“Because that would be easier than admitting to my face that you never had any intention of going out with me. Is that it?”
“I never had any intention of leading you on or going out with you,” she said. “I’m sorry if you thought otherwise.”
“Because you’re fucking Aidan?”
Their gazes met and held. She couldn’t be surprised he knew about Aidan. Cedar Ridge was a small town, and the people in it enjoyed talking. A lot.
“I’ve seen you with him,” he said. “Funny thing about body language. It’s always honest.”
“This conversation is over,” she said.
“Look at that, you even talk like him. I get it, you know,” he said. “He’s a Kincaid. Owns the resort. Of course you picked him.”
“Out,” she said. “Now.”
He jerkily packed up his tools and left.
Jonathan came close. “Heard the tail end of that, which didn’t go well.”
“Seeing as the alternative was me kicking him in the nads, I think it went really well.”
“Oh, I most definitely agree there,” Jonathan said. “I just meant that in my experiences, dickheads like that don’t go quietly into the night. And Lily? You need to let Aidan and Gray know what happened here. If you don’t feel comfortable saying anything, I’ll be happy to do it.”
She blew out a sigh. “I’ll handle it.”
“Yeah. I clean up my own messes.”
The door opened again, and in came Penny.
Lily let out a breath and managed a smile. “Hey.”
“Hey. I want the baby-butt skin you gave Aidan,” she said.
“Baby-butt skin coming up,” Lily said.
Penny stared at her. “And also I want that glow you’re wearing. What’s that from?”
An all-nighter with your brother-in-law … “Um, I think I’m sunburned.”
Jonathan choked and spilled his coffee. “Dammit.”
Penny was still staring at Lily. “You slept with him.”
“What is it with you people?” Lily asked the room.
“Jealousy,” Jonathan said.
His client, an eighty-five-year-old woman, nodded. “Sure is, honey,” she said in a three-pack-a-day voice. “None of us are getting any.”
“Hey,” Penny said. “I’m getting some.”
“Yes, but that’s married sex,” Jonathan said. “Married sex doesn’t count.”
“Hmph,” Penny said.
The rest of the day spun by pretty quickly with the exception of several people asking Lily if she was going to finally be the one to tie down the elusive Aidan Kincaid.
“It’s a compliment,” Jonathan told her as they were cleaning up at the end of the day. “People are fascinated by the Kincaids. They’re all wild as hell—though marriage has tamed Gray—somewhat. People are wondering about the woman who’s looking like she might snag another brother. Really, the gossip and questioning are inevitable.”
“It’s ridiculous,” Lily said. “Love is a private business.”
“Whoa.” Jonathan went brows up. “I didn’t say anything about love. But since you went there—”
“Sorry,” she said, grabbing her purse. “Gotta go.”
“Fine, but Lily Pad?”
She looked back.
“Tell Aidan about Lenny.”
She nodded and hightailed it out of there. She didn’t look forward to that conversation. The last thing she wanted to do was bring trouble on anyone, even Lenny.
Not to mention once again spilling the beans out of turn …
Back at her place, she changed her clothes and grabbed Ashley’s scarf and went up the mountain. Not even close to being in the right mind-set to attack Dead Man’s Cliff, she hiked Heaven’s Peak instead, visiting some of her favorite haunts, looking to prove to herself she could start and finish something at least.
She stopped for pictures when the mood struck, sat on a rock outcropping and drank her water when she got tired, and when her second wind hit, she headed home.
Inside her apartment, she walked straight to the framed pic of herself and Ashley that her mom had sent. Removing the scarf from around her neck, she set it next to the frame. “I went hiking again today,” she told her sister, and had to draw in a deep breath. “I’m not climbing. It’s not fear, I want you to know that. It’s not regrets either. I just … I had to grow up, you know?” She paused and had to swallow the lump in her throat. “I really thought we’d be doing that together, growing up,” she whispered. “I really did.”
A stupid tear slipped out, and she swiped it away. “I hiked Heaven’s Peak,” she went on. “And it felt good. Actually, it felt great. I forgot how much I missed being out on the mountain. But I promise you, Ash, I’ve never forgotten how much I miss you.”
She had to swipe another damn tear, but that was the last one. “I won’t ever forget you,” she whispered to her sister’s happy face as she ran a finger along the cashmere. “But I think I need to forgive myself. I’m having problems with that,” she admitted softly. “I’ve been trying and can’t seem to do it on my own.” She paused again. “Maybe you could help me there.”
Oh, how Ashley would have loved that, Lily needing her help. And at just the thought Lily was suddenly able to smile through her tears.
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