Home > Crave (The Gibson Boys #3)(4)

Crave (The Gibson Boys #3)(4)
Author: Adriana Locke

“Oh, like your little claim that you didn’t come looking for me? You did, Had. Why?”

Instead of getting in the car and putting some distance between the two of us—as any reasonable, logical person would do—I lean against the door. My lungs fill with air, my senses picking up the hint of mint on his breath as he blows out a lungful of air of his own.

My body stills, my mind slows, as I’m settled by Machlan’s proximity. His eyes soften, the lines in his forehead smoothen, and the tender part of him that makes my life so complicated wraps itself around my heart.

“You want to know why I’m here?” I ask, finding my resolve. “I’m here to hate you.”

His laugh is immediate. “Don’t you already hate me?”

“Not enough.”

His laughter trickles away. He takes me in, searching my face for some answer to a question I don’t know. I shiver, and it has nothing to do with the crispness of the air and everything to do with the heat of his gaze.

After what feels like entirely too long and not nearly long enough, he sighs. “Did you really think I was going to serve you a drink?”

My shoulders sink. “I don’t know. Maybe.”

“You don’t really drink, do you? I mean, you haven’t been gone that long.”

“I’ve not actually lived here for a year and a half.”

He runs a hand down his scruff-lined jaw. “It doesn’t feel that long. Then again,” he reconsiders, his eyes softening, “it feels like a lifetime.”

Our gazes crash together, propelled by enough memories to sink us both. I know exactly what he means. On one hand, it seems as if we haven’t missed a beat. But, on the other, it feels as though there’s a drift between us that’s deeper than ever.

“It’s been long enough for a lot things to change,” I say. “I’m sure they’ve changed for you too.”

“I …”

A car pulls up beside us and slows to a stop. I glance over to see Lance, the oldest of the three Gibson boys.

“Well, what do we have here?” he asks.

“Hey, Lance,” I say.

“Hey, Had. I didn’t know you were coming home.” He glances at Machlan. “Did you forget to mention it?”

“No one knew,” I interject. “Cross doesn’t even know I’m home yet.”

“But you’re here. With Mach.” Lance’s brows pull together. “I need some help here, guys. Have you had the fight yet? Or are we still gearing up to it? I can go inside and wait with Peck, if that’s better.”

“Fuck you,” Machlan says.

Lance laughs and pops his car into drive. “Good to see ya, Had.” The car starts down the road, but he looks out the window at his brother. “I’ll grab some tequila for later!”

I take advantage of Machlan’s diverted attention and climb into the driver’s seat. I don’t get the door shut before he’s in the way. Again.

When he grips the doorframe and leans inside the car, there’s no ignoring his presence. Even if I wanted to, the way my body hums would be enough to remind me every half a second he’s here. It’s always been that way with him. I bet it always will be.

“What?” I ask.

“You said you got a new job?”

“Yeah.” I give him a small, genuine smile. “I start on the first.”

“In Vigo?”

I nod.

He nods too. “I guess that makes sense since you live there and all.”

“I’m excited. It’s a lot faster paced than where I worked before.”

“Did you not like it there?”

“No, I did. I just …” I look at the sky. I don’t want him to feel bad about my choice of words, but I’m not sure how to phrase them. “I really need something fresh. To go a new direction. These past few years have been rough and …”

My voice trails off as I watch Machlan absorb the weight of the words. I can see it in the way he shifts his weight and in the way his shoulders fall. It’s probably because he’s the only one who’s privy to all the things those words mean.

“I, um, I think that’s great.” He clears his throat. He leans away, looking over my head in a blank stare. “Anybody would be lucky to have you around.”

“Thanks.” The word is a whisper. Anything more would be impossible around the lump in my throat. “I appreciate that, Mach.”

We exchange a soft smile before he releases the doorframe.

“You going to Cross’s?” he asks.

“Later,” I say, starting the engine.

I don’t want to leave on a sweet note that I’ll think about all night. I’ll have a hard enough time sleeping the way it is.

“Later?” he asks, furrowing his brow. “Where are you going now?”

“Who knows?” He glares as I reach for the door. “Probably to get a drink first.”

