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I’m counting out our register drawer, trying to stay focused on the numbers whipping through my head, but it’s difficult with Reid’s constant small talk. I jot down another tally mark on the paper in front of me and set aside a stack of bills.
“Hello, are you listening?” Reid asks, sounding annoyed.
“No. I’m counting.”
“Well, I’m talking about you, so you might want to lend me your ear for a second.”
Huffing, I set the cash on the counter, knowing my very persistent brother won’t be quiet until I give him my full attention. “What’s up, Reid?”
Satisfied, he smiles. “You should ask her out.”
“Ask who out?”
Yeah, that’s not going to happen. “No.”
I go back to counting, but Reid starts snapping his fingers at me. “Hey, I wasn’t finished.” I look back up at him, not even slightly interested in this conversation. “I saw the way she was looking at you today. I think she likes you.”
“You’re confused. She was probably just being nice, since I’m the guy who pulled her out of the window of her car after her accident. And even if she does like me, which I highly doubt, there’s no interest on my end. So that’s the end of that.”
“Bull,” Reid and Jen both say at the same time.
Christ. My two most nagging siblings are ganging up on me. Just what I need when I’m trying to get home and relax.
“Can we not make this into a dissection of my personal life, please? I’m not in the mood, and I want to get this done so I can go home.”
“Griff, she’s pretty, she’s sweet, and she’s smart. She’s new to town and, I’m sure, could use a friend,” Jen says just as the door opens, its bell chiming through the space. Brig pops in, grease all over his shirt and a smirk on his face.
Uh-oh. There’s only one reason why he’d be smirking at me that way.
“What are we talking about?” He rubs his hands together and takes a seat on a barstool near the window. “If it’s about the hot new teacher in town, I want in on this conversation.”
“We’re trying to convince Griff to ask her out.”
Brig slow claps his appreciation. “Novel idea. I think they’re a perfect match.”
“I’m not asking her out,” I huff, giving up on the register and leaning against the wall behind me, arms crossed. There’s no way I’ll be able to concentrate on counting while these three are yapping in my ear.
“Why the hell not? She’s perfect for you,” Brig says, a little insulted at my rejection. “Before you even say no, you should at least get to know her a little. I told her today she could borrow your truck while her car is in the shop.”
I count to five before answering, tamping down my temper. “Why the hell would you do that?” Okay, maybe I didn’t tamp it down enough.
“Uh, because she lives three houses down from you?” Brig rolls his eyes as if I’m the stupid one in this conversation. “She needs some help, so be a knight in shining armor, dude. Help out the damsel in distress and then make out with her on the beach. Maybe cop a feel; get some for once.”
“I’m not doing that,” I answer, going back to the money, letting them know this conversation is over.
“And why not?” Jen asks.
“Because I’m not interested in starting or being in a relationship. I’m happy with how my life is right now, and I don’t need anything complicating it.”
“But she has heart eyes for you,” Brig says like a jackass.
“Don’t worry; there are plenty of Knightly brothers to choose from,” I reply.
“Come on, Griff, how fun can going home to an empty, lonely house really be?” Jen chimes in, concern evident in her voice.
I shift on my feet, my voice terse. “I like my house. It’s fine. I’m fine.”
Silence falls between us, an awkward air moving in like a fast-moving cold front.
“Is this because of New Orleans?” Reid finally asks, taking a seat next to Brig. Both of my brothers fix their gazes on me, waiting for an answer.
Why is this a thing whenever we talk about my love life? Can’t they just let it go? What happened was … hell, I don’t even know how to describe it. All I know is I don’t foresee love in my future.
Claire was the love of my life, and I lost her; in a blink of an eye she was gone. I’m not going through that again. Not ever.
Shaking my head, I turn away from my family. This conversation is over.
And with that, I take the cash to the back office, where I can get some peace and quiet.
Ask Ren Winters out on a date? Not going to happen.
And she’s not going to drive my truck either. I think that’s evident in the fact that she drove her car in between two trees.
Can’t blame a guy there.
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It was supposed to be an innocent night, celebrating my brother’s birthday. Nothing was supposed to go wrong. We’d vowed to be on our best behavior after all . . .
But it only took one rowdy night with my brothers to flip my world upside down. One unlucky encounter saddled us with a family curse and the promise of doomed relationships. I laughed it off immediately. “Yeah, right,” I thought. “A love curse. Ha!”
Boy, was I wrong.
Word spreads quickly in a town like mine; rumors about that night soon made us the most eligible yet untouchable bachelors in Port Snow, Maine. As a subject of endless gossip and speculation, I could kiss my dating life goodbye.
It would have stayed that way if Ren Winters, the new girl in town, hadn’t crashed into my life. Brave, beautiful, and smart—her vivacious thirst for a fresh start has given me hope that maybe, just maybe, I can have one too.
Everyone wishes for that second chance . . . but could this really be mine?