“Yes,” I replied. A drink in my hands would give me something to do.

“Be right back,” he replied, and stepped back to leave me with Blaire.

“So?” she asked, lifting her eyebrows.

I knew she wanted to know about Grant. From what I could tell she was close to Grant because of Rush. “I think he likes me,” I replied, because I really didn’t know what else to say.

Blaire’s grin only got bigger. “I believe that’s obvious, Harlow. If you aren’t positive about it, though, I think you could just ask him and he would clarify that.”

I turned to look back at the bar and saw a girl with dark brown curls and a low-cut white dress pressing very close to him as she talked to him.

“Ignore her. I assure you, he is. That’s Katrina, and she’s not one to worry about. It’s just what she does.”

I turned back around. “I can’t figure out why he chose me. He gets attention from everyone. He’s perfect. He can have anyone.”

Blaire put a hand on her hip and stared at me in disbelief. “You’re serious, aren’t you?”

I just nodded. Why would I be kidding?

“Do you know what I thought the first time I saw you?”


“No,” I replied, not sure if I wanted to hear this answer.

“I wanted to know who this beautiful woman walking into my fiancé’s room was. I was instantly stunned by you. Then you opened your mouth and this sweet, kind personality of yours shone through. I wanted to get to know you. There’s this draw to you that brings people in. So that’s why Grant can’t keep his eyes off you,” Blaire said, glancing over my shoulder and grinning.

I turned around to see the girl still talking to him, but he was looking at me. I smiled and he winked. I had to learn to trust him. He deserved it.

“How did you learn to trust Rush?” I asked, looking back at Blaire.

She let out a sigh. “That was hard. Once I trusted him he blew it all to pieces. It was a long road after that, but I had to trust him. My heart wanted him, and in order for me to give in to that I had to trust him and believe he would take care of me.”

“You’re saying it’s a decision you made,” I asked.

She nodded. “Yeah, it is.”

I could do that.

Blaire let out a sad sigh and I followed her gaze. Bethy stood in the corner in a server’s uniform, talking to some lady who looked as if she was in charge of things. “I’m worried about her,” Blaire said.

“I saw her last week at a bar. She was really down,” I told her. I wouldn’t have told just anyone, but I knew Blaire was her best friend.

“Losing Jace has completely changed her. I can’t seem to reach her,” she said. “She rarely takes my calls anymore.”

“I can’t imagine what she’s going through,” I said, remembering her words that night at the bar.

“Me neither,” Blaire replied.

“Your sparkling water,” Grant said, handing me the wine glass in his hand.

“I need to get back to Rush. You two have fun,” Blaire said, then looked directly at me and smiled before going back to Rush, who was still watching her.

“There’s Tripp. I didn’t know he was in town,” Grant said, staring at a tall guy with short hair and a tattoo visible above his collar. He didn’t look as if he was happy to be here. And he also seemed to be worried about Bethy. He was completely focused on her.

“Let’s talk to Woods and Della, then I can get away with talking to just a few other people before we escape this place and I get you alone,” Grant said, pressing his hand to the small of my back and leading me toward the tall, tanned man who commanded the room with authority. I already knew who Woods was, but even if I hadn’t, I would know he owned the place.

I noticed the woman on his arm. Her blue eyes stood out from a headful of long, dark curls. A soft smile touched her face as she stared up at Woods as if he had all the answers in the world.

Woods’s gaze found Grant and he glanced at me then back to Grant. An amused smile touched his face, and I realized Woods knew something. “Grant, looks like your choice in dates has improved,” Woods said.

“Yeah. It takes some of us longer than others,” Grant replied as his thumb made small circles on my back where his hand rested.

The dark-haired woman let go of Woods and stepped forward to hold out her hand. “Hello, I’m Della. I’ve heard so much about you from Blaire. It’s nice to meet you.”

She was sincere, and I instantly liked her. “It’s nice to meet you, too,” I replied.

