Home > Craft (The Gibson Boys #2)(17)

Craft (The Gibson Boys #2)(17)
Author: Adriana Locke

“You aren’t slipping.” Opening the door, I lean on it. “What’d you think of Mariah, Nana?”

She nearly beams. “I liked her a lot. I think she’s sweet and pretty and I love the way she looks at you.”

“What?” I ask, standing straight. “We’re not together.”

“Well, you can call it what you will.”

“We’re not,” I insist, maybe a touch too forcefully. “She’s a great girl, but she’s not for me.” Lies, lies, lies.

A hand flies to her hip. “And why not?”

The exact reason is one I haven’t ever discussed with her. I’ve only talked about it with Blaire and that’s just because she knew it before I did. I’m not sure how Nana would react to what I have to say besides throwing me a pity party and I don’t want that. Fuck that.

This isn’t about me. I’m fine with things. I made peace with that a long time ago. It isn’t about infecting others with my shit. It’s about not ruining other people’s lives because of my flaws.

“Look, Nana. I’m going to miss dinner, okay?”

She lifts a brow.

“I have some things to take care of.” I kiss her cheek and help her get settled in the car. “I’ll be there next week. Promise.”

We exchange a smile and I see the concern in her eyes. I hate it. I turn to go but stop when she calls my name.

“Yeah?” I ask, looking at her over my shoulder. Her silver hair shines in the early afternoon sunlight.

“Remember what the pastor said today,” she says. “Sometimes we search for happiness in the wrong places and in the wrong ways. Search simply, Lance. Don’t overcomplicate it.”

With a final smile, I head across the parking lot. The gravel crunches underfoot. As I climb in my car, I replay Nana’s words. Whiffs of Mariah’s perfume still linger in the air.

If only it were that simple, but this is anything but.



This was a stupid idea.

My forehead rests on the steering wheel. It’s too early in the day to second guess all of my life choices. Blowing out a breath, I look up. Peaches sits in front of me.

Inside is Nerdy Nurse, a woman I should’ve met at a hotel and just fucked the shit out of. Or stopped messing with as soon as it was apparent that wasn’t going to happen. But, no. I’ve been getting ridiculous lately. I let the exchange be about more than just sex.

This is why you keep it about sex.

Air whistles between my teeth as I grab my phone and begin typing away.

Me: Is this thing still on?

Nerdy Nurse: I’m here. Are you?

Me: In parking lot. Figured you might’ve bailed.

Nerdy Nurse: I ordered a drink. Thought you wouldn’t show up.

Me: Why wouldn’t I?

Nerdy Nurse: Wishful thinking?

Laughing aloud, I exit the car and lock it behind me. Something tickles my gut and makes me wish things didn’t have to end between us. I don’t understand why, but I like these little exchanges.

Crossing the parking lot, I pass the spot I parked in yesterday when I came inside to check out Mariah and her date. Just like that, my need to end this with Nerdy Nurse, at least until I get my cock on straight, comes roaring back. It’s not simple anymore. I might be losing my mind. I am feeling guilt. Until I get that shit under wraps and stop this infatuation with Mariah, I need to cool it. For all of us.

Me: I’m coming in. How do I find you?

Nerdy Nurse: I’m wearing a blue shirt. The color of your balls. ;)

Me: Nice.

Nerdy Nurse: I’m next to the drive-thru. You have about two minutes or I’m going to bail. My nerves are getting to me.

Me: Slow down, speedy. See you in a second.

The hostess is the same from yesterday and she greets me with a friendly smile. “Hey. How are you this afternoon?”

“Good. Just meeting a friend.” Sticking my keys in my pocket, I rock back on my heels. “Mind if I look around for her?”

“I’ll take you to her. No problem,” she says, grabbing a menu out of a little basket on the podium. “Did you come for the buffet? You won’t need this if you did.”

I must look at her like she’s insane because she backtracks. “I’m sorry. Lots of people come in on Sunday for the buffet. I just assumed.”

“Oh, that’s fine,” I tell her. My head is so scattered I’m putting things together that don’t belong together. “I’m not sure though about the buffet. Can I take a menu and think about it?”

“Sure. That’s what she said too.”

“I …” The inside of my cheek starts to burn as I work it between my teeth. Am I missing something? “Did she say she was looking for a clueless guy? Because I’m not sure how you know who I’m looking for.”

