“You can’t.” Smack. “Spray water.” Smack. “On a goddamn gas fire, you
fucking idiot.” Smack, smack, smack.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, Avery. You coulda just told me, no need for violence.”
No need for violence. I ought to smash his testicles with my boot heel
and see what he says about violence.
I looked over my
shoulder to make sure the flames were actually out while simultaneously
worrying that the smoke alarms and sprinklers didn’t go off, upset that Graham
and my brother were in the same damn room, and fretting over the fact that we
were out of tequila and spiced rum and all my waitresses almost quit on me.
I didn’t have
time for this brand of family drama.
“Tell that to my
wrist, fucknut,” I muttered, unleashing the full power of my perfected ‘Mom
Stare’ – a single raised eyebrow along with my usual resting bitch face.
widened, looking down at my now-red wrist and back up to my eyes again. “I’m
sorry, A. I didn’t mean it.”
My raised eyebrow
held some heft, and he appeared adequately shamed. Remy always said that my
singular raised eyebrow reminded him so much of our mom it hurt. I didn’t pull
it out often, but I wasn’t now – nor had I ever been – a woman he could push
around, so the shithead deserved it.
“I know you
didn’t mean to.”
“Didn’t mean to
what?” a growl vibrated behind me.
I really didn’t
want to, but I turned, looking up, up, up at Graham. His eyes were like two
clear pools of blue fire, a mix of wrath and vengeance making them burn bright.
“Remy didn’t know
you couldn’t put out a gas fire with water. We fought over the sprayer nozzle.
It’s what siblings do. I’m fine,” I said, the calm I injected into my voice the
exact same one I used on rowdy drunks though not one I’d ever had to use on
him. I don’t think he drank more than one or two beers at a time maybe ever.
dropped from my eyes to my wrist, and I watched as his already strung-tight
body turned to a hunk of living stone. Everyone in town knew about Graham
Foster. They knew about his mama turning him out at the age of ten when he
stepped between her and his step-father.
They knew every
bit of the gossip.
I did, too.
We all knew about
how he ended up broken and bloody on Mrs. Peterson’s doorstep in the middle of
a Colorado winter. How he still watched out for his mama even though she turned
him away. That same ten-year-old grew up to be the nearly twenty-one-year-old
man who stepped in a Wells mess that completely changed the course of his life.
I’d never been so
ashamed to look someone in the eye as I was when I looked at Graham. Because
Graham was a protector. He was a protector at ten, at twenty.
thirty-five he still was one – especially when it came to me.
protecting me nearly cost him his life.