So why the hell did he feel like he’d lost his best friend?
An hour and another round of beer later, Tanner was trying to maintain that he was the injured party, but all he could think about was the expression on Callie’s face when he’d turned and faced her.
On top of that, he’d lost darts two out of three.
Tanner grabbed the darts. “New round. The two losers”—he pointed his darts at the both of them—“have to take Lucille and her gang out on that tour she commissioned for the senior center tomorrow.”
“Shit, man,” Cole said. “Now you’re just being mean.”
Tanner won. They bought another round of beer. He was glad for the win, but the truth was that he’d rather be tossing back a few in the company of someone soft and willing.
And naturally the face that came to mind was one he shouldn’t be thinking about.
Which meant that Sam was right, and shit, how Tanner hated that. He’d opened his big, fat mouth and made a mess of things.
Especially since the truth was that he wanted to see her. He’d already had her in his arms. Her kisses had him nearly out of his mind. He couldn’t imagine what it’d be like to have her in his bed, wrapped around him, panting his name.
Okay, he could imagine it. Truth was, he’d been fantasizing about it since he’d gotten his hands on her. In fact, he was thinking about it right now—
“So what happened in the water today?” Sam asked him, refilling everyone’s beer.
“That’s not what Troy said.”
Shit. A complete shit day from start to finish. At least he hoped it was nearly finished. He drank some more, stalling for time. But neither Sam nor Cole looked stalled. They were both looking right at him, waiting for an answer. “I got a cramp,” he said. “It wasn’t a big deal.”
“Troy said you were in a lot of pain and that you couldn’t even walk,” Sam said.
“A cramp,” Tanner repeated. “No one can walk with a cramp in their leg.”
“But you were swimming,” Cole said. “Alone. And we’ve seen you swim. You go miles.”
“So, if you hadn’t been close to shore…”
Tanner narrowed his eyes. “I’d have been fine.”
“I’ll swim with you,” Cole said. “Next time.”
“Every day?” Tanner asked, trying not to get pissed off.
“Nope,” Cole said, and clapped Sam on the back. “We’ll switch off.”
Sam looked less than thrilled at this. “I hate swimming with him,” he said. “I’ll take the boat and tail him.”
“I’m fine!” Tanner said. “Jesus.” He pointed to Sam. “I liked it a whole lot better when you were the one we were all worried about.”
“Yeah, but you helped me straighten my shit out,” Sam said calmly.
“What about Cole?” Tanner pointed out. “Only last month he was all sorts of fucked up.”
Cole smiled. “I got over myself.” His smile faded. “Your turn.”
Tanner shook his head and finished his beer. “Whatever, man. I’m fine.”
Sam’s phone rang and he pulled it from his pocket. In the old days, he never answered his phone. But that was B.B. Before Becca. Suddenly the silent, brooding Sam was Mr. Chatty Cathy.
Sam slid his phone away and grinned. “Gotta go.”
Undoubtedly he’d just gotten a booty call from Becca.
“Me too,” Tanner said. He didn’t know where, he just had to move.
“Where you going?” Cole asked.
Tanner narrowed his eyes. “Why, you writing a book?”
“Just answer the question.”
“Not until you tell me why you want to know.”
“You’re so suspicious all the time.”
“With you I have to be.”
“You’ve been to war,” Cole said. “You’ve nearly been killed in a rig fire. What could I possibly dream up that would be worse than either of those two things?”
Good point. “I’m going to walk around and clear my head. Okay with you, Mom?”
“Sure,” Cole said. “I just didn’t want you going after Callie and messing with her head.”
“I wouldn’t do that,” Tanner said.
“Not on purpose,” Cole agreed.
“Your concern for her is touching.”
“Actually,” Cole said, “my concern is for you. You gotta get your head screwed on tighter before you go for it with her. Hurry up and get that handled, and the two of you could really have something.”
And with that confusing-as-shit—and wrong—assessment, Cole left.
Tanner said to his back, “I won. I want it on record that I won. I don’t have to take the geriatrics out tomorrow. One of you two assholes has to.”
“Fine,” Cole called over his shoulder.
“Fine.” Satisfied that he wasn’t the only miserable one now, Tanner left on Cole’s heels and stood in the chilly night air for a moment. He had a nice buzz going but it wasn’t coming close to chasing away the look on Callie’s face.
He’d hurt her. He hated that.
He crossed the street to the pier and stood at the entrance to the arcade, surveying the action.
There was very little.