“She didn’t have to tell me. This isn’t my first day on the job,” she snorts. “Right this way, please.”

All I can figure as I follow her through the dining area is that she thinks I’m some kind of pimp. Meeting different women here—Mariah yesterday and she had just been with another guy and now Nerdy Nurse. This can’t look good. I’ll probably have the Feds at my door when I get home.

We round the corner toward the table from yesterday and things look even worse.

“What are you doing here?” I ask.

Mariah’s head whips to the side, her eyes bulging. “Oh, my God. Are you stalking me?”

“No, I’m not stalking you. I had no idea you were here.”

The hostess looks between us and backs away slowly.

“What a weird coincidence,” Mariah notes, looking around the restaurant. She nibbles her bottom lip, just like she did last night. And, just like last night, I want to pop it free and suck it between my teeth.

She’s beautiful with her hair up in a messy twist. The color of her silky shirt gives her a regal, sophisticated look. It’s the color of … my balls.

My head snaps to the drive-thru window. The very same window I sat outside last night when she sat here with Jonah. The same window Nerdy Nurse is sitting beside, waiting on me.




No. It can’t be. There’s no way.

“What are you doing here?” I ask.

She looks around again, forcing a swallow. “Meeting someone. But, you know what, I should probably just go.”


“No one.”

“Jonah?” I ask, although that isn’t the answer. She just needs to say it and confirm what I fear. Or hope. Or whatever this is that’s making a mess of my senses.

“Jonah? Hardly.”

Racing through every conversation we’ve ever had, I look for some inkling that she could be Nerdy Nurse. There’s nothing. Not one fraction of a reason to even consider it was her. She’s not a nurse. She doesn’t work in a hospital or on swing shifts. She doesn’t date men or look for quick sex—that I know of. If I’m wrong about the last one, I’m gonna be pissed.

“Let me ask you something,” I say. “Why did you wear that shirt?”

I can barely breathe as her eyes meet mine. She can’t be wondering if I’m History Hunk, although it’s a lot more obvious than her bullshit profile. But she couldn’t suspect me. Or does she?

“Why did you ask me that?” she gulps.


“I like the color.”


“I just do,” she says, exasperated. “Why are you asking me a million stupid questions?”

“Did it remind you of something?” I press.

She pales. Her phone clatters against the table. “Lance …”

My heart can’t decide whether to beat rapidly or to still altogether. It does some unnatural thing inside my chest reminiscent of dancing while drunk. It’s all wobbly and trippy and it pukes a little to boot.

“This can’t be real,” I say in disbelief. “There’s no damn way.”

She covers her face. The redness in her cheeks blazes around the creamy skin of her fingers. To give her some room to breathe, and so I don’t stand in front of her and shift back and forth like an idiot, I sit down across from her.

My brain might be confused, but my body is not. It’s rioting for me to touch her, kiss her, bend her over the goddamn table and do all the filthy, questionable things Nerdy Nurse and I have talked about.

Mariah and I have talked about.

Imagining those words coming out of her pretty little mouth makes me so hard I might explode.

“I’m so embarrassed.” It’s said so quietly I barely hear it. “I’m so, so embarrassed.”

“Why are you embarrassed?”

She refuses to answer me. Hell, she won’t even look at me. It’s like she’s frozen in place, mute to everything outside herself. The longer I watch her fight it, the more adorable this entire thing becomes.

It’s her. They’re both her.

Who knew when I took Nerdy Nurse’s words and pretended they were Mariah’s I was right. Wow. I’d say I was a lucky bastard except neither one of them want to sleep with me.

“Things would’ve been different had I known it was you sending me all those dirty things,” I admit. It’s said with as much levity as I can muster, but I’m not kidding. Not in the least. The mere thought of Mariah Malarkey discussing my cock in her mouth and the wetness of her pussy stirs something inside me I’m not sure I can fight.

“This is mortifying,” she moans.

“This is amazing.”

“Damn it, Lance.” She turns in her chair to pick up her purse. Every movement she makes is jilted, the scowl on her face cutting deep. Fuck that.

“Oh, no,” I tell her, swiping her phone off the table. It’s all I can think of to do to keep her from walking out. “You don’t get to ‘Damn it, Lance’ me.”

“Give me my phone.”

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