Only with You (The Best Mistake #1) - Page 13

“Oh really?” she scoffed. “So it’s just coincidence that you’re taking her side on everything. You just don’t want to see me happy, so you’re doing your best to ensure my relationship with Gray never has a chance.”

“You don’t even like the guy!” Will yelled. “This isn’t about Gray or Sophie, it’s about you trying to control absolutely every little detail in your life because you don’t know what you really want.”

“I do know what I want! I want Gray. He’s perfect for me. Smart, successful, genteel…”

“The man’s a Goddamn mannequin, which is exactly what you think you want because you can ensure he fits into your plastic life.”

“Why are you acting like this?” she whispered, staring into his blazing blue eyes. “I know we’re always bickering, but you’ve never been cruel before.”

“God, Brynn.” He turned away and stared out the front of the car, running his fingers through his blond hair and muttering a string of curses.

“I don’t expect an apology,” she said quietly. “I know better. I just want to know why.”

“Why? Why?!” His voice had taken on an agitated tone, and he sounded completely unlike the controlled and manipulative Will she knew so well.

“This is why, Brynn.”

A rough hand slid behind the nape of her neck and jerked her over to the driver’s-side seat. Firm lips slammed down on hers as he held her head still and took control of her mouth.

She parted her lips on a surprised gasp and his tongue flicked teasingly across her bottom lip. Brynn moaned. She didn’t know if this was supposed to be her punishment, her embarrassment, or simply more ammunition that he could use against her, and she didn’t care.

She didn’t care that they hated each other, didn’t care that she was lying awkwardly across the middle console of his car like one of his groupies.

She didn’t care that he probably had some sort of agenda or that she was most certainly going to regret this in the morning.

Because at this moment, all she cared about was kissing Will.

His tongue slid against hers in a silky stroke and she moaned again. Winding her arms around his neck, Brynn pressed closer, letting her tongue tangle with his in a kiss that wasn’t civilized or rehearsed or practiced. Kissing Will was a lot like dirty dancing. It was heady, instinctual, and it gave her the urge to move her hips.

They kissed like they argued. Savagely, taking as much as they gave. His hands tilted her head to the side so he could press deeper, and this time it was Will who let out a low groan. His mouth broke away from hers, and his lips softly pressed against the side of her mouth, skimming along her jaw before gently brushing her cheeks, her eyelids.

Reality crashed down as Brynn realized what he was doing. He was kissing away her tears. He cupped her face gently, as though using his lips to try to erase the pain he’d caused.

And suddenly it just felt too…tender. Animal passion had been safe. She could blame that on the champagne and their anger.

But kindness and tenderness from Will…she couldn’t…she wouldn’t…

She pulled away sharply.

“Brynn,” he said quietly, reaching out to her again.

“Don’t,” she said. “Just don’t.”

Clutching her purse, she scratched at the door again, shoving it open in clumsy haste. She set one foot out into the stormy night before hesitantly looking back at him.

“You won’t…you won’t tell anyone about this, right? We’ll just chalk it up to a moment of absurd insanity?”

Any softness that might have been in his eyes vanished. “Don’t worry,” he snapped. “Your secret is safe with me. You think I want anyone knowing that I failed to get a hot reaction from Ice Princess Brynn? You’re just as cold as everyone thinks you are.”

She didn’t let his words sting. She was already numb.

“Good night, Will,” she said stonily as she climbed out of the car. “If you’ve given me some sort of disease, you’ll be hearing from me.”

She’d barely slammed the door before he peeled away from the curb with a squeal of tires. Typical, she thought. Slowly her snarl faded as she stood hunched in the rain, staring after his long gone taillights.

That was a mistake. The realization came as a shock.

Because Brynn Dalton did not make mistakes.

CHAPTER EIGHT

I didn’t even know Seattle had a baseball team,” Gray said under his breath, as he studied the elaborate retractable roof of Safeco Field.

