Made for you the best mi.., p.22

Made for You (The Best Mistake), page 22

 

Made for You (The Best Mistake)
 


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  “No, look, you have to,” she said desperately, kicking off her other shoe and climbing the stairs even as he came down them. She scooted along the walls, careful not to bump him while he was carrying stuff but also really wanting him to just stop and listen to her.

  “See, we had this fight, you know?” she said, trotting after him toward the truck. “And I thought he wasn’t the one. Because he’s so…unpredictable, and kind of mean, and, well…he’s been with lots of other women, although now I don’t know if that’s even true, and…”

  “Lady,” the guy said, setting the boxes on the back of the truck. “You’ve gotta go. And move your car, or I’m calling the cops.”

  She clasped her hands together and tried to do that sweet, desperate-female thing that Sophie had perfected at the age of seven, but Brynn could never bring herself to try. “Please,” she said. “It’s really important that I find him.”

  The guy looked at her for several seconds before jerking his thumb over his finger. “Don’t forget your shoes when you go.”

  Brynn’s hands fell to her side as he hoisted himself into the truck and began scooting boxes toward the back. Watery eyes fell on the shoe lying discarded on the lawn. She didn’t even know where the other one was.

  The stupid boring pump represented everything she hated about herself.

  Everything that had driven Will away.

  “Keep the shoes!” she hollered as she opened her car door. “I’ve got a boyfriend to win back.”

  * * *

  “What do you mean you shouldn’t say?” Brynn said, clutching her cell phone and pacing her living room. “I’m your sister. You can’t even tell me where he is?”

  “He’s my best friend,” Sophie said softly. “You hurt him.”

  Brynn knew that. Had known from the look on his face when she hadn’t said she’d loved him back that it had cut him deeply. But hearing it out loud felt like someone was squeezing her heart.

  “I know,” Brynn said quietly. “It’s why I want to make it right.”

  Her sister was silent for several seconds on the other line. “I don’t know, Brynny. He seemed really…done, you know?”

  Brynn swallowed painfully, her gaze locked on Will’s deserted house. “Done, how?”

  Done with me?

  Sophie’s continued silence confirmed her worst fears, and Brynn felt the urge to throw up. How could he be done? He’d said he’d loved her forever. He’d waited so long. That kind of love didn’t fade in one evening, did it?

  Except…she’d behaved horribly.

  Really, truly, awfully horribly.

  Maybe he’d realized what Brynn had been realizing all day. That she didn’t deserve him.

  But she had to try. “Soph, please. Please. If he’s completely done with me, I’ll walk away and leave him alone. I just need him to know how I feel.”

  “And you’re really sure about how you feel? You’re sure this isn’t just wanting what you can’t have?”

  “That’s not it. I’ve never even thought about him as someone I could or couldn’t have. I really didn’t know.”

  “And now that you do know that you can have it, you’ve all of a sudden decided you want it.”

  “Stop saying it like that!” Brynn yelled into the phone.

  She pinched the bridge of her nose. She’d done more yelling in the past week than she had in a lifetime. She’d yelled at Will, yelled at the movers, yelled at Sophie. Yelled at herself.

  She’d done a few things quietly too. She’d quit her job. Or at least she was in the process of it. The legalities of turning over an orthodontist practice would take some time, but when she’d let Susan know that she was looking to sell, her partner could not have been more supportive. Probably because she was tired of Brynn’s dead weight around the office.

  She’d also talked to her parents. Explained to them that although they would never see her tattoo, the tattoo did in fact exist. She’d confirmed that Will had seen it. Up close. Really close. She hadn’t added that last part, but she was pretty sure they knew it anyway.

  They hadn’t seemed all that surprised about her and Will. Neither had any of her friends when she’d told them. Brynn was definitely getting the feeling that everyone else had known what she hadn’t.

  That she and Will belonged together—had always belonged together.

  Now she just had to convince him.

