Only with You (The Best Mistake #1) - Page 12

Both he and Sophie glanced at Brynn, who was suddenly extremely preoccupied with her phone.

“You didn’t tell them?” Gray asked, looking unbearably awkward.

Oh, Brynny, what did you do?

“No, no, of course we were expecting you!” Sophie lied, taking pity on him and patting the chair between herself and Brynn.

Gray sat, looking stiff as usual. Despite the fact that they were in a grubby little pub, he hadn’t bothered to change out of his suit and looked painfully out of place.

“Look, if the double-date thing is uncomfortable, we can call it off,” Gray said, glancing at Sophie.

“No, no. Not at all. It’ll be nice to get to know each other better,” she said lamely.

He looked vaguely queasy at the notion. “I’ll need a drink,” Gray said, glancing desperately at the bar.

He walked away and Sophie dug her nails into her sister’s arm. “You seem to have neglected to mention that the double date was tonight.”

Brynn’s pale blue eyes pleaded with her. “A tiny omission, and only because I knew you’d say no. Please? I just thought that maybe he might loosen up a bit more around you and Will. When it’s just the two of us, he’s always so…guarded.”

Sophie didn’t have the heart to tell Brynn that “guarded” was simply who Gray was. Barbara Walters could take a shot at him and he wouldn’t crack.

“Where’s Will?” Gray asked, returning to the table with a beer.

“Oh, you know…he’s over there,” Sophie said, waving her hand over her shoulder.

She winced as Gray’s eyes found her “date.” She didn’t have to turn around to know that her best friend probably had his hand on some twenty-year-old’s thigh.

“I probably should have told you that Sophie and Will aren’t exactly together,” Brynn said hurriedly.

“I know. Sophie already told me.”

Brynn’s head snapped back slightly and her forehead showed the briefest ripple before resuming its usual smooth perfection.

Sophie felt a wince of sympathy for her sister. Gray was a workaholic, which meant that no matter how many flowers Brynn received, Sophie was still the one who would be spending more time with him. Not a fact that control-freak Brynn would take kindly to.

Still, Sophie’s sympathy had limits. After all, this entire mess was Brynn’s own fault. If she hadn’t gone meddling in Sophie’s unemployment status, then they wouldn’t be in this awkward situation.

Sophie noticed that Brynn had barely touched her second glass of champagne, and was pressing her fingers into her temple. Apparently her little headache wasn’t so little.

“Are you all right?” Gray asked, putting a hand gently on Brynn’s shoulder.

Brynn gave a pathetic excuse for a smile and shook her head. “Just a sinus headache or something. I’m thinking maybe you all were right. This wasn’t my best idea.”

“You think?” Sophie said under her breath.

“I’m sorry about this,” Brynn said weakly. “Maybe we should call it a night?”

Sophie glanced at her almost-full gin and tonic. “You guys go ahead. I’ll stay and finish my drink. Plus I’ll need to be Will’s second if one of those girls’ daddies comes after him with a shotgun.”

“Let’s get you into a cab,” Gray said to Brynn, helping her to her feet. “You shouldn’t be driving if your headache’s that bad.”

“You don’t have your car?” she asked.

Gray shook his head. “I walked. I only live two blocks away.”

“Oh, I didn’t realize,” Brynn murmured before shooting a nervous glance at Sophie.

Sophie pretended fascination with the football game on TV, trying not to react to what Brynn had just given away.

Brynn doesn’t know where he lives. She’s never been to his house. Never been in his bed…

Still, it didn’t necessarily mean what Sophie hoped it meant. Could be that they’d only done the nasty at Brynn’s town house.

Brynn’s eyes fell on Gray’s untouched drink. “You know, why don’t you stay?” she said in her bossiest voice. “You haven’t even had a chance to drink your beer.”

“At least let me get you into the cab,” he said stiffly.

Will materialized out of nowhere. “I’ll drive her home.”

