“Hmm…” she said, assessing him, “Maybe.”

“I gave you a run for yours,” Clay joked.

Liz shook her head and bumped him with her hip. “You’re ridiculous. Get out of here, and take care of my fiancé.”

“I’ll do my best.”

She followed him back to the driver’s side and gave him a pensive long stare. “Hey, Clay?”


“She misses you,” Liz said quietly.

Clay frowned. Andrea missed him. It was like Liz was offering him a small sliver of hope. Andrea had said she missed him at his house, but then he’d fucked it up. If Liz was telling him again, it had to be because she thought he still had a chance.

“I love her,” he told Liz.

She immediately broke out into barely suppressed laughter.

“What?” he demanded.

“Clay Maxwell…in love.” Liz shook her head. “When I first met Andrea, I thought you two hated each other. But I was so wrong. You just hadn’t realized how much you loved each other yet.”

“You think I still have a shot?” he asked.

She bit her lip and then glanced back up at the house. “You just might.”

“Thanks”—he brushed a kiss on her cheek and laughed—“sis.”

“Oh, get out of here,” she said, shoving him into the front seat of his car.

He revved the engine at her as she walked back toward the house. As he drove the short distance to the Maxwell property, he had a smile plastered on his face, and a plan was forming in his mind.

He could win Andrea back.

He could be the man she wanted.

He could make her see how much he loved her and that flushing fifteen years of history down the drain was the worst idea she’d ever had.

He could do it…

He had to do it!

Brady, Chris, and Lucas were already outside at the pool, decked out in swim trunks and drinking beer, when Clay finally made it to the house. He’d dropped his stuff off in his room and changed into a pair of Carolina blue swim trunks before entering the pool deck.

“The party has arrived,” he said, walking out to them and grabbing a beer off of Lucas.

“Hey, man,” Lucas said. He extended his hand, and Clay shook it.

Brady and Chris nodded their heads at him and said, “Hey,” at the same time.

“Had to drop Savi off with the girls,” Clay said. He sank into a chair and took a long swig of his beer.

“How was the drive down?” Brady asked.

“Yeah, I can’t believe that you actually drove,” Chris said. He had his ever-present smile plastered onto his face.

The dude was as tall or taller than Brady but lacked all the seriousness of his brother. Brady finally relaxed when he was around Chris. He was actually able to kick back and have a good time rather than always acting so uptight.

“Well, I wanted to visit home first. Then, Savi forced me to drive her.” He shrugged. “It was all right even though she’s a fucking handful.”

Lucas snorted beside him. “That’s the truth.”

Clay wondered what the fuck was up with Lucas and Savannah. Andrea had mentioned that they had been a thing at one point, but it couldn’t be the case if she was attached at the hip with Easton.

“How’s Vanderbilt treating you?” Clay asked instead.

Lucas had just finished his junior year, like Savannah, and played on the Vanderbilt basketball team.

Lucas swiped his shaggy hair out of his eyes and grinned. “Pretty epic. We made it to the Final Four this past year. I can’t believe I only have one more year.”

Brady raised his beer to him. “Enjoy it while it lasts. Nothing else like it.”

“That’s right, man. I’m definitely enjoying it.”

Clay had a feeling he knew just what Lucas meant by that.

“What about you?” Clay asked Chris. “How is New York treating you?”

Chris worked at some marketing firm in New York City. Clay wasn’t exactly certain what he did, but he must be making bank because he had a nice apartment in Manhattan even if he couldn’t seem to hold down a girl to save his life.

“Didn’t you hear?” Brady asked.


“I got a promotion,” Chris said with a slightly delirious laugh. “I got a job in D.C.”

“Fuck, tell me you’re not working with this dipshit,” he said, pointing at his brother.

“Nah, the company is expanding. They want me to head the new office in D.C. Offered it to me, knowing I had connections on the Hill, of course.” Chris shrugged. “It’s a great opportunity, and I get to be near you two assholes more. Plus, higher pay in a city with lower cost of living.”

“Who are you trying to convince?” Lucas joked.

“Hey, hey!” Chris said, holding his hands up. “We’re here to celebrate Brady getting hitched, not ragging on me!”

“The old ball and chain,” Clay said.

Brady leaned back in his chair with a smile that Clay could only call dreamy. Normally, Brady was so reserved that there was nothing to see beyond the politician’s mask he always wore, but this weekend, it was gone. He was ecstatic.

“Hottest ball and chain I’ve ever seen,” Brady said.

“I’ll toast to that,” Chris said, holding his beer up.

The guys spent the rest of the afternoon lounging around the pool and drinking. When dusk hit, they changed into more suitable clothes, had dinner at a local restaurant, and then retired relatively early, for all of them were worn out from traveling.

The next day convened like the last. Innocent jabs, lots of poolside beer, and a whole lot of brotherly camaraderie that Clay found he’d actually missed. He didn’t know the last time he and Brady had just hung out like this without him always being wary of the political arena. For once, the politics were off his back, and he was just a man about to marry the woman of his dreams.

At one point, Clay pulled Chris and Lucas aside while Brady had disappeared upstairs, presumably to talk to Liz.

“I know we agreed to take it easy,” Clay said, holding his hands up, “and we’re doing that. But I gave up Vegas for this. The least we can do is get him shitfaced in his last hurrah.”

Lucas just nodded. “I’m down. I’d love to see Brady get turnt.”