Home > Crave (The Gibson Boys #3)(14)

Crave (The Gibson Boys #3)(14)
Author: Adriana Locke

She lifts her chin to me, her eyelashes fluttering closed. She lays a hand on the center of my chest. Her fingers flex against the cotton material. If she feels how hard my heart’s ricocheting off my ribs, she ignores it.

My lips hover over hers. She inhales sharply right before we touch—

“Hey, Machlan! I told Navie … Oh, shit.”

Still holding Hadley’s face, I twist my gaze to Peck. He looks like he’s seen a ghost. Or his executioner.

“Are you fucking kidding me right now?” I growl. My eyes almost pop out of my head from the force of my teeth grinding together.

Peck stands there, mouth agape, but he’s shrouded in the red of my fury.

“Trust me when I say I had no idea we were about to walk in on that.” Peck gulps. “You’re gonna kill me now, aren’t you?”


Hadley slips from beneath my grasp and slides to the side. Immediately, I miss the softness of her skin, the warmth of her proximity. I want to jerk her back, swallow the excuse on the tip of her tongue, and kiss her like she needs to be kissed. Like I need to be kissed.

“Stop it,” Hadley says. She smooths out an imaginary wrinkle in her shirt and makes a point to stand a good few feet away. It’s not so much that point that boils my blood, but more of the wall I sense between us again.

She doesn’t look my way. Doesn’t acknowledge me at all, really. Just fixes her gaze on Peck and Navie and that’s what bothers me the most. That she doesn’t see me. That she can pretend she wasn’t just pressed against me and willing to let me touch her.

Damn it.

“I’m Hadley,” she says to Navie, clearing her throat.

Navie looks between Hadley, Peck, me, and back at Hadley with a curious bend of her brow. “I’m Navie. It’s nice to meet you.”

“I’m sorry. Things aren’t usually this awkward,” Hadley says.

Peck laughs. “She’s lying. They’re always this awkward between the two of them.”

I glare at him again. Everything inside me is lamenting the missed opportunity, and as I look at her, I’m not sure I’ll get it again.

“This should be fun.” Navie laughs, running a hand through her hair. “So on a different note, I just want to remind you that I have to be out of here early tonight, Machlan. I mentioned that a few weeks ago. Just wanted to make sure you remembered.”

“I can help out,” Hadley offers.

I don’t even look at her. “The fuck you can.”

“I work here now, remember?”

“The fuck you do.”

“I told Spencer—”

“I don’t give a rat’s ass what you told Spencer,” I say, turning to face her. “You don’t know the first thing about bartending, for one. For two, I’m not about to let you in here at night alone.”

“I can stay with her …” Peck gulps as I flash a look his way. “Forget I said anything.”

My chuckle is low and angry. But as I take in my cousin, I realize I’m not actually mad at him. Or at Hadley. I’m mad at me.

Something in my genetic makeup makes it impossible for me to ignore Hadley Jacobs. It’s like God created me with a chink in my armor, then He created her to fit that weakness, and I can’t get around it to save my fucking life.

As I look at her across the room, I can’t figure out what it is that lures me so hard. She’s beautiful, but I’ve seen women who are technically prettier. She’s smart, but I’ve met smarter. She’s funny but not quite as funny as she thinks she is. She’s good and honest, but even she holds secrets and most of them are with me.

That’s why I can’t just write her off. I’m bound to this woman by scars etched on both our hearts; scars we share with only each other.

I tune back into the conversation as Navie picks up the remote for the television above the bar. “I love poker,” she says.

“A lot of us meet up at Machlan’s a couple of times a month and play. You could come sometime, if you want,” Peck offers.

“Really?” Navie looks at me.

I just shrug.

“He cheats,” Hadley says.

“I do not.”

“You totally do,” she says. “You change the rules halfway through the game—”

“No, I don’t. You don’t know the rules and think I’m changing them when they don’t go your way.”

She puts a hand on her hips. “Then how do I beat you every time?”

“Because I let you.”

Navie’s laugh fills the bar. “You two sound like an old married couple.”

Hadley’s hand falls to the side as she flips me one final gaze. She starts off toward the back of the bar. “I asked him to marry me once. He rejected me, so that won’t be happening again.”

