Nobody But You (Cedar Ridge 3) - Page 81

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She stopped breathing. “With you?”

“No. A good friend. She left me first though. So there’s that.”

“I’m so sorry,” she whispered. He’d been hurt. He knew the pain of it, the realization of the fear that you were never enough.

He leaned in a little so that their mouths were just barely touching, ghosting together with each word. “You get it now?” he asked. “Why I’d never hurt you that way?”

“Yes,” she whispered.

He gave her a little smile. “And anyway, I wasn’t supposed to end up with Mindy.”

Her breath caught. “No?”

“No,” he said, and kissed her again. When he pulled back, his gaze had gone all heavy-lidded and sexy, and she knew where that would lead, so she laughed and gave him a shove.

“We have work,” she said.

She watched lust war with responsibility in those dark eyes, and when responsibility won, she liked him even more.

“You owe me,” he said.

Her pulse kicked hard. “Do I?”

“Oh yeah.” He kissed her lightly. The appetizer on the menu of Jacob kisses. “Tonight.”

She stared into his serious eyes. “Tonight.”

It took until 10:00 a.m. to set up for the Wounded Warriors event, and Jacob knew they couldn’t have done it without Sophie. He’d known from day one that she had a bossy streak a mile wide, but when she harnessed her power, miracles truly happened.

They had an entrance area complete with portable wheelchair ramp rolled out, a huge canopy over what would be the lunch spread and another over the sign-up area where the veterans would decide if they wanted to Jet Ski, ride a tube behind a boat, or, if they were mobile enough, kayak or paddleboard.

He and Kenna had arranged for the staff and the equipment, but it was Sophie and her iPad who’d mapped out the setup.

With his mom’s “help.” Carrie had arrived, insisting she be given a job, and Sophie had taken her hand and kept her busy, aka out of trouble.

Jacob was impressed. The woman had serious organizational skills, and before he and Kenna could so much as blink, everything was in place and ready to roll.

“Man, she’s a force of nature,” Hud said, coming up to stand next to Jacob, who was watching Sophie direct the delivery of food coming in from the local deli.

“Yeah.” Jacob watched as Kenna hugged Sophie.

Carrie walked by and snorted. “Those two together are going to be trouble personified,” she said.

Hud grinned at her. “Takes trouble to recognize trouble.”

Carrie smiled at her son. “Is it like looking in a mirror?”

Hud rolled his eyes at her as she moved on to go sit with Char, Gray and Aidan’s mom, who was working the entrance, accepting tickets.

Jacob watched Kenna and Sophie. They clearly had a rapport. The two of them had become close, probably recognizing the wild and crazy in each other. Together they worked on the dessert section of the canopy, apparently sampling each and every kind of dessert. Their mouths were full and they were laughing at each other.

“Just what Kenna needs,” Hud said. “A partner in crime.”

Jacob slid a look his way.

“What?” Hud asked.

“Are we really doing this?” Jacob asked. “Small talk?”

“Better than no talk,” Hud said with more than a little annoyed irony.

Jacob shook his head. “Okay, let’s have it. Exactly how long are you going to hold that against me?”

Hud shrugged. “Dunno. When are you going to stop sulking around and start acting like one of us again?”

Jacob drew in a deep breath for patience. “What do you think I’m doing here?”

“Trying to relieve some guilt.”

Jacob turned and stared at him. “And what the fuck am I guilty of?”

Again Hud shrugged.

“Oh no,” Jacob said. “You brought it up. Spill it.”

The dessert tasting was still going on under the canopy. Bailey joined Kenna and Sophie, stuffing a big cookie into her mouth. Laughing, she caught sight of Hud and Jacob. She pointed at Hud and then at her own eyes, miming I’ve got my eyes on you.

And then she blew a kiss at Jacob.

Hud scowled, but Jacob grinned. “Your woman likes me more than you.”

“She wants me to be nicer to you,” Hud said.

Now Jacob out-and-out laughed. “Did you tell her us Kincaids don’t do nice?”

Hud squirmed.

“Aw. She has you totally wrapped around her pinkie,” Jacob said. “She believes that you are nice.”

Tags: Jill Shalvis Cedar Ridge Romance