Razed (Barnes Brothers #2)(5)

Written By: Shiloh Walker



That intense, soul-searing gaze left her feeling naked and vulnerable.

“Then what’s wrong?”

How did she even explain that? Her gaze dropped to his mouth and to her dismay, she thought about reaching for him again, dragging him against her. Her hands curled into fists and she kept them locked at her sides to stop herself from doing just that. “I don’t even remember the name of the last guy who made me feel like that.” She met his eyes unflinchingly despite the fact that the blush on her face might have lit up the night sky. “Let’s just say it’s been a while. I prefer it that way. Then you go and put your hands on me and my brain leaks out. Your brothers, your parents, people I’ve known for years are just a few yards that way and I’m over here losing my mind because I can’t think about anything but finding a flat surface.”

His jaw went tight. “Vertical works for me.”

Her knees went weak. “No.” She licked her lips, ignoring the way her body screamed at her in denial. “That’s . . . I don’t do this, okay?”

For a long, taut moment, he just studied her and then he backed away.

She stared at his back as he turned toward the path.

Pride warred with pragmatism as her ankle continued to throb.

But she didn’t have to say anything.

Zane stopped before he’d even taken a step.

“Your shoe broke,” he said softly, crouching down and picking up something from the ground. He held out his hand and she grimaced at the sight of the sparkling heel in his palm.

“I noticed.” She glanced down at her ankle to avoid looking at him.

She practically felt him follow her gaze—felt it, like a burning caress.

“That . . . doesn’t look good.”

Her ankle was already starting to swell. “No. It really doesn’t.”


*

With her foot elevated, Keelie sat at one of the tables nearest the dance floor. Those were the “reserved” tables and her chair had been angled so she could see the dance floor, as well as the table piled high with presents . . . and Zane.

Too easily, she could see Zane.

Her abdomen went all tight and hot every time she saw him.

He’d picked her up like she’d weighed nothing, carried her inside.

When everybody was rushing around, he disappeared and returned with an icepack for her ankle.

Now, long after the cake had been cut and distributed, she was still trying not to look at him.

He’d gone into what she decided was his work mode, focusing on snapping pictures from every imaginable angle—and some she hadn’t imagined.

He’d long ago shed his tuxedo jacket and she couldn’t help but notice just how well he filled out the white shirt underneath. The bowtie hung askew around his neck and she found herself thinking about how much fun it would be if she could tug it off, unbutton the shirt the rest of the way—

“I can’t believe you twisted your ankle at my wedding.”

Keelie jerked her head away from Zane, focused on Abby.

“Better me than you, right?” The words popped out without her even thinking them through and then she winced. “That . . . sounded kind of shitty. Sorry.”

“Oh, no.” Abby grinned and dropped down into the seat next to Keelie. “I absolutely agree. Although I’m really sorry it happened—cuz that looks painful—I’d much rather you twist your ankle here than me.” She gave Keelie a dry look. “I appreciate that sacrifice.”

Keelie tipped her glass of champagne in Abby’s direction. “It’s the least I can do.”

Zach came up behind Abby and pressed his lips to her brow. “Can we leave yet? Can we leave yet?”

Abby turned her face to his. “You’re awful. You just asked that ten minutes ago.”

“I meant it just as much then as I do now.” He cupped her face, stroked his thumb over her lips. “You look beautiful.”

A dreamy smile curved her lips.

“You two are killing me.”

Keelie glanced up at the sound of Javi’s voice as he settled in the seat next to her, his wife taking the other one. “Javi, be nice,” Aida warned, her eyes dancing with humor in her round, friendly face. She smacked her husband in the arm before propping her elbow on the table and resting her chin on her palm. “The two of them are adorable.”

“Adorable?” Sebastian, the youngest of the Barnes brothers, joined them in that very moment. He studied his older brother for a long moment and then shifted his attention to his new sister-in-law. “Yeah. I guess I’d say they looked adorable.”

There was an edge to his voice that Keelie didn’t quite understand.

Zach glanced up at that very moment and Keelie caught the sharp blade of warning in his blue eyes. He opened his mouth, but before he could say anything, the twins joined them. Travis smacked a hand across Sebastian’s head. “Behave, kid.”

Then he grinned over at Keelie. “He’s upset that for once, he’s not the center of attention.”

Keelie studied Travis for a moment, then shifted her eyes to his twin, Trey. “Yeah, I’m sure Sebastian’s ego is getting a beating tonight.” Sebastian shot her a devious grin, but before he could say anything, she looked back at Zach and Abby. “He’ll survive, though. Zach and Abby just look too sweet tonight. He might be a hot commodity in Hollywood these days, but right now he can’t hold up against . . .” She paused and waved her hand at the couple. “That.”

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