Home > Crank (The Gibson Boys #1)(11)

Crank (The Gibson Boys #1)(11)
Author: Adriana Locke

“I bet,” I chuckle. “Who won?”

“Mom,” she laughs. “She told them both to settle down in that voice she keeps for the two times a year she actually gets mad.”

Imagining my sweet mother’s face angry, I’m able to catch my breath. When she goes into that mode, she gets shit done. She fixes the problem. It’s where my siblings and I get our need to step in and take care of things.

“So Dad’s okay?” I ask, taking a long, calming breath.

“He’s fine right now. If anything comes of it, you know you’ll be my first call.”

Slumping back down in the scratchy chair, the adrenaline from thinking there was a crisis starts to wane. “You had me scared with your vaguebook.”

“I didn’t vaguebook. Dominic took the picture and I thought it was nice so I posted it. I didn’t expect anyone to read that much into it,” she laughs. “I should’ve known you would.”

“Of course I would. So Dom was there?”

She chatters on about her new-to-the-family boyfriend, one who I knew about for almost a year before she told everyone. He’s a good guy—he treats Cam like gold and he and I get along great. I know I should be thrilled that he was there for her, for my mother, tonight, but I can’t help but acknowledge the jealousy that stems from him getting to be there and me not.

“He fits so well into the family,” she continues to gush. “I don’t know why I was so afraid of bringing him around. Ford loves having him work at Landry Security. Lincoln loves kicking his ass on the golf course,” she giggles.

“Sounds great.”

Stop. Biting my cheek, I have to remind myself that I’m not there because I chose not to be. I’m the one who opts out of living there. I’m the one who doesn’t want to end up in pearls and heels alongside my mother and sister. I don’t want to be a pawn in a world with reporters and security guards and paid drivers. I don’t want to be a piece of something. I want something I’m a part of. Something that I need as much as it needs me.

“It’s been great,” she admits. “But what about you? What’s happening up there? Tell me your good stuff.”

I consider telling her about Walker’s truck. I think for a brief moment about replaying my day in the auto shop, about Walker and Peck and Nana and all the things I’ve done over the past few days, but decide not to. She’d understand, probably even love it. But the follow-up questions would be too much, and besides, what’s the point? I’m leaving here soon anyway. There’s no sense in making this anything more than a distraction. Instead, I focus on facts.

“Delaney is going to work for her family,” I tell her.

“What does that mean for you?”

“Just that the business will be mine. I’m going to call Graham tomorrow and have him get the papers together for me,” I say, wondering how our brother will take that bit of news.

There is a part of me that hoped I could impress my brother by striking out on my own. I understand design and I understand the business behind it and somehow, by Delaney leaving, it feels like I didn’t keep it together.

“How do you feel about that?” Cam asks.

“She has to do what she has to do. It’s her family, you know? I’d do the same for you guys.”

“I was hoping you had happier news.”

“Well,” I start, an eruption of warmth swelling from deep within me. I can’t stop it. “I met a hot-as-hell car guy.”

“Oooh, car guys,” she squeals. “Tell me about him.”

“It’s not like that,” I warn.

“It is. I hear it in your voice.”

“It really isn’t,” I say, the seriousness in my tone not matching the grin on my cheeks.

“Then tell me about him that’s not like that,” she laughs.

My mouth opens, but nothing comes out. The words get jumbled on my tongue, the descriptions, the place to start gets fuzzy as I mentally jump from one thing to another. I don’t know where to begin.

Pacing the room, one foot in front of the other, I search desperately for words that I can’t come up with.

“Got it,” Cam says after a long pause.

“I didn’t say anything.”

“That’s how I got it.”

“Oh, shut up,” I say, rearranging magazines on the coffee table for a distraction. “There’s really nothing to tell. I just hit his truck with a bat and then—”

“Wait. You did what?”

“It was an accident.”

“I . . . I don’t know where to start with that.”

“Don’t, because that’s not where we’re going,” I tell her. “So he owns a car repair shop and somehow I’ve managed to spend a little time down there to pay off my debt.”

“Does he not take cash?”

“He does, but it’s a long and convoluted story, Cam.”

