Beneath These Scars (Page 64)

Yve snapped her fingers and they looked up. “You, plates. You, napkins and cups. We’ll take flatware.” They didn’t move. “Now,” she added, and the boys sprang into action.

“You’re a general, aren’t you?” I said, a smile tugging on my lips.

“I get shit done,” she replied and then pointed to the pile of silverware. “You take forks, I’ve got spoons and knives.”

“Yes, ma’am.” I wasn’t going to argue.

“That’s right.” Yve winked, her saucy grin in place. It slid away when Lord crossed the room.

“What the hell are you doing here?” He looked at Yve and jerked his head at me. “Not you, him.”

“Are you going to make this a thing?” I asked. Keeping up the nice-guy act was starting to wear.

“Just didn’t expect to see him back here again so soon.”

“Lord—”

I placed a hand on Yve’s arm. “I can fight my own battles.”

She stared stubbornly back at me. “And so can I.”

Lord’s deep laugh boomed through the gym. “Looks like you don’t need me to start shit. You two have that covered on your own.”

Yve glared at him. “Do you want us to go?”

He shook his head. “No. But Con may drag him back into the ring before I let him leave. They’ve still got a score to settle.”

I opened my mouth to retort, but Yve stepped in front of me. “Don’t even think about it. We’re here for the kids tonight, and nothing else matters.”

A foreign feeling took up residence in my chest at Yve’s defense of me—a sense of belonging. How strange that I should feel it standing in a building full of people who had their own reasons to hate me.

Lord crossed his arms. “Fair enough. But I’m going to enjoy like hell eating off a table that Lucas Titan lowered himself to help set.”

I bit back a fuck you solely because of the boys watching us like we were the fight of the century. I said nothing, and instead wrapped my arm around Yve and pulled her close.

“Consider it our way of paying for our meal. I wouldn’t want something for nothing, after all.”

An argument broke out on the other side of the room, catching Lord’s attention.

“Shit. I’ll be back.”

“Don’t hurry,” I said, not bothering to lower my voice.

Yve poked an elbow into my side. “Leave it.”

I looked down at her. “I’m not exactly sure when you got the idea that I would back down from anything, but you need to reset that expectation, love.” Her eyes widened, but I pulled her to the table. “Let’s get this finished before Con shows up to gloat.”

DINNER GOT OFF TO A rocky start, but it finished more smoothly. Yeah, the guys threw barely concealed barbs at each other, but no blood was shed, so I considered it a win.

I was still reeling over Lucas’s term of endearment. Love. What the hell did that mean? Was that just some weird slip? Did it mean anything at all?

As if I wasn’t already confused enough, it just threw me for another loop. I thought about it for the rest of the evening, and continued mulling it over when I’d gone to bed alone because Lucas had some work to take care of. And it was still on my mind when I’d woken up once again with him wrapped around me. It sure beat worrying about whether someone—Jay, namely—might be out to get me.

And I was still thinking about it now, a week later, at Dirty Dog. I hadn’t seen Lucas much over the last seven days. He was working on some crazy big project, and had meetings constantly and calls that kept him up half the night.

Occasionally I’d wake up to him climbing in bed with me, and I’d take advantage of the opportunity. One night he’d found me swimming in the pool and had talked me into skinny-dipping instead of doing laps.

We’d settled into an odd, but easy, pattern. I did my thing, he did his, and when I’d least expect it¸ he’d show up at the shop, lunch or coffee in hand, and spend a half hour talking business, making sexual innuendos that I’d collect on later with a dirty-text booty call, or arguing with me about letting him take care of something I wanted to handle myself, like my insurance situation. He was still Lucas Titan—bossy, arrogant, and sexy as hell—but he was becoming so much more.

The insurance company kept asking me if I’d settled on another place to live, but I’d been dodging the question. I needed to decide soon. I couldn’t stay with Lucas much longer. It would be crazy, regardless of how much I was strangely enjoying him helping me out. And that grip I had on my heart? It was getting dicey.

And so was my bid to buy Dirty Dog. I hung up the phone. I’d just left Harriet another voice mail. She’d apparently left the country for a landscape painting class in France and wasn’t answering her messages. I didn’t have a solid plan, but I had a couple of ideas that would work if she were open to them. Lucas had given me a crash course in the business of mergers and acquisitions a few nights ago when we’d had a rare dinner together. The man’s body was sexy, but his brain—even sexier.

The door chimed and I looked up, expecting another group of the tourists who’d been a constant stream today. But it wasn’t someone wearing beads with a hurricane in hand. No, it was a man in a slick suit, skinny black tie, and shoes that probably cost more than the vintage Dolce & Gabbana cocktail dress I’d just priced and put out on the dress form.

Ryder Colson. I still remembered his name, and the cheap way his long, slow examination made me feel. Lucas’s number two in command.