Razed (Barnes Brothers #2)(6)

Written By: Shiloh Walker



At that moment, Abby glanced away from Zach. “If everybody keeps calling Zach sweet and adorable he’s going to find somebody to arm wrestle just to prove his manhood.”

“I don’t need to prove my manhood.” He pressed his face to her neck and then groaned as Abby pushed him back. “Can we leave now? Can we leave now?”

“Hush!” Abby said, but there was laughter lurking under the words. “This is my wedding and I’m going to enjoy it.”

Zach leaned in, murmured something to Abby that had her face going red.

“Killing me,” Javi said again, his voice mournful.

“You’re not kidding.” Sebastian rolled his eyes and turned away. Over his shoulder, he said, “I think I need another beer.”

Zach opened his mouth. Abby jabbed him in the side. “Behave,” she whispered.

At the same time, Aida looked at Javi. “You hush. You’d think you don’t remember your wedding night.”

Javi slid his wife a sly look. “Maybe I don’t. You wanna remind me, mi corazón?”

Aida shook her head, but the look in her eyes spoke volumes.

Being surrounded by happy people suddenly made her feel that much more acutely alone.

“Zach, not to interrupt whatever dirty thoughts you’re whispering to Abby,” Javi said, “but I promised my baby I’d ask—hey!”

“Not now, Javi,” Aida scolded.

“But they’ll disappear for two weeks,” Javi said, rubbing his side where Aida had elbowed him. “I told Evie I’d ask.”

“Javi . . .” Aida said, her tone full of warning.

“It’s okay, Aida. Javi, what’s your baby girl need?” Zach asked, his tone teasing.

Their baby girl was fifteen, not really a baby anymore, but Javi still insisted otherwise. He gave his wife a smug look and leaned forward. “She’s trying to raise money for a workshop she wants to attend over the fall break—it’s a few months away but they have to get it worked out early. It’s in DC and it’s up to the student to raise the funds. We agreed we’d cover half, but if she really wants to do it, she has to raise the other half.”

“How much does she need?” Abby asked.

“She’s raised fifteen hundred. She needs another five—and no, I don’t want you covering all of it. She was going to ask you herself, but her asthma was too bad for her to come tonight.”

Travis whistled between his teeth. “A workshop that costs four thousand and they think students have that kind of money handy?”

“Some of the kids at her school do—or their parents do.” Javi shrugged. “She’s lucky—when I was her age, only way I’d have that kind of cash would be if I stole it. We can help with half. A lot of the kids, though, they want to go, and according to their teacher, it can open a lot of doors, but half of them won’t be able to attend.”

Keelie looked up. “What’s the workshop for?”

“Something in the science field.” Javi shrugged. “Evie wants to be a physicist. It’s still a pretty rough field for girls, she says. Not that they can’t do it, but . . .”

“A bunch of sexist morons don’t always want girl cooties messing it up,” Keelie said, snorting.

“Yeah. Kind of like you do with tattoos.” Javi winked at her. “What’s up with that?”

“Javi, you’re just jealous that some of the girl cooties are smarter than your cooties,” Zach said. His eyes bounced off Keelie’s—that was the same way he’d looked at her for the past two months. Her heart ached a little over it, but she’d done it herself. “Hey, Z.”

Even as he said it, before she even saw Zane, her skin was prickling.

Awareness streaked through her as he moved into sight, camera shielding his face. Automatically, she averted hers so that all he caught was the fall of her bangs.

“You’ve been taking pictures all night,” Abby said. She nodded to the seat behind Keelie. “Why don’t you sit down? Call it quits for the night.”

“Gotta make sure I get enough pictures.” He continued standing, so close it made her burn. And want. And wish.

Keelie felt herself growing all the more self-conscious. Her skin heated. She licked her lips, thought she could still taste him there, despite the champagne she’d had.

“Like you ever don’t get enough pictures,” Zach said, smirking. “Sit. Talk. Interact with the human race, Z.”

There was a moment of silence, and then she heard a shift behind her as he sat. Her skin started to hum. Oh. Man. This was so not good. Was she going to feel like this every time—

“What?” She jerked her head up, looking at Aida, who was making a clucking sound.

“You look beat,” Aida said.

Travis chose that moment to come around the table and crouch down in front of her. “You’ve been taking the ice off every twenty minutes, right?” As he asked, he lifted the ice pack away, studying the mottled, swollen mess of her ankle.

“Yes, Doctor Travis,” she said.

“Smart-ass.” He shook his head. “Everybody’s a smart-ass.”

“Like you’re one to talk.” Zane’s voice sounded tight. So tight, everybody but Keelie turned their head to look at him. Travis paused, his fingers gentle on Keelie foot and lower leg.

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