“I did, but then my brother messaged me, so I’m heading to his house.”
“You haven’t slept. Are you going to be okay?” The concern in her voice only solidifies why she is the one.
“I’ll be okay. I was hoping I could see you at some point tonight.”
“Oh,” she replies quietly, making my eyes draw together.
“Oh? Baby, you know you’re a killer on a man’s ego, right?”
“Sorry, it’s just...”
I listen as she takes a breath, but when she doesn’t continue, I ask, “Haven’t you ever dated anyone?”
“What are you, a virgin?” I joke, expecting her to laugh.
“I should let you go while you’re driving,” she says quickly.
“No, you shouldn’t.” I grip my steering wheel tighter.
“I really should,” she argues.
“No, you’re going to tell me exactly what’s wrong with you,” I growl.
“Actually, I’m getting off the phone,” she snaps, and the phone goes dead.
“What the f**k?” I press dial on the phone again, and this time, it goes right to voicemail.
She’s lucky I have to meet my brother; otherwise, I would be at her house dealing with this shit face to face. I drive the rest of the way to Asher’s with my music on full blast, thinking over our conversation. I have never let a woman affect me, never given a f**k what they think, say, or do. I have been told the same shit my whole life about the boom and used to think it was a bunch of bullshit. That is, until Asher met November, Trevor pulled his head out of his ass and claimed Liz, and now Cash with Lilly. Then I felt it for myself when I saw Sophie.
“I’m such an ass**le,” I say aloud as everything clicks into place. Her shyness, the way she carries herself, how her body reacts when I touch her— either she’s had very little experience or is a virgin, and I just threw that shit in her face. “Fuck me,” I whisper into my empty car. I shake my head and drive the rest of the way, coming up with a plan. No way am I letting her push me away.
I pull up to Asher’s house twenty minutes later, shut off my car, and hop out.
“Uncle Nico’s here!” July yells over her shoulder before running down the steps straight into me.
“Hey, kiddo.” I swing her up into my arms.
“You didn’t bring Daisy,” she pouts, looking over my shoulder and into my car.
“Nope. She’s at home.”
“Awww! But I wanted to see her,” she whines.
“How about the next time I go out of town, you babysit her for me?”
“Really?!” she squeals.
“Really,” I say, kissing her head before setting her down once we get into the house.
“Thank God you’re here,” November says as soon as she sees me. I raise an eyebrow, and she shakes her head as she gives me a hug. “Those three”—she points out the glass backdoors towards the pool where Asher, Trevor, and Cash are all standing—“have been trying to get the kid gate put up around the pool for the last three hours. I tried to help them, but they refused to listen. Hopefully, now that you’re here, they will stop arguing like a bunch of old ladies and just get it done already.”
“I’ll see what I can do.” I laugh when she rolls her eyes. Then I walk out to the back patio and down to the pool area where—just like November said—Asher, Trevor, and Cash are all arguing.
“You do know that, if you guys stopped bitching for a few minutes, you would probably already be done, right?” I ask, walking up to join the circle.
“You think this shit’s easy? There aren’t even instructions in English! All this shit is in Chinese,” Cash complains, shoving the piece of paper at me.
I don’t even bother looking for English directions; I just look at the picture, glance at the pieces, and immediately start to assemble the fence.
“You have always been a f**king show-off,” Trevor says in disgust, making me laugh.
“You’re just mad I’m smarter than you.”
“You wish, motherfucker,” he replies, helping me put pieces together.
“You girls going to stand there and watch, or are you going to help us out?” I ask Asher and Cash, who are both just standing over us in identical poses with their arms crossed over their chests.
Realizing they’ve been called out, they immediate jump into action. It takes thirty minutes to get the last piece attached, but once we’re done, we all stand back to appreciate our hard work.
“That didn’t take long to do once y’all stopped bitching,” I pointed out, just to rub it in their faces.
“We would have figured it out…eventually,” Cash says, smiling—something he does a lot more these days.
“How are Lilly and Ashlyn doing living with you?” I ask him.
“Good. They’re settling in. Never thought I’d be thankful to Jules for anything in my life besides Jax, but she proved to be useful getting Lilly to live with me, even if the situation was f**ked up.”
“True,” I agree; Lilly is the best thing to happen to Jax and Cash. Every time I’m around them as a family, I see the love she has for my brother. In the beginning, I was worried about her intentions, but now, I know she is exactly what Cash said she is—a good woman.
“How’s work been?” Trevor asks. He always asks me the same thing, and I know they all want me to go back to working with them, but I can’t; I love what I do.
“Good. Busy.” I give him the same vague answer I always do.
“Guess there’s never a short supply of criminals. At least you have job security,” Asher says, laughing.
I look at my brothers and chuckle. I’m blessed to have such an awesome family, and I can’t wait for everyone to meet Sophie.
I pull up in front of Sophie’s house a little after ten; all of her lights are out, but that’s not going to stop me from seeing her right now. I’m about to get out of the car when I see movement. It’s dark out, but I can see someone in all black walking around the side of her house. I reach over and open my glove box, grabbing my Glock. I get out of my car and put the gun in the waistband of my jeans at my back. I pull my hoodie down over it before heading towards her house.
I stay in the shadows, watching as the guy walks around to her backyard. I follow but then stop long enough to send a quick text to Kenton with the address, along with a code telling him that I need backup.