“Works for me,” Gray said.
Kenna pumped a victorious fist. “Events coordination is too big for just one person,” she told Jacob. “But now there’s two of us.”
“But we’ve got something going on every weekend,” Hud said, coming back into the room, pocketing his phone. “Our next big event is Wounded Warriors, and that’s only two weeks out.”
“So?” Gray asked.
“So how do we know he’ll even be here?” he asked without even looking at Jacob.
“I’ll be here,” Jacob said. “I told you, I’m on leave. I go back shortly after the event.”
Hud didn’t acknowledge this or take his gaze off Gray.
Gray held out his opened hand, indicating that Jacob had just answered the question.
Hud left the room again.
Okay, then. Yep, things were going just great.
Several days later, Jacob was heading to his cabin, tired but feeling good about the past three days of working as one of the Kincaids, feeling for the first time like he’d actually been of some use.
And if it was Gray and Aidan—the brothers he’d never felt like he’d fit in with all those years ago—who’d made him feel the most welcome, he told himself he could wait for the rest.
He eyed his refrigerator. Empty.
The same way his dock had been for three nights…
With a shake of his head, he headed out to the store. He stood in the frozen-foods aisle, trying to figure out what he could toss into the microwave that might pass for dinner when he felt compelled to look behind him. Yep, there Sophie stood in front of the ice cream section, and suddenly he was ravenous.
But not for food.
Seeing her had relief filling him. He’d been missing her, foreign as that felt to him. Missing her and worried about where she’d been staying at night, hoping she was safe, wishing she trusted him enough to stay at his dock.
She hadn’t seen him yet. Her back was to him and she was on the phone, so he didn’t approach her. But he wanted to.
Stand down, soldier, he told himself. You already know she’s not for you. Or more accurately, you’re not for her.
Sophie stood in the frozen-foods aisle at the grocery store, staring at a two-gallon tub of ice cream. She was doing her damnedest to stay upbeat, but between her and the very tiny bathroom mirror on The Little Lucas, she was having a hard time.
She was on the phone with her parents, and her dad didn’t sound happy. But then again, he never did. She wished she could find the magic button to cheer him up, wished—
“How’s the hotel chain management job going?” he said.
Her stomach sank. “I was fired from that one.” She paused. “A month ago.”
The deafening silence made her wince. Being fired was the ultimate failure in her dad’s eyes. After all, it was after he’d been let go from the job at NASA that he’d hit rock bottom.
“You’ve got to work harder at things,” he said. “Like being married. Like your job. Look at Brooklyn. She has it all: a husband, kids, a good job with benefits.”
“You didn’t finish college because it wasn’t for you,” her mom said. “You left your great almost-a-paralegal job? Sophie…”
She closed her eyes at that and thunked her forehead right there on the glass door in the frozen-foods aisle.
“You’ve got to hold yourself to a higher standard,” her dad said quietly.
“It’s not what you think,” she said, not quietly. That had always been part of the problem. Her parents were calm, internal people.
She didn’t have a calm bone in her damn body and she’d never been able to keep much inside. “And I do hold myself to a high standard. I’m working hard, on everything.” I want to make you proud…But she didn’t say that. Instead, she said what she always said. “You’ll see.”
“You’re like a loose tumbleweed, twisting in the wind,” her mom said. “Find what you love and the money will follow.”
Right. But what if she didn’t know what she loved?
Or if she even could love?
They said their good-byes, and Sophie loaded a gallon of chocolate fudge ice cream and then on second thought made it two. Then she called her sister.
“Hey, what’s up?” Brooklyn answered, sounding irritated. “And what I really mean is ‘Hey, unless you have a time machine to whisk me away from the insanity of my life, I can’t talk right now.’”
Sophie could hear the sounds of kids laughing and playing in the background and also what was probably the clicking of her sister’s fingers over a keyboard. “You busy?”