The house is dark and silent when I let myself in through the mudroom off the kitchen. Nearly ten thousand square feet and no one is here. A grin splits my face. With my brothers scattered, the housekeeper gone, and my dad off who knows where, that means my girl and I have the Royal mansion all to ourselves.
I break into a light jog as I cross the kitchen and climb the back stairs. Hopefully Ella is waiting for me upstairs in her bed, looking all cute and sexy in one of my old T-shirts she’s taken to sleeping in. It would be even better if that was all she was wearing… I speed up, bypassing my room, Easton’s and Gid’s old room until I’m outside Ella’s door, which is disappointingly closed. A quick knock gets me no response. Frowning, I fish my phone out of my back pocket and shoot off a quick text.
Where RU, babe?
She doesn’t answer. I tap my phone against my leg. She’s probably out with her friend Valerie tonight, which is kind of good, actually, because I could use a shower before I see her. The boys were smoking a shit ton of weed over at Wade’s place tonight, and I don’t want to stink up Ella’s room.
New plan. Shower, shave, and then hunt my girl down. I pull off my T-shirt, wad it up in my hand, and shove open my bedroom door without bothering to turn on the light. I kick off my shoes and cross the carpet to my attached bath.
I smell her before I see her.
With the sickening scent of roses clinging to my nostrils, I swing toward the bed. “No way,” I growl when I make out the shadowy figure on the mattress.
As a jolt of annoyance
rips up my spine, I march back to the doorway and flick the light switch. Then I instantly regret it, because the pale yellow glow that fills the room reveals the naked curves of a woman I want nothing to do with.
“What the hell are you doing here?” I snap at my father’s ex-girlfriend.
Brooke Davidson offers a coy smile. “I’ve missed you.”
My jaw falls open. Is she fucking serious right now? I quickly swing my head out in the hall to make sure Ella’s still gone. Then I head straight for the bed.
“Get out,” I growl, grabbing one of her wrists to pull her off my bed. Shit, now I’m going to have to change the sheets, because if there’s anything that stinks worse than old beer and weed, it’s Brooke Davidson.
“Why? You never complained before.” She licks her red lips in a way that I’m sure is supposed to look sexy, but that I find stomach turning. There’re a lot of skeletons in my past that Ella doesn’t know about. A lot that would make her downright sick. And the woman in front of me is one of them.
“I distinctly remember telling you that I never wanted to touch your skank ass again.”
Brooke’s smug smile turns thin. “And I told you not to talk to me like that.”
“I’ll talk to you however I want,” I spit out. I cast another glance at the door. Desperation is starting to make me sweat. Brooke can’t be here when Ella comes home.
How the hell would I begin to explain this? My eyes fall on Brooke’s clothes strewn across my floor—the skimpy minidress, the lacy underwear, a pair of stilettos.
My shoes happened to land by hers. This all looks
like a hot mess.
I grab Brooke’s heels off the floor and toss them at the bed. “Whatever you’re selling, I’m not buying. Get the fuck out.”
She throws the shoes back. One of the heels scratches my bare chest before they fall to the floor. “Make me.”
I squeeze the back of my neck. Short of forcibly picking her up and tossing her out, I’m not sure what my options are. What the hell would I say now if Ella caught me hauling Brooke out of my bedroom?
Hey, baby, don’t mind me. I’m taking out the trash. See, I slept with my dad’s girlfriend a couple times, and now that they’ve broken up I think she wants back in my pants. That’s not sick or anything, right? Cue awkward chuckle.
I clench my fists to my side. Gideon always told me I was self-destructive, but man, this is self-destruction on a whole new level. I did this. I let my anger toward my father drive me into bed with this bitch. I told myself that after what he did to Mom, he deserved to have me screw his girlfriend behind his back.
Well, the joke’s on me.
“Get your clothes on,” I hiss out. “This conversation is over—” I halt at the sound of footsteps in the hall.
I hear my name called.
Brooke’s head tilts. She hears it, too.
Oh fuck. Oh fuck. Oh fuck.
Ella’s voice is right outside my door.
“Oh goodie, Ella’s home,” Brooke says as my blood pumps unsteadily in my ears. “I have some news I can share with both of you.”