“Good, but you should have called me,” Eli says, then sighs when Rhys kisses my hand. “Are you going to continue to touch my sister for all of us to see?”
“Yes,” Rhys replies simply, making Kate grin.
“I’m not sure how I feel about this,” Eli says.
“You don’t have to feel any way about it,” I reply in frustration. “I’m a grown-ass woman.”
“It’s my job to protect you,” Eli says, as if I’m being difficult.
“But it’s not your job to be an ass,” Kate says, but softens the blow by kissing his cheek. “It’s Rhys. You know him. And they’re cute together.”
“Hurt her, and—”
“Seriously,” I interrupt, not wanting to hear the hurt her and I’ll kill you speech. “We’re fine.”
“I get it,” Rhys says to Eli. “I feel the same about Kate; you know that. We’ve had that conversation. I almost decked you when you showed up in Denver.”
Eli sits back in his chair, and his eyes calm a bit, but he looks no less foreboding.
“Don’t make me regret trusting you,” Eli says calmly, just as our meals are delivered.
“Back at you,” Rhys replies with a cold smile. Kate catches my eye, and we both sigh, and shrug as if to say, what can you do? They love us. They’re worried about us.
Damn it, sometimes they’re idiots.
But lunch is delicious.
“Beau said this morning that you need a new dishwasher,” Eli says.
“I do. I’ll find time to pick one out in the next few days.”
“Just come to the office with me after lunch and sign off on one, and I’ll have it delivered. It’s your inn, but damn it, we can help with that shit. You’re busy enough.”
“Too busy,” Kate agrees.
“I think I’m going to hire some help,” I reply. “Rhys might have talked me into it.”
Eli’s eyebrow shoots up in surprise. “We’ve been trying to talk you into it for over a year.”
“I didn’t need it a year ago.” I shrug and twirl a long string of cheese around my fork. “But I’m much busier now, and Sam is getting more involved in things, so it’s time to have some help.”
“I’ll take care of it,” Eli says, as if there is no room for argument, and I simply laugh at him.
“No, you won’t.”
“Gabby, I have a whole HR staff that can easily find someone qualified to help you.”
“I’m perfectly capable of finding someone to help me,” I reply. “You run your business, and I’ll run mine, big brother.”
He sits back in his hair and tilts his handsome head, watching me. “Okay. You handle it.”
“I will.” I nod once and sip my Coke. “I wonder if I should specify in the ad that felons aren’t welcome to apply.”
“Gabby, let me handle this!” Eli exclaims, and I can’t help but dissolve in a fit of giggles.
“I’m teasing. It sure is fun to get you all riled up.”
“Most wouldn’t dare,” Kate says good-naturedly. “I wonder what people would say if they knew that he’s nothing but a big softie.”
“I will take you over my knee, Kate,” he murmurs to her, and Rhys tenses up beside me, but Kate just laughs and leans her head on Eli’s shoulder.
“Right. Except you have this thing against spanking me, so I don’t think that’ll happen.”
Eli’s lips twitch as he buries them in Kate’s hair and kisses her head.
“I don’t mind being spanked,” I add and eat a chip loaded with cheese and beans, just as Eli’s eyes go cold again, pinned on Rhys, who simply laughs beside me.
“I don’t need to know this,” Eli growls.
“It’s not like he leaves marks. Well, they don’t stay for long.”
Kate is laughing like a loon into her hand, Rhys is smiling widely, and Eli looks like he’s about to spit nails.
Or spank me himself.
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Kristen Proby is the author of the popular With Me in Seattle series. She has a passion for a good love story and strong characters who love humor and have a strong sense of loyalty and family. Her men are the alpha type—fiercely protective and a bit bossy—and her ladies are fun, strong, and not afraid to stand up for themselves.
Kristen spends her days with her muse in the Pacific Northwest. She enjoys coffee, chocolate, and sunshine. And naps. Visit her at KristenProby.com.