Crushed Page 55

Except I’m not digging the straight hair. I had the weirdest urge to muss it into its usual state of craziness all night.

Most especially when she sat there all prim and proper with Devon fucking Patterson.

My eyes swing around to see that he, too, is watching Chloe.

And from the thoughtful, admiring look on his face, I take it that he does like her hair all smooth and boring.


He lets out a little laugh and shakes his head as he reaches for her half-finished drink and dumps it into his. Then he points in the direction she just left. “You’re friends with her, right?”

“Sure,” I mutter.

“Any idea what the hell just happened?” he asks good-naturedly.

I’ve got a pretty damn good idea. I’m guessing from the low-cut shirt, sexy makeup, and socialite hairdo that Devon had suggested drinks with an old friend because he’s a bored, oblivious moron, whereas Chloe had thought she was finally getting her chance.

And the thing is, I don’t thinks she’s wrong. I see the way he looks at her. Talks to her.

But he played the chickenshit card tonight. Let her walk away when he should have pinned her against the wall and kissed her.

I feel fury rush to my knuckles at the thought. I push it away.

“No clue,” I say, grabbing a bar rag and wiping the newly vacated spot at the bar. “You’re the one who’s been friends with her forever.”

He takes a sip of his drink. “Never seen her act like that, though. Never seen her look like that, either.”

My fingers clench on the rag.

He takes another sip of his drink, watching me. I should definitely be getting back to my other customers, but for some reason, I stay.

“What’d she mean, we have a lot in common?” he asks.

I tense, even though his voice is merely curious, maybe a little bit amused.

Actually, brother, I think what she was referring to was D N fucking A.

I don’t say it. Obviously. It’s not the right time. Not even close.

And then it hits me.

Holy fuck, it hits me. There is never going to be a right time.

There’s never going to be a good time to tell a guy you hardly know that you’re his brother.

Never a good time to tell a man with a loving family that he knocked up a married woman a quarter century ago.

I toss my rag on the counter. “Hey, Blake,” I call. “I need to step out for a minute.”

“Um, sure,” he says, giving a slightly frazzled look at the ever-increasing crowd.

“I’ll be fast.”

I’m pretty sure this conversation won’t last long.

Then I shift my attention back to Devon. “Got a sec?”

He laughs. “What?”

“Two minutes,” I say.

His laugh fades as he studies my expression. And although he still looks puzzled, he finally shrugs. “All right.”

I head toward the front door, since the back door is for staff only and that area chronically smells like trash.

Once outside, I don’t bother to make sure he’s following; I merely walk toward my car at the edge of the parking lot.

I hear Devon whistle behind me. “Holy shit. This yours?”

I smile a little. Having someone ogle my baby never gets old. “Yup.”

“Jaguar F-TYPE.”

We’re standing shoulder to shoulder. “You know your cars.”

“Love ’em,” he says, circling. “Hey, don’t take this the wrong way, but how the hell does a bartender and sometime tennis pro afford this?”

I shove my hands into my back pockets. It’s an opening I hadn’t counted on.

I take it.

“I come from money,” I say unabashedly.

He lifts his eyebrows. “Must come from a shit ton of it.”

I nod once. “Yep.”

He straightens a little, maybe noticing something in my tone. “So why the hell are you spending your days lugging around a ball machine and your nights serving Bud?”

I rub a thumb over a nonexistent smudge on the hood of the car. “Had a falling-out with my parents.”

“Ah. Must have been a real shit storm.”

Here we go.

I force myself to look the guy in the eyes. “I found out that my dad isn’t actually my dad.”

Devon runs a hand over his jaw. “Ah, okay. That’s fucking rough, dude.”

I shove my hands back in my pockets. “And you’re wondering why the hell I’m telling you this.”

He grins. “Guilty. I know we’ve talked a couple times, but—”

“I came to Texas to find my biological father,” I interrupt.

He breaks off. Says nothing.

I don’t say anything, either.

I just watch him.

He watches me, waiting for me to explain further.

I don’t.

Devon’s head tilts back just slightly. “And you’re telling me this because …”

I continue to hold his stare.

“No,” he says. The word is quiet. Firm.

I watch as he looks at me more carefully. Looking for similarities to his father—our father. Looking for similarities to him.

“You’re fucked-up, St. Claire.”

I’m guessing the use of my last name is deliberate. I’m a St. Claire, not a Patterson.

Except I am. At least by blood.

And I can tell the second he realizes I’m not shitting around, because his face crumples for the slightest second before his features steel.

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