Author: Adriana Locke
Everyone knew it, especially him, and the point was hammered home when Kallie Welch drove herself right out of his life.
But, she’s back.
Seeing Cross wasn’t on Kallie’s to-do list. She didn’t think she could avoid him forever but trying never hurt anyone. One minute she’s standing by herself and the next she’s accosted by a rich, velvety scent that could only belong to one man: Cross.
At face value, he’s divine. All rugged and confident with a smile that melts her right where she’s standing. It doesn’t take long to find him to be charming, witty, and the owner of a few legitimate businesses. Not at all like the mischievous boy she left.
He laughs and her heart flutters. With a touch of his hand, she’s dizzy. She’s fairly certain she’s going to die when he pulls her into an embrace and touches his lips to her forehead.
It feels right. It feels so right.
But is it?
Note: This novella was originally released in the Team Player Anthology last winter. It has been updated a bit with a few new chapters to round out the story.
you been in that thing?” Machlan shouts.
his muscle car’s engine winds down and he clicks the transmission into park.
The purplish-black paint shines in the early afternoon sun.
backed out of a parking spot onto Main Street, I check my rearview mirror. No one
is coming. “Bluebird Hill,” I tell him. “After all that rain last night, I
figured I’d test the new tires Walker put on my truck last week.”
fuckin’ kid.” He laughs.
man driving that,” I tease, pointing at his ride.
sure what your point is. This car is the baddest thing in town.” He punches the
gas, the motor roaring like a banshee.
around at Doc Burns’ office with two cars in the parking lot and the Linton
County History Museum across the street that only opens for the Water Festival
once a year, I grin. “That’s not saying much.”
Hell.” His hand slips through his dark hair and over his chin. The amusement in
his features evaporates as I watch … and cringe.
look. I know all of his looks, actually, a by-product of being his best friend
as long as I can remember. Many of them concern me and a lot of them worry me.
But this one? It’s a flashing red sign with Vegas-inspired lights.
is, I can’t just ignore it. When this look comes, so does the topic of my
sister and, even though I love the both of them, I wouldn’t mind seeing them in
a padded room until they fix whatever it is between them that is so broken.
sigh, I jam my truck into park too. “Yes,” I say, answering the question he’s
yet to ask. “Hadley called and isn’t coming home this weekend. She said maybe
works back and forth as he stares down the street. “Why?”
word is spit with a lifetime of emotion. Machlan has loved my sister since the
day she moved to Linton with our father and me when our mother died. She was
fourteen and innocent and he was fifteen and infatuated. Through the years,
they were off and on and together and not—at least officially. Everyone knew
Machlan and Hadley were one and the same.
sure why she moved away from here. Being both her brother and his best
friend precluded me from certain information, which is for the best. They both
drive me nuts without having the
I reply. “She left a voicemail last night saying she wouldn’t be home today.
She didn’t pick up when I called her back.”
his gaze to me. “You didn’t talk to her after that?”
big girl, Mach,” I mock. “I’m sure she had shit to do.”
fingers regrip the steering wheel as his jaw goes back to work again.
go wash this before I head back to the gym—”
right, though. Right?” he interrupts. His face is stone-cold sober. “I mean …”
Blinks. Re-grips the wheel again. “That’s it?”
truck into drive, I blow out a breath. “Yeah, that’s it. You want to know more?
Call her. What a fucking amazing concept.”
get right on that,” he snips back.
should. Then you could quit this whole thing.”
nothin’ to quit, man. Just being a decent guy.”
isn’t a decent guy. He’s a fucking great one … much better than the guy Hadley
is seeing now. A guy I haven’t mentioned to Mach since I got home a couple of
weeks ago from visiting her. I’m not mentioning him, either. I’ll save the
boyfriend an ER bill and myself the bail money.
blame him. It has to be hard to see Hadley with another guy when, in Machlan’s
mind, she’s his girl.
twists like it always does when my mind goes down this road. At least my girl
didn’t bring other guys back with her. Hell, she didn’t even come back at all.
Kip,” Machlan says, bringing me out of my reverie. Nodding toward the road in
front of him, he laughs. “I’m not moving.”
my seat to see the sheriff coming toward us. He blares the siren twice as if to
get us to move. We don’t.
pokes his head out of the window. “Need somethin’?” he shouts.
watch Kip’s car slide carefully between Machlan’s and the curb on the other
park in the street!” Kip yells.
ya gonna do about it?” I holler.
have somewhere to be?” Machlan asks. “Someone to protect and serve? Or service, if I know you?”
his head as Machlan flips him the bird. The sirens come on again before Kip
hits the gas and speeds off down the street and vanishes over the hill.
back at Machlan, his attention is on his phone.
ask, curious about the smile on his face.
me and laughs. Sticking the phone in the cup holder, he shrugs. “Nothing. But
can you do me a favor?”
help moving a couple of things at Crave. Come help me. Just for a few.”
it for me?” I ask.
the truck in neutral, I rev the engine. It barely sounds before his is
screaming over top of mine and we jet off in opposite directions. I get to a
stop sign at the end of the street and do a quick one-eighty to head to Crave.
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She resides in the Midwest with her husband, sons, and two dogs. She spends a large amount of time playing with her kids, drinking coffee, and cooking. You can find her outside if the weather’s nice and there’s always a piece of candy in her pocket.
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