Wild For You, p.8J. C. Reed
“I didn’t ask Dad to hire someone as hot as her.”
His hand moves to his ear, cupping it. “Did you just say hot?” His voice is dripping with amusement as he slams the palm of his hand against my back. “I’m glad to hear there’s still hope for you. It took us six weeks to find the right person—basically a physical therapist with the right credentials, glowing recommendations from previous patients, and who’d be willing to live in the same house as the patient. It took us even longer than that to persuade her to travel to a town that’s in the middle of nowhere. It sure helps that she’s easy on the eye, funny, motivated—all things we didn’t know before we first met her.” He cocks a brow. “Want me to go on? I know you want to say it, so….” He shrugs. “You’re welcome.”
“She’s not my type.”
“Who cares whether she’s your type? She’s here to get you back on your feet.” He laughs. “Besides, I don’t believe you because you just called her hot. My advice? Let her spin her magic. It will be like a good ol’ massage parlor, maybe even better.”
His clueless remarks anger me for some reason. Erin isn’t cheap. She’s a professional. For some reason, I want him to respect that. “Do you have any idea what physical therapy is?”
“No, and I don’t care either. That’s for you to find out. I’m not the one who was stupid enough to ride that bull. No offense.”
While Kellan likes to dish out his advice and opinion to everyone, regardless of whether they might be interested in hearing it, I excel at doing the opposite of whatever people expect of me.
He obviously expects me to fuck her, which I might have…under different circumstances.
Kellan’s brows shoot up meaningfully. “So, how long has it been exactly?”
He nudges me with his elbow, almost knocking off my balance. “I know you haven’t had anyone over in ages.”
I narrow my eyes. “How would you know that? Maybe I’m seeing someone you don’t know about.”
“You’re not. Ryder’s been watching the house.” Catching my angry expression, Kellan shrugs. “What? We need to make sure you’re okay. For all we know, you could slip on the hardwood floor, bang your head against the kitchen counter and lie there, choking on your own blood.”
“That is a well planned-out scenario. Thank you for that. I bet you guys have been picturing it quite a few times,” I say, dryly. “Why don’t you add choking on an olive to your list of gory possibilities as to how I might meet my early demise?”
“Go on. Ridicule us all you want, but you’ve got to admit it is a very realistic scenario.”
“Absolutely…if I were an old lady with a dislodged hip and in dire need of a walking stick.” Breaking off, I shake my head. “Shit, Kellan. You always know how to make me feel better. You’re an asshole.”
The old lady bit is as unrealistic as it could get, but the dislodged hip part isn’t that far from the truth.
Dad can be annoying under the best of circumstances, but he would never go as far as watching my house. Whenever I think my brothers couldn’t get more in your face, trust Kellan and Ryder to come up with new ways to burst my bubble.
“That’s what brothers are for,” Kellan says. “You can pull that woe-is-me shit with Dad, but it’s not working on us. We both know you enjoy the attention.”
“As soon as I can walk, I’m going to punch you,” I growl.
“Sounds good. Let me book you a date for next year. How does February sound?”
I know he tries to piss me off. It’s my brother’s attempt to get me off my ass, make me work harder to get my old life back. While I appreciate the effort, I know it’s fruitless. My old life’s gone for good. But if I had been able to walk, I would have given him a black eye for all the comments he’s been cracking the past few months.
“Book me in for this year.” I give him the finger of my right hand, then the finger of my left hand. “I’ll do it even if I have to chase you around on crutches.”
I shuffle along the narrow path, freezing to the spot as I notice the commotion on my veranda.
Most of the Boyd clan’s here. I spy Kellan’s fiancée, Dad, Aunt Shannon, and a few of my cousins. No sight of my brother, Ryder. And at least no one invited the neighbors.
There’s no way I’ll be able to kick everyone’s ass out. They’ll just gang up on me, and I’ll draw the shorter straw.
