With every mile that passed as I traveled down the Interstate, I questioned whether or not I was crazy for following Rain to her hometown. The only thing that kept me from turning around and heading back to the bus was the fact that, regardless of whether or not the guys would give me bad advice when it came to women, I knew I could trust Emerson to give it to me straight. After all, she had twenty-two years of being a female and was a pretty amazing woman.
Thanks to one colossal dose of second thoughts that led to dinner in a truck stop, it was nearly ten at night when I finally rolled into Lexington. I managed to get lost in a town of fewer than ten thousand people because I wasn’t about to stop and ask for directions, couldn’t call her, and I’d only been there once before.
I shifted from foot to foot, shifting my duffel bag on my shoulder as I waited for someone to answer the front door. Hearing music coming from the backyard, I was just about to walk around the house when the front door swung open.
“Hey, Colton,” Matt said, extending his hand to me enthusiastically. Okay, apparently our problems haven’t made their way to the brothers. This is good. “Didn’t know you were coming out this way.” The way he kept looking from me and then towards the sliding door, I wondered if I was interrupting something. He seemed almost as nervous as I felt.
“Is it a bad time?” I asked, not wanting to cause a scene and regretting listening to everyone who told me a surprise trip was a good idea. “I can just…” I pointed to the front door as I inched my way back.
“No, let me go get Maddie for you.” He left me standing in the dark foyer rather than inviting me to the deck where there was obviously some sort of party going on. That did nothing for the anxiety threatening to make me lose my dinner all over the marble floor.
“…I can be friends with whoever I want!” Rain’s agitated voice snapped me out of my own thoughts. Who was she talking to? Who was she talking about? Was Matt pissed that I was here? Maybe he did know what was going on.
Even in the dark, I could see Rain’s icy glare as she stomped through the house. “Did you need something?”
“We need to talk,” I said quietly, not wanting everyone to be privy to our issues if they weren’t already.
“I’m trying to enjoy some time with my brothers, Colt. What’s so important that it couldn’t wait?” Her arms were crossed tightly against her body, it was obvious she would rather I not be there. Fuck.
“Rain, you’re killing me. Can we please go outside and talk?” I motioned to the front door, needing to give us some privacy and knowing we wouldn’t get any if we stayed inside. One way or the other, the head games needed to end. If nothing else, we needed to have the fight we couldn’t have in front of everyone, so we could get on with our working relationship and not affect the lives of everyone else.
“This really isn’t a good time. Why did you come all the way out here? I told you to stay.”
“Please, baby. There’s never a good time to talk to you. You won’t talk around the guys. Now, you won’t talk here, where no one can hear–”
As if hearing myself practically begging her to talk to me wasn’t bad enough, I made the mistake of looking up when I heard the sliding door at the back of the house open and then close. I expected it to be one of Rain’s brothers coming to make sure everything was okay. Imagine my surprise when it was none other than Garrett, the same friend she had gone out with three times the last time she was home, and now, here he was the same night she got back to town. The pounding in my ears was deafening as my blood pressure rose.
My jaw clenched so tightly I could barely speak. “Guess I know why you didn’t want me here. So much for nothing going on, huh?”
“Fuck you, it’s not like that,” she screeched as she started pacing back and forth in the small space. “I told you before, he’s a friend. That’s it.”
“Yeah, a friend who you’re here drinking with. A friend you went out with several times the last time you were here. A friend you’ve admitted had feelings for you.” I tried to steady my breath, to tamp down the bitterness I felt seeing Garrett in her house.
She shook her head furiously before finally responding. “And you really wonder why things didn’t work? He’s. A. Friend. Take a look at my life. The closest thing I have to a female friend is Angie and I barely know her. I get along better with guys. Whether you like it or not, that’s a fact of life.”
“I should go.” I reached behind me to open the front door, but Rain grabbed my other hand, stopping me in my tracks.