“Don’t fuck with me, Hadley.”

I yank on the door but stop it before it shuts all the way. “Don’t fuck with me, Machlan.”

He steps away as the engine roars to life. There’s no doubt he’s annoyed, but he’s amused too.

As I pull away, I’m annoyed at his incessant need to take over when I’m around. But I’m a little amused too.

All his behavior stems from a really good place. It’s not that hard to remember that. Despite our problems and miscommunications and all of that, he’s always been one thing: loyal.

Whether I wanted to or not, I could call him for anything. Maybe it wouldn’t be the best idea, but he would do anything for me.

Everything but one thing.

The one thing that matters more than them all.



“Kallie, let me help you.” I start to push back my chair before my brother’s girlfriend waves me off.

“Don’t you even think about it. Sit. Relax.” The dishwasher swings shut with a bang. “I’m going to jump in the shower and leave you two alone for a bit.”

She walks by the table where Cross and I are sitting and stops briefly to press a kiss to the top of his head. He gazes up at her with a soft smile and watches until she rounds the corner.

Settling back in my chair, my stomach full of Kallie’s meatloaf and mashed potatoes, I watch my older brother. I never thought I’d see him like this—content and happy in a way that seems to come from the purest, sweetest spot. I study him, wondering what a look like that feels like on the inside.

He lifts a glass of ice water but doesn’t bring it to his lips. “What?”


“That look is not nothing.”

I sigh and pick at the hemline of my shirt, hoping Kallie comes back in and needs Cross for some random task. Anything to get me out of this topic.

It’s funny in a not-so-funny way that Cross settled down before me. On one hand, he was the wild one between the two of us. When I came to live with him and Dad after our mother died, I couldn’t believe how much he got away with. Late nights. Less-than-stellar grades. A best friend who oozed trouble. On the other, I was the good girl. The book nerd. The one who beat curfew by five minutes. All indications pointed to me having my life in order way before my brother. Yet here we are in Cross and Kallie’s house while my life is a disaster.

I’ve spent way too many years pushing in the wrong directions. It wasn’t until my ex-boyfriend, Samuel, brought up marriage a couple of times that I realized how much trouble I was in.

I hated my job. I loathed my apartment. And I didn’t love the man I’d spent almost a year with.

What kind of life is that?

When I saw a website on his computer about wedding proposals, all I could see was the next sixty years of my life that I didn’t want. And when I tried to envision the life I did, it kept coming back to one thing. One man. Machlan.

“I was thinking about how happy you are,” I say. “I haven’t seen you this way in a long time, Cross. Maybe ever.”

He sets the glass down. The ice cubes clink together as the water swishes around. “You know, that’s true. When I was with Kallie before, I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t in a place to appreciate being in this place. If that makes any sense.”

“Kind of.”

“I’m kind of glad things didn’t work out with us until now. It wouldn’t have been as good then.”

“You were kids.”

“We were kids.” He parts his lips as though he’s about to say something else but doesn’t. His head cocks to the side.

I have the distinct feeling this conversation is segueing to a topic I’m not ready to talk about yet.

I glance at the ceiling and study the little swirls that take the place of the popcorn that was there the last time I was here.

“New ceilings?” I ask.

“How did you notice that?”

“Well, if you remember, the last time I was here, Machlan stopped by and a piece of the popcorn fell into his drink …”

Cross nods. “And you told him you hoped he got asbestos.”

“Not one of my finer moments,” I mumble. “Anyway, the ceiling looks nice. I love the swirls.”

As Cross gets up and refills his water glass, probably giving me a minute to bring up seeing Machlan, I wonder if it would be possible to get up and leave. To not answer his questions. To avoid the full reason I came home—to get advice from my brother and deal with Machlan once and for all—and go.

Before I can get to my feet, Cross is sitting in front of me.

“Okay,” he says. “Let’s do this.”

“Um, let’s do what?”

“Someone said you went to Crave tonight.”

My forehead rests on the edge of the table. The wood is smooth from years of wear, and I wish I could somehow melt into it and become invisible.

“That someone is named Peck, huh?” I ask.

“Yeah, maybe.”

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