Series: The Gibson Boys #2.5
Author: Adriana Locke
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: May 25, 2018
Cross Jacobs was a screw-up.
Everyone knew it, especially him, and the point was hammered home when Kallie Welch drove herself right out of his life.
But, sheâs back.
Seeing Cross wasnât on Kallieâs to-do list. She didnât think she could avoid him forever but trying never hurt anyone. One minute sheâs standing by herself and the next sheâs accosted by a rich, velvety scent that could only belong to one man: Cross.
At face value, heâs divine. All rugged and confident with a smile that melts her right where sheâs standing. It doesnât take long to find him to be charming, witty, and the owner of a few legitimate businesses. Not at all like the mischievous boy she left.
He laughs and her heart flutters. With a touch of his hand, sheâs dizzy. Sheâs fairly certain sheâs going to die when he pulls her into an embrace and touches his lips to her forehead.
It feels right. It feels so right.
But is it?
Note: This novella was originally released in the Team Player Anthology last winter. It has been updated a bit with a few new chapters to round out the story.
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âWhere have you been in that thing?â Machlan shouts.
The roar of his muscle carâs engine winds down and he clicks the transmission into park. The purplish-black paint shines in the early afternoon sun.
Having just backed out of a parking spot onto Main Street, I check my rearview mirror. No one is coming. âBluebird Hill,â I tell him. âAfter all that rain last night, I figured Iâd test the new tires Walker put on my truck last week.â
âYouâre a fuckinâ kid.â He laughs.
âSays the man driving that,â I tease, pointing at his ride.
âIâm not sure what your point is. This car is the baddest thing in town.â He punches the gas, the motor roaring like a banshee.
Glancing around at Doc Burnsâ office with two cars in the parking lot and the Linton County History Museum across the street that only opens for the Water Festival once a year, I grin. âThatâs not saying much.â
âGo to Hell.â His hand slips through his dark hair and over his chin. The amusement in his features evaporates as I watch â¦ and cringe.
I know this look. I know all of his looks, actually, a by-product of being his best friend as long as I can remember. Many of them concern me and a lot of them worry me. But this one? Itâs a flashing red sign with Vegas-inspired lights.
The thing is, I canât just ignore it. When this look comes, so does the topic of my sister and, even though I love the both of them, I wouldnât mind seeing them in a padded room until they fix whatever it is between them that is so broken.
With a sigh, I jam my truck into park too. âYes,â I say, answering the question heâs yet to ask. âHadley called and isnât coming home this weekend. She said maybe next week.â
His jaw works back and forth as he stares down the street. âWhy?â
That single word is spit with a lifetime of emotion. Machlan has loved my sister since the day she moved to Linton with our father and me when our mother died. She was fourteen and innocent and he was fifteen and infatuated. Through the years, they were off and on and together and notâat least officially. Everyone knew Machlan and Hadley were one and the same.
Iâm not sure why she moved away from here. Being both her brother and his best friend precluded me from certain information, which is for the best. They both drive me nuts without having the details.
âNot sure,â I reply. âShe left a voicemail last night saying she wouldnât be home today. She didnât pick up when I called her back.â
He flips his gaze to me. âYou didnât talk to her after that?â
âSheâs a big girl, Mach,â I mock. âIâm sure she had shit to do.â
âYeah.â His fingers regrip the steering wheel as his jaw goes back to work again.
âIâm gonna go wash this before I head back to the gymââ
âSheâs all right, though. Right?â he interrupts. His face is stone-cold sober. âI mean â¦â
He waits. Blinks. Re-grips the wheel again. âThatâs it?â
Popping my truck into drive, I blow out a breath. âYeah, thatâs it. You want to know more? Call her. What a fucking amazing concept.â
âYeah. Iâll get right on that,â he snips back.
âYou should. Then you could quit this whole thing.â
âGot nothinâ to quit, man. Just being a decent guy.â
A decent guy. Itâs my turn to turn my knuckles white on the steering wheel.
Machlan isnât a decent guy. Heâs a fucking great one â¦ much better than the guy Hadley is seeing now. A guy I havenât mentioned to Mach since I got home a couple of weeks ago from visiting her. Iâm not mentioning him, either. Iâll save the boyfriend an ER bill and myself the bail money.
I canât blame him. It has to be hard to see Hadley with another guy when, in Machlanâs mind, sheâs his girl.
My stomach twists like it always does when my mind goes down this road. At least my girl didnât bring other guys back with her. Hell, she didnât even come back at all.
âHere comes Kip,â Machlan says, bringing me out of my reverie. Nodding toward the road in front of him, he laughs. âIâm not moving.â
I twist in my seat to see the sheriff coming toward us. He blares the siren twice as if to get us to move. We donât.
Machlan pokes his head out of the window. âNeed somethinâ?â he shouts.
Laughing, I watch Kipâs car slide carefully between Machlanâs and the curb on the other side.
âYou canât park in the street!â Kip yells.
âWhat are ya gonna do about it?â I holler.
âTake ya both in.â
âDonât you have somewhere to be?â Machlan asks. âSomeone to protect and serve? Or service, if I know you?â
Kip shakes his head as Machlan flips him the bird. The sirens come on again before Kip hits the gas and speeds off down the street and vanishes over the hill.
When I look back at Machlan, his attention is on his phone.
âWhat?â I ask, curious about the smile on his face.
He looks at me and laughs. Sticking the phone in the cup holder, he shrugs. âNothing. But can you do me a favor?â
âI need help moving a couple of things at Crave. Come help me. Just for a few.â
âWhatâs in it for me?â I ask.
Throwing the truck in neutral, I rev the engine. It barely sounds before his is screaming over top of mine and we jet off in opposite directions. I get to a stop sign at the end of the street and do a quick one-eighty to head to Crave.
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USA Today Bestselling author Adriana Locke lives and breathes books. After years of slightly obsessive relationships with the flawed bad boys created by other authors, Adriana has created her own.
She resides in the Midwest with her husband, sons, and two dogs. She spends a large amount of time playing with her kids, drinking coffee, and cooking. You can find her outside if the weather's nice and there's always a piece of candy in her pocket.
For sneak peeks, giveaways, and more, please join Adriana's Facebook Group, Books by Adriana Locke, or her Goodreads group, All Locked Up.