“So, let me get this straight,” she says, clearing her throat to hide the amusement laced in her tone. “You damaged his truck and are now working it off. Like, manual labor? You. My twin sister, Sienna Jane Landry, working in a car repair shop?”

Laughing, because it sounds even crazier hearing it out loud from someone else, I throw up my one free hand. “Basically. That’s it.”

“Who are you and what have you done with my sister?”

“It’s crazy, right?” I say, Walker’s face now firmly affixed in my mind. “Thank God it’s only for a couple of weeks. Or, maybe it was just for today. I’m not sure, actually . . .”

The words no more than enter the world and I wish I could take them back. Even I can hear the way my voice dropped off at the end.

“Tell me about him,” she says easily, prying me for information in the most unobtrusive way. “What’s he like?”

Heading into the kitchen, I try, once again, to figure out where to start. As I try to come up with a good description, I grab a bottle of water out of the refrigerator and take a good, long drink.

Finally, after I’ve put the cap back on and wiped my mouth with the back of my hand, and stalled for as long as I can, I suck in a deep breath. “His name is Walker. He’s infuriatingly difficult. A total grump. Broody.”

“And . . .”

“He wears a plain black t-shirt almost every day. His eyelashes are the longest I’ve ever seen on a man. When he’s amused but doesn’t want me to know it, the left corner of his lip turns up.” The words come out in a rush and I know I’ve said too much but can’t stop myself from saying more. “Walker tries really, really hard to be an ass,” I say, rolling my eyes, “but I think he’s probably really kind. His grandma, Nana, makes dinner every Sunday like our mom does and expects him to show up, and when he doesn’t, she comes in and gives him hell.”

My laugh is free and easy, my downtrodden spirits now lifted. “He has a cousin named Peck. I have no idea why they call him that or if it’s his real name. The two of them remind me of Lincoln and Ford,” I say, thinking of my two brothers that can be oil and water. “They’re always nitpicking each other, but you can tell if someone messes with either, it’s game on for both.”

Cam gives me a second to catch my breath. “Sounds like you like them.”

“They’re . . . interesting.”

“Maybe they’re more than interesting.”

If Delaney had said that, I’d fire back with some reply as to how I’m not interested in Walker Gibson. But it’s not Delaney, it’s Camilla, the one person in the world I can’t lie to.

“They remind me of being in Savannah,” I admit, looking at the gold ring on my right pointer finger. It’s a thin band with a rustic teepee design. My brothers got Cam and I both one for Christmas. They blamed the whole thing on Ford who deflected any responsibility in getting his two baby sisters something so sweet for the holiday. In truth, I’d bet it was Barrett found the jeweler, Graham funded it, although I’d bet Ford probably did come up with the idea, and Lincoln probably picked it out. But we’ll never know. “They remind me of our brothers in a weird way, but without the expectations. They don’t care if I say the wrong thing, and if I came in with a new tattoo, they’d probably like it or at least find it interesting,” I say, finding a warmth spreading inside me. “They don’t know our last name, but if they did, I don’t think they’d care.”

“That’s hard to find,” she notes.

“Almost impossible, but I think I might’ve,” I say, feeling a swell in my chest. “They’re just easy, even though they’re difficult. It’s hard to explain.”

“Do you think you’ll stay there then?” she asks softly.

“No,” I scoff, running a hand through the air. “No way. I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I’m not staying here. Have you ever seen an Illinois winter?”

“No. Can’t say I want to.”

“Exactly.”

“Maybe you’ll come home then?”

My mind settles back on my father and the image Camilla posted. “Maybe this time I won’t go as far away. Maybe I’ll look into Atlanta or Florida or something.”

“Can I ask you something, sis?”

“Sure.”

“Would it be that bad to come back? To settle down here. Meet me for lunch and go shopping and take yoga at Mallory’s . . .”

I imagine my sister’s face, all twisted in hope like she does when she’s afraid someone is going to tell her no. I sit at the table and feel my spirits drop with my body. “It wouldn’t be bad, Cam. It’s just not for me.”

“What’s not for you?”

“I just . . . Mom gave up everything when she married Dad.”

“She did not,” Cam says, defending her. “She had a role in Dad’s campaigns, in Grandpa’s campaigns. She’s spent her life changing other people’s through her charities and raised six kids.”

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