It hurt until it didn’t. Because eventually, all I felt was pissed the fuck off.
“I CAN’T BELIEVE you called him scrawny,” Leti says from the far side of my tiny apartment. I’m busy tossing things into a suitcase, and he’s busy studying my wall full of pictures—of my family, of big shows I’ve been to, of the band.
At Dee’s birthday party last night, I sat next to Shawn, had a little bit too much to drink, and . . . yeah, I called him scrawny. And I poked his bicep to prove my point, even though it did the opposite. I pulled my finger away, hating him for being so fucking perfect I could hardly stand it.
Leti shoots me a grin over his shoulder. “So cold, Tourni-Kit.”
“He is scrawny,” I insist. And smart. And funny. And hot.
“And hot,” he counters, and an image of Shawn pops into my mind: the way he looked when he was loading Dee’s things into a moving van. The way his lean muscles flexed under his T-shirt. The way the heather-gray cotton clung to his skin. The way sweat beaded at his temples.
I hated it so much, I couldn’t stop staring.
“You think everyone’s hot,” I scoff.
“Only rock stars,” Leti fibs.
“And my brothers.”
I glance at him out of the corner of my eye, and the smile he shoots me is all trouble.
Tonight, I’m dragging him along to my family’s Sunday dinner, then driving him to his parents’ place and spending the night before coming back to town. Because maybe a few cities’ worth of distance will help me forget about Shawn. Even if only for five freaking minutes.
Leti returns his attention to my picture-wall and whistles. “Your brothers are even hotter than you are.”
I throw a dirty shirt at him and continue rifling through my things.
“Tall, dark, and handsome. Mmm, mmm, mmm. Are any of them gay?”
The pair of socks I’m holding freezes in midair for a moment before finishing its journey into my suitcase, and Leti misses nothing.
“Silence,” he observes too quickly. “Iiinteresting, Kitana.”
“Huh?” I say to recover, pretending I hadn’t heard him.
“So which one?” One corner of his mouth lifts into an intrigued little smirk.
“What are you talking about?”
Leti turns back toward the picture-wall, his sunshine-yellow Felix the Cat T-shirt hanging loose between broad shoulders. “My guess would be this one that looks like he just broke out of prison,” he says, and I don’t need to join him at the wall to know he’s talking about Mason. “He looks like he’s overcompensating for something.”
I snort out a laugh, and Leti continues guessing.
“Or maybe it’s this one. Who’s this?” When I finally walk to stand beside him, he’s pointing right at Kale.
“That’s Kale,” I answer, and then I casually continue going down the line of brothers standing in the picture, arms around each other and smiles on their faces. “And that’s Bryce. That’s Mason. And that’s Ryan.”
“So which one, Kitastrophe? Or am I going to have to guess?”
I chuckle and retreat to my bed. “Still don’t know what you think you know, but please, try to guess.”
He continues guessing until my bag is packed, and during the hour-long ride, I warn him all about my family. I’d already told him how offensively they behaved at the dinner when I told them I’d made a gay friend, but I think that only made him want to come home with me even more. And when we step inside my house, he proves it. My brothers are expecting us, and when they flock to the front door from different corners of the house to greet me, Leti’s one-man performance begins.
“You must be Mason,” he says before wrapping my most intimidating brother in a fearless hug. My jaw drops to the foyer floor, Mason’s brows turn in with something between shock and confusion, and Leti tightens his squeeze. “Kit’s told me so much about you.”
I glance at Kale over Mason’s shoulder, and his black eyes are just as wide as mine. He looks at me, I look at him, and our mouths mirror each other as the corners tip up . . . up . . . up. We’re kids on Christmas morning, watching Leti as he ends the hug with a firm kiss on Mason’s cheek. He leaves my hulk of a brother stunned, like he’s not sure if he wants to punch Leti in the face or apologize for not hugging him back, and I have to resist the urge to jump up and down while applauding the show. Leti is getting even—for me, for himself, for the entire gay community—and I am so, so on board.
I hold back an ecstatic giggle when it dawns on Bryce that he missed his opportunity to escape. But then it’s too late, because Leti’s arms are around him. “And you must be Bryce.”
Another kiss, another set of traumatized dark eyes, and then Ryan is in Leti’s arms next, but at least he has the decency to lift his arm and hug Leti back. I smile with approval.
“Nice to meet you, man. Kit’s told us a ton about you too.”
Leti pulls away and grins. “Ryan, right?”
Ryan nods and claps Leti on the shoulder, and then Leti is turning to Kale.
“And Kale,” Leti says, smiling at my twin before stepping in to give him a hug. He wraps his arms around my brother, and I find myself wanting to squeal again, but for entirely new reasons. They look so good together—both tall, both fit, both cute as hell. Leti’s arms wrap around my brother easily, and Kale hesitates for only a moment before hugging him back. “It’s good to finally meet you.”