around her glass.

  Just tell me you haven’t slept with Will. Tell me he didn’t lie to me.

  To Brynn’s surprise, Jenna’s features softened slightly for a moment, and she went from edgy sexpot to vulnerable girl.

  Sophie gave a little cackle. “Jenna’s
in love with a New Yor-kah and she hates to admit it.”

  “Your New York accent is terrible,” Jenna said. Her feet shifted imperceptibly, almost as though she was nervous. “He’s just…he’s a good guy. I don’t know that I’m in love.”

  Ah. Jenna’s eyes flicked to Brynn for a moment, and for some reason something clicked between them, as though they were on the same page. Somehow Brynn knew that Jenna was in love. But she didn’t know if the guy was in love with her.

  And without that validation, she wasn’t admitting anything. Not even to herself.

  Brynn couldn’t blame Jenna. Especially not after what had happened with James. Although in hindsight she was thinking she reaaaaallly should have been more upset about that. Instead it had taken her all of a haircut, a new pair of pants, and sex with an enemy to snap her out of it. In about a week.

  “I’m sleeping with Will.”

  Brynn immediately slapped her hand over mouth as soon as she said it, her eyes automatically flying to sister. Sophie slowly straightened, the chip she’d been dipping forgotten. Brynn searched Sophie’s face, but while her already big eyes were extra huge, she didn’t look completely surprised.

  She looked worried.

  “How long has this been going on?” Sophie asked, fixing a fake smile on her face.

  “Since, you know…this,” Brynn said, waving a hand over her hair and her uncharacteristically skimpy attire.

  “Is it serious?”

  “No. God no. It’s Will. I don’t even think it’s safe, it’s just…”

  “Hot?” Jenna volunteered.

  Sophie winced. “Sick, it’s like you’re talking about my sister and brother.”

  “Says the woman who’s banging my brother,” Jenna said. “And they’re totally hot for each other. I’ve seen it in action. It’s like…well, I bet you guys have great angry sex, don’t you?”

  This last question was directed to an off-balance Brynn, who was rapidly regretting sharing what was supposed to be her ultimate secret. Although her reasons for insisting it be a secret were getting harder and harder to remember. Particularly when she was talking to his best friend, and a woman who apparently knew and liked him well enough to stay in his house.

  Especially when it was getting harder to remember why she didn’t like the guy.

  Still, Brynn hadn’t lost total perspective. The guy might have surprised her recently, but he still was the antagonist to nearly every single item on her life list.

  He didn’t believe in commitment.

  Didn’t believe in settling down.

  He’d never had the same job for more than two months or stayed in the same city for more than a couple years.

  He never even kept the same car for more than six months.

  Brynn Dalton was all about stability.

  Will Thatcher was not.

  “It’s just a fling…thing,” Brynn said after catching the knowing look Sophie and Jenna exchanged. “I think it’s pretty much over anyway.”

  Sophie tapped her fingernails on the counter thoughtfully. “You know, Gray tried to tell me from day one that you and Will’s dislike of each other was really sexual tension, and I ignored him. I mean he’s not exactly an of-the-people type of guy.”

  “Hear, hear,” Jenna said.

  “But he was right, wasn’t he?” Sophie asked Brynn. “All the bickering was just foreplay.”

  “No,” Brynn said vehemently. “I can assure you that the bickering was, in fact, bickering, which was based on dislike. The sex stuff…that’s just extra. And recent.” Kind of.

  Jenna topped off their wineglasses. “You could totally be the main character in one of those girly self-discovery movies, you know? I can see the trailer now…good girl gets dumped, chops off her hair, falls for the bad boy, and learns what an orgasm is.”

  “I knew what an orgasm was well before Will, thank you very much.”

  Jenna wiggled her eyebrows. “But I bet he’s better.”

  Sophie made a gagging noise. “Enough. I refuse to let you ruin my delicious cheese dip with details. But Brynny, in all seriousness…where is this going?”

  Brynn took a deep breath. “It’s going nowhere. That’s kind of the point.”

  A strange, unreadable expression crossed Sophie’s face. Sadness? Disappointment? “So it’s really all about an itch that he’s helping you scratch? You don’t care for him? Not at all?”

  The question sent a little jolt in the direction of Brynn’s heart, but she forced herself to keep the question and answer at the head level.

  “Soph, I know he’s your friend, but we’re horrible for each other. And while he’s not quite as miserable as I always thought, he’s not a good long-term prospect.”

  “Why not?” Jenna asked.

  Back off, missy. You may be his current roomie, but I’ve known him my whole life.

  Except did Brynn know him? Really? Everyone but her seemed to be on to something that she wasn’t seeing. Or that you’re not letting yourself see.