“Easy, there,” Ian

said as he handed Gray another beer. “I’ll have you know that the Mariners are well ahead of your White Sox this year.”

“They used to be your White Sox too,” Gray said, taking a sip of beer.

“Sure, but then I moved here. And now I’m a Mariners fan,” his best friend said succinctly.

“That’s just as well—you’ll never have to worry about the hassle of getting World Series tickets.”

“You just wait,” Ian said, his eyes tracking a line double into center field. “This team will become your favorite.”

Gray shook his head. It seemed like yesterday that he and Ian had been buying nosebleed tickets to White Sox games when they needed a break from studying for their Northwestern finals. Like Gray, Ian was a Midwestern transplant in the middle of Seattle’s greenery. He’d moved to the Pacific Northwest several years prior.

As two of Gray’s closest—okay, only—friends, Ian and his wife, Ashley, had been a major factor in Gray accepting a job in Seattle.

Them, and an intense desire to get away from a toxic ex-fiancée.

Ian’s son squirmed impatiently in his seat. “Dad, can I have some pizza?”

“Now? You just finished your pretzel.”

“I know, but I’m hungry again. And the pepperoni looks really good,” said the perpetually hungry-for-junk-food Ryan.

“He has a point,” Gray said, not taking his eyes off the field. “The pizza looked awesome.”

“Ashley’s going to kill me,” Ian said with a shake of his head. “She hates when he eats crap.”

“It’s a ball game,” Gray replied. “What are you supposed to feed him, kale?”

“What’s kale?” Ryan asked, thumping his baseball glove with his tiny fist.

“My point exactly,” Gray said. “Get the man some pizza, Dad!”

Ian sighed. “I’ll be back. Ryan, make sure your godfather doesn’t drink my beer.”

“Beer’s gross.”

“Totally,” Gray replied, taking another sip of his “gross” beer.

As Ian went to fetch the offending junk food, Gray watched his godson out of the corner of his eye. He didn’t know Ryan well. They saw each other every couple years or so, but that was practically an eternity to a kid. Ryan was a new person every time Gray saw him.

When Ian had invited Gray to tag along on the father-son outing, Gray had waited for the usual rush of apprehension. Small talk was hard enough without figuring out what to say to a first grader. But instead of making a polite work excuse, Gray had found himself accepting. Wasn’t this why he had moved to Seattle? To make connections with people?

“How’s school?” Gray asked, realizing he’d been brooding.

“Good,” Ryan said with a small shrug. “My teacher’s pretty cool. And I got second in the science fair.”

“That’s cool. Got a girlfriend?”

Ryan’s small body convulsed in dramatic dry heaves. “Girls are gross.”

“Cooties?” Gray asked knowingly.

“I dunno. They’re just stupid. I like baseball way better.”

Gray smiled into his beer. Sometimes he thought he liked baseball better too. There was none of the drama, and the rules of the game were straightforward. With baseball, there was no worrying about why sometimes a woman looked at you like she wanted to curl up in your arms and stay there, and other times she looked at you like you were an inconvenience she had to somehow explain to her family.

Baseball had no distractingly wide blue eyes or slim curves or smile a man could drown in.

The beer turned slightly sour in Gray’s stomach as he realized he hadn’t been thinking about Brynn.

“One pepperoni pizza, coming right up!” Ian announced, scooting past the row of knees as he made his way back to them. He plopped a small box into Ryan’s lap as he passed, and then, settling into the middle seat, handed another box to Gray.

“Am I off the hook from healthy eating too?” Gray asked, as he opened the personal-sized pizza box.

“We’re splitting it,” Ian said as he handed out napkins like the most experienced of dads. Gray nearly smiled at the gesture. Hard to imagine this was the same wiry frat boy who once refused to let anyone be admitted to his house party unless they could eat nachos with no hands.

The three of them settled into companionable male silence and watched the Mariners battle a close game. They weren’t exactly bringing in the runs, but neither were the opposing Yankees, so all in all it was a relatively well-paced game.

