Home > Craft (The Gibson Boys #2)(6)

Craft (The Gibson Boys #2)(6)
Author: Adriana Locke

The tears I blink away aren’t for Eric, although that’s probably what Whitney thinks as she watches me. It’s for the little girl I’ll never know because her mother and I have been at odds since we were kids. Nothing I’ve ever done, no choice I’ve ever made, no clothes I’ve ever worn or way I’ve styled my hair has ever been good enough for Chrissy. Or my mother. There’s got to be some irony in the fact Eric was good enough for them.

“I saw the birth announcement in the paper,” Whitney says from behind me. “I know this sucks for you and I hate it. I’m sorry.”

My body sags with the weight of a broken heart. I loved Eric. I looked in his face and thought I saw my future. Then came the night he broke up with me with the generic line, “It’s not you, it’s me.” I knew it was bullshit. I knew there was something more. I just didn’t dream how bad it was.

“What is this?” I glance around my mother’s living room. Nothing appears out of the ordinary except for the two people sitting on the love seat. “Why is Eric here?”

My older sister, the one person in the world I’ve forgiven so many times, prayed for her friendship over and over, even idolized in the early parts of my life, reaches over and takes my ex-boyfriend’s hand in hers.

“We have something to tell you,” Chrissy says sweetly.

I didn’t listen to the rest. It may have been six weeks since Eric and I had broken up, but it still stung like a million beestings that he was with my sister. And my mother, standing by the doorway in a silent approval of this debauchery, knew it.

But that’s not the source of my heartbreak. Not really. The heartbreak lies in the answer to the questions I’ve always asked: will I ever be enough for my family? Will they ever take my side?

The answer is a resounding no.

The backs of my hands are streaked black with mascara as I wipe my eyes dry. “You’re right.” The flame in my chest starts to putter out; the smoke clears from my lungs. “If I sit here all weekend, I’m going to keep thinking about this and I refuse to do that to myself. I’ll go out. Want to be my dinner date?”

Her lips twist in a way that makes my stomach turn.

“What did you do?” I ask.

She grabs her jacket off the back of the chair and walks backwards to the front door. “You have a date with—”

“Whitney. You didn’t.”

“I did,” she winces. “He’s picking you up on Saturday night but he has a rotation earlier in the evening, so if he’s a few minutes late, cut him some slack. Wear something low-cut. He’s a breast man.”

I whirl a magazine in her direction, but it hits the door just as she shuts it behind her. The pages of the magazine shuffle as they hit the floor, my pride falling along with it.

She means well. She always does. But I don’t want to force myself through a conversation with a stranger and pretend to be interested in medical implements when I just want to grab a book and a mug of hot chocolate and not talk to anyone at all.

I wonder if I’d be more of a people person had I felt more self-assured growing up. It would be an interesting experiment. It took me a long time to find myself, to know I’m not everything my mother said I was. To understand that it’s okay I prefer country music over opera and drugstore over luxury brand cosmetics. I’m good with who I am. I just can’t help wishing my family were too.

Closing my eyes, I try to get comfortable with the idea of going on a blind date. The longer I think about it, the more awkward it feels. Having a conversation with a man I already know is hard enough. How do you have one with someone you’ve never met?

Lance’s face pops into my mind, his shit-eating grin tugging up the sides of my lips. He would say this is why you just sleep with them. There’s no talking involved.

Laughing out loud, I wonder who he’s with tonight. If it’s the girl he was speaking to in my office or another one. Maybe both.

He’s such a scoundrel but the difference between Lance and Eric is that Lance doesn’t hide it. Why that’s almost refreshing, I’m not sure. Either way, one thing is for sure: if Eric could inflict this much pain, a guy like Lance would destroy me.



Me: Fun fact—women overanalyze everything.

Nerdy Nurse: Not all women.

Me: No. All women. Every one I’ve ever met, anyway, and I’ve met a lot of them.

Sitting in my car just outside Crave, the local watering hole owned by my youngest brother, Machlan, I listen to the rain drip against the windshield. The texts are still coming in from my sister as she rails my ass for using a dating app to meet women.

According to Blaire, I should value my own worth as well as the worth of women more by doing it the old-fashioned way. When I explained that the worth we are going for involved lube and cock rings, she lost it. I think she was joking when she said I needed my head examined, but if a doctor calls with an appointment next week, I won’t be shocked.

