The Family Simon Boxed Set (Books 1-3)(2)

By: Juliana Stone


The one that was a total damn lie.

“What happened to that Sonya you brought here last weekend?”

Tucker’s frown deepened as his level of pissed off increased. “She bailed.”

“Wow. Can’t say that I’m surprised.”

Tucker glanced up. “Sounds like you aren’t a fan.”

“I’m not. What was her excuse? She had a pedicure scheduled and couldn’t miss it?”

She was good. Tucker would give her that. “Nope, it was more like a spa weekend she forgot about in Arizona.”

Abby looked disgusted. “I don’t know why you waste time with women like her.”

Tucker took another long drink before he settled back. It was simple really. “Women like Sonya know the score. They know I’m not in it for the long haul and as long as she’s getting what she wants—“

“What about what you want?”

Surprised, he didn’t answer her at first. “I don’t want anything more than what I’m getting.”

“Bullshit.”

He yanked his head up. “What?”

Abby tossed her long ponytail behind her shoulder and leaned forward until she was so close he could see the small sprinkling of freckles across the bridge of her nose. He inhaled a crisp, shot of…something nice…and for a moment, his mind went blank. For that one moment, he didn’t hear the noise in the bar or feel the people jostling behind him. He didn’t see the woman sitting two stools down, the one who kept trying to get his attention.

Nope. The only thing he saw was Abby.

And her heart-shaped face.

And those big intense eyes.

And her disgust.

“I said that’s bullshit, Tucker, as in bull…”

She grabbed a lime from under the bar and shoved it into a beer bottle before sliding it down to a customer. Then she put her hands on her hips and pinned him with a look that said it all.

“Shit,” she said slowly, so that there was no way he could mistake her meaning. She really was disgusted with him.

Tucker’s eyes fell to her mouth and maybe his mind shouldn’t have gone there, but holy hell, he couldn’t stop himself and it did.

He found himself wondering how soft her lips were and what she would taste like. He wondered what she would feel like. Naked.

What she would look like. Naked.

What she would—

“You know what you need, Tucker?”

Abby’s sharp voice cut through the fog in his brain, and he cleared his throat. “I’m guessing you’re going to tell me.”

“You need to stop wasting time with all these women who’ll never figure into the rest of your life. Are you really happy with the endless parade of boobs with no brains?”

“Hey, the women I date have brains,” he protested.

“You don’t date,” she shot back. “You sleep with these women for as long as they don’t bother you for more than what you’re—” she paused. “—giving…and then you move on.”

He was getting annoyed.

“And,” Abby continued. “Contrary to what you like to tell yourself, they are boobs with no brains, because any woman with half a brain wouldn’t put up with your bullshit.”

“Not true.” Tucker settled back on his stool. “There was Candy.”

“Sandy.”

“What?”

“Her name was Sandy.”

Irritated, he shrugged. “Sandy. She was a teacher.”

Abby tossed her rag onto the bar and shook her head. “She taught yoga.”

He frowned. “Right.”

He smiled. “She was damn flexible.”

Abby muttered something under her breath that he couldn’t quite hear, and then she leaned closer to him. “Jesus, Tucker, you’ve had what, six or seven of them in the last few months? Doesn’t it get old?”

Okay, he was starting to get more than a little pissed. Since when did Abby Mathews think she had a handle on what was going on inside him? She was just a bartender, for Christ sake.

“They’re adults, Abby, and they know the score. There’s no lying, no secrets. I don’t want anything more than what these women give me. What’s wrong with that? Does it make me an asshole?”

“No,” she said, grabbing up her rag and wiping at a spot on the bar. “It…you know what? Never mind.”

But something in her tone got to him.

He stood up. “You started this. What is it that you think I need?”

Her nostrils flared, a subtle movement, but he caught it. It told him a few things, one of which was the fact that Abby Mathews was just as riled and pissed as he was.

She tossed her rag and glared at him.

