And then Bailey’s face appeared next to Hud’s. “Your twin’s an idiot,” she said. “Finessing a conversation is beyond him.”
Jacob grinned and looked at Hud. “I knew I liked your woman.”
“I’m my own woman,” Bailey said, but she smiled. “And I like you too. So get your ass over here for dinner sometime soon and spend some time with all of us. My other half would like that.”
“Hey,” Hud said to her. “If I can’t call you my woman, then you can’t call me your better half.”
“I didn’t say better,” Bailey said.
Hud smiled and slid his arm around Bailey. “I’ll show you better. Later.”
She waggled a finger in his face, and Hud leaned forward to nip it with his teeth. With a laugh, she pushed off of him.
They had a bond, a hell of one by the looks of it. He wasn’t jealous. He liked knowing his brother had found that. No, what shocked Jacob was that he wanted it too.
“You don’t have to stay away,” Hud said. “There’s plenty of room here at the resort for you with us, with all of us. And then you, too, can be annoyed as shit by the marrieds who seem to think they’re entitled to have sex as many times a day as possible. Or have to deal with the mercurial moods of one evil Kenna Kincaid—”
“I can’t,” Jacob said.
“Right, okay, yeah.” Hud’s smile faded. “I get it. You’re just back for…well hell, I don’t even know, and then you’re out again.”
“I told you I was coming back,” Jacob said, “and I mean it.”
“Then why the hell can’t you stay with us, where you belong?”
Where he belonged. For a minute this struck Jacob completely dumb. He couldn’t talk. He couldn’t breathe. The warmth of it washed over all the cold, hard parts deep inside of him, the change so huge it actually hurt.
“Fine, fuck it,” Hud said, rising to his feet. “I’ve got to go—”
“I can’t stay at the lodge because I bought this cabin,” Jacob said. “But it’s good to know you’re still a hothead.”
Hud didn’t say anything. Not a single sound, and Jacob stared at the phone, trying to figure out if the call had gotten frozen. “Hud?”
“The cabin is yours?”
“Well, technically, it’s the bank’s,” Jacob said, trying to lighten the mood.
But Hud wasn’t interested in lightening the mood. “You bought the fucking cabin. Here in Cedar Ridge. With us.”
“Yeah, well, not exactly there with you,” Jacob said. “Because a little distance from the crazy would be good, but it’s only six miles, so it’s close enough, right?”
For the first time in way too many years, Jacob had the pleasure of seeing Hud smile. It took him only a second to realize it was mirrored on his own face as well. And hope—something he hadn’t allowed himself because it felt like a luxury—bloomed in his chest. Not trusting his voice, he didn’t say a word, but he knew he didn’t have to. Sensing movement, he craned his head and took in the vision in his doorway.
Sophie, in nothing but the scent of his soap and his towel.
“I’ve gotta go,” he said to Hud.
“I know that look,” Bailey murmured.
Hud narrowed his eyes a little and stared at Jacob like maybe he was trying to read him the same way Jacob had tried to do to him only a minute ago. Then Hud’s eyebrows vanished into the hair falling across his forehead. “Looks like maybe there’s something else keeping you in Cedar Ridge besides the cabin.”
“It’s not what you think.”
He smiled. “Wanna bet?”
Jacob blew out a breath. “I’m disconnecting now.”
Bailey blew him a kiss.
Hud simply nodded and disconnected.
Jacob tossed his phone aside and turned to Sophie.
“I didn’t mean to eavesdrop,” she said. Then she paused and grimaced. “Okay, so I did. To be honest, I was shamelessly eavesdropping.” She hugged herself, looking so hauntingly beautiful in his towel, smelling like his soap.
Jacob had to force himself to stay seated. Because if he stood up, he was going to haul her in to him, bury himself deep, and get lost in her eyes, her smile, her voice, her body…
Nope. Not standing up.
“Jacob.” She came into the room, coming close, too damn close, not stopping until she stood between his legs.
Don’t touch her. Don’t— His hands went to her hips. “Soph—”