“I don’t have a drinking problem, asshole.”
He took a long and slow drink from the bottle as he rested his hip against the counter. The half-grin was back in full force. “You know, I’ve always heard the first step to recovery is acceptance that you have a problem.”
I drew in another cutting breath and felt the warmth spread across my face. Tanner and I gave each other a hard time, that much was obvious, but for some stupid reason, a knot exploded in the base of my throat and the back of my eyes burned as I watched him take another drink. Embarrassment seeded in my stomach, blossoming into a tree that only bloomed rotten fruit.
I didn’t have a drinking problem.
Tanner lowered the bottle, and the moment our gazes collided, the grin faded slowly from his striking face. His brows knitted as his lips parted, and I quickly turned toward Sydney, my voice embarrassingly hoarse when I spoke. “Count me in.”
I watched Andrea walk into the living room, the normal twitch of her hips absent. No one swayed ass like Andrea, and seeing it gone from her step was answer enough. Our normal whatever-the-fuck-it-was between us had gone further than I intended. No doubt what I’d said had cut her, but shit, it was no different than any other day.
My hand tightened on the neck of the bottle. For the life of me, I had no idea what the hell Andrea Walters’s problem was. Honestly. No fucking clue. One minute, sweet and sugary words parted those pouty pink lips of hers. Next second, she was a fire-breathing dragon from hell—a hot, fire-breathing dragon, but still. Her moods flipped more quickly than cups did during a game of flip cup.
Maybe it was because she was a redhead?
She’d always been this way with me, and the most fuckedup thing about it, there was a part of me that actually looked forward to whatever was going to come out of her mouth. Twisted as fuck. It was like a game between us, to see who could hit the hardest without lifting a finger. If nothing else, it was damn entertaining—or at least, it had been until now. Now, I wasn’t too sure about it.
Those pretty doe eyes of hers had looked suspiciously damp right before she’d looked away, and yeah…that didn’t sit right with me.
Kyler shot me a look as he walked past me and grabbed a beer out of the fridge, but I watched Andrea sit on the edge of the couch, her posture unnaturally rigid.
Sydney leaned against the arm. “We’re thinking about leaving early in the morning, around six.”
My gaze flicked to Andrea, expecting her to make some kind of crack about not getting up that early, but she was abnormally quiet. My spine stiffened.
“That should put us at the cabin between nine and ten in the morning, depending on traffic.” Kyler stood beside me as he screwed off the cap. “Then we’ll be heading back the following Monday.”
“Sounds good to me.” I didn’t take my eyes off Andrea as she fiddled with a strap on her sandals, slipping them onto her feet.
Sydney glanced at me, smiling softly. “You’re definitely off from the fire department?”
I nodded. Kyler had mentioned weeks ago about wanting to hit up the cabin before everyone headed back to class, and I’d requested the time off then. Which had meant I’d pulled a lot of doubles, but I hadn’t minded it. Wasn’t too different from the twelve-hour shifts we worked in the first place, and I’d only be there until February of next year, and then I was off to the academy. Not that I was in any hurry to leave the fire department, but being a cop was in my blood. Except I wanted to be a good cop. I’d probably still volunteer at the fire hall once I knew what kind of schedule I was looking at on the force.
“It makes sense if we drive up together.” Sydney toyed with a strand of her hair. “Kyler and I can pick you two up.”
Andrea had twisted toward Sydney and started to protest the whole idea of taking one car. I zoned out, staring at her as the bottle of beer dangled from the tips of my fingers.
Damn…she was a cute girl. Nah, she was more than cute, and it wasn’t like this was the first time I’d noticed that. From the first time I’d seen her at the bar with Sydney, she’d done more than just poke my interest. Hell, anyone with eyes knew she was a very pretty girl. Lush lips. Freckled cheeks and thick, dark eyelashes. Come to think of it, she reminded me of a girl I’d had a crush on in middle school. Hell, couldn’t remember that chick’s name, but she’d had freckles and red hair. I think I used to pull on her braids or some annoying shit like that. My lips tipped up in a small grin as I lifted the bottle to my mouth. Andrea was a motherfucking firecracker, though, not the kind of girl who was easily tamed.
Hell, not the kind of girl you even wanted to tame.
I did know she dated, but she didn’t stick with any guy for long. There weren’t many who could handle her. There wasn’t even one dude I could think of who could. Well, other than me. I could fucking handle her, if I wanted to.
I hadn’t back then, when I’d first met her. Relationships hadn’t been my thing, but life had a way of slowing down, changing. I wasn’t as interested in random hookups as I was a year or so ago, even though Andrea seemed to think my bedroom was equivalent to the metro station. Shit. It had been months since I’d taken anyone home with me or woken up in someone else’s bed.
The night I’d met Andrea I’d known immediately she wasn’t going to be like most girls. I’d hit on her, more than willing to engage in some fun times with her, and she had looked me straight in the eye, laughed in my face, and told me to keep dreaming.