The Family Simon Boxed Set (Books 1-3)(10)

By: Juliana Stone


After embracing both his boys, Noah stepped back, his piercing eyes as blue as ever.

“Tuck, you better get your shit together because your mama isn’t exactly happy with you, and you’ve got about two minutes before she makes her way over here.”

And his forthright manner was pretty much the same too.

“I know,” Tucker replied a bit sheepishly. “I’ve been meaning to call. I’ve just been…busy.”

“Busy,” Noah said carefully, his eyes moving to the bartender. “I’ll have a scotch, neat.” He returned his gaze to his sons.

“She worries about you, Tucker. I know you’re a grown man and life gets in the way, but you need to check in from time to time. Your mother gets antsy when she doesn’t hear from you and when your mama isn’t happy, well…”

His father didn’t have time to say anything else because Cooper had somehow managed to extricate himself from Aunt Virginia’s clutches, and he and Rick joined them at the bar.

Cooper shook Noah’s hand and then clapped Beau on the shoulder before turning to Tucker. He paused for a moment as if he wasn’t sure what to say and then offered his hand. “Damn good to see you, Tuck. It’s been a while.”

Tucker shook his cousin’s hand, and in spite of himself, felt a gentle tug inside. They’d been so close once. And even though the aftermath of Marley’s death had put something between them all—most of his cousins didn’t know what to do or say—Tucker took some of the blame. He hadn’t made things easy for any of them either.

“I hear things are going well for you in New York.”

“Things are good,” Tucker replied.

“Rick told me you just signed Dean Kendrick as a client. I gotta say, that’s pretty damn impressive.”

“Kendrick?” Beau said, as his father echoed the name. “When did this happen?”

One thing about the Simons, every single one of them were sports junkies—it didn’t matter whether it was baseball, hockey, basketball, or football. Take your pick. If there was a sports team involved, the Simons were invested. Some would say fanatical.

Beau had been a starting pitcher for the Yanks before an injury ended his career and a chance encounter with a director set him on a path toward Hollywood and superstardom. If not for that, he’d still be playing the game.

The conversation quickly snowballed into an intense discussion about Kendrick and his future with the Rangers, and for a few minutes, Tucker lost himself in it. It was easy to do—Cooper and Beau felt that he was the franchise player Tucker believed him to be. While his father and Rick felt he was too young to carry the weight of the team and definitely too green to lead.

Their corner soon got loud, as the Simons tended to do, and it might have accelerated if not for the woman making her way toward them.

Tucker’s mother appeared at his father’s side, effectively shutting down the curse words. Not that his mother was a prude—far from it—but his mom had a few rules in that regard. Firstly, if you had the occasion to wear a suit, than cursing wasn’t allowed. And secondly? If you had the occasion to wear a suit and disregarded her first rule, then there would be hell to pay.

Tucker’s mom believed cursing was best left for the outdoors or behind closed doors, and most definitely not in mixed company.

She kissed her husband, Noah, on the cheek and then reached for Tucker.

Eden DuRocher-Simon was small, delicate even, but Tucker braced himself as he scooped her into a hug, because he knew that she had no problem giving it to any of them. And right about now he was the one who was going to be getting the giving.

But she surprised Tucker. She accepted his kiss, his murmured apology for not returning her calls, and she even smiled up at him as he relaxed his grip. Her smile was almost a little too sweet.

Tucker watched her suspiciously. Something was up.

“You look beautiful, Mom,” Tucker murmured, squeezing her hand as she stepped back.

And she did. Her hair, the color of burnished sable, glistened beneath the lights, brushing her shoulders. She wore a pale yellow dress, classy in style with a fitted bodice and a skirt that fell just above her knee. It was set off with a strand of pearls that he knew his father had given her on their wedding day, the matching earrings finishing the ensemble.

Eden accepted a glass of wine from her husband and took a sip, her look direct as she gazed up at her son.

Tucker knew something was coming at him and he had a feeling it was—

“So I just met the loveliest girl. Abby Mathews.”

Shit.

Tucker glanced at Beau, but his brother shrugged which basically meant he was on his own.

“Is she the reason you’ve been,” his mother’s eyebrow shot up, “so busy?”

