Home > Cross (The Gibson Boys #2.5)(14)

Cross (The Gibson Boys #2.5)(14)
Author: Adriana Locke

“I need time to think,” she says, her voice seeping with unshed tears. “I forgot what it’s like to date in a small town. It’s so damn hard.”

“It’s not hard if you love someone. You take the truth for the truth and the shit for what it is—shit.” My head nods as I pick up a clean towel. “I’ve never, ever cheated on you, Kal. Have I messed up? Sure. Should I have had Megan in my truck? Maybe not, but I’ve been alone for a long time and I forgot about dating in a small town too.”

“I hate this,” she says. “I hated the rumors then and I hate them now. Sitting there with Veronica acting like I don’t know some big secret is awful, Cross, and I’ve spent a lot of years in that position, whether you were really cheating on me or not. It hurts. It eats away at you.”

“And being accused over and over eats away at me too.” I wipe my face with the towel, scrubbing a little harder than necessary. “I can’t make you love me any more than you could change who I was back then. I changed because I wanted to, but I can’t make you love me if you don’t want to.”

Her tears fall. I want to go to her and hold her and kiss them away, but I don’t. I leave her to them. She’s the one who wants to believe a stupid-as-shit reason enough to warrant them falling.

The last time she cried in front of me, I didn’t see her again. The reality of that pain rips through my chest and it’s unbearable.

Before she can leave me again, I turn away from her and head into the back room.



“I told you.” Walker kicks back on the sofa in his living room with a look I’d like to knock off his face. While I’m ninety-five percent sure I could take him, the five percent isn’t a risk I want to take tonight. “If they wanna go, let ’em go.”

“This is such bullshit,” I spit out, grabbing a beer off the coffee table. “I didn’t do anything with Megan fucking McCarter. Not at any point in my life have I ever even touched her.”

“I have.” He grins. “But good choice not to—it’s not worth it.”

Every inch of my skin itches. It’s uncomfortable, making me feel like I need to move, to run, to rip something to shreds.

“I’m caught between a rock and a hard place,” I comment, more to the universe as a whole rather than to Walker specifically. “As pissed as I am right now, I know she’s the girl I was meant to have. If I don’t go after her, I’ll lose her, but if I do, doesn’t that make me look guilty? Or like a pussy? Or set the stage for a power vacuum in our relationship?”


“Yeah? That’s all you got?”

He turns off the football game and sighs. “Look, man, I’m not the best guy to go to for relationship advice…obviously.”

“You’re all I fucking have right now.”

“Oh, so I was the last resort?”

“No, Lance was the last resort. You are whatever falls before that.”

Walker laughs. “You’re not as dumb as I thought you were.”

“Here’s the difference between my situation and yours,” I tell him, bending forward and resting my elbows on my knees. “You didn’t care. I love her.”

“Love is such an overrated thing, Cross. What’s it really mean, anyway? How long does it last? Who the fuck knows. I’m with Sienna not because I love her, although I do, I’m sure, but because there’s no other option I can live with. Period. There are too many variables to make decisions based on love.”

“Maybe I don’t know what it is.”

“Know what what is?” Peck asks as he rounds the corner. “By the way, the alternator is changed on the SUV in the shop.”

“Do you knock?” Walker asks. “But good work on the SUV.”

“No, and thanks. Now, what are we talking about? You look so serious.”

I take a minute to fill Peck in, getting more irritated as I go. Before I’m finished, I see he’s side-eyeing Walker.

“First of all, whatever that jackass has told you, ignore it—all of it,” Peck says.

Walker shrugs. “He asked.”

“Second of all, you need to head that way now and apologize.”

“Me?” I bark. “I didn’t do anything.”

“And do you really want the rest of your life messed up because you were so worried about your ego that you wouldn’t apologize?”

I snort. “It’s not ego. It’s principle.”

“You can call it whatever you want, it’s the same damn thing. Either you want to feel like you have some high and mighty set of principles, which we all know you don’t, or you can get the girl—your pick. I’d pick her, because she’s really hot.”

Narrowing my eyes, I watch Peck laugh.