  “I’m nothing but a game to him,” Brynn said quietly. “He’s disliked me since high school, and that dislike has only been fueled by the fact that I’m one of the few women that wouldn’t let him into my pants.”

  Except that one time…

  “What if he did care?” Sophie said casually. “Hypothetically.”

  Brynn shook her head. It didn’t even compute. “Has he had a serious girlfriend ever? Or even a woman he’s been faithful to for more than a couple weeks?”

  Sophie became suddenly fascinated with the dip, and Brynn pounced on her. “See? You know exactly why someone like me would never be with someone like him. I want a ring, and babies, and a white picket fence. He wants none of those things.”

  “And yet he moved to the suburbs,” Jenna emphasized.

  “Next door to you,” Sophie added more quietly. “There’s got to be a reason for that.”

  Brynn rotated her shoulders in irritation. “Yeah, and I’m sure there was, but not in the romantic way you guys are trying to make it out to be. He and I started this game back when we were fifteen. He’s come back because it’s time to finish it.”

  “I wonder who wins,” Jenna added thoughtfully.

  Brynn swallowed around what felt suspiciously like a lump in her throat. “I’m beginning to think neither of us.”

  * * *

  Brynn was somehow unsurprised to find Will rummaging around in her kitchen at the crack of dawn on Monday morning.

  She blinked sleepily at him, gratefully accepting the mug of coffee he handed over.

  “How’d you get in? I moved my key.”

  Will grabbed a plastic brown blob off the counter and waved it at her. “The fake-dog-poop key holder? Really?”

  “What? No burglar is going to risk picking up a pile of poop to see if it’s fake.”

  “He doesn’t have to, he can just give it a whack with a stick and hear metal rattling against plastic.”

  “Damn,” Brynn said, slumping into her kitchen chair as she tried to blink off the fog of sleep.

  “Maybe you should just forgo the spare-key route,” Will said as he rummaged in her cupboards for a box of cereal. “Something tells me you’ve never forgotten your key in your life.”

  She didn’t deny it. “I like to be prepared.”

  “Shocker.” Will held up the box of cereal. “Whole grain, organic, no sugar?”

  “It’s healthy,” Brynn said.

  Will shook his head and poured some into a cereal bowl before pulling the milk out of the fridge. “Wow, nonfat. Really living on the edge.”

  Will unceremoniously handed her the bowl, and her gaze caught on the fine hairs of his forearm before traveling up to where his navy T-shirt strained around his bicep.

  She tore her eyes away and accepted the cereal even though she wasn’t hungry. At least not for food.

  “You know, I had high hopes for you when you first started on this kick,” he said, grabbing his own coffee mug and joining her at
the table. “You were all leather and dark hair dye and tattoos. But I’ve gotta say, you’re totally posing.”

  Brynn munched on her cereal. “What were you expecting? Motorcycles and genital piercings?”

  His coffee cup paused halfway to his mouth. “Keep talkin’.”

  She ignored this and jabbed her spoon at him. “A vacation from oneself is entirely relative. For some people, ‘edgy’ might be skydiving. For others, it’s something as simple as going to a restaurant and dining alone.”

  “And for you, it’s what…skipping a day of flossing?”

  Brynn made a face and scooped up another spoonful of cereal. “Please. I would never skip flossing. But I did go rock climbing the other day.”

  She heard the smugness in her tone, and didn’t care. It had been exhilarating, and completely unlike the safety of yoga.

  Will raised an eyebrow. “Really? Where?”

  She shifted slightly. “Nearby.”

  “I’ve gone rock climbing a few times with a friend. I might know the spot.”

  She purposefully ate a too big bite of cereal so she wouldn’t have to answer.

  “Brynn…” Will said in a low voice, leaning toward her. “Was this ‘rock climbing’…indoors?”

  She gazed back at him, stubbornly refusing to answer.

  Will sighed. “You went to the flagship REI store and did it there, didn’t you? You know, scaling a fake rock at a sporting-goods store is meant to be training for rock climbing, not actual rock climbing.”

  Brynn waved this away. “It’s like I said…it’s all relative.”

  He shook his head in exasperation. “Hurry up and finish that, would you. We need to get on the road.”

  Brynn froze. Get on the road? “Could you be more specific?”

  “Not without ruining the entire point.”

  “What point?”

  He reached over and ruffled her already mussed hair. “Furthering your understanding of spontaneity. You’ve come along nicely from your previous paralyzed self, but you have miles to go before we can remove ‘uptight’ and ‘rigid’ from your personality profile.”

  “I have plans today,” she said, scowling up at him.

  “Exactly the problem. You have absolutely no idea how to take even the most tepid of getaways. Screw the plans.” He stood and rinsed his coffee mug before putting it in the sink. “Where do you keep your luggage? And no proper suitcase. I want your oldest, ugliest duffel bag.”

 
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