Christ. Here we go.

“Mom,” Tucker began, but he was cutoff by a low whistle.

“Who the hell is that?” Cooper asked as they all gazed across the room.

“Cooper, language,” Eden murmured.

Betty Jo was grabbing two champagne glasses from a waiter, and sure, she looked amazing as ever, but it was the woman beside her who had Tucker’s attention. And he was pretty damn sure she had everyone else’s too.

Abby.

She looked unbelievable and not at all like the Abby he was used to. This Abby looked as if she’d just stepped out of the pages of some society magazine.

Dramatic makeup. Hair styled so that it fell over one shoulder in rippling waves of dark chestnut. Mouth glossy and full. Dressed in a strapless blood red cocktail dress that hugged her figure in a way that was meant to garner attention, Tucker snuck a look at his cousins. Rick was smiling at her and Cooper’s gaze was locked onto Abby as if she was a piece of candy he wanted to lick.

Tucker took a step forward. No way in hell was Cooper getting close to Abby. If anyone was going to lick her, it was gonna be him.

“Who the…who is that woman?” Cooper asked again.

Tucker threw his cousin a warning look which only made Cooper’s smile widen.

“Why that’s Tucker’s new friend, Abby,” his mother replied in her slow southern drawl. “And she’s such a delight. Smart as a whip, funny as all get out and she can hold her own with Betty, which—” she glanced at Beau and winked—“isn’t the easiest thing to do.”

Beau snorted. “You got that right.”

“I like a woman with a sense of humor,” his mother said softly.

“Really,” Cooper replied. “I can’t wait to meet her.”

Something hot and dangerous pulsed inside Tucker, and for a second, he visualized his fist connecting with Cooper’s perfect fucking nose.

He didn’t act on it, and he sure as hell didn’t pay any attention to it.

What he did do was set his empty beer bottle on the bar and, with a curt nod toward his mother, headed for the lady in red.





8





“Here’s some champagne. It will help loosen you up.”

Abby accepted the glass from Betty Jo, her palms sweaty and her fingers wooden. It was a miracle she didn’t drop the slender flute, and for a few seconds she concentrated hard so that she wouldn’t.

Nervous didn’t come close to describing what was going on inside her stomach. Heck, it was like a convention of butterflies had gone bat-shit crazy. How the hell had she let Betty Jo talk her into wearing this dress? This makeup?

She glanced lower. These shoes?

They had come-fuck-me written all over them and with the slit nearly up to her hip they were there for everyone to see. That’s if anyone’s eyes made it past the top of her dress which, at the moment, barely supported her breasts. And she didn’t want to think about how low the back was. In fact she’d asked Betty Jo twice if her butt crack wasn’t peeking out of the top of the gown.

Never in her life had she worn a dress that didn’t allow for a bra or underwear. Never. But thanks to Betty Jo Barker, Abby was going commando. And thanks to the hotel spa, she was smooth in places she’d never been smooth before.

Holy. Hell.

Back in Betty’s room when she’d glanced in the mirror, she hadn’t recognized herself. Not that she wasn’t impressed with the results. She knew she looked good. Really good. Like she could walk a red carpet beside Betty Jo and maybe hold her own.

That was pretty damn good.

But looking sexy and fitting into that skin were two different things. She just didn’t know if she could carry off the look. Didn’t know if she could walk the walk.

Abby had always been a jeans and T-shirt kind of girl. Even back in New York, she wasn’t much for the night clubs unless they included a rock band or the blues. Hence, the T-shirt and jeans…maybe the occasional skirt—but never anything like this.

Oh God. And she always wore underwear. Sheesh, if her mother knew the state of what was going on between her legs, she’d have a freaking coronary.

You never know if you’ll be in an accident Abigail. Always wear undies. Clean undies.

“You look hot,” Betty said with a grin. “Like if I was bent that way, I’d totally do you.”

Abby managed a smile and took a sip of champagne. She’d thought they’d be overdressed, but Betty had assured her that the Simons didn’t do dinner in a fancy restaurant unless they were dressed to the nines. Judging by the jewels, suits and gowns, Abby had seen as they entered the room, Betty was right.