He kissed her again, brutally, briskly, a punctuation to his words instead of a lover’s caress. “No. No. We’ll figure something out.”

They stared at each other.

“Not to intrude, but I hope you have a plan, boy genius,” Jack said from the front seat, breaking the tension.

“I do.” Lucky met Jack’s eye in the rearview mirror. “We’re going to get Eddie his money.”

Chapter Twenty-Three

Spreadsheets never lied, and the one in front of Taylor contained the brutal truth.

Taking a gulp of coffee, she grimaced at the cold, bitter brew. A glance at the carafe told her she was now drinking the dregs—how appropriate for her mood. She turned back to the screen, adding in a couple different numbers and frowning when the situation didn’t get any better.

“Knock. Knock.”

Taylor turned toward the doorway of the Elliott House library to see her brother standing there. In the two days since the smackdown at the Southern Comfort, they’d called an uneasy truce. Teague refused to apologize to Lucky—“He should’ve never laid a hand on you”—and ignored all of Lucky’s attempts to talk it out. Forgiving her for keeping the secret from him was easier since they were blood, and he still had the old-fashioned notion that Lucky had seduced her. She supposed that the twenty-first century was very hard on her brother.

“Hey Teague.” She motioned him into the room.

“I looked over the documents from your Hawaiian investors and they’re good to go.” He strolled closer, placing the envelope containing the contracts on the table next her computer. He shoved his hands in his pockets, chewing on his inner cheek as he pondered whatever was on his mind.

“Spit it out, big brother.”

“I thought you were staying.” The remaining questions hung in the air between them.

“I was. I am.” She corrected herself with a shake of the head. Her mother’s warning kept playing in a continuous loop in her head, and the deadline to sign the Hawaii deal was getting closer with every moment that passed. She motioned to the computer and the papers lying all over the desk. “I don’t know. I’m trying to work out the numbers.”

Teague touched a spreadsheet, glancing up for approval before he picked it up for examination. His hazel eyes ran over the columns, his frown deepening when he got to the dismal bottom line.

He tossed the papers back on the table, running a hand over his stubbled chin—the rasp of his whiskers against his palm accentuating his frustration

“Shit, Taylor. I’d lend you the cash, but I don’t have it.”

“I know you would.” She flopped back in the chair, chewing on the pen in her hand and lost in thought for a few moments. When she looked up, Teague was staring at her.

“What?” she asked.

“You could ask Father for the money.”

“No way. Not ever going to happen.” There was no way she was going to ask him for a dime. Besides, his little gold digger was so busy spending it, he’d need every penny.

“Okay.” He took a breath and plunged in, as if he needed to say it quickly or not at all. “Then, maybe you should go back to Hawaii.”

“You just don’t want me to be with Lucky.” Her reply was bitter and blunt. She wasn’t in the mood to dance around this forever.

“You’re right, I don’t.”

She opened her mouth to protest, tell him to butt the hell out, but he halted her speech with his hand.

“Hear me out. Lucky is my friend—I want to kick his ass for even touching you, but he’s been my friend as long as I can remember. That’s how I know what he’s like with women. He treats them well but he doesn’t stick.” He leaned against the desk, the slap of his palm on the desk punctuating his frustration and anger. “I know he’s committed to buying Promised Land, but I wonder how long it will take for him to get bored, pack up, and go back his old life.”

“That’s not going to happen.”

Lucky’s voice boomed from the doorway, making them both jump. She bit back a sigh at the sight of him. He was just so vibrant and alive—a force of nature that sucked all the air out of the room. Long and lean, tattoos peeking out from underneath the short sleeves of his T-shirt, firm jaw dusted with a five o’clock shadow, and very kissable. Things had been strained between them the last few days, and she wasn’t sure how to bridge the gap. They’d talked, but not about what was really on their minds.

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