Nerdy Nurse: Bad hook-up tonight? LOL

Me: Strangely, my sister.

Nerdy Nurse: You hooked-up with your sister? I’m out.

Laughing, I flip off the engine but don’t get out of the car.

Me: Very funny.

Nerdy Nurse: Here’s my fun fact for you for the night—don’t stick things where they don’t belong.

Me: Is that some kind of sexual warning? Not into anal? That kind of thing?

Nerdy Nurse: Speaking of anal …

Me: That’s my girl! :D

Nerdy Nurse: … I just watched a man have a candle removed from his anus.

Squirming in my seat, I try to imagine this and then decide I don’t want to.

Me: Sorry. Took me a minute to make sure I read that right. Can I ask why?

Nerdy Nurse: Apparently if you insert it and light the wick end (that you leave outside your anus), the wax provides some sort of erotic stimulation. I think the removal of the broken piece did not.

Me: You scare me.

Nerdy Nurse: Ha.

Glancing at the door to the bar, I contemplate just starting the car and going back home. Initially, I thought I could see if Megan McCarter was around and at least score a blow job, but the more I think about it, the more it feels meh.

Still, going home alone feels even less appetizing.

Me: Gotta go. Good luck with all that anal play.

Nerdy Nurse: You know it. ;)

Me: I’m glad we had this little convo.

Nerdy Nurse: Don’t get too excited.

As my laughter fills the car, I think it’s already a little too late for that.

Closing the app, I lock up and make my way down the sidewalk and into the bar. The lights are dim and the music quiet. Not what I hoped for or expected.

“Didn’t expect to see you tonight.” My brother Machlan looks at me from the other side of the bar, already reaching for the whiskey. He’s younger than me, the youngest in our family.

It’s pretty empty inside Crave, especially for a Friday night. I slide onto a stool toward the cash register and watch him make my Old Fashioned. I’m not much of a drinker, especially when I have a boatload of work to do at home. I just don’t feel like reading essays on Latin America tonight and I definitely can’t concentrate on them.

My brain is a clusterfuck of randomness. That is never a good thing.

“Bored, I guess,” I say, shrugging. “Do I need a reason to come in here?”

“Everybody has a reason to walk into a bar,” he laughs. “Some accept that reason and some don’t.”

“Look at you getting all philosophical.”

He slides the drink down the bar. It stops almost perfectly centered in front of me.

“Impressive,” I laugh, picking it up.

Machlan makes a face. “I learned it from Peck. It’s one of his weird parlor tricks.”

This isn’t hard to imagine. Peck, our cousin, is the resident jokester. He’s full of weird facts and unusual knowledge and can link toothpicks together with his mind. I’ve seen it done. Strange shit.

Still, he’s one of my favorite people in the world. Heart of gold, straight shooter, and he can talk his way out of, or into, anything.

“Glad to know he’s putting his time to good use,” I say, taking a sip of my drink.

“Who’s putting their time to good use?” Peck asks, hopping on the stool beside me. “Hey, Machlan. Can I get a beer?”

“No, fucker, you can’t. Your tab hasn’t been paid in a month.”

Peck throws his head back and sighs. “I don’t have my wallet and your brother almost killed me today. Cut me some slack, will ya?”

“What did Walker do?” I ask, wondering if Peck is exaggerating or if something happened. He works for Walker—the middle child out of us three Gibson boys—at his repair shop, Crank. My mother once had a recurring nightmare something happened to Walker in that shop.

“Nothing. He did nothing. That’s the problem,” Peck moans. “Sienna, God knows I love her, but when she’s around Walker is about as useful as tits on a nun.”

“Yeah, well, I can’t say I blame him,” I say, taking a longer swig this time. “Is it wrong to wish she’d have beat the hell out of my car just so I could’ve called dibs?”

“You better not be talking about what I think you’re talking about.” A large hand makes contact with the back of my head, sending me rocking forward. Just as I’m about to turn around and go toe-to-toe with whomever just smacked me, Walker sits on the other side of me. He eyes me with a seriousness that only Sienna can bring out in him. “Why are you talking about my lady?”

“It was your sidekick over here bringing her up.” I nod to Peck, rubbing the back of my head. “Touch me again and I’ll whip the shit out of you.”

He laughs, taking a beer from Machlan. “I’d love to see you try.”

“Watch this.” Machlan ambles to the other end of the bar and slides a beer down the wooden slats. It lands perfectly in front of Peck. “Nailed it.”

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