The Family Simon Boxed Set (Books 1-3)(7)

By: Juliana Stone


God damn, but it was good to see Rick.

“Never mind,” Tucker said, clasping his cousin on the shoulder. “Where the hell have you been lately?”

Rick was an incredible musician and could play more instruments than Tucker could name. He’d attended Julliard, but because his passion wasn’t exactly classical, he was currently scoring for movies and television, making edgy, dark, and heavy music that had won more than a few awards.

“Around,” Rick said wryly. He winked at Betty Jo. “You’re looking good, sugar.”

“Maverick, don’t try that crap on me,” Betty said with a chuckle. “You know it won’t work. My sugar is only for one guy these days. Besides,” Betty said softly. “We were discussing Tucker’s new girlfriend.”

“Ah, shit. Really?” Rick said with a frown. “Sonya Devonish? That’s real? And here I thought TMZ had it all wrong. You know because they get so much shit right.”

Irritated, Tucker glared across the table at Betty Jo. “Why the hell is everyone interested in my sex life?”

“I didn’t say anything about sex,” Betty shot back. “You did.”

Ignoring Betty, he focused on Rick. “I’m not here with Sonya Devonish.”

“No,” Betty butted in, “You’re not.”

Tucker loved Betty Jo—he really did—but right now he’d love it if she would just shut the hell up.

“Trust me, Abby Matthews is not my girlfriend. She’s just a…”

He was so pissed off he couldn’t even get the words out. He hated when everyone was focused on him. Always had. And ever since Marley it had gotten worse.

“She’s just a what?” Rick prompted.

“You know,” Tucker said. “She’s just…”

God, he wanted to smack that look off Betty’s face. The girl was a shit disturber if he’d ever seen one. How the hell did Beau put up with that crap?

“She’s hot,” Betty piped in, as if reading his mind.

Tucker glared at her now. “She’s not hot. She’s just a girl who works in a bar all right? Nothing more. I barely know her.”

Betty’s eyes went wide as she looked behind him, and the hairs on the back of his neck told him that he’d crossed a line. Hell, if he was reading the situation right, he’d more than crossed a line—he’d jumped over it.

“Tucker’s right. We’re just casual friends. Nothing more.”

Fuck. Me.

There was a tone in Abby’s voice, and it was one he recognized. It was the same tone she used for the losers in the bar when they got a little too familiar and pissed her off.

Abby paused a few inches away and damn if his heart didn’t start to race at the sight of her. The clothes he’d had Betty grab in the pro-shop fit her like a glove—a cream sleeveless top tucked into black shorts that showed off those fine legs of hers. Her hair was pulled back into a loose ponytail, the color was high on her cheeks and her mouth was glossy and wet looking.

Her eyes though, they told a different story. God, he hadn’t finished breakfast yet and already he was in trouble. That had to be some kind of record, even for Tucker.

“Well he sure as hell is wrong about one thing,” Rick said with a smile as he stood and glanced down at Abby. “You’re definitely hot.”

“Think so?” Abby replied without missing a beat. Which made sense. The girl was used to dealing with flirty types every single shift at the bar. Tucker had watched her in action for the last year.

“Damn right I do,” Maverick replied with a wink.

Rick motioned for her to take the seat he’d just vacated, and Tucker glared at Betty Jo while Abby slid in beside him.

“I’m Maverick Simon, but everyone calls me Rick, you know, cuz Maverick is a mouthful.”

“Maverick? That’s a different name.” Abby poured herself a glass of orange juice and turned slightly so that she faced Rick and not Tucker.

“You can thank his mother for that one,” Beau said with a grin. “She’s had a lifelong obsession with Tom Cruise and fighter pilots ever since Top Gun. I’m Beau, by the way, and I guess you’ve already met Betty.”

Abby had to turn back in order to look at Beau properly, and Tucker watched as the blush in her cheeks deepened. “It’s nice to meet you,” she said softly.

God, here we go. The Beau Simon effect is what he called it. His brother smiled and their panties got all knotted up and twisted. Normally it didn’t bother him, he knew it was the whole celebrity thing—the celebrity thing that was over and above just being a Simon. But right now? It pissed him off.

