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Need You for Mine(9)

By:Marina Adair

They’d grown up in the same town, but they’d lived in very different worlds. Harper was the sweet, sunny girl-next-door who paraded around town befriending everyone and their mother.

Everyone except him. Which never bothered him. Until now. Now he couldn’t help but feel bothered—and in all the right kinds of ways.

As unexpected as that reaction was, so were those long, lush legs. Miles of them, it seemed. Tanned, toned, to her neck, and a total turn-on. Only she was looking for Mr. Right, when he was the reigning Mr. One Night.

And now there he was, going on day thirty-five of what was becoming a serious sex drought, getting all menstrual over some kiss. Which was piss-poor timing because Harper might be the cute girl-next-door with the surprising cleavage, but in a few months she would be a regular at family events, since Adam’s youngest brother was marrying Harper’s best friend.

Adam took a deep breath, checked his man card to see if it was still valid, and strode through the open door of Stan’s. The sun was high and the warm summer air stirred the daisies in the window-box planters.

Stan’s was a soup kitchen meets auto body shop with a counter made from an old tailgate and cooking utensils and engine tools hanging from the ceiling. It was the only place in the county, probably the state, where one could get a smog inspection and a bowl of chilled tomatillo avocado soup with cilantro-infused oil.

It was a cash only, service questionable kind of place where the chili was award winning, the beer was on tap, and his baby brother was, on occasion, the line cook. Not by trade, but by necessity. It seemed chopping vegetables helped keep Dax’s demons at bay—and Adam’s brother had more than his fair share.

“Nice apron,” Adam said, taking a seat at the counter.

Dax smiled, goofy and stupid. “Emerson bought it for me.”

Emerson Blake was mouthy and stubborn, and she had his large military-grade brother wrapped around her itty bitty finger. Which explained why the apron was a little bit leather, a little bit lethal, and had a picture of an apple below the words BITE ME.

When Adam smirked, Dax got serious. Real serious.

“You have a problem with it?” Dax looked at the butcher knife, then at Adam, and lifted a questioning brow. Yeah, Adam might be a few years older, but Dax had at least two inches and thirty pounds on him. Plus fifteen years of Army Ranger bad-assery under his belt.

“Nope, just noticed that the metal rivets on the ties really bring out your eyes.” Adam looked around for the other brother. “Where’s Jonah?”

“We had lunch plans, not dinner,” Dax informed him as though the concept of meal times were too difficult for Adam to grasp. “He got tired of waiting. I’m only still here because Emi has the food truck parked up the valley at some summer craft fair.”

“We ran three calls last night, all after 1:00 a.m., the last one being a fire on a hillside vineyard that kept us going well into the morning. I didn’t get to sleep until after sunup.”

Dax looked at the sun streaming in the windows. “It’s nearly four fifteen, so what’s your point?”

Adam looked at his watch. Four fifteen exactly. “How do you do that?”

“It’s a gift.” Dax grinned, then went back to making short order of the pile of potatoes he was butchering.

A fresh breeze blew through the open door and stirred up the spicy garlic, roasting chilies, and baking bread. Adam’s stomach growled. “I’ll have a bowl of the chili and two orders of garlic bread.”

“First, I’m not a damn waitress, and second, you’re too late. I can’t give you any chili.”

Adam looked at the pot of chili on the stovetop behind the counter. “It’s full. I can see it from where I’m sitting.”

“Then move so you don’t have to look at it.” Dax waved the knife toward a booth in the far corner. “I’m under strict orders not to give you any chili. Or garlic bread. In fact, if I serve you anything at all, other than a fist to the throat, I’ll be sleeping on the couch with my hand and lotion for company.”

“What does my lunch have to do with your sex life?”

“Don’t know, don’t care,” Dax said. “All I know is Emi laid out the rules, and I just want to get laid. Sorry, but I know you get it.”

No. He didn’t. He didn’t get it at all.

He didn’t get what he’d done this time to tick off his future sister-in-law. Or how sometime over the last year both of his brothers, who had exactly zero game with women, had hooked up with two of the biggest hotties in town. His oldest brother, Jonah, had married one, Dax was two breaths away from saying I do to the other, and Adam, the fucking life of every party, was suddenly the odd man out. Fine with him since it also meant he wasn’t saddled down with a relationship.