Home > Everything for Us (The Bad Boys #3)(9)

Everything for Us (The Bad Boys #3)(9)
Author: M. Leighton

I sigh. There are so many complex sides to Nash. The more I learn about him and his past, the more questions I have. “It sounds like Nash has a legitimate reason to be upset, then. His father surely could’ve let him come home before now, once he realized there was no danger.”

“I think he was keeping as many aces up his sleeve as he could until all this played out.”

My head is beginning to hurt as I chase these thoughts round and round. “Well, maybe being back, being able to live his life and be with his family, will help smooth out those rough edges a little.”

“Maybe,” Olivia says, but I think she believes that’s possible just about as much as I do. Which is not possible at all. I think Nash is the way he is, and not much will change it at this point.

SEVEN

Nash

I let the silence in the car stretch on until I feel like Cash might be getting uncomfortable. That’s when I make my move. I want him off balance, unprepared. I want his knee-jerk reaction. I want honesty. I won’t settle for anything else, even if I have to beat it out of him.

“Who were you talking to on the phone this morning?”

At least he has the good sense not to bother trying to deny it. Or cover it up.

“Duffy.”

“Were you going to tell me about it? Or just keep that little detail to yourself?”

I feel my temper rising just talking about it, reliving the conversation I overheard and how angry it made me.

“Did you do this?” Cash had asked, obviously referring to someone wrecking me on his bike. But that wasn’t what made me so mad; it was that he immediately started making plans, taking matters into his own hands. Without even mentioning it to me.

“What the hell are we gonna do now? I have to make adjustments to protect the people I love.”

“There’s nothing to tell. I wanted to know if he had something to do with the hit on you. He said he didn’t.”

Even now, he’s not being totally straight with me. “And?”

“And nothing. That’s it. I believe him.”

“Really?” I say dryly, crossing my arms over my chest to keep from wrapping my hands around his throat and squeezing. I can’t remember if I’ve always found him this irritating and infuriating. If I did, it’s a wonder I didn’t kill him when we were younger. “You believe what the guy who killed our mother said? Just like that?”

“No, not ‘just like that.’ I just think it makes more sense that he wasn’t involved. Obviously, he’s still loyal to Dad. Why else would he have responded to the ad? And if Dad didn’t trust him, why would he have brought him to us? Duffy would have to be a freakin’ moron to go to all the trouble of responding to the ad, coming out to meet us, confessing all the shit he did, and then turn on us. He doesn’t strike me as that much of a dumbass.”

I guess he makes a good point. That would be pretty stupid. But that doesn’t make me feel any better about Duffy. “Even if he didn’t have something to do with it, I still think he’s a slimy bastard the world would be better off without.”

I hear Cash sigh. “Look, it’s not that I don’t agree with you. I mean, the guy killed Mom and would’ve kidnapped and killed Olivia. He’s a lowlife, no question. But if he can help us in any way to get rid of the whole problem, or at least most of it, I’m okay with keeping him around until after all is said and done.”

I glance over at Cash. I know my surprise registers on my face. “You sneaky son of a bitch. You’re gonna use him to help us and then kill him.”

“I’m not killing anybody,” is his only response. To me, that says he’s got someone else in mind to do it. Probably that monster of a friend of his, Gavin. That guy reminds me of some of the smugglers I’ve met over the years. Not men to be messed with. Some of them even put a little unease in me, which is saying a lot. There are some scary bastards out there!

I’m impressed and admittedly pleased to see a little of the old Cash showing through. Finally. In a way, we’ve almost switched places and it’s somehow comforting to see a glimpse of the reckless brother I used to know. Reckless and hotheaded. I’d be willing to bet Cash was like a wild animal right after the accident.

“How was it after Mom died?”

Between the abrupt change in subject and the new subject matter, I think I put Cash off balance again. And made him angry, too.

“How the hell do you think it was? It was awful.”

“I know that,” I say, exercising my patience. “I meant, how was it for you? You were kind of a loose cannon. I can’t imagine that you took it well. Did you go ballistic on some poor bastard you met at the bar?”

I see the muscle in his jaw clench as he thinks back. “Surprisingly, I didn’t. With all the buzz about Dad, it was like a circus for a while. It was like losing one parent and then watching the other one slowly dying. Then there were the accounting books, of course. I felt like I was holding plutonium for the first few weeks. And then there was your supposed death. I guess it was sort of a good thing that I had to pretend to be you. It kept me busy with . . . life until the trial was over and Dad was in prison. By then, I knew what I had to do and I focused on getting through school. And researching. I did lots and lots of research. Any big blowup I was going to have was just . . . over.” He falls quiet, and so do I. I’m trying to imagine what he went through, how it felt to lose almost everything. Put myself in his shoes. It’s not all that hard. In a way, I lost more than he did.

“You know, Nash, I never enjoyed pretending to be you, pretending to be the brother I could never compare to, never live up to. The person I missed like a . . . a . . . like my damn arm. Despite the accomplishments, I never once got any peace or pleasure from being you. Not once.”

“I’m not surprised. You were always the cool one, the one who got to have all the fun. I’d say pretending to be me was a lot like being in prison.”

“I didn’t say that,” he snaps. “I didn’t mean it like that. Look, man, I’m just saying that it wasn’t the picnic out here that you seem to think it was.”

“I don’t doubt it,” I say, deadpan. Cash’s head whips toward me, like he’s expecting to see sarcasm or bitterness on my face. And he’s ready for it. When he sees that I’m serious, that I’m sincere, he looks at first confused, then deflated.

After a few miles of silence, during which we both have time to think and calm down, to get our bearings again, he asks me the same question. I’m sure he’s curious and I’m sure he’s wanted to ask before now, but considering how mad I was at first, he probably didn’t want to stir up that shit and make it stink any worse.

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