Leti kisses Kale on the cheek, and Kale blushes almost as brightly as Mason had. I swallow another giggle, and Leti asks, “Now where’s Mom?”
He follows the scent of lasagna to the dining room, and my brothers helplessly trail after him. While everyone is distracted, I bump Kale with my hip.
“Told you he was cute,” I whisper, and Kale turns his “shut up” glare on me before pinching my arm and following Leti’s testosterone-filled conga line.
In the kitchen, my third-best friend kisses my mom. He kisses my dad. And at the table, he raises the bar.
“This lasagna is delicious, Dina,” he tells my mom. “Are you sure you’re not Italian?”
My mom chuckles and waves him off. I’m pretty sure it took Leti only two seconds and half a compliment to become her first-favorite person.
“Seriously,” he continues as he carves off another bite. He’s sitting next to me, at my mom’s end of the table, my three oldest brothers on the other side. “I had an ex who was Italian, but he didn’t make it even half this good.” Leti’s eyes swing to Mason, and a mischievous smile touches his lips. “He actually looked kind of like Mason. All big football-player muscles and bad-boy tattoos.” He leans in close to my mom and whispers loudly enough for the rest of the table to hear, “But he was kind of a nympho.”
My mother’s nose turns red, and I choke back my laughter.
“Was he the one with the weird fetish?” I ask even though I have no freaking clue who Leti is talking about and I have no idea if this person did or did not have a fetish. All I know is that Leti is making my family ridiculously uncomfortable, and I’m totally down for being his partner in crime.
He nods with his mouth full of lasagna. “Yeah.” An exaggerated chill shivers over his body as he continues chewing. “I’ll never look at Slinkies the same way again.”
This time, I actually do laugh, but only because I can’t help it. My entire family looks thoroughly disturbed—all except for Kale, who’s heard enough about Leti to guess what’s going on. He grins from down the table, enjoying the show and maybe the view.
“I had to break up with him after ‘the incident,’ ” Leti continues, holding everyone’s rapt attention. Even my dad can’t pull his eyes away.
“Oh God, the incident,” I echo.
“What incident?” Bryce makes the mistake of asking, and Leti shakes his head like he can’t bear to remember it.
“Let’s just say it involved a hot tub, some pop rocks, and a pineapple.”
Kale’s laughter booms from my left side, and I’m quick to join him, followed by Ryan and even my mom and dad.
Bryce just sits there with his eyebrows turned in and his mouth hanging open, a piece of lasagna dangerously close to dropping off the fork he’s holding in the air.
“Dude.” Leti laughs. “We’re just messing with you.”
“Wait . . . ” The lasagna plops onto his plate, but Bryce just stares around the table like we’re the ones who are missing something. “So then what was ‘the incident’?”
Even Mason can’t help but laugh at our brother’s expense, and by the time dinner is over, my entire side feels like it’s splitting in half and I’m pretty sure everyone is in love with Leti—Kale most of all.
“So, Leti,” Mason says after my dad has retired to the den and my mom is busy washing dishes. He leans back in his chair with his hands behind his buzzed head like he owns the place, his muscles threatening to split the shirt he’s wearing. “The guys in Kit’s band . . . they good guys?”
Ryan on Mason’s right, and Bryce on Mason’s left, both hang on the response Leti isn’t giving because I’m too busy interrupting him and digging my heel into his shin. In my rush to prepare him for my brothers in the car, I forgot to tell him the most important freaking thing: that they have no idea I’m in the same band we went to high school with. “Give it a rest, Mase. I already told you that Bill and Ty and the guys are great.”
Leti’s eyebrow lifts at me, and he responds without looking away or putting it down. “Yeah . . . Bill and Ty and the guys . . . stellar dudes.”
“Any of them hooking up with our sister?” Bryce asks, and even in my discomfort, I bark out a laugh and get cocky.
“Yeah, Bryce, because Leti would tell you even if they were.”
“So they are,” he accuses, and I roll my eyes.
Kale leans over the table to look past me to Leti. His chin is propped on his hand and his black hair is tumbling over his forehead. “Our brother is a little slow.”
He barely dodges a half-eaten biscotti when Bryce chucks it at his head. It explodes on the floor behind Kale’s chair, and Kale simply smirks and says, “Mom is going to kick your ass.”
“Language!” she shouts from the kitchen, and all of us laugh while Ryan gets up to pick up the pieces.
My oldest brother finishes finger-sweeping them up, drops them onto my napkin, and kisses the top of my head. With his hand on my shoulder, he says, “Stop giving them such a hard time. You know they’re only asking because they love you.”
Mason shoots me a triumphant grin and goes back to being a pain in my ass. “Any guys we need to worry about?” he asks Leti.
The answer is a face that springs into my mind. One with heart-crushing green eyes. Calloused fingertips. Black hair a shade lighter than mine. And a voice that’s still the last thing I hear at night, because it plays over and over again in my mind.