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

By: Juliana Stone


Lisa sighed. “I know. But I gotta warn you, Abs. He’s looking really, really good tonight.”

“Great.”

“Like he’d turn half the lesbian population hetero just by smiling at them.”

“Huh.”

“He’s all casual and denim and blue plaid and, oh my god, he’s wearing Doc Martens. I mean, what guy doesn’t look good in a pair of Doc’s?”

“True,” Abby murmured.

“So when I say that he looks hot—“

“Okay, I get it Lisa. We can stop this now.” Irritated, Abby grabbed her makeup bag off the counter and shoved it into her carry-on.

“Sweetie, I just don’t want to see you get hurt, and let’s face it Abigail, Tucker Simon could hurt you. Not on purpose or anything. I mean, he doesn’t know…”

Abby’s eyebrow shot up.

Her roommate squirmed a bit, her cheeks pink and spiky blond hair askew, though she refused to back down. “He doesn’t know that you’re into him.” She lowered her voice. “In that way. So, you know, if he breaks your heart or anything, it’s not really his fault.”

Abby cleared her throat.

“That’s all I’m saying,” Lisa said hesitantly.

“Are you done?” Abby asked.

Lisa nodded. “I think so.”

“Good. Because I have to go. I gave him my word and unlike the women he’s been hanging with lately, I won’t break it.”

Abby scooped up her bag and moved past Lisa, crossing the hallway to her room so that she could grab her suitcase, and then headed toward the stairs that led to the main floor of their open-concept loft.

“Oh and whatever you do, don’t get drunk.”

Here we go.

“God, drunk Abby is either messy Abby or horny Abby, and considering you haven’t had sex in like, forever, I’m guessing horny Abby would show up, and if you sleep with him—”

That was it. Totally pissed, Abby whirled around. “I am not sleeping with Tucker Simon.”

Silence greeted her words.

Words that echoed against the walls before settling inside her ears. Words that she was pretty sure the entire building had heard—a throat cleared behind her—including Tucker Simon.

“Okay, so now that we’ve got that out of the way…”

Abby winced. Why did his voice feel so goddamn intimate?

“We should get going, or we’re going to miss our flight.” Again. Voice like warm chocolate.

Abby glared at her roommate, before smoothing her damp palms over the tops of her jeans.

She turned around.

Mentally she’d been preparing herself for this moment ever since she’d uttered those stupid words the night before—when are you leaving—but just the sight of him was like a punch to the gut.

Lisa was right. Holy hell was she right.

Tucker Simon looked so achingly good that her girlie parts were already buzzing. This physical thing she felt for Tucker was going to be a huge inconvenience this weekend.

Huge.

Inconvenience.

Mouth dry, she attempted a smile.

His thick, dark hair curled up from underneath a worn, Yankee ball cap, and damn, but the blue plaid over the plain white T-shirt made him look a little rougher. A little more real, somehow.

She was used to seeing Tucker in suits and ties, but this side of him—this casual, laid-back, yummy side—was easy on the eyes. The shadowing of stubble on his chin and those dimples when he smiled were sexy enough to melt a nun’s panties.

“Are you all right, Abby?” he asked, his warm chocolate eyes intent as he stared up at her.

Hell no.

If she wasn’t careful, she was going to fall headlong down the stairs and right into them.

“What?” She took a step. Okay. This was good. “I’m fine. I was just…”

She took another step and exhaled. One more to go.

“Lisa is just you know…”

And she was there, right in front of him. “Annoying.”

Tucker’s eyes moved behind her briefly before landing on Abby again. “Okay,” he said. “You’re sure you still want to do this? My family is kind of insane.”

Warmth seeped into every pore of her body and for a second, Abby just took the time to drink him in. She was sure that the world continued spinning, just as she was sure that Lisa was wringing her hands together like a dishrag—the way she did when she didn’t know what else to do with them.

And she was sure that she was still breathing—mainly because she wasn’t choking…

But most of all, Abigail Mathews was pretty damn sure that even though this weekend was going to tax the ever-loving-daylights out of her….there was nowhere else she’d rather be than with Tucker Simon.

