But first, she needed another a certain person’s help…

Chapter Seven

Ethan couldn’t help shaking his head when he saw Thornton’s concentrated gaze fixed on his phone. For over one week already, his older brother had become a permanent fixture at breakfast, but Ethan knew better than to think Thornton was after his company.

From six to ten in the morning, all Thornton would do, aside from consuming his breakfast with mechanical efficiency, was access his shop’s real-time CCTV footage and watch Blake working. The man had it really bad, but because he knew of how the twins’ conversation turned out, Ethan also knew that Thornton was convinced his attraction towards Blake would gradually wane with time.

Ethan mentally shook his head. What. An. Idiot. If that were true at all, then he would have long gotten over Guila, with how the days they were apart vastly outnumbered the days they were together. And in the few instances they happened to be in the same continent, Ethan thought broodingly, most of their time was spent fighting rather than all the other things couples normally—

Buzz.

Ethan’s thoughts were cut short when he saw Arden from the cafe texting him.

Arden: Heads up. Elizabeth says you might want to let your brother know that some good-looking dude came by earlier, asking for directions to the bookshop. Says he’s a friend of B.

Ethan: Will do. Thanks.

He turned to his brother. “Thorn—”

“Fuck.”

Ethan was bemused at the way Thornton’s back suddenly shot straight in his seat just as his forehead creased in a frighteningly furious scowl. “What is it?”

“There’s some asshole at the shop,” Thornton said tersely. “Blake—”

“Knows him,” Ethan finished.

Thornton stared at him. “What?”

“Arden texted me. Says a guy came by at the cafe asking for directions to your shop.” While speaking, Ethan thought to take a peek at the real-time footage still playing on his brother’s phone—

Fuck.

Thornton saw the slight wince his younger brother made, and his gaze snapped back to his phone, just in time for him to see Blake pulling away from an embrace as she beamed up at the guy Ethan told him about.

“Fuck.”

No, man, Ethan thought. What you mean is you’re fucked. Because apparently, Blake was done waiting for his idiot brother to come to his senses.

“Knock knock.” The voice was mocking but familiar, and she would recognize it anywhere. Her lips had already formed a smile as she looked up, and as expected, it was Curt Teller who had just come in. He was his usual gorgeous self and every inch the self-assured FBI agent with his slicked-back hair, dark glasses, and black suit.

“Curt, oh my gosh! What are you doing here?” She was half-shrieking, half laughing, and all the while she was also quickly walking around the corner so she could throw her arms around her too-beautiful-for-words half-brother.

Pulling back, he gave his only sibling a long and thorough look as Frankie’s words echoed in his mind. It’s her first taste of heartbreak. You need to go up and check on her, let her know that she shouldn’t be pining away for undeserving jerks like her boss.

Blake noticed the odd way Curt was looking at her. “What is it?”

“Nothing.” Or rather, Frankie had warned him not to let his little sister in on their plan, which was to make a certain guy jealous…enough to hopefully force him into acknowledging his feelings.

And so for the rest of the day, Curt made sure to stick close to his sister, knowing that those who didn’t know about their filial relationship would likely misread the situation and think he was her lover…or wanted to be one.

At one point, they were eating lunch together when Curt saw bread crumbs on one corner of her mouth. A diabolical idea occurred to him then, and he shook his head, saying with mock disgust, “You still eat like a kid, B.”

“Huh?”

Taking hold of a napkin, he reached forward to wipe the crumbs off, knowing how such a gesture would appear on CCTV.

Curt stayed with his sister until closing time and insisted on waiting for her to finish locking up. When it was done, she told him apologetically, “I can’t invite you in without my boss’ permission, but if you let me know when you’re coming next time—”

“It’s fine, B.” Curt pulled her into his arms and pressed a kiss on her forehead. “Call me when you need me.”

“I will.”

His gaze narrowed. “Like you didn’t do when your grandmother had to sell her house and you had nowhere to go?”

“You were undercover,” she protested. “Letting you know about my problems could’ve distracted you and killed you—”

“If that happened, then that would mean I had to be one of the most inept agents hired by the FBI,” he told her dryly, ” in which case death would be more preferable—”

“Curt!”

“I’ve already informed the nursing home to forward all her bills to my address—” He saw Blake open her mouth to argue and gave her a warning look, saying firmly, “Amanda and I might not be related by blood, but I owe her for taking care of you when I couldn’t.”


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