“Nah, not really because she’s hot, because she’s nice. She’s sweet. She gave you a second chance,” he throws in. When I don’t react, he stands. “Do what you want, but don’t come a-cryin’ to me when she’s at the bar with someone else.”

“I’ll kill them,” I snarl.

“Then avoid prison and go apologize.”

He tells Walker something about a transmission, but I can’t hear it over the roar of blood over my ears. Walker turns the television back on, but I can’t figure out who has the ball or what the score is because I’m mulling over Peck’s advice.

The thought of going home and never having her in my kitchen, in my bed, on my sofa again twists me up so bad I don’t even want to go. My phone sits in my pocket, and its failure to ring or buzz with a call or text from her hurts my heart.

I sit for a few more long minutes before I just can’t sit any longer. “I’m gonna go,” I tell Walker, standing. “May as well get a workout in since all I want to do is hit something.”

Walker doesn’t even look up. “Tell Kallie I said hi.”



The bags crunch as they hit the countertop, and Mom starts sorting through the groceries. She doesn’t even have to look at me to know something is wrong.

“Are you going to tell me or do you want me to guess?” she asks.

Curled up on a kitchen chair, my hair in a messy bun, I sniffle. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

“If you didn’t want to talk about it, you would be in your bedroom or driving around a back road, not sitting in the kitchen.”

Putting my feet on the floor, I straighten my shirt. I don’t know how to talk about this with my mother. She loves Cross maybe as much as she loves me, and I’m not sure her opinion will be unbiased. Yet, she’s my mom. I just need my mom.

“Did you date Daddy in a small town?” I ask.

Her hand stills in the air before she puts the jar of peanut butter in the cabinet. “We dated in Detroit, mostly. We were newlyweds when we moved down here. Why do you ask?”

“Nora and I went into Carlson’s today and Veronica told me Cross had a woman in his car today, buying lunch.”

“I see.” She turns around and leans against the counter. “Did you ask him if it was true?”

“Yes, and he admitted it.”

“He did?” she asks, surprised.

“He said she wouldn’t leave the gym and he had somewhere to be,” I say, testing the words out loud for the first time since I calmed down.

“Do you believe that?”

“Megan is that way, but he shouldn’t have had her in his truck.”

She takes a deep breath before turning back to her groceries. “I’m a little bit in shock.”

“Me too.” I sigh. “I hate this, Mom. I hate the way everyone gossips and almost sets you up to be a joke.”

“No one made a joke out of you.” She spins on her heel. “She made a tramp out of herself, but that’s the end of that.”

A flood of warmth trickles through my body as I watch my mother watch me. Just knowing she has my back and is in my corner helps—a lot.

“I left here because he wouldn’t grow up and I was sick of the gossip,” I remind her. “Then my ex in Indiana cheated on me, and now I’m back and it’s the same damn thing. Senseless drama. I hate it.”

“Then don’t buy into it, honey.”

“I don’t! I just want a love like in the movies. Is that too much to ask?”

“Movies are drama. Just pointing that out,” she says.

I roll my eyes. “I want the happy. The trust. The breakfast in bed and the flowers at work. I want that, Mom. Not all … this.”

She sticks a gallon of milk in the fridge, pausing. “Maybe what you’re seeing is how the world really works, Kal. I know you see pictures and movies of perfect little houses and marriages and friendships, but it’s not real. None of it. Real comes raw with other people’s influences and you can’t get out of that. It’s unavoidable. Life is a bitch.”

“Don’t I know it.”

“The key to happy relationships is trust. It’s the hardest thing to master, but if you can, it’s the secret key that opens a world you can never know otherwise.”

“But doesn’t trusting someone leave you exposed? They can stick a knife in you and twist it.” I wince, thinking that’s exactly how I felt this afternoon.

“Yeah, it does. It leaves you wide open, but you can’t get through that door without doing it. You just have to learn who you can trust and who you can’t.”

“So, basically, conquer Rome in a day? Got it.” Wiping the fog off my glass of ice water, I think back to Cross’s face. “He was mad at me, Mom. Can you believe that?”

“I’d be more worried if he wasn’t.”


A soft smile ghosts across her lips. “Maybe it insulted him that you would accuse him of something. Maybe he thought you knew him better than that.”

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