Home > Everything for Us (The Bad Boys #3)(15)

Everything for Us (The Bad Boys #3)(15)
Author: M. Leighton

I roll my eyes and exaggerate the insignificance of the event with a wave of my hand. “Meh, just a fund-raiser my father is convinced that I must attend.”

“With Nash,” Olivia chimes in. “The Nash they know.”

“But he’ll get over it. He needs to get it through his head that the Nash he knew is no longer . . . with us. Or with me.”

I avoid Cash’s eyes when he pushes past Nash and heads toward Olivia. I cast my eyes down, examining my fingernails, which have suddenly become very interesting. From the corner of my eye, I see him bend to cup her face and kiss her. Like he’s eradicating the image of us from her mind. When I glance back up, my eyes crash into Nash’s dark ones.

“Well, if you’re that anxious to prove yourself to your father, then take me. If you’re brave enough, that is.” The challenge is there in his eyes. He doesn’t believe I’ll do it. That I can do it. But why should he? I’ve wondered the very same thing myself. Am I strong enough to go against everything and everyone I’ve ever known? To abandon the only life I’ve ever lived? To thumb my nose at some of the most powerful people in Georgia law?

At this moment, proving a point to them doesn’t feel nearly as important as proving a point to Nash. The doubt in his eyes, the expression that says he thinks I’m full of crap . . .

“That sounds like a great idea,” I say impulsively, my stomach turning a flip at the thought of what I just agreed to. By not showing up with the Davenport they might expect to see me with, I’m proving three things: To Olivia, I’m proving that I’ll put her comfort (even though she says it doesn’t bother her) above my own; to my father and practically everyone I know, I’m proving that I no longer put society and my father’s wants ahead of my own; and to myself, I’m proving that I’m strong. Stronger than I was. Strong enough to go against the grain.

“I’m sure the old Nash has something appropriate for the real Nash to wear, right?” he asks. His eyes stay locked on mine, even as he addresses his brother. Cash answers from my left.

“Yeah, but you can’t go as Nash. We need to keep things under wraps for a little while longer, until we can get this shit straightened out and get some bastards thrown in jail.”

“So what, go as Cash? Masquerade as the devil-may-care, wild-card owner of a nightclub? Out for a night with the decent folks, like a charity case, on the arm of his plastic trophy girlfriend? This should be fun.”

Although I know his venom stems from his inability to get past the life he feels like his brother stole, still, his words hurt. Does he really think I’m plastic? Or that I’m a trophy girlfriend? Some mindless piece of fluff?

“Don’t think that’s permission for you to go and make me into a spectacle. You still have to act like you’ve got some sense. Stirring up a public shitstorm won’t exactly do us any favors.”

“I’m not an idiot, brother. Hell, I’m even potty-trained. I won’t fu—screw it up,” he amends. He catches himself before he finishes the thought. I’ve noticed him doing that—curbing his colorful language. I can’t imagine why, but it seems almost in deference to the females in the room. Like a gentlemanly gesture. It’s incongruous, such thoughtful and nearly tender respect coming from someone who appears to be anything but thoughtful and tender. Against my will, another seed of hope takes root in my heart. No doubt it’s dangerous territory I’m in, but . . . I’m helpless to stop now. Helpless. “I won’t screw it up. Don’t forget I used to be the sensible, responsible one. Just because you—”

“I know, I know,” Cash interrupts testily. “I wasn’t saying you aren’t. It was just a reminder. That’s all.”

The tension between the two brothers makes me nervous. I feel like, at any moment, they might tear into each other in a very physical way. And there would be nothing I could do, of course. I mean, they’re both humongous. There was a reason Cash never needed a bouncer at his club when he was working. He never came across anyone he couldn’t handle. Or any two or three he couldn’t handle. He told me that himself. As Nash, of course, but still . . .

I’m relieved and strangely encouraged when Nash bites his tongue and ignores Cash’s sharp response.

“So what time are we talking about here?” Nash asks, turning his attention back to me.

“I’ll have to find out the details, but last year I attended this same charity event and they structured it like an auction. Kind of a fun, gimmicky thing. It started with bidding on hors d’oeuvres then on to seats around tables featuring certain local celebrities. It started at seven thirty, I think, so I’m guessing somewhere along those lines this year, too.”

Nash takes his cell phone out of his pocket and looks at the screen, presumably to find out what time it is. He nods and looks back up at me. “That’ll be fine. I’ve got some things to do in the meantime. Pick you up at seven?”

“That sounds good. If you’ll give me your number, I can text you if the time is different.”

He punches some numbers into his phone and I hear mine buzz an alert a few seconds later. He doesn’t look at me again as I reach for my phone but addresses Cash instead.

“Can I borrow your car again?”

“Can you drop us back at the club?”

“Yes.”

“You’ll be okay the rest of the afternoon?” Olivia asks me.

“Of course. I’m going to go through my closet for a dress and then give myself a spa day, I think. You know, decompress before I have to deal with Daddy and all his cronies.”

Olivia doesn’t look entirely convinced. “If you’re sure . . .”

“I’m positive. You two go. Enjoy your day.”

“I’ll be back here to stay tonight.”

“Olivia,” Cash begins in warning.

She tosses him a withering look, and he sighs and turns away, shaking his head.

“We’ll be back here tonight. I don’t want you staying by yourself until this is over.”

“I told you I’d stay,” Nash growls from his spot near the front door. He didn’t move very far into the room. “Don’t you people listen?”

“See?” Cash says to Olivia.

Olivia turns her skeptical gaze to me. “That’s up to Marissa.”

A quiver works its way through the lowest part of my stomach when I think of the way Nash woke this morning. Of course, he’ll likely sleep in Olivia’s bed if they aren’t in it.

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