“Do you plan to chase him, Jase? You going to risk your… what’s her name? Bethany? Are you going to risk her to chase after him?” he questions me.
“Sending Nikolai is smart,” Declan adds and Sebastian nods in agreement. I crack my neck, not looking at my brothers, knowing they’re not on my side. All while questioning if they’re right. If I could really risk leaving Bethany behind.
“With Marcus still here… you’re right. We should send Nikolai.”
“Aria will never forgive me if something happens,” Carter admits and stares into the swirling whiskey in his glass.
“She doesn’t have to know,” Declan says which brings all of our eyes to him.
“It’s easy to say that, but they always find out. The truth always rises to the surface.” Sebastian’s sentiment sends a chill down my spine. I warm it with the remainder of the whiskey in my glass.
The empty tumbler hits the granite in time with the door opening behind us. All five of us turn to see Bethany, standing in the now open doorway with her hand still in the air.
The sight of her is enough to ease the tension in the room.
“You look like a deer in headlights,” Daniel comments and then waves her in.
“I’m sorry,” she says immediately, not moving an inch. “I didn’t mean to interrupt.”
“Were you planning on just sneaking around then?” Carter asks and grins at her. “We can pretend we didn’t see you if that’s the case.” The ice in his tumbler clinks as he brings it up to his smile and takes a sip.
The long sweater hangs loosely on her, but when she wraps her arms around herself, I can just barely make out the dip in her waist. With keys jingling in her hand, and seeing as how she’s slipped on leggings and boots, it’s obvious she’s heading out.
Doubt sinks its claws into me. Holding me in place as she stands there. Bethany’s wide eyes meet mine and she nearly turns around when I don’t say anything.
“Come meet my brothers,” I say loud enough to stop her in her tracks before she can run off completely.
She hesitates a moment and then walks to my side, her insecurity showing. The moment she’s beside me, I wrap my arm around her waist.
“I’m sorry,” she whispers although it’s not low enough that the rest of the guys wouldn’t hear.
“Guys, meet Bethany. Sebastian, Carter, Daniel and Declan.” I point at each of them one by one and she gives them a small, embarrassed wave. “Sebastian’s not blood, but still family,” Carter comments and then fills his glass and mine again. “Want a drink?” he offers her.
“That’s actually why I came in here,” she says and Daniel interrupts her by saying, “I like her already,” which gets agreeable laughter from the rest of the guys.
Her nerves are still high, no matter how much I run soothing circles along her back. Her voice is strained when she looks up at me and says, “I forgot I told a friend I was seeing her tonight. It’s the weekend. I was just going to head out.”
It’s more than obvious to not just me, but to all of the men standing here that she’s searching for permission.
It’s not like her, I wish they could see her. Really see her. I tell myself she just needs time.
“Have fun.” With that I smile down on her, not giving her any restraints. Seth and his men will watch her and inform me.
Blinking, she holds back the obvious questions that beg to be spoken. Instead she only nods and nearly says thank you, but those words turn into an, “Okay, I’ll see you tonight?”
My brothers and Sebastian say nothing, only observing and drinking. I know they’re judging, and I hate them for it.
I can see her need to run and before she can turn and leave me, I capture her lips with mine. Her lips are hard at first, and she utters a small protest of shock, right before she melts into me. Her lips soften and her hands move to my back when I deepen the kiss just slightly.
It doesn’t last long, but it lasts long enough to bring color to her cheeks. With her teeth sinking into her bottom lip, she smiles sweetly and barely glances at my brothers, giving them a wave before quickly walking away.
I leave the door open, watching her walk out of sight.
“She seemed nervous.”
“No shit,” Carter says and laughs off Declan’s comment at the same time Sebastian asks for another beer.
“What are you doing with her?” Carter asks me and everyone goes quiet. “It seems different from what you mentioned.” All eyes are on me as I stand alone.
I can feel all of their eyes on me, the questions piling on one after the other in their gazes. With my forearms on the cold, hard counter, my shoulders tense. I lower my gaze to my folded hands firmly placed on the granite.