  “You really care about him, Brynn? Really?” her sister asked.

  Brynn’s fingers subconsciously moved to the written words on her hip. “I love him.”

  She could hear her sister thinking things through.

  “Okay, then,” Sophie said finally. “Here’s what we’re gonna do…”

  CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

  Brynn, that guy is totally looking at you.”

  Brynn didn’t pause in the dance steps she was trying to master. She’d always thought cheerleading was a lot of waving pom-poms in the air, but this was hard work.

  “Ohmigod, that’s Will Thatcher.”

  Still, Brynn didn’t look up. If she’d learned anything in her first four months of high school, it was that most girls thought most guys were uhhh-mazing. But most of the ones she’d seen so far had been overhyped.

  “Whoa, Brynn, do you know him or something? He’s eating you up with his eyes.”

  Brynn finally registered that the rest of the freshman cheer squad was gawking at someone over her shoulder and curiosity finally won out.

  Her eyes collided with a tall, blond-haired boy and her stomach did a full flip. The girls had gotten it right this time. This one was hot. Seriously hot. He was taller than most of the other guys, but not in a gangly way. He had dark blond hair that flopped perfectly over his forehead.

  She was too far away to see the color of his eyes, but she could feel his gaze. It was piercing.

  Who was he? Her eyes never broke contact with his. It didn’t matter that he was standing on a crowded football field with the rest of his team or that she was standing with the rest of her squad on the sideline.

  It was as though they only had eyes for each other.

  She mentally scolded herself for the ridiculousness of her thoughts. She didn’t even know the guy.

  But it felt like she did. Or felt like she was supposed to.

  Stop being an idiot.

  “Who is he?” she asked out loud.

  “Will Thatcher,” Amy repeated. “Pretty much the hottest guy in the junior class. He was already starting quarterback last year even though he was only a sophomore.”

  Brynn couldn’t care less about what he was on the football team. She wanted to know who he was.

  Dimly, Will became aware of a man yelling, “Thatcher! Thatcher!” and his eyes reluctantly tore away from hers, looking back once over his shoulder before he jogged to his coach.

  Brynn watched his back for several more seconds, ignoring the jealous giggling of the other girls.

  “Will Thatcher,” she said softly, out loud. It felt right.

  And even though she was only fifteen…even though her brain insisted that nobody fell in love at fifteen, her heart said something different.

  Her heart said, This one.

  * * *

  Brynn loved her sister. She really did. But she should have known better than to think that Sophie would have a plan other than show up and wear your most low-cut shirt.

  Especially when “show up” meant flying across the country.

  Because when Will ran, Will ran far. The thought made her smile as she impatiently waited for everyone to file off the cramped airplane. It was just like him to do things drastically. When he’d wanted to win her, he didn’t just move back to the same city. He’d moved next door.

  And when he’d wanted to flee her, he’d jumped time zones.

  She was already a sweaty mess by the time she wheeled her suitcase to her rental car thirty minutes later.

  Chicago in the summer, Will? Really?

  But she would have flo
wn to Madagascar if she’d had to.

  Trouble was, she wasn’t exactly sure what came next. Sophie had given her the name of the hotel where he was staying until he figured out his more permanent housing. The house hunt Brynn planned to put a stop to immediately, because the only permanent housing he was going to need was with her.

  But right now, her strategy looked a little something like: show up in the hotel lobby and camp out there 24/7 until she saw him. And then beg.

  Not her best plan.

  But he wouldn’t respond to her calls, texts, e-mails, or any other form of communication she could think of.

  He’d told Sophie the name of the hotel only for emergencies, and then had gone off the grid. Sophie had called him a dozen times, but he wasn’t even picking up for his best friend.

  Perhaps because his best friend was related to the woman who’d treated him like shit.

  “Checking in?” the valet guy asked.

  Brynn nodded stupidly and gave a too-bright smile, her hands suddenly clammy.