Brynn sneered. “If you think I’m going to climb into your little identity crisis of a car, you’re insane. I’ll probably get an STD just from touching the seat belt.”

“Yeah, because a cab is such a better option to avoid nasty diseases,” Will said as he plucked Brynn’s coat from the back of her chair. “C’mon, it’ll give you a chance to critique my driving, and I know how turned on you get by nagging.”

Brynn bit her lip, looking unsure of herself. She glanced at Gray, but as usual, his expression was a blank mask.

“Take Will up on it,” Sophie urged. “It’s pouring out, so you’ll have a hard time finding a cab anyway.”

“Fine,” Brynn conceded. “But I get to pick the radio station, and we are not talking.”

“Which sucks because I was so hoping to hear all about your Valentine’s Day plans,” Will snapped. “Let’s go, I wanna get out of here before the Barbies over there realize I’m not going over to their place to play strip darts.”

Sophie looked away as Gray and Brynn said good-bye. She thought she saw a tepid cheek-kiss out of the corner of her eye, but couldn’t be sure. She waved after Brynn and Will, and watched as Gray resumed his seat and grabbed his beer.

“We can do separate tables if you want,” Sophie said. “I didn’t mean to trap you into spending more time with me than you have to.”

He lifted a shoulder, but didn’t seem to be anxiously glancing around for an escape route. She waited for her own compulsion to put distance between them to kick in, but the urge never came. Sophie almost smiled. Who would have thought that merely tolerating sitting at the same table with another person could be described as “progress”?

“So,” she said, taking a sip of her drink, “things between you and Brynn, they seem…you know…well, how are they?”

He gave her a look. “Don’t push it. No chatter.”

Sophie mimed zipping her lips. “Got it. Brynn talk is strictly off-limits…So your sister called the office today. Jenna? She seems nice. You never mentioned what she—”

“Sophie,” Gray interrupted.

“Yeah?”

“When we were trapped in that elevator, I asked you if we could be quiet and not talk. You said no.”

She nodded. “Right. Because I am not a mime.”

“Well, the thing is…” He looked at her, then looked away. “I’m asking you again. Can we sit here and not talk? Maybe catch this football game? People-watch?”

Sophie set her glass down with a sharp clink. “If you want me to leave, you can just say so.”

This time he met her eyes. “That’s the thing. I don’t want you to leave. I want…company. But, you know, quiet company. Can you do that?”

Caught off guard, she looked at him more closely, taking in the strained creases around his eyes and the atypical wrinkles in his suit jacket. But it was the soft expression in his eyes that got to her. She felt something kind of warm and melty rush through her belly. Must be the gin.

But what if it wasn’t the gin?

Oh dear.

Feeling off-balance, she found herself nodding. “Okay. Quiet company it is.”

Gray didn’t bother to hide the relief that flickered across his tense features. He shrugged off his suit jacket, and Sophie did her best to stare at the TV screen instead of his exposed forearms as he rolled his shirt up to his elbows. The more-casual Gray unnerved her.

Her mouth felt dry and she swallowed nervously. She couldn’t help it. She didn’t even know what she was going to say, she had to fill the silence. “So, have you ever wondered—”

Gray learned forward slightly, setting a finger gently across her lips to stop her words. He looked surprised by his own action, and then gave the smallest shake of his head.

“Okay,” she whispered, unable to look away from his stare. The corner of his mouth turned up slightly. Sophie began to sweat. When had it become so freaking hot in the pub?

Then he turned slightly, and the moment was over. Gray put all of his attention on the TV screen, and Sophie let out a breath and tried to do the same.

She didn’t know how long they sat there in companionable silence, but it got easier the longer they did. He wordlessly fetched them another round of drinks, and instead of feeling bored and panicked, she felt…content.

This is weird, she thought. I’m playing the silent game with my boss.

But then she found herself smiling.

Because it was also kind of nice.

CHAPTER SEVEN

Does this little toy car of yours have heated seats?” Brynn asked as she peered at the fancy buttons of his sports car.

