He stops typing again and watches me for a moment before answering. I don’t drop my gaze.
“I love her like a sister. I know her, inside and out, and would do just about anything for her. She’s probably one of the best people I know. She had a shit day, and needed a hug. So I gave her one.”
She had a shit day. And I added to it, no doubt.
“I’m sorry that I misunderstood.”
Blake leans back in his chair and steeples his fingers together. “You’re interested.”
“I’ve been interested for a long while,” I admit, and rub my hand over my mouth in agitation. “She’s made it clear that she doesn’t return the sentiment.”
“Hmm.” He focuses on something over my shoulder, briefly lost in thought. “It’s not a bad idea.”
“You and Alecia.”
“Did you not just hear what I said?” I shake my head and turn my attention to my phone, pulling up my notes for the family reunion. “So, a white and a red—”
“Alecia says no to everyone,” he interrupts. “She’s not quick to trust. But I think you would be good together.”
“Thank you so much for your approval,” I reply dryly.
“Oh, you’ll need it,” he says perfectly calmly. “Because without it, you’d be fucked.”
I simply stare at him, waiting for him to continue.
“Alecia doesn’t have contact with her family. I’m it. If I didn’t like you, it would be a no-go.”
“It’s a no-go anyway. She’s. Not. Interested.”
He shrugs and returns to his computer. “Seems to me a girl like Alecia might be worth a little extra effort.”
The anger and frustration is swift. Extra effort? I’ve tried to get her to go out with me for a fucking year. The answer is always the same: thank you, but no.
I hate hearing that fucking word. No.
“Hey, handsome brother!” Jules grins, her blonde hair loose around her pretty face. She’s wearing a flowy, red sundress and looks amazing.
“Ciao, bella,” I reply and kiss her cheek.
“Me too!” Natalie says and leans in to kiss me, then presses herself against me for a long hug.
Along with four brothers and all of their beautiful women, I gained two beautiful sisters as well. Natalie, like me, was brought into the fold later in life, after her own parents were killed in an accident. It seems the Montgomerys enjoy adding to their brood.
“Ciao, cara,” I whisper into her ear. Her dark hair has been braided down her back. She’s in jeans and a tank top, looking happy and beautiful. “To what do I owe the honor of being invited to lunch with you two?”
“We just wanted to see you,” Natalie replies innocently.
“What she means is,” Jules begins as she gives the menu a quick look, tosses it on the table, and then leans toward me, her elbows planted on the wrought iron. “We need dirt.”
“Dirt?” I chuckle, and set my menu aside as well.
“We don’t know you well enough.”
“You’ve known me for more than a year, bella. We’ve spent quite a lot of time together.”
“You’re going to scare him off,” Natalie says in a sing-songy voice, glaring at Jules, making me chuckle. These two are funny.
“Oh, for fuck’s sake.” Jules rolls her eyes. “I’m not going to scare him off.”
“Depends on where this is going,” I reply dryly, but can’t keep the smile from my face.
“You’re so handsome,” Natalie says, and smiles softly as she watches me. “I love your dimple.”
“Now you just want something.”
“He’s gotten good at the brother thing,” Jules says to Natalie, making my heart stop.
I hope so.
“So, we’re your sisters,” Natalie says as Jules nods. “And we love you.”
“I love you, too,” I murmur, already softening. My God, if I’d grown up with them, I would have been wrapped around their fingers from the moment I laid eyes on them.
Who am I kidding? I have been wrapped around their fingers since I laid eyes on them. Both of them, along with all of the women in this amazing family.
“You know that anything you need is yours. Just say it.”
“Oh, you’re sweet,” Jules says, as the waitress sets waters on the table.
“Yes, he is,” the waitress says and winks at me. “Is he available?”
“Well—” Nat begins, but I interrupt her.
“Too bad. Sorry it took me a minute, the patio is always busy when it’s nice out like this. What can I getcha?”
We order drinks and when she’s gone, I gaze back and forth between the girls.
“We really did just want to chat and see you,” Natalie says, and lays her small hand over my arm. “We don’t get much alone time with you.”
“And we need dirt.”
“Jules!” Natalie laughs in frustration.
“What kind of dirt do you want?”
I sip my water and choke when Jules replies with, “Are you fucking anyone?”
“Are you trying to kill him?” Natalie demands, and pats me hard on the back as I cough.
“What the hell?” I ask, and push the water far away from me. I think I need something much stronger and reach for the wine list, satisfied when I see Mama Salvatore wines listed.
“Well, you’ve always been very hush-hush about your sex life, and I know you’re not celibate, so I want to know.” Jules shrugs as if this is the most normal conversation in the world, and Natalie offers me a smile, but doesn’t try to deter Jules from her line of questioning.
“I don’t think I’m going to have this conversation with you,” I reply slowly. No way, no how.
“Why?” Jules asks with a tilt to the head.
“Because you’re my sisters.”
“Yes, but we’re adults. We have sex. We both have babies, for the love of baby Jesus.”
Natalie nods and thanks the waitress when she delivers our drinks. I order a glass of the merlot from my vineyard and we order our entrees as well.
“Let’s change the subject,” I suggest.
“Killjoy,” Jules mutters, making me laugh.
“How are things with Alecia?” Natalie asks.
I’m just going to be reminded of Alecia everywhere I go today.
“There are no things with Alecia,” I reply.