“What more is there?”
I thought about that. I wished he would just let me talk to Blaire. I didn’t need help from him.
“Tell me you didn’t screw around with Nan,” he said with an exasperated sigh.
He knew. He always figured shit out. “Yeah, some.”
Rush shook his head and let out a hard laugh. “You’re fucked. I said Harlow doesn’t hate people, but Nan is as close as it gets for her. You need to let the Harlow thing go and move on. Ain’t no way you’re fixing that shit.”
I wanted her to understand. I wanted her forgiveness, and I wanted her to know I cherished what she had given me. No one or nothing would ever be that special for me again. I would never forget it. Maybe it was best for both of us if that was all she was willing to do. That night when I had been inside of her, I had been shown something much deeper than I ever imagined. It scared the hell out of me.
To love someone the way Rush loved Blaire . . . that was intense. It was controlling and it had the power to destroy you. I had seen so much heartache and pain in my life. My father had been in love more than once, and each time it had ended painfully, not only for him but for me. Love forever wasn’t something I believed in. Harlow was dangerous for me. She was the first person I had ever allowed myself to picture forever with. What if she stopped loving me one day . . . or what if I lost her? I saw the vacant look in Bethy’s eyes. The pain deep inside her. She had to wake up every day and live with it.
“I just want her to listen to me. I don’t want anything else. I want her to know . . . that . . . that she was special. That night was special. That’s all. Nothing else. I’m not asking for a second chance. I can’t do that. I just want her forgiveness. And I can’t live with myself if she believes I took her innocence as a game. It was never a game.”
Rush stood there staring at me as if I were speaking a different language. I was rambling. I wasn’t making sense. At least not to him. I needed to talk to Blaire, dammit.
“You just want her to know that your f**king her meant something? Is that what I’m understanding? You don’t want anything else?”
I flinched at his description but nodded.
“Can I ask why?”
The image of Bethy doubled over wailing as they lowered Jace’s body into the ground was etched in my brain. “I can’t love someone the way you love Blaire.”
Rush cocked one of his eyebrows. “Why is that?”
“Because it scares the hell out of me. I’m not going to be that vulnerable. I don’t want to be.”
Rush didn’t look as if he understood, but he finally nodded his head toward his Rover. “I’m headed home. If you want Blaire’s advice then meet me there and you can tell her this crazy shit. But she isn’t going to take your side in this. I’m warning you now.”
I didn’t expect her to. “I know.”
“When you tell her you slept with Nan after taking Harlow’s virginity then I’d duck, because the gun will come out, and this time I’m pretty damn sure she’ll pull the trigger,” he said with an amused grin before walking out toward his truck without looking back at me.
He was right. Blaire was going to chew my ass out. But once she got over it she’d help me, if only because she would understand that Harlow deserved it.
Thirty minutes later, Blaire was glaring at me. Her face had gone from horrified to completely pissed off. Nate had luckily crawled into her lap, otherwise I was pretty sure she’d have taken a swing at me.
“You want me to take him, baby?” Rush asked, walking into the living room.
“No. Leave him in her arms. I’m safer that way,” I replied.
Rush chuckled and walked over to sit beside her. Nate went to Rush with a happy laugh and I watched my badass best friend become complete sappy mush as Nate laid a loud smacking kiss on Rush’s face. Yeah . . . that kind of love. I couldn’t do that. What if something happened to Nate? How could Rush wake up every morning?
“I’m not like Rush. I can’t do this. This . . . life. I can’t love someone so completely that they hold my heart in their hands. I’m not that strong. I’ve had bad experiences with that kind of trust. But I care about Harlow. I let it get far with her. I let her in enough to care that I’ve hurt her. I don’t want her to be hurt. Help me, please.”
Blaire’s angry glare softened some, and she leaned forward, not taking her eyes off me. “Why? Tell me why, Grant. What is it about what I have with Rush that you can’t take?”
