Home > Misbehaving (Sea Breeze #6)(8)

Misbehaving (Sea Breeze #6)(8)
Author: Abbi Glines

“They didn’t f**king date,” Preston growled.

Amanda turned to whisper something to him, and I looked away. Let her deal with his insane ass.

“Ignore him,” Jess said. “He goes apeshit whenever he thinks someone unworthy gets near her. Irony in its best form.”

I couldn’t have agreed more. I leaned down to her ear and asked, “How is it that you two are friends?”

Jess leaned back and cocked an eyebrow at me like she was offended. A slow smile finally took its place. “Because Amanda Hardy is hard to resist, even for females. She’s always been good to me, from the time we were kids. And then, of course, there was the time she wanted to get Preston’s attention and decided getting trashed and dancing at bars was the way to do it. So she of course came to see me for guidance.”

What? That didn’t sound like the Amanda I knew. Jess threw her head back and laughed. “If you could see the disbelief on your face,” she said, grinning.

“She really did that?”

Jess nodded. “Yep. But remember, I like Amanda. So I made sure her bad-girl performance was monitored and she was safe. Besides, it didn’t take long for her to figure out that that wasn’t the life she wanted to lead. After that, we really became friends.”

I knew that Jess didn’t tell me this to impress me. She shrugged and turned her attention back to the game. But I couldn’t take my eyes off her. She really was special and she didn’t have a clue.

Chapter Seven

JESS

Amanda was the type of girl I could see Jason with. She made more sense. She was the kind he would have made it work with. She would have brought him back to Sea Breeze over and over again.

I wasn’t.

I was the fling. I spent most of the game cheering Rock’s boy Brent on and pushing these thoughts to the back of my mind. Amanda was the only one of the elite Sea Breeze crowd who gave me a chance. The rest of them stuck their noses in the air and treated me like . . . a stripper’s daughter.

Amanda was different. Just like her brother, Marcus. They accepted everyone. So I refused to get jealous over Jason having dated Amanda. We were just hanging out, anyway. He would be gone soon.

Brent caught a pass, and I forgot my problems and jumped up to cheer. Rock was standing down on the field beside the coach. When Brent came running to the sidelines, he ran straight for Rock and threw his arms around him. I felt a lump form in my throat, and my eyes watered. Preston’s younger siblings had suffered a lot when their mother was alive. The only reason they had survived was because Preston made sure to take care of them. He did things he would probably never forgive himself for in order to supply them with what they needed.

Preston had taken off running down the stands toward the field as he hooted and yelled. Somehow they made this all work, and seeing the happy smiles on the kids’ faces would make anyone tear up. Rock and Trisha made excellent parents.

I reached up and wiped away the one tear that got loose, before sitting back down beside Jason. I could feel his eyes on me, and I glanced over at him and smiled. The curious expression on his face confused me. I turned my attention back to the field.

“When this is over, you want to go get something to eat?” Jason asked.

Looking back at him, I decided there was nothing I would rather do. Getting too attached to this guy wasn’t something I could do, but I liked spending time with him. He wasn’t constantly trying to grope me, and he didn’t talk to me like I was beneath him. He was just as sweet in public as he was in private. And he seemed to like me. He actually laughed at my sarcasm and he got when I was kidding. He didn’t roll his eyes at me or ignore me.

It was a unique experience.

“Yeah, sounds good,” I replied.

He grinned and turned his attention back to the field.

“Uh-oh, Jess. You might want to go get Rock,” Amanda said in a worried tone.

I glanced over at her. “What?” I asked. Her frown was focused on something or someone else. I followed her gaze to see Hank walking across the parking lot beside Carrie, who was holding the hand of their little boy. He was just barely walking now. Hank hardly ever went anywhere with Carrie and their kid. Normally, I just saw him with the little boy. Me being here with Jason and him being here with Carrie was drama I didn’t want tonight.

“What is it?” Jason asked.

I tore my gaze off my ex and his little family. “You ready to go eat now?” I asked. It was the beginning of the third quarter, but staying was a bad idea. I didn’t want to explain Hank to Jason.

