TANGLED UP IN YOU
Author: Samantha Chase
Series: Shaughnessy Brothers
Release Date: April 30, 2019
He was only five feet from the door when Teagan stepped in front of him. Bobby stopped short so he wouldn’t slam into her.
“Oh no. You are not doing this again.”
With her arms crossed over her chest, she nodded. “This running away crap? I’m done with that.”
He still wasn’t sure he understood what she was getting at, and she must have figured that out.
“First time we met? You walked away after a plate almost slipped out of your hands.”
“Then you pretty much sprinted out of here last week after you hurt your shoulder.”
“I had ice cream first.”
She gave him a sour look. “And you didn’t come back like you said you would.” She stepped in close to him. “I prefer it when people honor their word.”
Now he was getting a little annoyed.
“I think if Anna hadn’t asked you to come today, I’d probably never have seen you again. I mean, sure, maybe at some Shaughnessy family event years from now, but other than that, you would have done whatever you could to avoid me. Except thanks to Anna, you did come back, and you’ve played with Lucas and by now he’s got some sort of hero-worship thing going on with you. So if you think I’m going to just let you pull another disappearing act, you’re crazy!”
She was doing her best to keep her voice down, but there was no mistaking how angry she was. Now what was he supposed to do? Or say?
Teagan must have taken his silence for something else because she let out a huff of annoyance and stepped aside, motioning toward the door. “Fine. Whatever. Just go.”
He heard her annoyance, but he saw her disappointment. And that got to him more than anything else.
Instead of walking out the door, he advanced on her. Her eyes went wide and she took a step back, even as he took another toward her.
“You’re wrong,” he said, his voice low and gruff. “I did want to see you again. Since the day we met, I’ve wanted to see you again. Even after I stormed off like a jackass, all I could think about was how good it would be to see you again.”
Teagan took two steps back and hit the wall. Bobby moved in until they were toe-to-toe. “I don’t like asking anyone for help or needing help, but the fact that I kept embarrassing myself in front of you? It was almost more than I could stand.”
“Bobby, you had nothing to be embarrassed about. I totally understand what you’re dealing with,” she argued.
But he shook his head. “You don’t. You can’t,” he countered. “I’m just a man, Teagan, and I can’t help but have a little pride. I don’t like looking weak. I don’t like being weak. If we had met at any other time—”
“But we didn’t,” she whispered.
Yeah, it was crazy to wish for something he couldn’t have. In a perfect world, he wouldn’t have gotten shot. In a perfect world, he would have been confident enough to ask her out. And in a perfect world, he’d have every right to close the distance between them and kiss her.
She swallowed hard, her big blue eyes never blinking, and watched him as if waiting for…something.
“What is it you want from me, Teagan? You want me to apologize for walking away? For not coming back? What? Tell me what it is you’d like me to do.”
He hoped and prayed she wanted the same thing he did.
“I want you to stop running. You have nothing to fear from me,” she said, brutal in her frankness. “I don’t care that you’re still recovering. I don’t care that you may need help from time to time. But I expect honesty from my friends, Bobby. Always.”
The kiss of death.
So many retorts were on the tip of his tongue, yet he couldn’t speak. Friends? So the attraction he’d been feeling was all one-sided? For a man who never had to put much effort into getting a woman, this was like being hit in the face with the ball all over again.
“Friends,” he finally said.
She nodded. “It’s all I can offer you.” Apparently, he was that transparent. “My main priority is Lucas, and I’m not looking to get involved with anyone. Especially someone who…” She paused and looked down at the floor.
“Someone who what?” he prompted, feeling more than a little annoyed now.
After a moment, she looked back up at him. “Someone with a history of being a serial dater,” she said defiantly. “If I were single, no kids, it would be one thing, but I have my son to worry about. I don’t get involved in casual relationships. I can’t. As it is, I was scared even to let you come and watch him today, because other than my dad, Lucas hasn’t had any other male role models. Now that I see how quickly he bonded with you, I regret my selfishness.”
“How the hell were you selfish?”
“I was desperate to have a day to myself!” she cried. “To get my nails done and my hair cut and do all the things I haven’t had the time to do in forever. And now I’m going to be hearing all about you for who knows how long!”
Now he was thoroughly confused.
“So now I’m not good enough even to have around as a friend?” he asked incredulously.
“That’s not what I’m saying, Bobby. I’m saying…I don’t want to confuse Lucas. I don’t want him getting attached to someone who has no interest in sticking around.”
Again the questions about Lucas’s father came to mind, but he was too wrapped up in all the ways Teagan was insulting him right now to ask.
He leaned in close. “You don’t know anything about me.” He meant to sound menacing, and he felt like he pulled it off.
“I know enough. People talk,” she replied confidently.
“People? What people?”
“Quinn,” she said with a smug smile. “He told me all about you.”
If he thought he was angry before, it was nothing compared to how he felt right now. How dare his brother-in-law say anything derogatory about him! That crap was supposed to be all ancient history.
“You know my history with your cousin,” he countered. “Of course he was going to talk trash about me. And why would you even ask him? Why not just come to me if you wanted to know something?”
“Because you were usually walking away. When was I supposed to ask you anything?”
Okay. She had a point. But still…
This wasn’t getting them anywhere. He wasn’t doing himself any favors with the way he was acting right now, and thanks to Quinn, she already had a bad opinion of him, one that he would have to fight. Stepping away from her, he raked a hand through his hair and let out a weary sigh. Maybe it was time to just let this go. His life was total crap right now, and she wasn’t looking to get involved with anyone, so why was he fighting this?
When he faced her again, he had his answer.
Because she was beautiful.
Because she challenged him.
Because she had the potential to break his heart.
In a perfect world, all the obstacles would be removed. But this wasn’t a perfect world and he was an imperfect man. And because he had nothing left to lose, he leaned in and kissed her.