Jake let out a rare sigh. “Look, chica, yeah, you made a mistake. But everything you did was for the right reasons. You should feel good about that. You set out to help everyone from the accident and now you can say you did that. In a big way. In a much bigger way than anyone else I know would have.”
She thought about it and realized she did feel good about that part. “So it’s mission accomplished,” she said softly.
“Yeah.” He smiled. “Proud of you.”
The words were a balm on her broken heart. The ache didn’t go away and she wasn’t sure if it ever would. Loss was loss, and Finn no longer being in her life was a hard pill to swallow. But she’d survived worse and she’d come back from rock bottom.
She could do it again.
Well . . . next time maybe tell him who she was before sexy times and getting hearts involved . . .
The first two days were a complete blur to Finn. On day three, he stood in his shower contemplating the level of suckage his life had become until the hot water ran out. He stood there as it turned cold and then icy, completely forgetting that they were on a water watch and he’d pay a penalty if he went over his allowed usage for the month.
He was sitting on his couch staring at the still-off TV when Sean called. “I’m taking tonight off,” Finn said.
“Oh, hell no you’re not,” Sean said. “Three fucking nights in a row? I can’t do this by myself, Finn. This is a damn partnership and you need to start acting like it.”
Finn dropped his head, closed his eyes, and fought the laugh. “Are you throwing my words back in my face?”
“Hell yes.” Sean paused. “Is it working?”
“I think you owe me more than a few nights.”
Sean blew out a breath. “Yeah.” He paused again, this one a beat longer. “What’s wrong?”
“Bullshit,” Sean said. “You take time off never. Let me guess. You’re . . . running away from home? No, it’s worse than that. Shit. Just tell me quick, like ripping off a Band-Aid. You’re dying?”
“I’m not dying. Jesus, you’re such a drama queen.”
“Right, then what?” Sean demanded. “Are you dumping me, is that it?”
Finn pinched the bridge of his nose. Sean’s greatest fear was being dumped, and to be fair, he’d earned that particular anxiety the hard way from their parents. Pulling his head out of his own ass was hard but Finn managed for a second to do just that. “I can’t dump you,” he said, “you’re my brother.”
“People dump their family all the time,” Sean said, and then paused. “Or they just walk away.”
Finn softened and let out a sigh. “Okay, so yeah, I suppose I could dump you. And don’t get me wrong, there are entire days where I’d like to at least strangle you slowly. But listen to me very carefully, Sean. I’ve honestly never, not once, wanted to dump you from my life.”
There was a long silence. When Sean finally spoke, his voice was thick. “Yeah?”
“Yeah. I’d do anything for you. And I’ll never walk away from you.” And up until a few days ago, he’d have given Pru that very same promise.
And yet he had walked away from her.
At that thought, the first shadow of doubt crept in, icy tendrils as relentless as the afternoon fog.
“Are you going to tell me what’s up?” Sean asked. “If it’s not me and the pub’s okay, then what? You mess up with Pru or something?”
“Why would you say that?” Finn demanded.
“Whoa, man, chill. It’s a matter of elimination. Other than work, there’s nothing else that could get to you like this. So what happened?”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
Sean was quiet a second. “Because of Mellie? I apologized for that like a thousand times but I’ll do it again. I was an asshole and an idiot. And drunk off my ass that night. And it was a long time ago. I’d never—”
“This has nothing to do with Mellie,” Finn said.
“Then what? Because Pru’s pretty damn perfect.”
Finn sighed. Not perfect. But perfect for him . . . “Why does it have to be anyone’s fault?”
Sean laughed wryly. “It’s just the way of the world. Men screw up. Women forgive—or don’t, as the case often goes.”
Finn blew out a breath. “I walked away. I had my reasons but I’m not sure I did the right thing.” It was a hell of an admission considering he rarely second-guessed himself.