I hear Navie’s gasp and see Peck’s jaw drop out of the corner of my eye. I wait for Hadley to look over her shoulder, to give me some clue as to why she just said that in front of an audience, but she doesn’t. She just opens the door and lets it pop closed behind her.

My eyes close as I count to ten. I don’t get to four before my legs start toward the back door too.



My sneakers squeak on the asphalt as I pivot to make my way up the splintered staircase. Bursting up the rickety steps, the handrail wobbling in my palm, I make my way as quickly as I can to the apartment.

I have no idea what led me to admit that out loud—in front of Peck and Navie, no less—but my cheeks are hot to the touch as I step into the kitchen.

This is not how this was supposed to go. I’m not here to let him kiss me.

But oh, God, I wish he would’ve.

My phone lights up on the table, and Samuel’s name is on the screen with a text message. I walk right on by, leaving it untouched.

My hand touches the spot on my cheek where Machlan’s hand rested.

I’m an idiot.

The entire point of being here is to figure out how to forget the touches and smiles and kisses, not to create memories of more.

I reach for my sweatpants on the bed when the sound of someone barreling up the steps stops me in my tracks. My back to the door, I wait for Machlan. I don’t have to wait long.

The door opens, rocking against the wall and rattling a picture of an old man praying before dinner on the wall. His presence takes up the entire room.

I clutch the nightgown to my chest and wait for him to speak. When a few seconds pass and he doesn’t utter a word, I look at him over my shoulder.

His hair is all mussed up as though he ran his hands through it on the way up here. There aren’t lines bunching his forehead like I imagined. Instead, a softness tints his features that has me blowing out a thankful breath.

“That took about three seconds longer than I anticipated,” I say.

“What are you doing?” he asks, not humored by my observation.

“Getting my stuff together.”

“That’s not what I asked.”

“Um, actually, it is.”

We’re face to face, my sweatpants and sunshine from the open door the only things between us. My gaze drops to his right hand. My cheek tingles at the thought of him touching me. And when I look back up at him again, I know he knows what I was thinking.

He smiles carefully. “I told you to stay here.”

“It’s a bad idea, Mach.”


“Because of you. And me,” I add before he can object. “Look at us. One of us can’t even do something nice for the other without a fight.”

He considers this. “Yeah, you’re right.”

“I am? I mean, I am, but you agree with me?”

His gaze settles off into the distance. “Thank you for what you did with Spencer. I guess I should’ve led with that.”

“You think?”

“Oh, so you are blaming it on me?” He grins.

“I’m not blaming this,” I say, motioning between us, “on you. I’m just as much at fault.”

“This is your fault,” he says, motioning between us too.

“What? No. You touched me,” I say, tossing my sweatpants on my bag. “You broke the barrier.”

“And you came home, love.”

My knees go weak, and I grab the wall for support. I think it just slipped—him calling me love—but the glimmer in his eyes makes me consider otherwise.

I press my lips together, trying to get my head on straight. He shakes his head, a cheeky smile splitting his cheeks.

“Unless you want to be almost-kissed again, stop it,” he says.

I take a step back, but I can’t fight the smile on my face either. “I hate you.”

“Yeah. Sure looks like it.”

My phone rings from its spot on the table. It sounds louder than it’s ever sounded before and more urgent than it’s ever buzzed. Machlan side-eyes me as he leans forward and looks at the screen.

“Who’s Samuel?” he asks.

“A super nice guy who I’ve been dating.”

“You’re dating him?” He moves to pick up the phone.

“Don’t you dare.”

His hand stalls midair. “You’re dating him?” This time, there’s a gruff tone to his voice, a caution that pokes at my heart. He runs his tongue along the roof of his mouth as if going over a blueprint for war.

“No,” I admit. “I’m not currently dating him. We’re on a break.”


“Do you care?” I ask.

“Depends on the answer.”

He turns up the thermostat in my body with one pointed crook of his brow. I think I might melt to the floor as he leans against the wall and runs a hand up and down his bicep.

The colors of his tattoo draw me in, making it hard to look elsewhere. There are new designs etched in his skin, and I want to look closer. I want to drag my fingers down the designs and ask him why he chose each image.

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