Aidan let out a slow breath and kept his piehole shut. He was no idiot.
“Did you hear me?” Gray asked.
“Yeah, I heard you. So did the people in China. Look, you knew she wanted to work in insurance fraud investigations before you married her. You can’t be mad at her for that.”
“I’m not mad at her for being who she is. I’m mad at myself for not being okay with it. You remember last year when she went after those bank fraud idiots and they shot her?”
“Yeah, and they’re rotting in prison for it.”
“And Penny’s still got the bullet wound scar in her shoulder.” Gray’s phone vibrated a text. He read it, shook his head, and stood. “She’s on her way home with McDonald’s. It’s a truce breakfast.”
“I love McDonald’s breakfasts,” Aidan said. “I should’ve married her.”
“Mine.” Gray headed to the door. “Go find your own woman. How hard can it be? I even let one into your bed for you.”
“Yeah, well, she was the wrong one.”
Gray stopped short and turned to stare at him.
“Wrong woman?” his brother repeated. “So who’s the right woman?”
“There isn’t one. Get out.”
But Gray had become an unmovable mountain, staring at him, doing the Kincaid mind meld thing. “Kylie?” he asked. “From dispatch?”
“No,” Aidan said.
“Yeah, good thing. She’s hot, but she laughs weird. Lori in rentals?”
“No,” Aidan said, annoyed but also trying to keep his shit together because giving his brothers, any single one of them, more information than strictly necessary was like giving intel to the enemy. “Drop it.”
“Yeah, right,” Gray said. “Lily?”
Aidan did his best not to react, but he couldn’t still his mind. He still remembered every second of dancing with her beneath a half moon that long-ago summer festival. He remembered kissing her … falling for her.
Then how she’d left the mountain without looking back, forgetting about him with shocking, heartbreaking ease.
Now she was back. And she’d kissed him like maybe she hadn’t forgotten him after all …
Which was really fucking with him. “I said drop it.”
Gray grinned. “Yeah. It’s Lily.”
Aidan stalked past Gray, yanked open the front door, and shoved his brother out.
Gray was still grinning wide as Aidan slammed the door on his nose and then bolted it for good measure. But he could still hear his brother chuckling to himself. “Dumbass,” he said.
“Yeah. He is,” Hudson said from behind him.
Aidan whipped around. “Jesus. How long have you been standing there?”
Aidan relaxed again and headed back to the kitchen.
Hudson waited until Aidan had taken a long pull on a bottle of water to say, “So. Lily, huh?”
The salon turned out to be an interesting place. Cassandra stopped by daily, eight months pregnant and bored out of her mind. Today she plopped herself into the massage chair they had for waiting clients. When she turned it on, her body shimmied and shook in an alarming fashion.
“Turn that thing down,” Jonathan said. “You’re going to go into labor.”
“That’s the idea,” she said, turning the chair up.
Jonathan pointed at her. “If you birth that thing in here, I’m going to …” He paused like he couldn’t think of anything heinous enough.
And while he was thinking, Cassandra doubled over with a cry.
“Oh, God,” Jonathan said, face going white. “What the hell did I tell you?”
Cassandra lifted her face and grinned. “Gotcha.”
Jonathan just stared at her. “You’re not in labor?”
Jonathan let out a long, slow, shaky breath, a hand to his heart.
Cassandra laughed and kept on with her massage chair antics. She also got her kicks out of announcing every little event, such as “The baby just stuck her foot into my bladder” or “I think I lost my plug” or “Don’t get too close, I’m gassy today and there’s some hang time.”
Lily couldn’t imagine the feeling of having someone step on her bladder and she had no idea what a plug was, but she made sure to stay out of Cassandra’s personal space bubble so as not to experience any of the hang time.
“Am I wearing pants?” Cassandra asked the room. “I hope I remembered pants today. I don’t want anyone to see my cankles.”
“Aren’t you supposed to be home building a nest or something?” Jonathan asked her, still irritated.
“I’m nesting here,” Cassandra said on a yawn. “And it’s hard work.”
Jonathan sighed and brought her some hot tea.
Lily didn’t expect to have clients right away, but she’d underestimated the far reach of the Internet. Jonathan referred people to her, but mostly they seemed to come out of the woodwork wanting her to spill celebrity gossip. Her nine o’clock was a thirty-something mom of two originally from San Diego who now ran a bookkeeping service in Cedar Ridge.
“So you’re back home after the big to-do, huh?” she asked Lily. “I thought the celebrities liked when you leaked stuff about them.”
Lily kept her sigh to herself. “Turns out it depends on who it is.”
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