Home > Say You're Mine (The Gallaghers Series)(5)

Say You're Mine (The Gallaghers Series)(5)
Author: Layla Hagen

Sasha beamed, clearly happy that he was still on my side.

“Perfect. Brayden, I’m on your team, along with Lars and Harvey,” she said.

That was a relief. It meant I’d have plenty of time to talk to Brayden when it wasn’t his turn. I could also observe the others and draw conclusions. I’d read about them quite a lot this afternoon.

What I knew so far was Brayden played the piano, Lars the guitar, Thomas the drums, and Harvey the violin and a number of other instruments. They were all thirty and had met at a party at NYU. Brayden, Lars, and Thomas were among the most sought out bachelors in the country. Thomas had been too, right until he got married. It wasn’t just their fame though. They were all gorgeous. Lars was tall, with deep blue eyes and jet-black hair. Harvey had piercing dark eyes and light blond hair. Thomas was the shortest of the group, but he still towered over me. All of them were tall, and it was clear they worked out often.

Brayden and I sat at a booth a bit farther away from the rest of the group.

“What do you like most about this life?” I asked.

He answered without hesitation. “The music. I’d cut out everything else if I could. I don’t like public appearances.”

“How about concerts?”

“I like performing, but the concert tours themselves are insanely intense. It requires a lot of focus. I have zero time for any distractions during that time.”

“Sounds grueling.” I was committing every detail to memory. I didn’t want to write it all down—it would make this look far too formal .

“It is, but it comes with the territory. What made you become a counselor?”

Even though this was business and not about me, I thought it might put him at ease if I answered, keeping this more informal and comfortable so I could learn more about him and the band.

“No idea. I just always knew that’s what I wanted to do, ever since I was a kid. I always played the family’s counselor, trying to gauge what my siblings were up to based on body language and so on.” It was true. Dylan and Ian used to get mad at me for trying to interfere between them and our parents when they were fighting—I typically only made things worse. My brothers were quite cunning at getting out of trouble, and I accidentally ruined their plans on more than one occasion. I had to smile at the memories.

“How many do you have?”

“Three. Two brothers and one sister. My sister came to New York when I was still in middle school, and the boys stuck together even more after that. But I was determined to get in on their games and schemes. Do you have siblings?”

I hadn’t found much information about his family, but given his fame, it was to be expected. There weren’t any personal details to find on any of the band members.

“I’m an only child, but the guys are like my brothers.”

I laughed. “I can see that. And you’ve got the big brother role? Keeping everyone in check?”

“You could say that.”

“Has it always been like this? This strong camaraderie?”

“I think so.” He didn’t expand on that, which I thought meant he was avoiding me until I realized he was glancing over my shoulder at the game. “It’s my turn. Want to cheer me on?”

He hopped out of the booth, and we walked over toward the others.

“Yes. Make sure you win. Can’t have the guys thinking I bring bad luck.”

“I always win,” he said, and that boyish charm appeared once again. “The secret to it all is in the moves. The positioning is important. You know...”

I tuned out the rest, because my mind was already wandering down Dirty Lane, imagining all sorts of positions that had nothing to do with bowling.

“Focus on cheering, Isabelle,” he whispered in my ear, sounding amused. Had he guessed where my mind just went?

“I’m trying.”

“Are you?”

“Yes. Let’s see what you can do.”

He failed spectacularly. The ball veered all the way to the right, bypassing all pins.

Sasha gave us a thumbs-up, smiling good-naturedly. Brayden was smiling too, but there was something sexy about it. Tendrils of heat coiled around my body. I looked away, unable to keep eye contact for too long.

Brayden focused on the game after that, and I didn’t press him with more questions. He did ask me to cheer for him again when it was his turn. Gutter balls. He lost again.

I headed to one of the benches, needing a time-out. The testosterone was getting to me.

To my surprise, Lars sat next to me.

“Inviting you here was Brayden’s best idea,” he declared, grinning.

It made me suspicious, and I had to ask, “Why are you so happy?”

“Because this is the first time Brayden’s losing, and I have you to thank for that. He’s been bragging for years about being unbeatable. I’m going to remind him about this evening every time he starts again.”

“You’re cruel, but I’d do the exact same thing.” I chuckled.

“Really?”

“Oh yeah. My brothers kept singing their own praises about never losing at card games, and then I kept inviting over friends who were better and would beat them.”

Lars threw his head back, laughing. “You’re good people, Isabelle.”

I took that as a sign he was at least toying with the idea of collaborating. Surely if half the band was on my side, the others would get on board with this eventually.

As the evening progressed, the assignment became more tempting. It was so different from what I typically did. The corporate clients I’d worked for mostly asked me to do psychological profiling of their buyers, which was somewhat dry. And in my practice, my clients were unloading the difficulties in their lives, be it a divorce, dating troubles, career change, and so on. Working with the band in the capacity Sasha was expecting would require a whole other skill set applied in a fun and creative way.

“My turn,” Lars exclaimed, jumping to his feet. “Wish me luck.”

“No can do. I’m cheering for Brayden, remember?”

He tapped his temple before pointing at me. “And helping him lose. This is a fantastic evening.”

I laughed, watching the guys give each other shit. I wondered how much of this side of them their fans saw, this playful competitive banter. I could watch some of their interview footage to get an idea.

Since it was going to take a while until Brayden’s turn came, I headed to the bar, this time ordering a cocktail.

“I thought you were a lightweight,” Brayden said from behind me as the bartender disappeared in the back for more ice.

I glanced at him over my shoulder. “That’s true.”

“But I’ve asked the bartender to go light on the alcohol. I’m celebrating. Lars isn’t considering me a mortal enemy anymore.” I smiled, mesmerized by those green eyes of his.

“Why?”

“Because he thinks I’m bringing you bad luck.”

“He always could see the best in everything.”

“So he’s the group’s optimist?” I asked.

“Never thought about it like that.”

“I’m trying to get a feel for the group dynamics.”

“What do you have so far?”

I pulled two fingers over my mouth in a zipping gesture. “Nope. My lips are sealed until I have more info. Wouldn’t want to draw the wrong conclusions.”

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