“You need someone you can talk to. Someone who’s willing to cancel a goddamn spa weekend if you need her. Someone who’s not just a piece of ass you can screw and then throw away. That kind of living isn’t good for anybody, no matter how easy it seems.”

Abby shoved her hands into the front pockets of her jeans and shrugged. “Tucker, you need a friend.”

Tucker stared at her hard for several long seconds.

He saw her throat move as she swallowed.

He saw the pulse beat at the base of her neck…the way she licked at the corner of her mouth.

He stared at her for so long that his mind started wandering again, going to a place that it shouldn’t go.

A wandering mind that was chugging full steam ahead toward something he never would have considered, but…

“Then come with me,” he said softly. So softly that at first he wasn’t sure he’d actually said it.

Abby was silent for a few seconds, and then she leaned forward again, placing her palms on the bar as she cranked her head in order to look up at him.

“You only said that because you don’t think I will.”

No. He had said that because he’d apparently lost his mind. He opened his mouth to say something, but nothing came out.

“When do you leave?” she asked, her voice low.

A heartbeat passed. What the hell was he doing?

“Tomorrow night.”

Abby took a step back, her eyes briefly on the invitation that was now stuck to the bar. She paused and then exhaled as she nodded, her eyes shadowed.

“Okay.” She licked her lips, nodding again. “But we’re just friends. Got that?”

Tucker cleared his throat. “Sure we are, but uh, what’s your music man gonna think?”

Abby’s eyes slid away, and then she shrugged. “We’re not dating anymore.”

Surprised, Tucker had no words. Since when?

He watched her slip past the new bartender until she disappeared from view—then he caught sight of Mick staring at him with a look that wasn’t exactly brotherly love.

He tossed a ten dollar bill onto the bar.

Shit. What the hell had he just done?





2





You can do this.

You can do this.

You can do this.

The mantra echoed in her head as Abby Mathews splashed cold water on her face and took a moment. What the hell was she doing?

She stared down at the worn, porcelain sink, at the dark grey spidery cracks and blue toothpaste stuck to the drain, and thought she was going to heave.

Who was she kidding? On what planet could she do this? She must have been crazy to even suggest it.

A loud knock at the door brought her head up, and as much as she tried to avoid the sight of her big, scared eyes, she couldn’t help herself.

They stopped her cold.

Oh God. Tucker was going to know as soon as he saw her.

Shit.

He was going to know everything.

“Abby?” Her roommate, Lisa, knocked again, but this time a little louder. “Abby? Are you all right?”

No.

“I’m good.” She grimaced. Dammit, she sounded worse than the night she’d come home high on drugs after getting her wisdom teeth pulled.

Lisa jiggled the doorknob, and Abby let her in.

“Crap,” Lisa murmured, wedging her way into the small space so that she could close the door behind her.

Crap was pretty much an understatement.

“Okay,” Lisa said slowly, eyes moving from the top of Abby’s head all the way to her booted toes. “Good news is that you look great. No, more than great. You look hot! Honestly, Abigail, the red silk top makes your boobs look, well, like you have boobs, and it’s a classy touch paired with your jeans.” Lisa squealed. “And those Mendel boots are killer.”

“They should be considering I spent my entire paycheck on them.” Abby paused. “Bad news?”

Lisa inhaled a big gulp of air. “The bad news is that he’s here,” she said in a rush, her blue eyes wide as she tucked a long piece of Abby’s hair behind her ear. “Are you sure you should be doing this?”

Abby saw the concern in her roommate’s eyes and offered up a small smile.

“No way in hell should I be doing this.” She gulped in air. “But I can’t cancel now.”

“Sure you can,” Lisa said, her blond hair shining as she twirled a piece between her fingers. “Just tell him that you’ve got the flu.”

Abby frowned.

“Or a bad case of Island Fever Fungus.”

“Island Fever Fungus?”

“Yep. Island Fever Fungus.” Lisa nodded. “Sounds kind gross, don’t you think? Personally, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near that shit.”

A small smile tugged on the corner of Abby’s mouth. “I can’t.”