The Family Simon Boxed Set (Books 1-3)(9)

By: Juliana Stone


Abby wasn’t sure how she managed to do it, but she slid from the cart and went around back to select her seven iron.

“Easy,” she said lightly.

“Really,” he replied.

“Sure,” Abby walked over to her ball. “I’ll just sleep with…who’s the cousin you’ve warned me to stay away from? Cooper? Yes, Cooper…I’ll sleep with him and that should do it. Before this weekend’s over, your mother won’t want me anywhere near you.”

“I hope to hell you’re joking.”

Abby refused to look back at him, instead she glanced toward the green and moved into place.

“What if I’m not?” she asked lightly.

“Abigail, don’t go there.”

Her hands gripped the club too tightly and she had to force herself to relax.

“Abigail,” she repeated. “Shit, now you sound just like my brothers.”

She was bent over from the waist, lining up her shot when Tucker’s feet entered her peripheral.

“Cooper is bad news. You think I was an asshole this morning? He’d sleep with you before dinner, grab another woman at cocktail time, and once he’s done with her, he’d be on to the next.”

She glanced up at Tucker before taking her shot.

“And your point is…”

Tucker looked really pissed off now. Interesting.

A shot of adrenaline pulsed through Abby as she stared him down. His cheeks were red, his hands were clasped into fists, and the look on his face was not nice. It was fierce, almost…possessive.

“My point is that a guy like Cooper isn’t the right guy for someone like you.”

“And my point is, that if you want your parents and family off your back about us, a little harmless flirting on my part will probably do it.”

“No,” he said roughly. “That’s a bad idea.”

Abby relaxed her grip, settled her hips and loosened her shoulders. She exhaled and hit her ball, a nice clean sweep, watching it soar through the air to land on the green within a foot of the hole.

The devil might have been nipping at her heels. Or maybe it was the fact that she suddenly felt as if she had nothing left to lose. But the fire in Tucker’s eyes told her something. It told her that maybe he was jealous at the thought of Abby and his cousin together.

Jealous.

And that meant that maybe there was something between them. Maybe that hot and heavy thing was exactly what she wanted it to be. A spark. A flame. Maybe it could turn into a goddamn volcano.

Call her crazy, but Abby figured there was only one way to find out—the question was how to get it done without actually sleeping with Cooper?

She smiled and tucked her club back into her bag and slid back into cart. “Let’s go,” she said lightly.

There were several holes to get through. There was the rehearsal dinner.

And there was the illusive Cooper Simon to pretend-seduce.

What could go wrong?





7





Tucker grabbed a cold beer from the waiter and leaned back against the bar as his family began to gather in the hotel restaurant for dinner. The impressive group of Simons had just come from the Fernham estate twenty minutes away, which boasted an old antebellum mansion where the wedding rehearsal had taken place and where the wedding ceremony would be performed tomorrow.

Tucker wasn’t in the actual wedding party, so he’d passed on heading out there to watch, and instead after golf, had relaxed in his suite while Betty had taken Abby to the spa to get their toes done.

He glanced at his watch and scowled. That was nearly three and a half hours ago. How long did it take a woman to get her damn toes done? He’d had time to make several business calls, shower and change, and was already on to his second beer.

He took another swig, eyes narrowed as his cousins Cooper and Rick arrived at the reception. Their younger sister, Calista, was the bride and both of them were standing up for the groom.

Cooper hadn’t shown for golf this morning and Tucker was guessing either a woman or a bottle of Gray Goose was to blame. He thought about is some more. Probably both.

Rick nodded and elbowed his brother as Cooper turned toward Tucker. It was eerie how much Cooper looked like Beau. Hell, they could pass as brothers, well, except Beau wasn’t an asshole.

The two men started toward Tucker but were waylaid by Aunt Virginia, and Tucker took another swig, not bothering to hide a grin as Aunt Virginia tucked her arm through Cooper’s.

Virginia had a soft spot for all the blond Simon boys—he would be there for a while.

Tucker glanced to his left as Beau sidled up to the bar.

“Shit, I was starting to think that you’d gone off with Betty too.”

Beau snorted. “Yeah, cuz a spa is exactly where I’d be right now.”

