Nobody But You (Cedar Ridge 3) - Page 25

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Aidan pushed free, put his hand on Gray’s face, and shoved.

Gray fell back, the two of them laughing.

A beautiful blonde came up behind Gray and slipped her arms around him. Turning in her arms, Gray nuzzled her in close while Jacob did a double take. It was Penny. She’d gone to school with them and Gray had always had a huge crush on her. She was wearing a big, fat diamond.

Seemed Gray had gotten his wildest dream to come true.

Nope, Jacob thought, standing still, he wasn’t any good at this. He’d manned up to come home and he had a lot more manning up to do, but at the moment all he could think was that he was an outsider.

Your own fault…

Hud left the pitcher at the bar and started toward him. Jacob took a deep breath and did the same. When they were each halfway to the other, Hud cocked his head, gesturing to the back. There, another room held more dartboards and pool tables.

They met at an open dartboard. Once upon a time, darts had been their game. Neither could lose, and with the help of fake ID’s, they’d used the skill to their benefit.

Jacob met Hud’s gaze. “We playing?”

Hud shrugged and casually picked up a set of darts.

Oh, yeah. They were playing. Jacob did the same and gestured for Hud to go first.

“Five-oh-one?” Hud asked.

“That’s a pussy game,” Aidan said. He and the others had come up behind them. Everyone but Kenna and the guy she was with.

Penny jabbed an elbow into Aidan’s stomach, hard by the choking cough Aidan let out. “Excuse me?” she said. “Pussy game?”

Aidan grimaced. “You know what I mean.”

“No,” she said. “I don’t. Maybe we should call it a dickhead game.”

“Kincaids play crickets,” Gray said over the ensuing battle. He stepped past Penny and Aidan, right up close to Hud and Jacob.

Jacob assumed his oldest half brother was going to reach for some darts, but instead he came toe-to-toe with him, eyes swirling with emotion.

“You’re home,” Gray said, voice a little thick.

Jacob managed a nod.

“Hud told us,” Gray said. “But I needed to see you with my own eyes. You staying?”

“I’m on leave,” Jacob said. “I have to finish my stint.”

“So this is what, a onetime thing, then?” Gray asked.

Jacob heard someone suck in a breath. Penny, he thought, because not one of the four of them—the brothers—appeared to be breathing.

Up until Brett died, he’d never allowed himself to imagine coming home and staying. But from the moment he’d set foot on this mountain, he’d wanted nothing else. He shook his head. “Not just a onetime thing.”

Hud’s shoulders fell from his ears, and when that happened, Aidan and Gray relaxed as well.

Not Jacob. He felt like he’d been strung up on tenterhooks and left hanging.

But then Gray stepped up to him, wrapped his arms around him, and lifted him in a huge bear hug, feet hanging off the floor.

The air left Jacob’s lungs forcibly with an “oomph” and he caught a flash of Hud’s grin.

“Jesus,” Gray said, dropping Jacob. “What the hell did they feed you over there? You’re as big as a mountain.”

“That’s what I asked,” Hud said, casually reaching out and giving Jacob a shove that had him bumping into Aidan.

Aidan was solid enough to keep them both upright as he made a show of looking Jacob over. “I don’t know, man,” he said to Gray. “Still looks a bit scrawny to me.”

“I’ll fatten him up!” Penny cried gleefully, jumping up and down. “With my fabulous homemade double-fudge brownies!” Shoving her way through the four big men, she stood in front of Jacob, her hands on her hips. “Hi,” she said. “Remember me?”

“You were my hottie English tutor,” Jacob said. “And Gray used to try to get me to ask you if you liked him. He’d bribe me with whatever cash he had, and I’d promise to do it. Instead, I pocketed the money and told you he was an idiot and that you shouldn’t look at him twice.”

Penny laughed in delight. “I’ll have you know, I married that idiot.” She flashed her diamond at him. “Eight years ago. He’s my idiot now.”

Gray slid his arms around her from behind and kissed her jaw. They all had a groove, a pace. They all knew each other so well and he…didn’t.

That was when Penny flung herself at him.

Jacob barely caught her and let her hug him for what felt like a damn long time. Finally, with a sigh, she pulled back and sniffed, swiping at a tear. She pointed at Jacob, her mascara slightly smudged. “If you leave and don’t come home when you’re finished, I’m coming after you myself, you hear me?”

Tags: Jill Shalvis Cedar Ridge Romance