Читать онлайн "Only You" автора Rose Stephanie - RuLit - Страница 6


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“I like number two and number three. What do you think, Ev?” Jack turned his head to face me. Paige huffed and shook her head. Jack cocked an eyebrow in her direction as though he didn’t know what Paige’s problem was, either.

“That’s fine. They’re all pretty nice, Paige.” I glanced over to her and she nodded in response, folding her arms without looking back at me. Today didn’t look like the day I could talk to Paige about anything.

“Mind telling me who pissed in your Cheerios, little cousin?” Jack glared at Paige and she narrowed her eyes at him in response.

“Maybe it would be nice to hear what’s going on from you, not other people. Why did I have to hear from Evan that you made him a partner? When did you stop telling me everything?” Her face was beet red and she held on to the edge of the desk so tightly her knuckles were turning white.

This wasn’t the first time they fought in front of me like I wasn’t there. Throughout high school it was an almost daily occurrence. Paige kept her arms folded and bit her lip, probably to hide the trembling in her jaw I couldn’t help but notice. Jack mentioned to me before I moved back that Paige wasn’t taking his illness very well. If she was upset about Jack making me a partner, it was most likely because she knew what it meant.

Jack let out a long sigh and rubbed her shoulder. “When you stopped wanting to hear it. Evan is the only one I’d trust to be here. I have a kid on the way, and all those weeks when I couldn’t move or get my head out of the toilet I lost a shit ton of money. I feel better, but I’m not dumb enough to think I can do this alone anymore. It’s all a good thing, really. Evan just got us a huge job so we’re already getting back on track.”

“I’m glad.” Paige’s voice was shaky and she brushed away a tear with the back of her hand. Jack snuck a look over at me and grimaced. He was on the money about her being headstrong but vulnerable.

Jack took a step toward the door. “Well, I promised Ellie I’d meet her for lunch. Make printouts of two and three and we’ll take a look. I wouldn’t mind redoing the website if you had time for that.”

“I’d love to redesign your site. I don’t do much coding, but I know another freelancer who can help with that. If that’s okay with you, Evan.” Both of them were ignoring the big elephant in the room, but I wasn’t about to get involved in a family squabble.

“Sounds great to me, Paige. I can’t wait to see what you come up with.” I gave her a big smile that she genuinely returned. She was still obviously rattled, and I resisted the urge to wrap my arms around her to comfort her. Something about Paige made me want to be her knight in shining armor and come to her rescue.

“Okay, if that’s all settled, I’m starving.” Jack raised his eyebrows at Paige. “We good?”

“Fine.” Uh oh. Usually, when a woman used ‘fine’, it was anything but.

“Good.” Jack gave Paige a kiss on the forehead and turned back to me. “Be back in a couple of hours. Man the fort while I’m gone.” He gave me a pretend salute.

“Yes, sir!” I saluted back. Paige chuckled softly as she packed her stuff.

“Heading back to the office?”

I stood up to walk her out. “Nah, I’m done for the day, so I’m headed to Starbucks to work on a couple of projects. I like working from home, but too much time in my apartment makes me a little batty.”

“I can keep you company. I’m not very hungry and just wanted some coffee. Would you mind? It would be nice to catch up.” She furrowed her brow at me, but shrugged and nodded.

“Sure, that would be nice.” Now, that was a real smile.

I’ll show you who’s a chicken, Jack.

Starbucks was a quick walk across the street from their office, but there was a heavy silence between Evan and me as we made our way. I was so mortified by the way I acted that I could barely look him in the eye. He was helping Jack by being his partner, and I went in there like a bratty child because I was the last to know.

I settled at my usual table, towards the back and close to an outlet to plug in my laptop, as Evan ordered our coffees. I needed to apologize before I could concentrate on anything else.

Evan handed me my iced Americano and sat across from me. I nodded a thank you and wrapped my hands around my drink so I wouldn’t wring them in my lap.

“Evan, I am so sorry. None of that was against you. Jack is right. I can’t handle hearing things so he doesn’t tell me. He’s always been there when I needed him and I’m too weak to return the favor.” I lowered my gaze as my voice cracked. As if I didn’t humiliate myself enough in front of Evan today, I had to go the whole nine yards.

“Paige, please stop.” Evan pulled my hand from around my coffee cup and gave it a reassuring squeeze. “No apology is necessary. Jack is like your brother. Seeing him like this is very hard for you and Jack knows that. I want you to understand, I would never take his company away from him. He needed my help or he was going to have to close.” Another little tidbit I didn’t know.

“He called you?” My cousin was the most stubborn pain in the ass I’d ever met. He never, ever asked for help. For him to call Evan and ask him to move back, he had to be in a crap load of trouble.

Evan shrugged as he took a sip of his black coffee. “I didn’t have much going on in Philadelphia, so nothing was really keeping me there. I wanted to be closer to my dad anyway and was thinking of moving back. I just did it sooner. Jack, your aunt and uncle, they saved me when I was a kid. I hate the reason he needed my help, but would never have thought twice about whatever he asked me.”

I put my hand over his and ran my thumb back and forth over the top of his wrist. Instead of being awkward, it felt natural. My family had always loved Evan. He was such a good kid and obviously grew up to be a great man. I felt a rush of shame that it took a new haircut and muscles for me to notice how amazing he was.

“You’re a great guy, Evan. Always were. Jack is pretty lucky to have you as a friend.” I smiled as he bashfully looked away.

“Nothing Jack wouldn’t do for me,” Evan shrugged and lowered his gaze to the tabletop. “I was working with a couple of contractors but nothing full time. I didn’t have to give much notice.”

“No women devastated over the sexy contractor moving away?” It was hard to not roll my own eyes at my attempt at flirting, and trying to get information.

Evan cocked an eyebrow at me and smirked. “Sexy? I like the designs well enough already. Buttering me up isn’t necessary. But no,” I gave him a sideways glance and his smile grew a little wider.

“You look . . . a little different since the last time I saw you. I’m guessing you did a lot of hard labor for those contractors in Philadelphia.” I cocked an eyebrow back, trying to be playful but I was probably making a total ass of myself. Evan laughed, hopefully with me not at me.

“I got sick of the guys making fun of me on job sites. Before I cut my hair and found the gym they called me a ‘skinny hippie’. Besides, short hair is a hell of a lot easier when you work in the heat.” I closed my eyes for a second to get the thought of a hot and sweaty Evan out of my head. “What about you? I’m sure lots of guys waiting in the wings were happy when you kicked Chris’s ass to the curb.”

I huffed. “Are you serious? Actually, since Chris I haven’t really . . . I’ve had lousy judgement and awful luck when it comes to men, you know that. I’m sure you’ve heard an earful from Jack, and he doesn’t know the half of it.”

Evan leaned back and narrowed his eyes at me. “What doesn’t Jack know?”



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