“And if I said I was going to fuck her and have a good time and not think about it when I leave?”
“It’d strain our friendship,” Cade said.
He’d guessed as much. Cade took responsibility so seriously, and he felt responsible for the Petty twins. “Yeah, well, you don’t have to worry too much.” It was on the tip of his tongue to tell Cade that Audrey was in love with him, not Reese, but for some reason, the words wouldn’t come out. He couldn’t lash out at Cade simply because his ego was wounded a bit.
And hell, Cade was right to wonder. If Audrey indicated that she wanted in Reese’s bed? He’d have her there and on her back in no time at all. He closed his eyes and rubbed his face, remembering the way she’d clung to him in the water and bucked against his hand. Fuck, that had been hot.
Even knowing she was in love with Cade didn’t stop him. Audrey was a firecracker under that prim demeanor, and he liked having it come to the surface. More than that, he liked being the one to experience it. Someone like Cade wouldn’t know how to bring out the best in her.
She needed someone like Reese to unlock the passion inside her.
It’d just be wasted on nice, polite Cade. She needed a bastard like Reese. Someone who’d push her until she lashed back.
He grinned, rubbing his shoulder. And he had the marks to prove it.
“Why do you say that?” Cade asked, interrupting Reese’s thoughts.
“Huh?” He’d forgotten what they were talking about, lost in thoughts of Audrey underneath him, scratching up his back, demanding more.
“You said I don’t have to worry too much. Why is that?”
“Oh.” Reese thought for a minute, then walked over and handed Cade his empty coffee mug. “Because I don’t plan on breaking her heart. Trust me when I say she’s got it well guarded.”
“Something’s bothering you.”
Audrey looked up from her bowl of oatmeal at Daphne and her face automatically colored bright red. “I don’t know what you mean.”
Daphne rolled her eyes and stabbed her spoon into the bowl repeatedly. “It’s just the two of us. You don’t have to pretend with me.”
She was right, Audrey had to acknowledge. The two men were out getting firewood and had left them alone for breakfast. There had been coffee made and oatmeal on the stove, though Daphne had claimed to not be hungry. Audrey’d fixed her a bowl anyhow, since her too-thin twin needed to eat rather desperately.
And now Daphne was staring at her like she’d grown another head. “So you’re not going to tell me?”
“Tell you what?” Audrey said innocently. “You should eat, you know. I worked hard on making breakfast.”
Daphne snorted and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. “I know you didn’t make the food, Aud. I’ve tasted your cooking before, remember? I don’t know why we’re all keeping up the charade, but you can’t fool me.”
As Daphne lit a cigarette and took a long drag, Audrey wrinkled her nose. “Do you have to smoke that right here? It stinks.”
“It does, doesn’t it?” Daphne glanced down at the cigarette between her bony fingers. “I don’t even like the taste, really.”
“Then why smoke it?”
“Because you took away my crack pipe,” Daphne said with a coy grin. When Audrey didn’t smile, she sighed. “That was a joke, sis.”
Daphne took another pull on the cigarette and then flicked the ashes in her oatmeal bowl. “So, you going to tell me what’s going on or am I going to have to guess?” When Audrey hesitated again, a hurt look crossed Daphne’s face. “You don’t ever talk to me anymore, you know. I wish you would.”
A burst of longing swelled in Audrey’s chest. Back before Daphne had gone to LA to pursue her career in music, the twins had been incredibly close. Ever since they’d parted, though, Audrey felt as if she’d lost her other half. It hurt, and she desperately wanted her sister back. But that would take effort on both sides, she supposed. So she sighed and stirred her oatmeal, not really eating it, either. “I’m just a little mixed up at the moment.”
“Oh?” Daphne’s black-dyed brows went up. “Man trouble?”
“Man trouble,” Daphne agreed without a word being said from Audrey. “So tell me the scoop. Is it the big hunk?”
“Big hunk?” Audrey repeated.
Daphne waved her cigarette in the air. “You know. Cade’s friend. What’s his name. I can’t remember. Was too busy puking my guts out. The one who’s constantly looking at you. Hot tub Romeo.”
Did Reese look at her all the time? Audrey hadn’t realized. “His name’s Reese Durham. He’s one of Cade’s billionaire friends.”
“Yuck. Men with money are nothing but trouble.” For a moment, Daphne looked sad, then shook it off, taking another puff of her cigarette. “So are you having sex with him?”
“Not yet.” Audrey bit her lip. “But I really want to.”
“So have sex with him.”
She shook her head. “Not that simple, Daph. I kind of have a thing for Cade.” Understatement of the year.
“Mmm. Love troubles.” Daphne’s eyes sparked with interest, and she looked less tired for the first time in days. “So glad that they’re someone else’s for a change.”
“Have you had love troubles?” Audrey asked. Daphne never shared any of the details of her relationships, though her songs were always teasing about men and breakups.