Tucker took another swig from his bottle. He didn’t want to ask the question even though he was dying—

“They’re on their way down. Betty just sent me a text.”

“Huh,” was Tucker’s reply.

“Apparently my lady love felt the need to squeeze in a little shopping.”

“Christ,” Tucker muttered. “I’m not convinced that retail therapy is cheaper than a shrink, no matter what she says.”

“No kidding,” Beau said in agreement, accepting a cold one from the bartender. “Who the hell decides to go shoe shopping an hour before dinner? Especially a woman who brings a suitcase just for her shoes. I swear to God she packed twenty pairs to come down here for the weekend, and she’ll wear maybe two of them.”

The two men sat in relative peace—at least for the moment—mostly because Aunt Virginia had Rick and Cooper cornered, and the rest of the cousins hadn’t spotted them yet. In a family as high profile as the Simons, Beau, with his Hollywood celebrity, stood out.

Beau took another pull from his longneck and then set it on the bar as he leaned back. “Mom and Dad aren’t here yet.”

“Nope,” Tucker replied, scanning the room although it wasn’t for his parents.

“I think their flight was delayed from Toronto.”

Tucker swiveled his head around. “Toronto? They were up at the cottage?”

The Simon family had a big piece of property on Lake Muskoka and spent a fair bit of time up there in the summer. It had been in the family since the early 50’s, and Tucker and his brothers had been going up there since he could remember.

“For at least a week. They always go up for the Canadian Thanksgiving to spend the weekend with their friends.” Beau frowned. “When’s the last time you talked to them?”

Tucker didn’t want to admit that he’d been avoiding his mother’s calls ever since she’d brought up the whole prostitute thing, so he just shrugged and shook his head. “It’s been a few weeks.”

“She’s going to lay into you when she does get here. You know that, right?”

Tucker didn’t answer because there was nothing to say. Beau was right. His mother would have more than a few choice words for him, and damned if he didn’t deserve them.

Beau nodded toward Aunt Virginia. “I guess you heard that Uncle Max broke his hip?”

“Nah, I didn’t hear that.” Good. It meant that Aunt Virginia would hopefully attach herself to Cooper for most of the night instead of bothering him because lord knows the woman liked to dance.

“Apparently he was trying to wave-board and didn’t quite make it.”

“Wave-board?” A grin tugged on Tucker’s mouth. “Are you shitting me? He’s got to be pushing eighty, isn’t he?”

“Mom says he’ll be ninety-two next year.”

“Wow,” was all Tucker had.

“Yeah.”

Tucker glanced at Beau, but his brother’s eyes slid away. Something was up.

“What’s on your mind?”

A few moments ticked by and then Beau grabbed up his longneck and tore at the edge of the label.

“It’s got to be hard for you.”

Tucker’s chest tightened, but he kept his eyes on Beau as he continued.

“Coming back here, I mean. You and Marley…you guys spent most of your time together in the Keys.”

Tucker didn’t answer Beau right away. He nodded at the bartender and motioned for two more drinks. Once they were served, he shoved a hand into the front pocket of his navy slacks and tried to relax his shoulders, but it was no use. He was strung tight and loosened his tie a bit.

“I had to come back at some point, right?”

He couldn’t meet his brother’s eyes. Instead he tipped the bottle against his mouth and drank damn near the entire thing.

“Yeah,” Beau said softly. “I guess you did.”

All around them, groups had gathered. Family members who hadn’t seen each other in months or years even, hugged and chatted. It was an animated bunch. A crazy, eclectic, loud bunch that Tucker called family, and he realized that he had missed them. Hell, even eccentric Aunt Virginia.

The Simons were his blood, and he’d been away for far too long.

“There’s my boys.”

Tucker barely had time to turn around before he was enveloped in a bear hug from a man who still had at least an inch or so on his sons.

Noah Simon was a force of nature who took no prisoners.

He was as at ease in the boardroom as he was in the swamps hunting gators. A southern boy through and through, he’d been raised right by a woman who’d done it on her own after his father was killed in the Korean War. He was the kind of man who believed that the power of discipline only worked when it was dealt with a gentle hand. And he was also a man who believed in dealing swiftly with those who crossed him—he wasn’t someone you’d want as an enemy.