I wasn’t dredging up my past and talking about my childhood like that was a good excuse. And none of us wanted to bring up Jace. That was still too fresh. “I’m not ready for that. I would eventually hurt Harlow, and I can’t do that. I just want to get her to listen to my explanation and walk away from this as friends. She’s sweet and special and I can’t stand the idea of her thinking I used her.” Friends. That word sounded flat. If Harlow forgave me, could I live with just being friends? How was I supposed to look at her and not remember how good she felt in my arms? Was I asking for something impossible? I didn’t want to leave Rosemary. Hell, I couldn’t leave Rosemary. Someone needed to make sure Harlow survived with Nan.
Blaire tucked a strand of her long white-blond hair behind her ear and pierced me with her steady gaze. “You don’t want her but you want her to know that what y’all did was special to you. I can understand that. It’s typical you. You don’t like hurting people.”
“Can you tell me what to do? She hates me right now.”
Nate reached over and tugged at Blaire’s hair and giggled happily.
“Don’t pull Momma’s hair. We’ve gone over this, dude,” Rush said, saving Blaire from another hard tug.
Blaire thanked Rush and pressed a kiss to Nate’s head then turned back to me.
“Let me talk to her. Then I’ll let you know when you can talk to her. Until then, stay out of Nan’s bed, especially now that Harlow’s living there.”
“Not going there again. I’m hanging up the whiskey, too.”
“Good, I’m tired of picking up your sorry ass from the bar,” Rush said.
“Language,” Blaire reminded Rush.
“Sorry,” he replied quickly.
Blaire sighed. “Nate’s first word is going to be a four-letter one, I just know it.”
“‘Ass’ only has three letters,” I replied.
“The gun, man. Remember the gun. My woman comes armed,” Rush warned.
Blaire stood up and let out a frustrated growl. “You two. I swear,” she said, reaching for Nate. “I need to go feed this guy and then it’s his naptime. I’ll call you, Grant.”
I watched her walk out of the room.
“Eyes off my wife’s ass,” Rush warned.
It was the first time I’d felt like laughing all day.
Lunch had been painless.
But I wasn’t sure I was doing it again anytime soon. I just wasn’t ready to trust anyone right now. This was temporary, and as appealing as having a friend sounded, I didn’t see Adam wanting friendship. He would eventually want more.
I left the club and headed to my car. I wasn’t in the mood for golf. I just wanted to read and escape this mess Dad had left me in. I needed to get out of Rosemary and find some public park where I could sit under a tree and read. I had two books on my e-reader I couldn’t wait to read.
Then I spotted him. Long dark hair with just enough curl to make it look messy pulled back in a ponytail. Cowboy hat perched on his head. Blue plaid shirt pulled tightly against his broad shoulders and back as he leaned against my car with his arms crossed over his chest. Excitement bubbled up inside me, even as I wondered why he was here. I started running.
The sound of my footsteps caught his attention and he turned toward me. A slow, easy grin spread across his handsome face. I saw so much of our father in him. I often wondered if this was what Daddy would have looked like if he hadn’t let sex, drugs, and rock and roll take over his life. Mase was healthy and strong.
I threw my arms around him as he opened his. “What are you doing here?” I asked, holding on to him tightly. Tears stung my eyes. I hadn’t realized how alone I’d felt until this moment. Just having Mase here. Someone who loved me. It was a relief.
“Heard our dear ol’ dad threw you to the wolves and wanted to make sure you were okay,” he drawled in his Texas twang that always made me smile.
I couldn’t respond just yet. If he saw the emotion in my eyes or heard it in my voice he would pack me up and take me to Texas. I swallowed the lump in my throat.
“It isn’t so bad. I’ve had a good day.”
Mase grunted and pulled back to look down at me. “From what Dad’s told me, she’s a raging bitch. The next thing I hear he sends you off to live with her. I’m finding it all a little hard to swallow.”
“She hates me. She’ll hate you, too, just because she can. But Rush and his wife, Blaire, are here. You’ll like her. She’s very nice. I’m not completely alone.”
