Home > Everything for Us (The Bad Boys #3)(4)

Everything for Us (The Bad Boys #3)(4)
Author: M. Leighton

I grunt at her and walk to the fridge. I open it and make a show of looking around inside before I close it. Channeling everything into anger, like I’ve done for the last seven years, I lean my hip against the counter and give Marissa my full attention.

“So why the ass-kissing?”

Her smile wavers for a second before she returns to the sausage. It’s so quiet in the kitchen, the sizzle of the last few pieces of sausage in the still-hot skillet is almost deafening.

“Nash, that’s completely unfair. You—”

Marissa cuts Olivia off. “Olivia, it’s all right.”

After a long pause, during which Olivia obviously has to swallow some angry comments she was about to foist on me, she clears her throat. “Well, I guess I’ll go change and get Cash, then I’ll come set the table, ’kay?”

She doesn’t wait for an answer; she just gets up and walks out. She’s stiff as a board when she passes me and I imagine if she looked up, I’d see sparks shooting from her eyes.

Fiery little thing.

And I like fiery. To a point.

Fiery can be irrational and unstable, though, which really does nothing for me in a woman. I guess that’s one of the few things I’ve retained of my former self. I value an intelligent woman who knows what she wants. Except in bed. I like fiery in bed. Fiery and willing. There’s nothing better than a woman who’s game for anything.

The clatter of the spatula draws my attention back to Marissa. Her lips are set into a thin, tight line, which makes me think she’s got something to say.

And I’m right.

“You don’t know the kind of person I used to be,” she states quietly. “You don’t know what was expected of me, who and how my father expected me to be.”

“You don’t think I kept an eye on my brother when I came into town? I know exactly the kind of person you were.”

She glances up at me and I see a multitude of emotions play across her face, the last one being shame.

“Then you know I’ve got a lot to make up for.”

“And you think kissing ass will accomplish that?”

“No, I . . . I . . . I guess I feel the need to make amends, especially to Olivia.”

“And that’ll make it all better? The way you treated her? The way you treated everyone?”

She whips her head toward me, a little temper flashing in her bright blue eyes. “Of course not! But consistently showing her that I care can’t hurt.”

I nod. I guess she’s right. “Why go to that much trouble? Who cares what she thinks? Who cares what anybody thinks?”

She looks me square in the eye and her chin tips up a notch. “I do. Very much.”

“But, then again, you always have, right? Isn’t that your Achilles’ heel? Perception? Gotta keep up appearances?”

Her mouth opens and closes like she wants to argue. Only she doesn’t. She can’t. Because I’m right.

Much faster than I would’ve liked, Olivia chooses this moment to return with Cash.

“We’ll see how long that lasts after you get back in the real world,” I whisper to Marissa.

“It smells wonderful, Marissa. And I’m starving, so I know these big cavemen are, too,” Olivia says a little too brightly. I watch Marissa collect herself and return Olivia’s overly ambitious smile. It’s starting to look like I’m in a room of many pretenders. Until my eyes meet Cash’s. He looks bothered. And he should. With guys like Duffy out there running loose, violent men and murderers, none of us are safe. The sooner Cash realizes that, the sooner he’ll agree with me that we have to take care of some business.

My way.

We stare silently at each other as the women get breakfast on the table. When we sit and I look around at everyone putting napkins in their lap and keeping their elbows off the table, I feel even further removed from civilization. It’s been a long time since I’ve shared a meal with people who aren’t in a band of high seas criminals. I haven’t forgotten how to comport myself; it’s just an unwelcome reminder of the life I’ve missed out on. The life that Cash has been living in my absence.

“So, Nash, what are your plans now that you’re back in the land of the living?” Olivia asks me in a conversational tone.

“Apparently I’ve got a really nice condo uptown. I was thinking of moving back in,” I say pointedly, daring Cash to challenge me.

“Really? I thought you might stay here for a little while. At least until all this is resolved. I mean, Marissa could still be in danger. I thought . . .”

“You thought because she was stupid enough to date my brother, who was masquerading as me, and get herself into trouble, that I ought to stay and clean up the mess?”

I know nobody likes my comment, but it’s true and no one can argue it. I think that pisses them off more than anything. I don’t lie. I don’t pretend. I don’t treat them with kid gloves. I tell it like it is. It’s not my fault they don’t like hearing the harsh truth. But they’d better get used to it when I’m around. I’ve had to live with that razor-sharp bitch called reality for a lot of years. Yeah, it sucked. Hell yeah, it sucked! But at least I was always prepared. Nothing good ever comes from hiding from the truth. Nothing. Ever.

“I’m fine by myself,” Marissa chimes in before the tension can ratchet up any higher.

I look at her stunning face, at the tightness of her features, at the obvious discomfort reflected there, and I feel bad for being so . . . blunt when she’s trying so hard to be considerate.

“I guess I could stay here for a few days. You never know. If they come after you, I might get a chance to right a few wrongs without Dear Brother here’s permission.”

I slide a smug smile over at Cash. I know he doesn’t like the thought of me taking matters into my own hands any more than I like the thought of letting these psychopaths live. But, regardless of preference, we see who’s making the compromise. They’re not dead yet and I’m still here, playing by Cash’s rules. Why, I’m not sure. Maybe there’s some small part of the nice guy I used to be left inside me, some tiny wedge that’s holding me back. But that won’t always be the case. I’ll play along for a little while longer, but Cash is crazy if he thinks I won’t have my revenge. Because I will. Duffy, as well as the bastards who commissioned him to blow up my family’s boat, will pay dearly for what they cost me. It’s just a matter of time.

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