“I didn’t realize there was going to be a public gathering in my house,” I hiss at my brother, realizing too late why he’s been grinning all this time. “I don’t think I invited any of you over.”
“Surprise.” Kellan shoots me another one of his stupid grins. “You know you don’t need to. It’s your birthday, so naturally, we’ll come anyway. That’s what family’s for.”
Yeah, to annoy the hell out of me.
“You’ll have to thank my fiancée for this awesome idea,” he continues.
I peer at Ava, my soon-to-be sister-in-law, and my bad mood lifts a little. She’s sitting on a lounger, her pregnant belly so huge I’m pretty sure that kid might just pop out any second, giving us all the fright of a lifetime. That would keep Kellan busy for a while and off my back.
Wincing at the pain shooting through my leg, I take in the scene before me.
Camping tables are being set up, chairs are being moved around, and the smell of fresh casseroles, gravy, and grilled stuff wafts over. Someone’s even hanging up lanterns, meaning the gang’s not about to leave anytime soon.
What the fuck!
As much as I want to shoo my family away, I can’t, because I know they’re doing this for me.
“I never asked for a fucking party,” I mumble to Kellan.
“In that case you should have answered the damn phone,” Kellan says. “We’ve been worried sick about you.”
“Sorry for not calling in every night, Dad,” I say sarcastically. “I guess I was too busy drowning in self-pity.” My gaze roams over all the familiar faces. There’s no sign of Erin.
“Where is she?” I ask.
Kellan cocks his head, feigning ignorance. “Who?”
I groan at the fact that he’s making me spell it out. “The physical therapist.” I make sure to emphasize the words. “Or did you think I was talking about Ava? You know…” I smirk, ready to turn the tables and annoy the hell out of him for a change. “I think your soon-to-be wife likes me. She takes the whole thing rather seriously. Too bad she didn’t meet me first. I bet she wouldn’t have paid you a second glance.”
He shoots me a menacing look. I laugh, which earns me the kind of murderous look that tells me my brother’s still so much in love with her it’s unreal. The fact that two people can be so engrossed in each other makes me both hopeful and sad.
Hopeful that there’s that one right person for everyone.
Sad that I’ll never be the kind of guy to let a woman get close enough to me to find out.
“She isn’t your type, so stop the bullshit,” Kellan says. “Besides, there’s no way she would have chosen you over me.”
“You sure about that?” I wink at him and dodge slightly, just in case he decides to punch me.
Ava must have heard us because she calls over stoically, “That’s right, Cash. I wouldn’t have. And you can kick and scream all you want, but I’m not going to sit back and watch you sulk. Not any longer. We’ve tried your approach; now it’s time to try ours.”
I scowl at her choice of words. I’ve known the woman for all of a few months, and she’s already taking Shannon’s place as the family matriarch. Hell, it’s worse. She’s already taken it, and no one even saw it coming. Noticing the adoring glance Kellan throws at her, I instantly know who’s wearing the pants in his house.
“Actually, I wasn’t really the topic of our conversation,” I call back.
“Oh,” Ava says. “Sorry.”
“Cash was asking about Erin,” Kellan explains needlessly
“She’s in town. Ryder’s taken her shopping.”
“See?” Turning to me, Kellan pats my shoulder and gives me one of his fake caring glances. “Your physical therapist hasn’t run off. Take a seat, grab a beer and relax.” He leans forward, his voice lowering to a conspiratorial whisper. “And let her help you.
“Why would I?”
“Look at it this way, the sooner you finish your physical therapy, the sooner you’ll get us out of your hair. With Erin’s help, you’ll be back to your half-naked dancers and that stuffy office of yours before you know it. She might be a hot little number, but she also happens to be one of the best at what she’s doing.” He makes it sound like owning a few nightclubs is a bad thing. Besides, my office is far from being stuffy. In fact, it’s all mahogany and state-of-the-art—the best money can buy.