Mase frowned and the dimple in his left cheek disappeared. “Rush got married? Damn, I’m behind on family shit.”
“Yeah. He has a baby, too. Nate. He’s adorable, but then Rush is, well . . . Rush and Blaire are stunning.”
“Well, I’ll be damned. The heartthrob got married. Haven’t seen him in forever, but didn’t expect that.”
“People change. Rush has changed.”
Mase nodded. “Yeah, they do.”
Reading no longer sounded appealing. I wanted to spend time with Mase. “How long are you here?”
Mase cocked an eyebrow and rubbed his stubbled chin. “As long as you need me, little sister.”
I needed him for nine months, but I wasn’t going to tell him that.
“Where are you staying?”
Mase let out a chuckle. “I’m staying at that big, nice house my father paid for.”
My jaw dropped. Surely he knew Nan lived there. She wouldn’t just let him move in. “But Nan won’t . . .” I trailed off.
Mase winked and leaned closer to me. “I called Kiro. He knows I’m here. And he said if the bitch gave me problems to have her call him. He’d handle it.” He smirked. “Not that I needed him to handle her. I’ll move my shit in there and pick my own room. Ain’t one damn thing she can do to stop me.”
I thought about her reaction and knew this wasn’t going to be good. “She’s going to go crazy. She is crazy.”
Mase threw his arm over my shoulders. “Good. I need some entertainment. Now, why don’t you show me how to get to this house and you can help me settle in. Then we’re going to find ourselves a decent bar to get a couple beers and play some pool. One with no damn polo shirts and luxury cars.” He looked around the parking lot with a disgusted expression.
He might be the only son of the most infamous rocker in the world, but he was a country boy. His big black Dodge truck had mud on the tires and dirty work boots in the back. He wasn’t one for pretenses.
“Okay. Want me to drive and you follow?”
“Yeah. We need to get your car to the house before we head out tonight.”
I opened my door and glanced back to see him walk over to his truck and climb in.
My brother was here. He was moving in with us. All three of Kiro’s kids living in one house. This was going to be . . . a disaster.
“Ineed you to come here now! Right f**king now!” Nan screamed into the phone. I held it away from my head to keep her from breaking my eardrums.
“Stop yelling in my damn ear,” I barked.
“He won’t leave! I need help. I can’t get my sorry-ass father on the phone. I need you. Please. Help me!”
“Just get here!” She screeched and hung up the phone.
Shit. I didn’t want to go anywhere near Nan. But Harlow . . . if “he” was upsetting Nan this much, could this person hurt Harlow? Had Nan brought someone home she didn’t know? Was he dangerous? Fuck! I ran and grabbed my truck keys and headed outside. I’d go over there, but this wasn’t for Nan. I was doing this for Harlow.
A black Dodge truck with an extended cab that looked like it had been mud-riding was parked beside Harlow’s car. Who the hell did Nan bring home this time? The idea of Harlow being in danger made the anger inside me start to boil. Fucking Nan wasn’t safe enough for Harlow. She needed a safe place to live, and Nan made dumbass choices like this Dodge truck.
I stalked up the steps and opened the door without knocking. Nan’s high-pitched screaming was easy to follow. I walked up the stairs to the first bedroom on the second floor.
“You are NOT living in my f**king house! Pack your damn bags and leave now! This is not the agreement I had with Kiro.” Nan was red in the face when I walked into the room. Her wild eyes found mine and she lunged for me and wrapped her arms around me. “You came. Thank you, thank you. I need your help.”
My eyes found Harlow’s. They were wide with a mix of emotions. The only one that mattered to me was the hurt. I took Nan’s arms off my body and moved her away from me without looking away from Harlow. I didn’t want her to think I was here for Nan.
“You called your boyfriend? That’s pretty damn funny.” The deep drawl caught my attention. I shifted my gaze to the guy standing beside Harlow. His tone sounded relaxed, but the way he was standing slightly in front of Harlow and the stiff posture told me he felt as if he was protecting her.