“How long are you going to be here?” He surprised her with the change in topic.
“Two weeks. Three tops.” Taylor crossed her arms over her chest, the sinking feeling in her stomach increasing with the way his expression shut down even more with each word she uttered. “Just long enough to pack and store what won’t be sold with the house.”
“Your parents are selling Elliott House?” He was genuinely shocked. Apparently Teague had done a good job of hiding some of their dirty laundry from this town.
“Father isn’t coming back from his tacky love nest in Costa Rica, and Mother will not return to the scene of her public humiliation. Apparently, my father violated the most important marriage vow when he ran off with his paralegal.”
“What vow is that?”
“To be discreet.” She tried to curb the venom in her voice, but the situation of her parents’ divorce did nothing but piss her off with its sordidness. If their fake marriage hadn’t been enough cause for her to swear off relationships, the divorce sealed her dislike of the institution entirely.
“You don’t mean that.”
“Yes, I’m afraid I do. Not everyone grew up on Promised Land farm.”
That was a low blow. Ashamed, she bit her tongue to stop anything uglier from spilling from her lips. His parents’ marriage appeared to be one of the rare ones that was going to last, but his life hadn’t been perfect. Hurting him was the last thing she wanted to do—he’d seen enough pain in his lifetime.
She continued, speaking mainly to fill the heavy silence and make up for her foolish tongue. “I’m just here to get the house ready for sale so I can get my cut of the proceeds and go back to Hawaii to start my massage therapy business. There’s a tight window of time since my investment opportunity expires in a few weeks, but we’ve already got a couple of folks interested in the house so the Realtor believes it will be a quick sale.”
“There’s no chance of you staying in Elliott?”
“No.” This town held nothing but memories of how she’d been tricked into playing the part of the best little girl in the world—complete with matching sweater sets and the perfect fiancé. Every corner held a part of the past she’d spent seven years burying under a life lived on her own terms.
“So, you want a three-week booty call? Scratch an itch while you’re here in town?” Lucky shook his head, laughing roughly as he stooped to grab the duffel off the floor and headed down the hall, walking past her room to stop in front of Teague’s door.
She followed, knowing she wasn’t going to win him over tonight but taking the chance to plant seeds in his mind of what was on offer. She had three weeks to wear him down…
“Lucky, it would be more than that. We’re friends, not some random bar pickup.” She ducked under the arm he had propped against the doorframe, sidling up close but not touching. In the intimate circle created by their bodies, she dropped her voice, forcing him to lean down to catch her words. “It’s been a long time. I miss you.”
“What happened to the good girl who grew up in this house?” His voice was low, more of a growl than actual words, and she barely managed to keep her hands to herself with the heat it shot through her veins.
“I gave up being good a long time ago. You know that.” She risked trailing one finger down his chest, over the ridges of muscle on his abdomen, ending with a gentle tug on the waistband of his jeans and a fleeting caress of the hard-on just below. His sharp inhale of breath was her reward. “It isn’t like we haven’t shared a bed before. What’s the problem?”
“That wasn’t here in Elliott and it was before…” He stopped, pressing his lips into a firm line as if he forcefully kept the rest of his words from spilling out.
She didn’t ask the next logical question. She knew why it was different, and it scared the hell out of her. They wanted different things from what lived and breathed between them.
“Shit. I am in so much trouble.” He dropped his head to his chest, his dark laugh shaking his shoulders. “Your brother would kill me for even having this conversation with you.”