I have a penchant for both women and expensive stuff. I could hire the most expensive therapist if I wanted to. But I don’t need anyone’s help.
“My birthday’s not really today, is it?” I watch my brother grab two beer bottles from the table.
“No, it’s tomorrow. What gave it away?”
“Obviously, I know when my birthday is. I was just pointing out a fact in case you didn’t know,” I say dryly.
I take the beer bottle out of his outstretched hand and settle on a recliner as I let my gaze swoop over the familiar faces gathered around my barbecue. Dad seems engrossed in a conversation, but he keeps peering my way. I’m still pissed at him for not consulting with me before hiring Erin, and glare to bring my point across.
Yes, I know I’m acting like a brat, but I can’t help myself.
Between Kellan, who has a baby on the way, and my brother, Ryder, who’s about to step into my father’s shoes as the town sheriff, I can’t measure up. I’m just the black sheep in the family, and I can’t change that.
So, why bother trying?
The best I can do is put as many miles between us all as possible.
“I can’t wait to get the hell out of here and pretend I’m too busy to answer your calls,” I mutter.
“Don’t forget the text messages Dad’s been sending since Shannon’s helped him figure out his iPhone,” Kellan says, laughing. “We’re all aware of your avoidance techniques. We’re just too polite to mention it.”
I want to point out that it would be even politer to respect my wishes and leave me the fuck alone. More people arrive, and the alcohol begins to flow. At some point, I spy Erin. As soon as she appears in my line of vision, her gaze flies across the tumult. Our eyes connect, and for a second or two, she blushes.
She’s been thinking about me. Maybe even about our kiss. My body heats up at the realization that she must have enjoyed it just as much as I did.
My eyes remain glued to her as I watch her greet Margaret as though they’ve been friends for a while. She fits right in and looks very much at home, chatting, laughing.
Her hair, which is usually tied up at the back of her neck, is flowing past her shoulders, silky soft and inviting. She’s dressed in a flowing, chiffon dress that makes her look like a beautiful nymph. I want to brush the shoulder strap aside and press my lips against her naked skin, wrap my arms around her and pull her onto my lap. The material of her dress is so thin, I wonder whether she’d feel just how hard I am for her…and whether she’d be turned on by it.
Then Margaret leaves, and Erin’s standing near the grill, the heat reflecting in her rosy cheeks.
Tipping the bottle back, I take a long swig as I watch her laughing with Ava and Shannon like she’s known them all her life.
I should yell and send them all home, but the barbecue smells delicious and Shannon’s one of the best cooks in the world.
Who says ‘no’ to homemade food?
“Having a good time?”
I turn to look at my dad who’s standing near the recliner, still wearing his uniform. His lined face doesn’t betray much emotion, but there’s a glint of worry in his eyes. This is my chance to give him a hard time, but he looks beat, like he’s had a long day already. Ever since my sister’s death, he’s had plenty of those and doesn’t quite seem to catch a break.
I can’t help but think that my injury has only added to his plate.
“Take a seat, Dad.” I point at the recliner next to mine and turn my gaze back to Erin, my eyes roaming over her body hungrily.
The recliner groans under Dad’s weight. We’re a big bunch—the Boyd men. It’s always served us well, particularly with the ladies.
“I meant well,” Dad starts.
“I know that.” I take another swig of my beer and grimace at the pain shooting through my hip. It’s the damn position. I need to shift every couple minutes or else I’ll end up blinded by pain.
Dad doesn’t just save people for a living. He’s saved his sons on more than one occasion by getting us out of trouble, and now he’s trying to save me again. Only, this time, there’s nothing he can do.
I feel bad for all the heartache I’ve caused him. I feel bad for adding to those lines on his face, which seem to get deeper with each passing year. And while he’s physically still the strong man who used to carry me around on his shoulders when I was a kid, his eyes have begun to tell a different story.
His getting too old to deal with his boys’ bullshit.
