When the bartender drops me off at my place a little after five in the morning, my plan is to keep my ass in bed all day. To sleep off my bad mood and the hangover. My plan is shot to hell when Kylie shows up at my place at 10:30. I know it’s her and not some intruder—though as fucked up as it sounds, I think I would prefer the intruder if they left me alone—by the sound of her footsteps on the steps. Kylie always takes them two at a time.
“Are you decent?” she demands in a muffled voice outside of my closed bedroom door. I drag my pillow over my face, smothering my groans. This isn’t the first time I’ve regretted giving her a key to my place, and unless I take it back today, it won’t be the last time. “Brenna’s with me, and I don’t want you scaring her.”
Brenna—Wyatt’s daughter from a one-night stand eight years ago. My sister has always been a part of the kid’s life, but since she re-established her relationship with Wyatt, she’s been spending more and more time with Brenna. And it fucking worries me. I don’t want to see my sister hurt.
Uncovering my face, I hurl the pillow across my room. It hits the door, and Kylie murmurs something that’s barely audible as I glare up at the ceiling fan. “Thought you didn’t stalk on Sundays?” I growl.
“Can I come in?”
“Knock yourself out.”
She opens the door tentatively, a couple of inches at a time, until she’s standing in the doorway wearing a look that’s part amused, and part stern. It’s a look that’s already driving me bat-shit insane, and she hasn’t even said anything yet. “I called you this morning and wanted to check up on you when you didn’t answer. And your Jeep is missing.”
“It won’t be towed this time,” I promise. She leans against the doorframe, crossing her arms over her chest. I ignore her skeptical smirk and sit up in the bed, glancing around her. “Where’s Brenna?”
“I turned on the TV downstairs.” The moment the scowl forms on my face, Kylie drops her arms by her sides and comes all the way into the room. Her frown challenges my own. “God, calm down. She’s not four, I promise she’s not going to get into any of your shit—”
“The sound of your voice is killing me.” I don’t want to start Kylie on explanations. Not today. Now that I’m up, all I want is breakfast and something to help kill this goddamn headache. I point at her and turn my finger in a circular motion. She doesn’t protest, but faces the open bedroom door and stares out into the hallway.
“Rough night?” she asks.
I roll out of bed and walk across the carpet. “I’ve sure as fuck had better.” I grab some boxers from one of the top drawers and yank them on. “I’m decent enough now.”
Nodding, she turns around to face me. While I search for a pair of gym shorts, she sits on the edge of my bed. I don’t miss the sideways look she casts down at my tangled up bedspreads.
Groaning, I shake my head. I’ve brought very few women home with me, and one of those was the one who’s been fucking with my mind for weeks. “Relax. I don’t bring them back here, Ky, so you’re not sitting where I fucked her.”
Half a dozen emotions form on my sister’s face at once. Disgust. Disappointment. Irritation. All of them make me sick to my stomach, so I keep my gaze off of Kylie’s brown eyes as I yank on a pair of Nike shorts. “Nice, Lucas. Really nice,” she finally says. She scuffs the soles of her blue Converse together for a moment and then sighs. “If you’re expecting me to bitch, you shouldn’t.”
“Get up,” I order. She complies by moving a few feet away from the bed to sit on the black chair that’s adjacent from the bed. “And no, I didn’t expect you to bitch. Just don’t like when you give me that look.”
She shrugs and brings her knees up to her chest, wrapping her arms around them. “Guess I’m hoping for a happily ever after.”
“From a fucked-up asshole and a woman who won’t even return your calls. Fuck, let me rephrase that. From a woman who has already changed her number. You should expect the worst.”
Kylie flinches. “What happened?” She places her chin on the tops of her knees and follows my movements carefully as I make my bed.
“She’s already moved on.”
“You don’t know that,” she says. When the muscles in my back tighten, she sucks in a breath through her teeth. “You saw her—did you see her out with someone else?”
I’m not going to confirm it directly—because I don’t want to face the fucking emotions that it sends rolling through me—so I slam one of my pillows into place and shrug. “Shit happens.”
Kylie lets go of her legs and stretches them back down to the floor. She rakes her hand through her short, black and blue hair and presses her lips together into a thin line, working them back and forth. Trying to come up with what to say to make me feel better. It only makes me uncomfortable.
I sit on the side of the bed facing her, gripping the mattress tightly. “Don’t you need to go check on Brenna?”
Nodding, my sister rises to her feet. She smiles one of those smiles that won’t reach her eyes. I’m used to seeing her look like that when it comes to Wyatt, but never with me. “Pull your shit together, big brother. You want her. You’re in love with her. So do something about it.” She walks to the door, shoving her hands deep into the pockets of her jeans. “Besides, you’re not exactly playing the part of Mr. Innocent. Just calm the hell down and fix things, okay?”
I give her a tight-lipped smirk—and I’ve been doing a lot of that lately—and I nod my head. “Thanks for the advice.”
She lifts her shoulders slightly, and my gaze drops to her giant cluster of blackbird tattoos. Even though she knows I’m looking, she doesn’t move to cover them up like she used to. “You’re the one who wasted your ten days with her and got only eight because of your stupidity.”
“And thanks for shooting me in the balls.”
Her eyebrows draw together in sympathy. “I’ll come tomorrow to do, you know, actual work.”
“Trying to tell me something?”
She walks backwards into the hallway, her hands still in her pockets. “That it would be nice for you to get off your ass and make music and give me some errands to run so I can get paid.”
Noted. I wait until she and Brenna are gone, and I see her tiny car leave my driveway, to go downstairs. I’m in the middle of ordering lunch when I realize just how important Kylie’s words to me are. How they’re what I’ve been looking for.
I forget about lunch, forget everything else, as I write the first two lines of Sienna’s song. A song that I don’t know if she’ll ever hear, but one I’ve got to write so I can get her the fuck out of my system.
“I’m the one who wasted ten days, trading it in for eight
And I know you’re probably saying, fuck me right now . . .”
Before I grab my guitar and put music to the words, I send Kylie a text.
11:08 AM: Be here first thing tomorrow. Shit to do.
She takes awhile to respond, but when she finally does, there are no words on the screen. Just a few symbols in the shape of a heart.
Part 8 coming very soon!