  Really didn’t think this one through, Brynn.

  Which was kind of the point. No more psychotic planning as life passed her by.

  But this might have been one time where a little bit of forethought beyond go there would have been useful.

  Taking a deep breath, she headed toward the reception desk, already scanning the lobby for any sign of him.

  There was nobody but an old couple, a family with two tiny kids, and a pair of twentysomethings who apparently hadn’t been able to wait to get to their room before making out.

  “Checking in?”

  Brynn felt a little seed of an idea sprout when she saw the hotel employee was an attractive guy about her age. Her eyes skimmed his left hand. No ring. And he was straight, if she had to bet on it. Perfect.

  She let her hand go in for a casual hair twirl, only she hadn’t gotten used to her shorter haircut, and instead ended up swirling a big circle in the air in the vicinity of her boob. Shit. When had all her flirting skills gone out the window?

  “Checking in?” he asked again, placid expression never changing.

  “Right. Yes. Yes, I am.” Brynn leaned in closer, letting him get a glance of the boob shot Sophie had made her practice. She peered at his name tag. “So, Tyler…the thing is, my boyfriend’s here on business, and he doesn’t know I’m here to surprise him for our anniversary. Is there any way…”

  Tyler expression didn’t change. Nor did he stop typing on his computer. Or even sneak a peek at her boobs. “I’m sorry, I can’t help you, it’s against our privacy policy to give any guest information.”

  Normally Brynn would be quite approving of such rules, and even more approving of those who followed them. No exceptions.

  But…

  “Not even for…” She fished a couple twenties out of her wallet. Sophie’s idea.

  “Ma’am, I can’t do that, but if you’d like to leave a message for your boyfriend, or we could have a note delivered to his room…”

  “And the number of that room would be…?”

  This time Tyler’s expression did slip, but luckily it was into an indulgent smile instead of an I’m gonna call the cops look.

  He leaned a little closer, and Brynn’s stomach leaped in relief. He was going to help her.

  “I’ll tell you what I’m gonna do,” Tyler said softly, looking from side to side.

  “Yeah?” she said eagerly.

  “Well, how about you tell me the name of your boyfriend. I’ll look him up in our system, and if he’s staying here…”

  “Right, good…”

  Tyler continued whispering. “And if he is staying here, I’m going to suggest he give his girlfriend a call.”

  Brynn’s face fell. “You’re not going to help me.”

  Tyler straightened. “Not in the way you want. But look on the bright side, I also wouldn’t give anyone your room number either, so you don’t have to worry about strange men knowing where you sleep.”

  Brynn scowled. “But I’m not a strange man.”

  “You’re not a man, no, but strange…?” Tyler said with a wink, as he slid the envelope with her room key across the counter. “I’ll be here until eight tonight if you want to give me his name. Maybe I can stick a note into his locker.”

  Brynn made a ha-ha face and resigned herself to camping out in the lobby.

  Except she wouldn’t have to. Because there he was, as though she’d summoned him out of sheer love and desperation.

  Tall, golden, and wearing a suit, of all things. She hadn’t even known he owned a suit.

  And he had his arm around a very, very attractive redhead.

  “Will!”

  His name burst out of her mouth before she could think it through. Before she could think anything through. But in all her mental scenarios about this moment, another woman had not been involved. She also hadn’t pictured verbally accosting him from across the lobby with a dozen spectators watching.

  “Oh dear,” she heard Tyler mutter.

  Will slowly straightened as he looked in the direction of her voice. He was too far away from her to read his eyes, but the tension in his shoulders and his unsmiling mouth told her most of what she needed to know.

  He wasn’t happy to see her. At all.

  Brynn mentally crossed off the run-into-each-other’s-arms scenario as she slowly, purposefully made her way toward him. She felt the redhead’s curious gaze on her profile as she approached. Hell, she felt the entire lobby’s eyes on her. But her eyes never wavered from the one person who mattered.

  She stopped a foot away from him, not caring that they were blocking the path to the elevators behind Will. She didn’t care about anything but getting him back.

  “So, you moved to Chicago,” she said with a little smile.

  “What the hell are you doing here, Brynn?”

  Her smile wanted to slip, but she kept it pasted there as she turned to the other woman. Unlike Lily, who she’d subconsciously known along was part of the game, this woman was a threat. Tall, thin, and composed, she looked like the premium version of the woman Brynn used to try to be. Perfect hair, perfect clothes, perfect posture…

  What if he’s already trying to replace me?

  “I’m Brynn,” she said, extending a damp hand.

  “Dana.”

  Brynn watched the other woman carefully for the classic female signs. The narrowing of eyes, the proprietary shift toward Will, the Who are you? gaze. There was nothing.

  And yet this woman had walked out of the elevator with Will. Had they come from the same room?

  The thought of Will with his hands on another woman made her want to puke, but she forced herself to see this through. She owed it to herself. Owed it to them.

  “Can we talk in private?” she asked, turning her attention back to Will.

  “I’ll have the rental pulled around,” Dana said quickly, starting to move away.

  Will grabbed her arm. “You can stay. Brynn and I don’t have anything to talk about.”

  “That’s bullshit,” Brynn said primly, refusing to be pushed aside.

  His eyebrow arched up at Brynn’s assertive tone and public swearing, and he released Dana, who made a fast getaway.

  “Can we sit?” Brynn asked, gesturing at a cluster of chairs that were at least slightly more private than the main corridor.

  He didn’t move.

  “You have two minutes,” he said, checking his watch.

  “So, out in the open, then, huh?” she said with a deep breath.

  He glanced at his watch again.

  “Are you sleeping with her?” Brynn asked, jerking her head in the direction Dana had gone.

  “You’re hardly in a position to be possessive.”

  “Are you sleeping with her?” she asked again. She had to know.

  He ignored the question again. “How about you start by explaining how you happen to be at the same hotel where I’ve quite intentionally come to be as far away as possible f
rom you.”

  It stung. She’d known she was the reason he’d left Seattle, but it stung to hear it out loud.

  “Are you sleeping with Dana, or not?”

  He narrowed his eyes. “Not currently, no.”

  “Do you plan to?”

  He crossed his arms over his chest. “Can’t say that I’d thought much about it. Thought I’d give myself a break from women for a while.”

  Her shoulders slumped in relief. “Then what’s she doing here?”

  “She flew in from Austin to discuss an investment opportunity.”

  Brynn’s eyes narrowed. “Your hand was on her waist. And she’s pretty.”

  “My hand was on her waist because she almost tripped in her ridiculously high heels. And you have one minute.”

  She licked her lips and gave him a pleading smile. “Can we please just go up to your room for a second?”

  “Brynn, if the low-cut shirt didn’t soften me up, that pleading smile’s sure as hell not going to work either. Spit it out. What do you want? Another fuck?”

  She heard someone behind them gasp.

  “No, I just want…”

  “You’ve got another itch you want me to scratch? You wanna go bungee jumping, or swim with sharks, and you need a partner who won’t tattle on you after?”

  “I quit my job.”

  His head snapped back slightly. Aha. That got him. “Quit, like another month of playtime, or quit for good?”

  “For good,” she said, feeling oddly proud of something so wildly irresponsible.

  “Why?”

  “It wasn’t making me happy.”

  He faked an appalled expression. “What about your list? However will you be mentioned in ten premiere medical journals before the age of thirty-five if you quit now?”

  Brynn’s eyes narrowed. “You’ve been reading my list.”

  “Lists. Plural. I’ve been reading those notebooks since you started stashing them under your mattress. Makes for great shitter read.”

  She didn’t let herself get riled. “You know, it really wasn’t fair to give me a time limit if you were going to hog all of the talking time.”

 
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