“I’m happy to see Grant is making wiser choices,” Della said, grinning.

Apparently Nan was disliked by everyone.

Grant chuckled at her comment and I relaxed. I was worried he was going to take offense at everyone’s bringing it up. “How long do I need to stay at this thing?” Grant asked.

The professional all-business demeanor in Woods’s expression faltered a moment as he let his gaze travel over the room. “Give it at least thirty minutes—maybe an hour. Be sure to watch the video. I think it’ll be the hardest part of the night. It’ll mean a lot to Jace’s parents for you to be here for that. People also need to see your face, since you’re a board member. Then take off. Wish I could,” he said in a low voice.

In that moment he reminded me of Grant and Rush. He didn’t seem so powerful and serious. Della smiled at me. “I wish we could get out of here early, too.”

“If you want to leave early, I’ll find a way,” Woods replied.

Della stared up at him and smiled brightly. “No. We stay. You can’t leave early.”

Woods leaned down to her ear. “I do what you want to do.”

Della pressed a kiss to his cheek. “I want to stay.”


Della just laughed and looked back at me. “I have to keep him in line.”

“Glad someone does,” Grant replied.

Woods’s easy smile turned into a frown as he focused on something behind us. Grant and I turned at the same time. Rush was walking toward us with a look on his face I didn’t understand.

Grant’s hand dropped from my back, and he walked toward Rush before he could get to us. I wasn’t sure if I should follow him or wait here.

“Something’s wrong,” Woods said before stepping by me and walking toward them.

I glanced back at Della, who was watching them, concerned. She wasn’t following Woods so I stayed with her.

Rush shook his head and looked over at me, then nodded his head for me to join them. Confused, I walked over. Rush reached out and grabbed my arm.

“I need you to stay with Blaire and Nate. Grant needs to come with me. Can you do that?”

I tried to nod but I just stood there, confused even more.

“It’s Nan. But I need him for this. And you have to trust him,” Rush said.

Nan? We just saw Nan. She was coming here. “Okay” was all I could say. They didn’t look as if they wanted to answer any questions. Grant looked angry and Rush was tense.

“I can’t leave with you guys, but if it’s what she says, then let me know. I’ll handle it,” Woods said, then turned and headed back to Della.

Rush motioned for Blaire and pulled her into his arms, talking to her in hushed whispers. She nodded and glanced over at me with a worried frown. “If you think that’s necessary” was her only response.

“I can’t ignore it. I have to check,” Rush told Blaire, who didn’t seem too sure that she agreed with him.

She kept her back stiff and nodded. Rush looked torn. What in the world was going on?

“If you want to come, then come with me. Don’t do this to me,” Rush said, closing in on Blaire and pulling her close.

She finally seemed to surrender and nodded. “Okay,” she said. Rush pressed a hard kiss to her mouth that had her melting further into him.

Everyone seemed to know what was going on but me. Woods’s head was lowered as he talked to Della. He was telling her. Rush was telling Blaire, but then there was me. No one was telling me. Grant wasn’t even looking at me. His body seemed coiled tight, and I realized I had trusted in him a little too soon.


Iwas doing this for him. He was my brother. At the top of all things that mattered was the fact that Rush was my brother. But, motherfucker, the look on Harlow’s face when she heard Nan’s name was going to screw shit up. I could see it, and I had to choose. I’d chosen Rush. He was family.

I was trusting Harlow to believe in me. To know why I was doing this. Who I was doing it for. I needed her to understand, because losing her wasn’t an option.

“She’ll understand. Harlow will listen when you explain, and she’ll be okay with it. Blaire is probably explaining it to her now,” Rush said as he sped toward Nan’s house.

If this shit was real and August had just beat the hell out of Nan, then I was all for hunting him down and letting Rush get his vengeance. Nan was a lot of things, but first and foremost she was Rush’s little sister. Rush didn’t allow Nan to come between him and Blaire, and he protected Blaire from her. But if Nan was in trouble and needed Rush, he came. He was all she had. No one else gave a shit. I had once, but she’d made sure I didn’t for long.

