He headed toward his truck and then slowed when he saw Hud leaning against the driver’s door, arms casually crossed, sunglasses in place. “How did you know which vehicle was mine?”
“It’s the only new truck in the lot and it looks like you.”
“You waited for me,” Jacob said.
“It’s what I do,” Hud said evenly, giving no visible indication of an emotion one way or the other. He didn’t have to. His tone said it all. He’d gotten over being happy to see Jacob and had moved on to the pissed-off portion of the reunion.
Jacob got that. He deserved that. “Hud, I’m—”
“If you’re going to apologize to me, fuck you.”
Jacob cut off the words he’d been about to utter, which indeed had been an apology.
“Too little too late,” Hud said. “I called. I emailed. I texted. I—” He shook his head and pushed away from the truck. “Never mind.”
Jacob blocked Hud’s escape and met his brother’s eyes. Not easy when he didn’t exactly know how to defend his own actions. It was complicated, far too complicated for a parking lot. “I have things to say to you,” he said. “Things you’re going to have to hear eventually, but Mom first.”
Hud closed his eyes briefly. “Yeah. She’s not doing good.”
Jacob nodded, a fist tightening around his heart.
“Sometimes we’re eight,” Hud said. “Sometimes we’re teenagers. She’s stuck on those early teen years the most, probably because that’s when she first began to lose it.” Hud lifted a shoulder. “I just go with it. She’s happiest that way, and the doctor said that was best. To keep her happy.”
Jacob nodded again.
“I gotta get to work,” Hud said.
Another nod. He’d become a fucking bobblehead. Not knowing how to move on, get past this, he held out his hand.
As far back as he could remember, the two of them had had a private language all their own, often able to communicate without words. They’d also had a ridiculously complicated handshake, one they’d used every time they’d greeted or left each other. So Jacob’s hand went out automatically, an action born of reflexes.
But Hud just looked at Jacob’s hand.
He didn’t remember.
Jacob had known it wouldn’t be easy to come home, but hell, he hadn’t expected to look into Hud’s eyes, so like his own, and feel like a complete stranger to his own twin. He dropped his hand to his side.
Hud swore, stared at his feet and then looked up again, running a hand through hair the same light brown as Jacob’s, though it was longer, curling nearly to his collar. “When the hell were you going to tell me you were home?”
Shit. Jacob hadn’t felt so helpless since that time he and two others in his unit, including Brett, had been caught and tortured for two days. “I was going to come see you.”
“I don’t know.”
Hud turned away, and Jacob felt like he was in enemy territory and didn’t know the terrain. Fucking lost with no one to watch his six, not with Brett dead and gone. “Hud.”
Hud shook his head. “I have to go.” Then he walked away, giving Jacob what he supposed was nothing but a taste of his own medicine.
Sophie was still at the front desk when Lake Patrol Guy came down the hall a little bit later, his face blank, way too carefully blank.
She knew what that expressionless facade meant. It meant he’d been deeply affected by whatever he’d seen.
She watched him go. Correction, she watched his leanly muscled bod move effortlessly in faded-to-buttery-soft Levi’s that so lovingly cupped his…assets.
And then she was flanked by the girls in the office.
“He’s so damn hot,” Dani whispered. “I mean, he just oozes testosterone and badassness, you know?”
The other office helper, Shelly, hummed her agreement. “Just like his brothers.”
Sophie divided a look between them. “There’s a pack of them?”
“The Kincaids,” Dani said. “That one’s Jacob, the missing Kincaid brother. He’s back.”
Shelly nodded. “Hud looked pissed off about it too.”
“They’re twins,” Dani explained to Sophie’s blank look. “I’m pretty sure they haven’t spoken in years. Not even when Jacob called or came into town to visit his mom.”
“Wonder if Jacob’s seen the new mural at the resort yet,” Shelly mused. “It’s got all the Kincaid siblings on it, including him, which has gotta be weird, coming into town and seeing yourself painted on the side of a building.”