Wordlessly Will punched a button and turned his attention back to the road. Brynn studied him out of the corner of

her eye. They might not get along, but she’d known him long enough to know that silence and Will were never a good combination. Her body went on high alert.

“You shouldn’t have offered me a ride if you were going to sulk the entire time,” she said.

“Had I known you were going to chatter the whole way, I probably wouldn’t have offered.”

Brynn straightened her shoulders and gazed out of the passenger window and tried not to let his words sting. He’d never made a secret that he didn’t like her, but she couldn’t quite understand why her company was so repellant to him. And she really couldn’t understand why someone as open, loving, and sweet as her younger sister had befriended such a selfish oaf. His entire existence revolved around casual sex and business ventures. He had zero substance.

“I don’t understand why Sophie loves that bar so much,” Brynn mused as she stared out at the line of red brake lights on either side of them. “It’s so out of the way.”

Will made a sharp turn to take a side-street detour, and Brynn braced her hand against the dash, surprised by sudden movement. She was about to nag him for driving like a freaking NASCAR driver when his outburst obliterated the sullen silence.

“Don’t you ever get tired of being selfish?” he exploded.

She snapped her head around to look at his clenched profile. “Excuse me?”

“I’d just think you’d get sick of yourself after a while. I know I do.” His knuckles tightened on the steering wheel.

“What—”

But he wasn’t done. His voice took on a whining, high-pitched, mimicking tone. “Sophieeee, you need to sit through a hellish double date to make my life more convenient. Why doesn’t everyone pick a bar that’s closer to me? Mommy, Daddy, it’s been ten minutes since you’ve praised all of my superpredictable accomplishments. Gray, why aren’t you adoring me the way I deserve to be adored? Gosh, Will, you’re so mean to me.”

The unprovoked attack sent a river of emotions rolling through her, the anger hitting her hardest. How dare he of all people accuse her of being selfish?

The sharpness of her anger was followed quickly by an automatic denial. Will didn’t even know her, not really. She was a good person. Sure, maybe she’d asked Sophie for an unfair favor, but Sophie was resilient. Nothing bothered her.

But as hard as Brynn tried to hang on to her anger, doubt crept up her spine. Was he right? Was she selfish? Brynn didn’t mean to be. She loved her sister and would never want to sabotage her happiness. But did Brynn even know what Sophie’s version of happy looked like? Had she really stopped to assess what was going on with her sister, or had she just assumed that her own priorities were more important?

God, she was selfish.

The last emotion was perhaps the worst of all.

Hurt.

Hurt that it had to be Will of all people who’d held up the mirror and forced her to see her own narcissism.

Oh no. Not tears. Not now. She could not let Will Thatcher see her cry.

“Are you crying?”

“No,” she said, the word soggy.

“Shit,” he said softly.

Exactly.

He pulled over to the side of the road, and Brynn was surprised to see through the haze of her tears that they were outside of her condo building. Grabbing her purse, she fumbled at the door, desperate to escape Will and the flood of emotions he’d thrown at her.

“Thanks for the ride,” she muttered tersely.

Again with the damn manners! She should have told him to go screw himself, but even at her most vulnerable, she couldn’t get the words out.

“Brynn,” he said softly, putting a hand on her arm.

“Don’t you dare,” she hissed, turning to face him, suddenly not caring that he was seeing her with puffy eyes and black rivers of eye makeup running down her cheeks. “Don’t you dare insult me, outline every single flaw I have, and then turn around and try to make it better. You wanted to hurt me and you succeeded. At least have the balls to own your victory.”

“I never meant to hurt you,” he said, not breaking eye contact. “I just couldn’t stand the way you were trying to push Sophie down so you could pull yourself up.”

“Of course, we wouldn’t want your poor precious Sophie to suffer,” she said scathingly, hating the words she heard coming out of her mouth.

“This isn’t about Sophie!” he said more sharply. “This has never been about Sophie!”