The familiar guilt stabbed at her, tearing off little chunks of her heart and soul. “What about your mom?”
He shrugged. “She took off when we were young. Haven’t heard from her since.”
Pru had to take a long beat to just breathe. “Sean was lucky to have you,” she finally said. “So lucky. I hate that you had to give up college—”
“I actually hated school,” he said on a low laugh. “But I really, really didn’t want to go home. Home was full of shit memories.”
Feeling land-locked by her misery, she had to run that through twice. “Finn, I—” She stopped. Stared at him. “What?”
He was eyeing a deli across the street. “You hungry?”
“I . . . a little.”
“You ever eat anything from there? They make the most amazing steak sandwiches.” He slid her a look. “Don’t want you to miss out on steak on my account.” He guided her inside where he ordered for them both.
Which was for the best because she couldn’t think.
His memories of home were shit? What did that mean?
Finn paid and they continued walking. He was quiet, keeping an eye on her. But she didn’t want quiet. “What do you mean home was full of shit memories?”
He took a moment to answer. “You grow up with siblings?” he asked. “Both parents?”
“No siblings but both parents,” she said, and held her breath. “Until they died when I was nineteen.”
He didn’t make the connection, and why would he? Only a crazy person would guess that the two accidents—his dad’s and her parents—were the same one.
“That sucks,” he said. “Sucks bad.”
It did, but she didn’t deserve his sympathy. “Before that, it was a good life,” she said. “Just the three of us.”
“Well, trust me when I say, Sean and I didn’t get the same experience.”
His body language was loose and easy, relaxed as he walked. But though she couldn’t see his eyes behind his dark sunglasses, she sensed there was nothing loose and easy in them. “Your dad wasn’t a nice guy?”
“He was an asshole,” he said. “I’m sorry he’s dead, but neither I nor Sean was sorry to have to finish raising ourselves without him.”
She stared at him in profile as she tried to put her thoughts together, but they’d just scattered like tumbleweeds in the wind. All this time she’d pictured his dad as . . . well, the perfect dad. The perfect dad who her dad had taken from him and Sean. She let out a shuddering breath of air, not sure how to feel.
“Hey.” Finn stopped her with a hand to her arm and pulled her around to face him, pulling off his sunglasses, shoving them to the top of his head to get a better look at her. “You don’t look so good. Your cuts and bruises, or too much sun?” he asked, gently pushing her hair from her face and pressing his palm to her forehead. “You’re pale all of a sudden.”
She shook her head and swallowed the lump of emotion in her throat. He’d hate her sympathy so she managed a smile. “I’m okay.”
He didn’t look like he believed her, proven when he switched the deli bag to his other hand and with his free one, grabbed hers in a firm grip. They were only a block from their building at this point, but before they could take another step, Finn stilled and laughed.
Pru looked up to see Spence coming toward them.
Tall and leanly muscled, with sun-kissed wavy hair that matched his smiling light brown eyes, he was definitely eye candy. He wore cargo shorts and an untucked button-down, sleeves shoved up his forearms. He was a genuinely sexy guy, not that he seemed to realize it.
He was walking two golden retrievers and a cat, all three on leashes advertising South Bark Mutt Shop, striding calm-as-you-please at Spence’s side.
Spence himself was calm as well, and completely oblivious to the two women craning their necks to stare at his ass as he passed them. He was too busy flipping Finn off for laughing at him.
“I didn’t realize you worked for Willa,” Pru said. Or that one could actually walk a cat . . .
“He doesn’t exactly . . .” Finn said.
Spence didn’t add anything to this as Finn looked at him. “You’re walking a cat. They’re going to take away your man card.”
“Tell that to the owner of the cat,” Spence said. “She asked me out for tonight.”
“So now you’re using these helpless animals to get laid?”
“Hell yes,” Spence said. “And yuk it up now because later I’m going to let Professor PuddinPop here anoint your shoes. Fair warning, he had tuna for lunch and it’s not agreeing with him.”