“I’m just hungry,” I replied, standing up and reaching for his arm to tug him up too. He stood up beside me willingly. I tried hard not to let my hand dwell on his arm too long. The hard, defined muscles under my palm were a little distracting, so I dropped my hand. “See you later, Amanda. Let Rock and Trisha know that I had to leave.”

She nodded and gave me an understanding smile.

When we reached the bottom of the stands, I glanced over to see if Hank had noticed me. Or worse, if Carrie had. She hated me and was very verbal with her hate for me. I didn’t want to go near that with Jason here to see and hear it.

“You gonna tell me what’s going on, or do I get to guess?” Jason said close to my ear.

Hank’s eyes found me at that moment. I stopped walking and reached for Jason’s hand. Shit. The anger in Hank’s eyes wasn’t good. This was going to be one big mess. I turned to Jason. “The guy’s truck I bashed. He’s here,” I explained.

Jason’s eyes went wide, and then a grin tugged at his lips. “Good thing I didn’t drive the Porsche.”

This wasn’t funny. Why did he have to look so dang sexy and amused?

“Yeah, well, he knows it was me. Let’s go.”

Jason’s hand found mine, surprising me. I glanced down at our hands as his fingers threaded through mine. What was he doing?

“You’ll be fine. I promise,” he said in a firm, calm voice that soothed me. Even if he didn’t know how insane Hank could be.

“Thanks,” I whispered, straightening up as we walked toward the parking lot. Hank had stopped walking. I wasn’t going to make eye contact with him. Maybe he’d just let us walk by without saying anything.

Jason didn’t say anything as we got closer, but Hank’s heated gaze felt like it was burning a hole in my head. He was pissed. I didn’t even glance at Carrie. I knew she’d go to screaming if I gave her any reason to think I wanted Hank.

I heard Hank’s angry snarl. “Shut up.” Fantastic. Carrie was saying something about me being here. I picked up my pace, and Jason tightened his grip on my hand but refused to walk faster. He forced me to keep his steady pace.

“Take the baby, Hank. I mean it. If you talk to that skank, I’ll walk away. I won’t have it. I swear I won’t.” Carrie was talking loud enough for people around us to hear her. She loved making scenes.

“Shut up, bitch,” he roared, and I winced. I knew what that felt like. Hank’s angry words. I also knew what Hank’s fist felt like. Surely she realized getting him worked up was not safe.

“Excuse us,” Jason said smoothly as we walked past them. Jason moved me to his other side so that he stood between them and me. It wasn’t even obvious, he did it with such a casual ease.

“Who the f**k are you?” Hank demanded, and I thought Jason was going to ignore him. But he didn’t.

He stopped, and moved me to stand behind him before he turned back to look at Hank. “Excuse me?” he replied. The warning edge in his voice surprised me. Jason was always so nice and easygoing.

Hank took a step toward us, and I tried to move in front of Jason but his hand held on to me tightly as he pulled me back behind him. The only way I could get free was if I jerked and shoved him. I wasn’t going to do that unless I needed to keep Hank from hitting him.

“I asked who the f**k you are,” he snarled.

“I don’t see how that’s your business,” Jason replied.

Hank’s hands fisted beside him and his face turned red. “Jess is my business, and if you don’t get your f**king hand off her now, I’m gonna remove it from your body.”

Okay, I had to do something. Carrie was screaming at him, and he was either going to slap her or punch Jason.

“Last I checked, Jess wasn’t yours,” Dewayne’s voice suddenly warned. “Ain’t been yours for a long time now. Why don’t you go take your baby and his momma and move on along before I remind you just who the f**k her friends are.” I looked back to see his cold, scary-as-hell expression focused on Hank.

“Stay out of this, Dewayne. Ain’t your shit,” Hank growled.

“I’ve been looking for a reason to smash your face in for a year now. Go ahead and piss me off,” Dewayne replied, walking past us and toward Hank.

“Please, piss him off. I’d love to see him beat your ass,” Preston drawled as he walked up to us. Amanda must have gone and told him what was going on. The playboy smirk that he always wore was gone. His eyes were locked on Hank. “Your boy’s crying. Best take care of that.”