“How’s the

job going?” Ian asked as he finished off Ryan’s barely touched pizza. “All settled in?”

“Fine,” Gray said. “A challenge. Brayburn Luxuries has genius behind it, but I’m not sure Martin was as adept at the operational aspects as he fooled everyone into thinking. I find that most of my time is spent trying to find records of previous deals and the contact information for existing clients. It’s pretty fuc—” He glanced at Ryan. “Pretty messed up.”

“You were going to say ‘fuck,’” Ryan announced disinterestedly as he blew bubbles into his Coke.

“Ryan!” Ian exclaimed. “Where’d you learn that word? Are you trying to get me in trouble with your mother?”

Ryan shrugged. “Mom’s the one who said it. The other day in the car when some other car cut in front of her. She told me never to tell you.”

A slow smile broke out over Ian’s face at the spousal ammunition his son had just unknowingly handed over. “Did she, now? Son, did I ever tell you how much I love you?” He pulled Ryan close to his shoulder for a moment, and at six, Ryan was still young enough not to be embarrassed by such displays.

Gray looked away, disturbed that the casual gesture gave him a vague sense of discontent that hadn’t been there a few months ago. With their identical blond hair and brown eyes, they were the classic father-son baseball duo. Gray felt like an outsider. It was a feeling he’d long become accustomed to, but it had never bothered him quite so much before.

“Okay, so work’s not great, but it’ll get there,” Ian said, returning his attention to Gray. “You’ll turn it around in no time. It’s why Brayburn selected you as his replacement.”

“I guess,” Gray said noncommittally.

“Well, that’s the enthusiastic businessman I know so well,” Ian said with a raised eyebrow. “What’s the deal, you homesick or something? Got your period?”

Gray didn’t bother to respond to that, and took a sullen bite of pizza.

Ian pressed on. “It’s your bratty siblings, isn’t it? Jenna is still giving you crap for not taking her ice-skating when she was nine, and Jack’s still treating you like an impersonal stranger.”

Gray tensed at that, but it was nothing he hadn’t heard before. Hell, it was nothing he hadn’t thought before. “The twins are fine,” he said. “Jenna’s actually coming to visit in a couple weeks. I doubt we’ll be spending any white Christmases together anytime soon, but they seem to have forgiven me for whatever it was I did or didn’t do when they were kids.”

Ian nodded thoughtfully, having met Jack and Jenna often enough to know that those relationships were nothing they were going to solve before the end of the ninth inning.

“Woman problems, then,” Ian said.

Gray’s chewing slowed for a moment, and his jaw tensed, but he said nothing.

Ian chuckled. “I f**king knew it.”

“Dad, you said—”

“Look, the moose!” Ian said quickly, pointing at the Mariners’ mascot dancing on top of the dugout. “Why don’t you go see if you can shake his hand?”

Needing no further encouragement, Ryan scampered down the stairs, holding his too-large cap with one hand, glove held protectively in front of him just in case a fly ball happened to find its way into his waiting mitt.

“You’re still with the gym rat, right? Your assistant’s sister?”

Gray growled at the mention of Sophie. “I don’t want to talk about her.”

“Who? The girlfriend or your assistant?”

“The assistant. I specifically look forward to weekends because it’s the one area of my life that Sophie hasn’t bulldozed with her good moods and chatter. And don’t call Brynn my girlfriend. She’s just…a woman I’m seeing. Sort of.”

Barely.

He’d only spoken to her briefly since her ridiculous plan of a double date had exploded. He should definitely call her. Maybe arrange dinner for tomorrow.

Gray frowned. The idea didn’t hold as much appeal as it should.

And the hell of it was, Gray should be feeling guilty about the way the failed double date had gone. Not just because he’d sent Brynn home with another man, but because Gray hadn’t cared.

Weighing even more heavily on his conscience was the fact that sitting in companionable silence with Sophie had been a good deal more enjoyable than several of his strained silences with Brynn.