Home > Very Bad Things (Briarcrest Academy #1)(16)

Very Bad Things (Briarcrest Academy #1)(16)
Author: Ilsa Madden-Mills

What the fuck? Was I jealous of my brother?

After breakfast was ready, I stayed silent while Sebastian jumped into being the perfect host, making her a plate piled high with toast, strawberries, and bacon. He gave her silverware and a napkin and then poured her orange juice. He even pulled the stool out for her.

I’d never seen him so solicitous.

Finally, he stopped hovering and sat down beside her. As he ate, he kept shooting her little smirks, and she’d grin back. When she ran out of bacon, he jumped up to get her more. And as he sat back down, I noticed that he scooted his seat a bit closer to hers. He leaned down and whispered something in her ear, and I slammed my coffee down hard, splashing most of it all over the bar.

“Okay, bro?” he asked, his eyebrow cocked.

My mouth tightened. “Fine. Just fine,” I said, getting up to grab some paper towels. I wiped up the mess, angry at myself for losing control. For wanting what I couldn’t have.

“I like your tattoos,” she said after I sat back down, her eyes flicking over me. “I didn’t see this one last night,” she said, pointing at the writing I had wrapped around my left wrist. “Rachel and Joel,” she read quietly. “Your parents’ names, right?”

“Yes,” I said.

She bit her lip and gave me a cute smile. “Can I see the dragon on your chest again? It’s incredible.”

I faltered, thinking how ridiculous it’d be to take my tank off in the kitchen, but I couldn’t say no to her. At that moment, I would have done anything to make her smile like that again.

“I’ve got more on my back,” I said, taking off my tank and showing her where I had Sebastian’s name and birth date written on my left shoulder blade. “Sebastian Tyler Tate,” she recited.

When I faced her, she studied the dragon that lay across my heart, making my pulse kick up.

“He’s gorgeous,” she said, staring at the large tat for so long I began to feel hot. She finally looked up at me and said, “His eyes are blue just like yours. And he’s fierce and breathing fire, yet he doesn’t seem scary to me.”

I nodded, pleased at her words. “Yeah, he’s an eastern dragon, the ones with the snake-like bodies. His colors symbolize courage and protection of loved ones.”

“I like it,” she murmured, and I pictured her touching it, caressing the green scales, licking the red flames . . .

“You interested in getting a tat?” Sebastian asked her, pulling her attention away from me and yanking me back to the present.

She shrugged. “My friend Mila and I are going to check out this new place a couple of blocks over today. You can come with if you want,” she said, looking at both of us.

I shook my head and took a deep breath. Here it was. My chance to make sure she knew where I stood with her. “Nope, got a date with someone at the park,” I said, picking my shirt back up and slipping it on.

Sebastian scowled. “Tiffany?”

“Just eat, Sebastian.”

He huffed and murmured out something, but I couldn’t understand it, which was probably just as well. Tiffany was not his favorite person.

“Who’s Tiffany?” Nora asked.

“A girl I’m seeing,” I told her, holding her gaze and keeping my face cool. I had to set her straight, and if exaggerating about my relationship with Tiffany was the way to do it, then I would.

She stared down at her plate. “Oh.”

She seemed disappointed, but it had to be done. But then I remembered her list where she’d written about having meaningless sex. Was she really going to screw any guy she could? And now that I had told her no, would she go for Sebastian? I glared at them both, imagining her taking her clothes off for him.

“Tiffany’s a real sweetheart,” Sebastian said with a sarcastic smirk. “Not the sharpest tool in the shed, but hey, she is pretty.”

Nora picked at her fingernails and shrugged. “Pretty’s good. Smart isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.”

“Let me see your fingers,” Sebastian said, reaching out and taking her hand.

“Why?” she asked, letting him take it.

“The BA brochure said you’d taken piano for years. I can tell. You’ve got the calluses to prove it. So maybe you could play for us sometime?” he said.

She shrugged.

“Sebastian, can you start clearing the table, please?” I said, giving him a hard look as he still held her hand. The same one I’d held last night.

“In a minute, bro,” he dismissed me, not looking away from Nora. Speaking to her, he said, “Our family has always been into music . . .” He paused. “Our parents are dead.”

Nora nodded. “Yeah, Leo told me.”

Sebastian straightened up like he’d been poked in the ribs and looked at me in surprise. He dropped her hand. “You told her about mom and dad?”

I nodded.

He looked quizzically from me to Nora. “Really?” he asked me again, like I was lying.

I clenched my teeth together. “Yes.”

He trained his eyes on me then Nora, scrutinizing us, jumping from one to the other, seeming to be deep in thought. Finally, he nodded as if he’d just figured something out. He laughed a little to himself, like he knew a joke we didn’t.

He continued, “Anyway. So instead of sending me off to live with some distant cousins when they died, he gave up his band and college so he could be a full-time dad.”

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