“Hank, please, come on,” Carrie begged, pulling on his arm. Her ugliness toward me was gone now that they were sandwiched between two of my cousin’s best friends.

“Ain’t over, Jess. Won’t ever be over, baby. You know that,” Hank said, staring straight at me.

I straightened my shoulders and glared at Hank over Jason’s shoulder since he wouldn’t let me get around him. “It’s been over, Hank.”

He shook his head. “We’re endgame, baby. Remember. We are f**king endgame. Always have been.”

I had told him that once. Back when I was young and foolish. Back when I thought he really did hate it when he hurt me. Not anymore. I didn’t want that life. And I didn’t love him anymore.

“No. He’s your endgame,” I replied, pointing to the little boy now in Carrie’s arms. “Let’s go,” I said, tugging on Jason’s arm. I had no doubt he was going to want to take me home now and drop me off. This wacked-up mess with Hank would send any guy running from me. But I wanted to leave anyway. I couldn’t stay here.

Jason nodded and turned around, still holding my hand tightly in his as we walked back to his Hummer without a word. I wanted to apologize, but how could I explain that? Admitting that I had once been in love with that insane man didn’t say a lot about me.

He opened my door and helped me up before closing it and walking around to get in the driver’s seat. When he got in and closed the door, he didn’t reach for his seat belt. Instead he looked over at me. I braced myself for his brush-off. I could handle it. I was used to it.

“I wish I’d gotten a chance to see his truck after you beat the shit out of it,” he said.

I sat there and stared at him. What? I was confused.

A small grin tugged at his lips. All the worry and stress that had me wound tight released. I let out the breath I had been holding.

His expression had softened. “I want a good burger. You good with that, or do you want something else?”

He wasn’t taking me home. I leaned back and smiled at him. “Burgers are good with me.”

“You’re the local. Where do I get a good burger?” he said as he started the engine and shifted the gear into reverse.

“Pickle Shack,” I replied.

“Put on your seat belt,” he said with a wink, then pulled out onto the road.

My heart did a little fluttery thing. Startled by my reaction, I reached for the seat belt and put it on.

“You want to talk about that back there?” he asked.

He didn’t sound angry, nor was he demanding it. I wasn’t sure what to do with him. He was so different. I didn’t want to explain Hank to him. I never wanted him to see Hank again. That part of my life was embarrassing. “Not really,” I replied honestly.

Jason nodded. “Okay. How do you feel about night swimming legally?”

I studied his profile for a moment. Was he really just going to drop this and not ask questions? I had been prepared for him to try a little harder, but he was changing the subject completely.

“I’m good with staying on the right side of the law if possible,” I replied, wondering where he was going with this. I didn’t do night swimming in the gulf, though. But then again, he might possibly change my mind.

“So you would be up for coming back to my brother’s place after we eat? He’s got a heated pool.”

His brother’s place. As in Jax Stone’s vacation home? I was nervous. Over a guy. For the first time in my life, a guy was making me nervous. He was asking me to come to his place. Not the back of his Hummer. “Yeah, I’d like that.” I hoped he hadn’t heard the small stammer. I wasn’t used to this.

“I’d offer to take you back to your house so you could grab a swimsuit, but I like the other option better,” he said, sending my heart pounding faster in my chest.

JASON

It had been that small shudder when I held her behind me and faced off with her insane ex that had done me in. She’d been scared. It was like someone had flipped a switch in me. I had decided that she came with too much baggage and drama when Hank had sent her bolting out of her seat, ready to leave. I didn’t like drama, so I had been preparing myself for how I was going to back out of her life just as quickly as I had stepped into it. That had all changed, though, the moment the terrified tremble had gone through her. All I could think about was protecting her. I wasn’t letting the ass**le near her.

Why would someone who looked like her settle for that asshat? He’d obviously mistreated her. The way he was treating the mother of his child was proof enough he had no idea how to treat a woman. Thinking about him getting near Jess pissed me off.

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