“Noel,” Aspen called, hurrying our way. “Do you think you could help me carry out more potato chips?”
“In a sec,” he answered, not taking his gaze off me. “Oh, and do you remember Faith McCrown? Didn’t you pop her cherry our sophomore year?”
With a quick glance at Caroline, I gritted my teeth. She kept her chin high, though, and that made me proud. But still pissed as hell.
Nodding, I sent my good ol’ buddy ol’ pal a hard smile. “Yeah, you know, I do remember her. I remember how you took her over after I gushed about how flexible she was.”
Gamble’s mocking smirk died cold. I cocked my head to the side. “Wasn’t she the one who got so hooked on you she became damn near suicidal after you dropped her cold for her best friend? Or was it her archenemy you fucked? I can’t recall which.”
Beside him, Aspen started to cough, and I glanced at her, suddenly remembering she was right there.
Pressing her hand to her chest, she batted her eyelashes like crazy and stepped in reverse away from us.
“Aspen?” Gamble reached for her, but she darted another step away.
“I...I...I’m sorry. I think I have some dust in my...” She coughed again when tears filled her eyes. Whirling away, she murmured, “Excuse me.”
As she hurried off, Gamble shot me a murderous glare. “You fucking prick.” And then he hurried after his wife.
I squeezed my eyes shut. “Shit.” I’d fucked that up.
When I opened my eyes, an incredulous Caroline was in my face. “Why the hell did you do that to Aspen?”
“I wasn’t thinking about her,” I admitted. “I didn’t mean to hurt her. I was just so...pissed at him.”
“Well, you did hurt her. You hurt her a lot.”
“The fucker needed to shut up, so I shut him up. He was hurting you, and I couldn’t handle that. I didn’t think it through; I was too focused on getting him to stop upsetting you to think about anyone else. I’m sorry.”
“But he didn’t know what he was doing to me.”
“Then maybe he should,” I snapped. “No, there’s no maybe to it, anymore. He...should...know. It’s past fucking time. Everyone else knows. Even my parents. He is the only person who doesn’t know.”
I grabbed her shoulders and shook her lightly. “Why don’t you want him to know?”
She shoved at my chest and yelled, “Because I’m scared.”
I didn’t believe her. Still worried she just wanted to drop me after what I’d told her, I shook my head. “He won’t take anything out on you. You’re his sister. He’ll always love you, no matter what. I’m the one at risk of losing my best fucking friend. So what’re you so scared of?”
I just wanted her to admit she was over me if that was the case, but instead she shrieked, “I’m afraid he’ll do or say something that’ll convince you I’m not worth the effort. Okay?” Tears flooded her eyes. “What if he breaks us apart? I’m not ready to lose you.”
Pummeled in the chest by her words, I gaped at her. She wanted to stay with me. She wanted...fuck. I inhaled sharply. My anger instantly oozing from me, I stepped close and cupped her face in my hands. “Baby, there’s nothing he could say or do to keep me away from you.”
“Is that so?” Noel asked from behind us.
I spun around to find Gamble only ten feet away, his face flushed red, lips curled back in a snarl, and his eyes narrowed in hatred.
“You son of a bitch.”
He charged, and about twenty things happened at once. Pick, Lowe, and Hart shouted for him to stop as they leapt on him, catching his arms and chest and keep him from getting to me.
I stepped in front of Caroline so she couldn’t get between us, and Blondie leapt forward to drag her away. But Ham wasn’t having anyone near his woman, so he hovered over the two girls, while Milk Tits and Buttercup tried to usher the babies and two youngest Gambles into the house, except Colton and Brandt refused to go. Aspen darted out the back door and skidded to a halt to cover her mouth with her hands.
“Damn it,” Gam roared, managing to glare me down as he struggled against the three men. “Let me go. I just want to kill him.”
“You can’t kill Ten,” Pick explained, sounding strangely levelheaded for a moment like this.
“Yeah, why don’t you have him sleep with your sister behind your fucking back and say that to me again.”