“If she’s lying, it might be me beating the shit out of her,” I warned him.

He let out a heavy sigh. “I know.”

Rush wasn’t blind to Nan’s nastiness. He also knew that saving Nan and leaving Harlow wasn’t easy for me. I wasn’t married to Harlow. I hadn’t made her promises with a diamond ring. Blaire had all that, and seeing Rush run off to save Nan made more sense to her. Nan was also Rush’s sister.

I couldn’t claim any of that.

Fuck, she better be telling the truth.

Rush pulled into Nan’s driveway, and the fear that Harlow might not get over this hit me again as my gaze found her little black car. Fuck, I shouldn’t have left her. But Rush had needed me. When he needed backup, I was it. That was what brothers were for. We had each other’s back.

We both climbed out of the truck and headed for the stairs at the same time. Rush didn’t knock; he slid his key into the door and opened it. I was surprised he had a key. That must be Kiro’s doing.

“Nannette,” Rush called out when he swung the door open.

I followed him inside.

“In here,” Nan called from the living room. Rush stalked toward the sound of her voice.

He paused when he walked into the room, and I stopped behind him and looked over his shoulder.

She hadn’t been lying.

Nan’s lip was busted and a black eye was already appearing on her pale skin. Her bare arms each had handprints on them that would be bruises soon enough. Nan sat there with her knees pulled up against her chest tightly. Black streaks of mascara ran down her face. She’d been crying.

This wasn’t the Nan I knew. It was the one I had known. She reminded me of the little girl I had once felt sorry for. The one whose problem I had wanted to fix just as much as Rush did. The bitter, angry bitch wasn’t in her eyes as she looked at us. Instead, she was scared.

“What the fuck,” Rush growled and took two big strides until he was in front of her and sitting down on the sofa beside her. “August did this?” Rush asked. His fury was barely contained, and as I stood there and looked at her, my anger began to boil, too.

I didn’t care what she had done. No woman deserved this. August was a dead man walking. If Rush didn’t kill him, I would.

“Yes. He got mad because”—she glanced over at me and then back at Rush—“I was upset about Grant and Harlow. I didn’t want to go, then he wanted to have sex and I didn’t want to. He tried to force me, but I fought back. Then he just snapped, and when I woke up on the floor he was gone.”

Rush’s body went taut. “He knocked you out?” Rush asked.

She nodded, and her gaze shifted to me again.

“He’s gotten angry before, but never like that. I didn’t know he was like that. I knew his wife left him and it took him two years before he got to see his daughter again. I believed him when he said he never hurt her. That she was a liar,” she said in a shaky voice.

“You need to see a doctor. If you were unconscious, you could have a concussion. Grant, take her to the hospital and have them check her out.”

Me? “What? Why can’t you?” I asked. I didn’t need to be taking her anywhere. I was gonna beat the shit out of August, but that didn’t mean I wanted to haul Nan around.

“I’m going to find August. I need you to take her to get checked out. Please,” Rush said, standing up. “I’ll call Blaire and explain.”

Which meant he would make sure Harlow knew what was going on and why. I just hoped she understood. Rush believed Harlow was strong enough for this emotionally, but I wasn’t sure I agreed. He didn’t know how insecure she really was.

“Can’t I find him?” I asked.

Rush shook his head. “No. I have Dean to make sure I don’t serve time. You don’t.”

He had a point.

“He doesn’t have to take me. I’m fine to stay here,” Nan said.

Rush looked at me, silently pleading. Shit.

“Okay, I’ll do it.” I looked at Nan. “Can you walk?” I asked.

She nodded and stood up. “Just a little dizzy.”

Rush put his arm around her and I let him help her to the truck. I wasn’t touching her. I would help, but I wasn’t touching her.

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