He discovered he had just enough left in the tank to haul her in against him. “You should know.”
She set her hands on his chest and then rested her head on them, gazing up into his face. “Sometimes talking’s overrated.”
He let out a long exhale. He didn’t want her to feel that way. “They knew,” he said. “Sam and Tanner. They knew all along.”
She stroked the hair from his forehead and ran a finger along his jawline. “Knew what?”
“That Gil and Susan were…”
When he didn’t finish, she blinked and then stilled. “Your best friend and your girlfriend were…?”
“Oh, Cole.” She stroked her hand down to his chest, directly over his heart, as if she could hold it safe for him. “I’m so sorry.”
Sitting here with her like this, buck-ass naked both physically and mentally, wasn’t as easy as he’d thought. Sliding out from beneath her, he rose and pulled on his jeans. Leaving them unbuttoned, he turned to her kitchen, hoping to see a bottle of anything out on the counter.
Olivia came up behind him, stroked a hand over his back, and then moved past him to her stove.
In nothing but his shirt.
Barefoot, hair a gorgeous cloud of silk, her beautiful body looking better in his shirt than he ever had, she started water to boil and set out two mugs.
“I’m not feeling tea right now, Olivia.”
She dropped a tea bag into each mug, and then some honey. And lemon. “Trust me.”
He wasn’t much for trust at the moment, either.
Trust. Such a deceptively simple word.
He’d grown up with parents who’d given their all to their kids and sisters who maybe had enjoyed torturing him, but were always the first to stand up for him.
He’d had good, solid relationships in his life, of all kinds. Family, friends, lovers. And he’d never had a problem with trust.
But he was feeling a little shaky on the concept after Susan.
Still, he didn’t say a word as she poured the boiling water, didn’t know how to tell her that while she looked hot as hell with that orgasmic glow on her face, tea wasn’t what he wanted from her.
Then she removed the tea bags, turned away from him, and reached up high into a cupboard. His shirt rose on her thighs, giving him a heart-stopping quick peek of heaven before she faced him again.
With, God love her, a bottle of brandy.
She liberally laced the tea, stirred it with a primness that made him smile, and then brought him a mug.
Trust me, she’d said. Demanded, really, in her quiet but steely voice.
It wasn’t the voice that had gotten to him, though. It had been her dark, warm eyes. Trust her? Damn if his heart hadn’t decided to do just that.
His fingers brushed hers as he took the mug, and he held her gaze as he drank deeply.
“There’s more to the story, isn’t there?” she asked.
Oh yeah. So much more.
“Did you just find out about them tonight, then? Susan and Gil?” she asked.
“No. I found out the day of Gil’s funeral.”
She stared at him, then shook her head as if she couldn’t imagine. “That must have been quite a blow. How did it come out?”
“Susan fell apart,” he said. “Just completely fell apart.” He remembered holding her trembling, crying, devastated form in his arms. “It didn’t make sense to me because she and Gil bickered,” he said. “All the time. It drove me nuts. I thought they hated each other. So when she lost it, I pushed her for why. And that’s when it came out. She loved him. And he apparently loved her.” He paused. “They’d hidden it out of respect for me. She told me that and a bunch more crap, like they hadn’t meant to, they were terrified of hurting me, blah blah. And then she dumped me.”
Her eyes softened. “And you what, kept it to yourself?”
“Yeah,” he said. “Not exactly the sort of thing you want to share. I didn’t tell anyone.”
“Not even Sam and Tanner?”
“No,” he said. “Not even Sam and Tanner. But as it turns out, they knew.”
“So that’s what you meant.” She covered his hand with hers. “You just found out tonight that they’ve known all this time, same as you.”
“Yeah.” He stared down at her fingers on his. “I didn’t know how to process that bullshit, so I left.”
“Why is it bullshit?”
He jerked his head up to meet her guileless gaze. “Are you kidding me?”
“Cole.” She squeezed his fingers. “How were they supposed to tell you that the two people you cared about so much had had this happen to them?”
“To them?” He let out a mirthless laugh. “I’m pretty sure I was the one bent over a barrel.” He pulled his hand free and pushed his tea away, reaching for the bottle of brandy.
Olivia got it first and added a second shot to his mug, which she handed to him.
“I’d rather have it straight up,” he said.
“The honey and lemon will help you when you hit the hangover at full bore.”
“If I stay drunk, I’ll never hit the hangover.”
“Cole.” She stepped into him and then went up on tiptoe, brushing her body to his as she slid her arms around his neck. “Being angry at what happened to you, at what happened between Gil and Susan, that’s understandable. Required even, in the grief process.”