“Fun sucker,” she said.
The “board meeting” was a family gathering in a large room at the head offices of the resort. Each of the Kincaids were there, and when Kenna walked in with Jacob, both Gray and Aidan grinned like he’d just made their day.
Hud glanced up from his iPad to see what was going on. He met Jacob’s eyes briefly, nodded once, then went back to the iPad.
Jacob sat, and the meeting began.
An hour later, he excused himself and made his way out of the office, stunned. Pissed. Predictably, there’d been a lot of yelling inside the boardroom—they were, after all, the Kincaids—but there’d been a lot of solid decisions made and fires put out. None of which was what had him in shock.
No, that went to the knowledge that the resort, left to them by Richard Kincaid before he’d vanished years ago, had been mortgaged through the roof five years ago, leaving a huge balloon payment due at the end of the year.
Everyone had clearly had some time to get used to this betrayal, used to the hurt on top of hurt from the father who’d not given a single one of them the time of day in years. But Jacob actually had to leave the room in the middle of the meeting to try to absorb it.
He stood in the hallway, the offices around him buzzing, thanks to a Tough Mudder event going on and also an upcoming Wounded Warriors competition.
There were pictures on the walls of events that had gone on over the years. Jacob took them all in, moving slowly down the hall, anything to clear his head. He’d managed to keep pretty updated on things via the Internet, but he’d missed a lot.
He’d been through hell overseas, a couple of times over. He’d thought there’d been some self-righteousness in that. Like because he’d been putting his life on the line for his country, it might excuse him for being a dick and going non-communicative for so long.
But his brothers and sister had been through hell too.
To his shock, Hud came out of the conference room and put a hand on his shoulder. “Look, Dad sucks. We all know that. Don’t let yourself get caught up in anger over it now.”
Jacob turned and met his brother’s gaze. “Are you kidding me?”
Hud’s expression stayed even. “Anger is a useless emotion.”
“Is that right?”
“Yes,” Hud said. “It takes away your ability to think straight, and we all need to be able to think straight to get out of this mess.”
“So you’re saying you don’t do anger,” Jacob challenged.
Hud shrugged. “I get over it.”
“And how about me? When are you going to get over being angry at me?”
From Hud’s pocket, his phone went off. When he pulled it out and looked at the screen, his entire face softened, telling Jacob who was calling.
Kenna had filled Jacob in on the love lives of the Kincaids, which Jacob was still a little in shock about. If he hadn’t been looking right at Hud’s face as he talked to his girlfriend, Jacob would never have believed it.
His hard-ass brother had fallen in love.
Immediately following Bailey’s call, Hud’s phone continued to go off in quick succession. Jacob went into the meeting since Hud was obviously not going to answer his question. He stood at the head of the table and eyed his siblings. “I want in. I want to help.”
“Yes!” Gray said as Kenna and Aidan high-fived each other.
Jacob didn’t know what he’d expected, but it wasn’t this easy reception.
Gray cocked his head at Jacob. “Why do you look surprised that we want you here?”
“I don’t know.” But he was. He was also relieved, making him realize he’d been braced for a rejection that wasn’t going to come.
Kenna had moved on and was simultaneously playing a game on her phone and eating a donut. Sensing his interest, she offered him a bite.
When he’d been overseas, Jacob had eaten fairly strictly, mostly because that’s all that’d been available, but also because he needed to stay in shape. That discipline was deeply ingrained, but he wasn’t trying to save the world at the moment. He was just a man, one who’d stopped being a machine the instant he’d stepped into Cedar Ridge and gotten one look at Sophie and let himself want her. Feel for her.
He eyed the old-fashioned glazed chocolate donut and heard his stomach rumble in anticipation.
Kenna waved it enticingly, teasing him. Wrapping his fingers around her wrist, he guided the donut to his mouth and took a huge bite.
Kenna laughed in delight and set her head on his shoulder. He slid his arm around her and squeezed, and that’s when Jacob realized everyone was watching them with varying degrees of shock. “What?” he asked.