“So, what time are we teeing off?” Tucker asked, pushing his chair back. He wasn’t in the mood to eat and he sure as hell wasn’t in the mood to watch Rick salivate over Abby or Abby get all gun-shy around his brother.

What he wanted to do was to get Abby alone so he could explain why he was being such a dick. He needed to make her understand that the stupid shit coming out of his mouth was just…stupid crap that didn’t mean anything. So he wasn’t exactly sure why he was being such an asshole—he was quick on the draw—he’d figure it out.

“Man, we gotta go,” Rick said, glancing at his watch. “I’m teeing off in twenty minutes, and you guys are right behind us.”

“Who’re you buddying up with?” Tucker asked.

Rick got to his feet. “Your brother Jack and...” He scratched his chin, eyebrows raised. “Chloe?”

“No,” Beau replied. “Chloe’s like three months ago.”

“Huh, I missed that crash and burn. Who’s he seeing these days?” Rick asked.

“Monique Patterson,” Beau and Tucker said together. Monique—or Mo as Tuck and Beau liked to call her mostly because she didn’t like it—was the heir to a massive communications company. She was born and bred in the Hamptons, came from a lot of money and spent most of her time working on various committees and charities. A spitting image of her French mother, she was educated, beautiful in a cool, reserved kind of way, more than halfway snobbish and perfect for an up-and-coming politician.

She was also boring as hell, and Tucker was glad he wasn’t in their foursome.

“Ah, shit,” Rick murmured and Tucker couldn’t help but grin.

“Who’s your partner?” Tucker asked as he too got to his feet and moved back a few inches so that Abby could follow suit.

Rick’s eyes followed Abby, and, irritated, Tucker’s voice was maybe a tad too loud. But he couldn’t help it. He hadn’t brought Abby all the way to Florida so his cousin could get all up in her business. Ogle her like she was a piece of meat or something.

“Maverick?” he goaded, knowing Rick hated his full name.

But there was no hating going on in Rick’s world. Nope. With his eyes still on Abby, drifting low to that round, sexy butt, he grinned. “I’m golfing with Cooper.”

Tucker heard Beau muffle a laugh and the irritation inside him pretty much tripled.

Christ. How in the hell was he going to survive this day?

“Let’s go,” he said to Abby, placing his hand on the small of her back so that he could guide her toward the pro-shop and out to the greens.

Cooper Simon was Rick’s younger brother and like just Rick, Cooper was a pain in the ass.

But he was a pain in the ass who just happened to be the biggest man-whore this side of the Mason-Dixie line. Cooper was as pretty as Beau, but when it came to the ladies, he had no heart. He’d always had a callous disregard for women and had a fondness for brunettes, and blondes and redheads—hell, he’d take anyone for that matter—especially when they belonged to someone else.

Cooper would be all over Abby.

Just fucking lovely.





6





By the sixth hole Abby was somewhat relaxed—or as relaxed as she was ever going to get, for the time being. It was hard to keep things even-keel when all she could think about was how Tucker had dismissed their relationship as…as less than casual. As if she was nothing more than a body to accompany him to a wedding so he wasn’t the pathetic loser there by himself.

“She’s not hot.” Ouch.

She couldn’t lie. It hurt like hell to hear him say that.

And as if that wasn’t bad enough, “She’s just a girl who works in a bar all right? Nothing more. I barely know her.”

That comment pissed her off. Barely knew her. Barely knew her?

They’d seen each other at least twice a week for the entire last year. Spent hours talking about nothing and everything. Tucker knew that she secretly loved country music, even though her brothers were bona fide rockers and her parents were still trapped in the 80’s with a love of Bon Jovi and Motely Crue. He knew that she hated peas, loved carrots and that she had a stash of books she’d never returned to the library.

God, she’d even told him about Jason Bentley and the god awful crush that had led directly to her losing her virginity in the stockroom of the family bar.

It had been a mess. Her oldest brother, Mick, had forced his way in after the momentous event, and she’d been left with the imprint of a case of Guinness on her ass and Jason’s scared face as he’d run out the back, barely getting his jeans on.