A Perfect Ten

Page 70

I glanced toward Gam in time to see his face pale. Even his freaking lips bleached of color. “And?”

“And...there was...damage.” Her gaze strayed toward the two younger Gamble boys. But Noel didn’t seem to care about them. He rolled out his hand, asking to hear everything. “That procedure she had last year,” she started tactfully. “I guess she didn’t heal right from it.”

Gam sucked in a breath and then lowered his face. “Fuck,” he whispered. Covering his face with both hands, he groaned. “Now I feel like total shit.”

“Well, you should,” I snapped before I could stop myself. “Because you are.”

Dropping his hands, he turned a glare my way. “Excuse me?”

“You knew how all that shit affected her. You mentioned how worried about her you were every fucking day. You’d have to be a complete idiot not to realize how sensitive she’d be about the entire topic. And yet you bandied it around tonight like it was some...joke.”

“Great.” Gam shook his head and glanced up at the ceiling. “I’m getting a lecture about my behavior from Mr. King of Insensitive himself.”

I sniffed. “Guess that should tell you how fucking wrong you were.”

He nodded. “You’re right. You’re absolutely right.” With a glance at his wife and two brothers, he announced, “I’m going to go find her. I need to apologize.”

As he left the room, I rubbed my hands over my face and slumped against the counter.

“Well, I’m glad you said that to him so I didn’t have to,” Aspen murmured.

Dropping my arms to my sides, I forced a smile. “Happy to be of service.”

She sent me a gracious nod. “And in return, I’m happy to glance over your resume.”

An hour later, my mind was straying. Oh, who the fuck was I kidding? It’d been impossible to concentrate from the moment I’d sat down with Gamble’s woman in the dining room. Overall, she seemed impressed with my format, but she’d definitely used her green pen.

“I think if you employ the suggestions I made, you’ll get some amazing results.”

When she glanced at me, I nodded. “Yeah. Thanks.”

She nodded too and drew in a breath. “So...do you have any places in mind that you’d like to apply to?”

“Actually, yes. I have a list.” I checked the front door, for like the millionth time in the last sixty minutes, but no one opened it. No Gamble. No Caroline. No boogie man. Where the hell were they? Was she okay?

“Really?” Aspen sounded surprised by my answer. “That’s...wow, that’s great. I knew Noel was worried you wouldn’t—”

I cocked her a look, and her eyes flared before she slapped her mouth shut. I sniffed. “He was worried I wouldn’t grow up and look for a real job after I graduated?”

“I...” She shook her head, completely flustered. “He just...”

“Takes on the responsibility of the world,” I said for her, “and worries about everyone and everything they do.”

She smiled softly. “Just everyone important to him.”

Realizing I was included in that group, I glanced down at my hands, the very hands I’d used to lay claim to his sister.

I was such a bastard.

“Well...” Aspen sounded suddenly uncomfortable.

I looked up. “I’m sorry,” I blurted.

Her eyes widened and she pulled back in shock. “You’re...I’m...sorry, I’m confused.”

“I wasn’t very...respectful,” I told her, “when you and Gam were, you know, first hooking up.”

She swallowed noisily. “Well, it was pretty scandalous and...illicit.” She shrugged and let out a nervous laugh. “Really? What were you to think?”

“I should’ve thought I had my friend’s back, no matter what.”

“But, you did,” she started in my defense. “I explicitly remember you coming to my house to cuss me out after I broke up with him. And then you—”

“I got rip-roaring drunk and hollered at him from across a room full of people asking how you guys did it,” I confessed in a rush.

Aspen sat up straighter and worked her jaw before exhaling. “Oh,” she finally said. “I...did not know about that.”

I looked down at my hands. “At the time, I didn’t think anyone would believe me. I mean, I was drunk, and I always spouted off crazy shit. But I bet you anything Marci Bennett was there, in that room, and heard everything.”

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