She knew she couldn’t have him in a forever kind of way, and she knew that she couldn’t have him on a casual level either—she wouldn’t survive that.

But she could be there for him. She could enjoy being there for him. Seeing him relaxed and maybe happy. And for now that had to be enough. That’s what friends did for each other.

Okay, she thought, time to pull up the bootstraps.

“I’m sure,” she said tugging on her carry-on.

Tucker reached for her suitcase, his fingers grazing hers as he closed them around the handle. But she was good. She hid her reaction with the ease and maturity of a girl who’d been fighting these feelings for months.

She could do this.

Abby glanced back at her roommate and winked. “See you on Monday.” She quickly sidestepped past Tucker and headed out the front door. “But just so you know, Tucker. I’m clear on that one thing.”

“Yeah? What one thing was that?” he asked, handing her luggage over to the taxi driver.

He opened the door and stood back. Okay, did he have to smell as good as he looked?

“I’m not sleeping with you.”

“Got it.”

She jerked up—he’d answered that way too fast—and his easy grin was nearly her undoing.

Don’t look at his dimples.

“Just friends,” he said, his voice warm and smooth like butter.

For a moment, their eyes collided. They collided and held and nothing short of the ground splitting open was tearing them apart.

Abby’s breath caught. Something shifted. She saw it in the way his eyes darkened. In the way his nostrils flared.

And it scared the crap out of her.

The urge to turn tail and run was so strong that if Tucker wasn’t standing between Abby and freedom, she just might have done it.

But then the taxi driver slammed the trunk shut and though she jumped, her eyes didn’t leave Tucker.

“Where to?” the driver asked as he rounded the cab and reached for the driver side door.

“La Guardia,” Tucker answered.

“Okay.” The driver paused, half in the cab. “But you guys have to actually get in the cab before I can leave.”

The driver’s sarcasm was heavy, but they both ignored him.

“This is your last chance to change your mind, Abby,” Tucker murmured. “I won’t hold it against you. Like I said, the entire Simon clan can be a little overwhelming.”

Abby thought of what her roommate had said earlier—that Abby was into Tucker. In that way. God, Lisa didn’t know the half of it. Abby wasn’t just into Tucker Simon—she was absolutely, head-over-freaking-heels in love with him.

Hence, the whole inconvenient thing.

She’d realized it several weeks earlier.

Or maybe she’d known it all along, but it had stayed hidden, like a secret afraid of the light.

One Friday night, he’d stayed after hours, and they’d played darts in the back of the bar until three in the morning. Those hours had passed much too quickly and she’d still been buzzing the next night when he’d shown up for last call with a tall, classy blond on his arm. It was at that moment Abby knew.

It wasn’t just jealousy that she’d felt. It was hurt. It was gut-wrenching hurt. How crazy was that? Over the course of the last year, this man had come to mean so much to her, and not only did he not know, she was pretty sure that if he did, he would have stopped coming by The Black Dog.

Because he was a decent man.

So, she’d done nothing about it. She’d pretended that nothing had changed, because the highlight of her week was when Tucker came into the bar. It was a highlight she wasn’t willing to throw away. Not yet anyway.

Now here she was, staring at a man who would probably break her heart.

Abby should have grabbed her bags, made up a lame excuse and called it a day. She should have hightailed it the hell out of there.

But she didn’t.

Instead she slid into the cab and held her breath until, a few seconds later, Tucker joined her.

She was either making the biggest mistake of her life or...or maybe not.

She groaned and closed her eyes, feeling anxious, excited and scared.





3





“All the rooms are sold out, Mr. Simon. I’m sorry. We’ve only got the one that you booked available. The suite overlooking the ocean with a king size bed.”

Tucker ran his hands through the hair at his nape and tried to hide his irritation. Shit.

It was nearly one in the morning, and they’d just arrived at The Manor Hotel and Golf Resort in Key Biscayne. Tucker was tired as hell.

No, he was tired as hell, frustrated and a whole bunch of other stuff that he didn’t want to think about right now.