Daphne flicked her fingers, as if brushing the comment away. “Bygones. We’re talking about you right now, sis. So you want the big hunk but you’re afraid that it might interfere with your crush on Cade? Is he aware of how you feel?”
Audrey thought for a moment, wondering what to tell her sister. “He knows I exist, but it’s definitely one-sided.”
Daphne grinned. “So here’s what you do. Nail the hot tub hottie until you’re bored of him, and then go back to moping about Cade.”
Audrey stood up, her shoulders squaring defensively. “Now you’re just making fun of me. Not cool, Daph. I thought we were having a real discussion.”
“Wait,” Daphne said, reaching for Audrey’s arm. “I was serious. What’s wrong with hitting it until you quit it?”
Audrey stared at her twin. “Are you kidding? This is me we’re talking about. I’m not the kind to sleep with a man just for sex’s sake.”
“You’re not in a relationship, Audrey. Like you said, Cade doesn’t even know you have feelings for him. Why not have a little fun? Play the field a bit? It’s just physical. Have a little fling. Cade can’t be mad that you hooked up with someone if you aren’t with him.”
Audrey bit her lip, considering. “I don’t know.”
“You’re not old and married. Act your age. God. You make me feel old just being around you.”
That hurt. “Gee, thanks Daph.”
“I’m serious. Don’t you ever have fun? You always look so serious and unhappy, like you’re doing your best to be the most vanilla, boring person you can imagine. That’s no way to live.” Daphne stubbed her cigarette out in the oatmeal bowl. “I was hoping you were having a turnaround this week. You just seemed so lively. A bit irritated, but still lively. I liked seeing that in you. At least then you had some spark, instead of just gray and bland all the time.”
Knew that underneath all that proper do-gooder Audrey there was the fiery girl. Fucking love bringing her out to play.
Audrey thought for a long moment, staring at her oatmeal bowl. How much should she tell Daphne what was truly going on? Could she count on Daphne to be discreet? She glanced over at her twin, who was pulling a new cigarette out of her pack, her hands trembling slightly. And then Audrey decided to trust Daphne just a little.
“I went skinny-dipping with Reese last night.”
The new cigarette Daphne had just placed between her lips automatically fell out. She snagged it then pulled out her lighter. “Get out. You did? I’m proud of you.”
For some reason, her twin’s approval was . . . appealing. Even if it was over something as naughty as skinny-dipping. “Cade caught us, too.”
Daphne grimaced. “You want to talk about someone who’s no fun. Cade’s picture’s next to serious in the dictionary. So he caught you, huh? What did you do?”
“Hmm. Scream and ran for the house with a towel around me?”
“How did I sleep through this?” Daphne murmured, grinning. She gave her head a little shake. “So you going to go catch up where you left off tonight?”
“I don’t know,” Audrey admitted. The idea was taking root in her mind and it had a strange amount of appeal. Use Reese like he used women? Sleep with him just for sex’s sake? Was it such a terrible idea? “I wouldn’t know what to tell Cade about what’s going on.”
“It’s none of Cade’s business,” Daphne said in a pert tone. “He has zero claim on you at the moment. The only people it’s between are you, that big hunk, and your twin sister who gets to hear all the secrets.” She grinned at Audrey. “You’ll have to tell me how it is.”
“You’re assuming I’m going to go through with it,” Audrey said in a crisp tone.
“Don’t get all proper with me, Aud. I know you. And I encourage this act of liberation. I say go for it.”
“I’m glad I have your approval,” Audrey teased, but the idea was now in her head and it wouldn’t go away. What would it be like to sleep with a man, no strings attached? A man as sexy as Reese who drove her as crazy as he did?
She knew anything with him wouldn’t be permanent. Not a bit. He used women like Camilla in the hot tub. They were diversions, and she was the current one.
But wouldn’t it be fun—just for a little while—to be the diversion?
With that morning’s conversation she’d had with Daphne still going through her mind, Audrey cleaned up the kitchen, straightened the living room, and then went upstairs to check her appearance.
Shirt: plain black and long sleeved. Jeans: serviceable. Hair: tight bun. Skin: fresh scrubbed and freckled. It’d have to do. Audrey smoothed a hand over her bun and then headed outside, looking for Reese.
He wasn’t hard to find—the sound of chopping wood rang in her ears even from inside the house. Sure enough, he stood up in a small clearing near a pile of wood, axe in hand. He was wearing a muscle shirt, his corded arms bare and gleaming with sweat. He’d obviously been at things for some time.
“Reese?” She shielded her eyes from the sun and stood a decent distance away. “Can we talk for a moment?”
He turned to her and tossed the axe down to the ground. “Sure, what’s up?”
She glanced around. “Where’s Cade?”
“Out for a morning walk. He wanted to clear his head. That what you wanted to talk about?” He wiped at his brow, then picked up a water bottle from nearby.
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