“I hear you,” he said quietly, his chest feeling tight. For years, his life had depended on his instincts, and they were honed sharp. Survival had been harshly ingrained. Emotions had no place in that life.
He’d gone a whole lot of years purposely feeling nothing. And then Brett had died and had set off a tsunami of all he’d been holding in. He wanted to be here and was gratified Aidan, Gray, and Penny were receptive to that, but Hud hadn’t said a damn word.
And it was Hud he needed to hear from the most. He forced himself to look at his twin.
Hud’s eyes were closed. Once upon a time that wouldn’t have mattered. They’d been able to read each other blind. They’d shared everything. But Jacob couldn’t get a bead on him now to save his own life. “Where’s Kenna?” he asked, hoping to give Hud a minute.
Aidan and Gray exchanged looks.
“What?” Jacob asked.
“She’s got plans,” Aidan said. “She had to leave.”
“Or she’s pissed at me,” Jacob said.
“Or that,” Aidan agreed.
“Don’t sweat it,” Gray said. “She’s always pissed at one of us. She’ll come around.”
Hud still didn’t speak, making it clear that Kenna wasn’t the only one pissed at him. “I’ll go see her in the morning.”
“That’d be good,” Penny said softly, not missing the silent and tense exchange between Hud and Jacob. “She could use some one-on-one time with you, I think.”
Awkward silence while everyone divided a look between Hud and Jacob.
“So we playing darts or standing around holding hands?” Hud finally asked.
Penny sighed. She didn’t say anything, but the sigh spoke volumes, mostly that she thought men were ridiculous.
“Crickets,” Jacob said decisively, and palmed the darts.
“Now, see, that’s what I’m talking about,” Gray said, slinging an arm around Jacob’s neck, hooking him in. “Crickets. Kincaids play crickets.” He jostled Jacob. “Missed you, man.” And with that simple sentence slaying Jacob straight through, Gray let him go, snatched the darts, and stepped up to go first.
Jacob didn’t move, couldn’t. “So…we’re good?”
“Yeah,” Aidan said. “Though you’re still a dumbass.”
But Hud didn’t speak, didn’t give any indication that he’d heard Jacob’s question at all, and Jacob knew.
They weren’t all good.
Sophie dreamed about hot, drugging kisses and Jacob’s warm, hard, perfect body. She woke up at the crack of dawn overheated, and for a bonus, also sporting a splitting headache. Thank you, Scotch.
No, scratch that. She blamed Lucas. For everything.
Feeling better about reassigning the blame, she pulled on sweats and did the only thing she knew to do. She walked to McDonald’s, because nothing fixed a hangover like a carbo-load of greasy hash browns and pancakes.
She doubled the order and walked to the lake, making excellent time because she was hungry. She was on the dock when her phone rang with a number she didn’t recognize. “Hello?” she answered warily.
She sighed. “Hey, Jimbo.”
“How’s it shaking, babe?”
“Terrific, great, couldn’t be better.”
And she sighed again. “Okay, so I know I told Brooklyn to give you my number, but it was a weak moment. I don’t think I could ever really go through with this sort of thing.”
“Trust me, sweet cheeks, it’s easy. All you’ve gotta do is be encouraging. And maybe let out a few moans here and there.”
“Yeah,” he said. “Talk ’em through it. Tell them what you’re wearing—that’s always a conversation starter.”
Sophie looked down at her sweats. And they weren’t the cute Victoria’s Secret kind of sweats either. More like the Walmart midnight shopper kind. “Well…”
“Lie,” Jimbo said, reading her mind.
“And the encouragement part?” she asked.
“Just say stuff like…” He affected a woman’s voice. “‘Oh, I’ve been hoping you’d call. I’ve been bad, so very bad. I need a spanking,’ and then you throw in a ‘Thank you, sir, may I have another’ and you’re golden.”