“I just want to see you happy and healthy. You know that, right?” Dad says slowly. “Your sister would say the same thing if she were here.”
I nod because that’s all the lump in my throat will allow me to do.
“Your brother’s been talking to you about the wedding?”
I shake my head. “Haven’t seen him much lately to give him a chance.”
“He’s afraid you won’t come. We all are. It would crush him not to have you at his wedding, Cash. Please, don’t tell me you’re skipping it. I know you two don’t always get along, but…”
The pain’s hidden well behind the unspoken reproach. I hate to hurt my family the way I’ve been doing ever since going pro. But I can’t let them dictate my life.
“I will be there. You know that.”
“How can you when you—”
Can’t stand straight for longer than five minutes, let alone walk?
That’s what he wants to ask, but is too afraid to. What everyone wants to know. Hell, I want to know that, too.
“Go get something to eat, Dad. This is a party, after all.” Even though the way everyone seems to tiptoe around me, avoiding speaking about the obvious, it might just as well be a funeral.
Dad gets up. “Your birthday gift is in the garage.”
I look up at him and nod. I don’t have to ask what it is.
In a weak moment, Margaret already told me what they were planning on buying. The entire idea seemed absurd, at first, but now that Dad’s mentioned the garage, I’m sure she wasn’t lying.
“Want me to—” my father asks.
“I’m good, thanks.” I turn away, hoping my expression doesn’t betray the anger I’m feeling. “And thanks for the motorcycle.”
“It’s not any bike, Cash,” my father says. “It’s a Harley Davidson. The newest on the market. You were nineteen when you said you wanted one. It was about time I got you one. Once you walk again, you can take it for a ride.”
I shoot him a grim smile.
There, another example. Another reminder of how big of a fuck-up I am.
I’m not completely immobile, and yet that’s what they all think.
“Maybe get me another one of those.” I hold up the beer bottle, dourly, and watch as Dad gets up to fulfil my request.
Dad returns swiftly with my drink, followed by the rest of the Boyd bunch. We take a seat and Shannon begins to place plates and bowls of food on the huge, long table, in easy reach for everyone to help themselves.
My glance brushes over the familiar faces, and I realize Er
“Erin, come over,” my dad calls out, as though reading my mind.
I turn sharply to look over my shoulder and realize Ryder’s hands are still glued to Erin’s lower back. They’re standing a few inches too close.
He’s almost leaning into her, dammit.
The thought of him with her in the car, smiling at her, driving her wherever she wants to be, touching her, makes my blood boil in my veins.
I’m not jealous or anything.
How could I possibly be when she’s been here for only a little more than a week? But I don’t like the fact that she seems to glow now that he’s around. All I ever get is a frown.
The thing is, Ryder is single and a player like me. Maybe not to the same extent as I am, but I’m sure he wouldn’t throw her out of his bed. There are plenty of other women he could choose from. It doesn’t necessarily have to be my physical therapist.
“Hey, bro.” I kick the leg of the table to get Ryder’s attention. “What’s up?”
“I was telling Erin about the harvest fest we have every year,” Ryder says as soon as they’ve reached us.
“Being your usual stranger to Montana, I’ve never seen anything like it,” Erin chimes in, not even looking at me.
My mood takes a dive to new lows.
I set my jaw, then take another gulp of my beer, then set my jaw again.
I don’t like the fact he’s trying to warm her up to this place when I should be the one doing it.
I want to offer her the tour, but how can I possibly when I can’t walk or drive?
The delicious scent of grilled steak is wafting over as the serving tray is being passed around, but my appetite’s just taken a dive, together with my mood.
“Stay, and I’ll take you,” Ryder says and winks at her.
My gaze rakes over her, over the way her body seems to fill out her dress perfectly without looking tacky. Her hair’s grazing the sun-kissed skin on her shoulders, and suddenly I’m consumed by the urge to press my lips against her body and lick every delicious inch.
Wild For You by J. C. Reed / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes