Home > Inked Obsession (Montgomery Ink : Fort Collins #2)(8)

Inked Obsession (Montgomery Ink : Fort Collins #2)(8)
Author: Carrie Ann Ryan

Brenna looked between us. “I need to head to work soon. If I didn’t have to go, I’d help, too. Not that I’d be much help when it comes to doing anything handy.”

“That is true. You can’t put together bookshelves,” I said.

Brenna flipped me off. “I’m okay at it.”

“No, you aren’t, honey,” Annabelle said, laughing.

“Am I allowed to flip you off? Should we flip off pregnant women?” Brenna asked.

I snorted. “Well, Annabelle could take us both, so we probably shouldn’t.”

“Thank you,” Annabelle said, lifting her chin. “Can you help?”

“Sure, I don’t mind.”

“Thank you. I wouldn’t normally ask you on your day off, but I’m out of options. And, well, it’s just weird. I don’t want her to feel like she has to hire a handyman for things that Marshall used to do.”

I cringed. “We can handle it. We’re in this together. Whatever this is.”

She smiled at me and kissed my cheek. “You’re a good man, Beckett.”

I didn’t feel like one. That was on me, not them. I leaned against the fridge and sipped my water as Brenna and Annabelle talked. Maybe I wouldn’t work today. My dad wouldn’t be happy, but he wasn’t my boss anymore. I would get some things done at the house, then I’d help Eliza with whatever she wanted. Because I liked her. She was my friend. And I was always so fucking awkward around her. I didn’t know what to say. What did you say to someone who had lost the person they loved the most?

Especially when they played a key part in your dreams a little more than was safe.

 

 

Chapter 4

 

 

Eliza

 

 

I ran my hands over my hair and sighed. It didn’t matter how much dry shampoo I used; it would look like I hadn’t washed my hair in four days. Well, my in-laws would just have to deal with it. I cringed again. No, they wouldn’t be happy—not that they didn’t love me. They did. At least, that’s what I told myself every time I had to deal with them. They just hadn’t always been sure their son chose the right woman.

After all, we had been young, our relationship had seemingly come out of nowhere, and I was the rebound. They had loved his high school girlfriend. I was the replacement. At least, in their eyes. Marshall loved me with every ounce of his soul, and I hated that he was gone. He had been my everything, and now my time was filled with finding my new everything.

However, I’d been so focused on work today, an art project that I was truly enjoying, that I’d missed my prep window to get ready for our meeting. It was a commission piece for an older man who wanted to give something to his granddaughter. It made me smile just thinking about it. Something that she would love in her teens like she was now, and maybe even more later when she got older. It was a portrait, but one that I would be changing up a bit for dramatic effect. I had interviewed the grandfather for hours to get to know how he felt about her, and it’d brought tears to my eyes.

However, getting into these sketches and beginning the painting today had taken up far too much time. So, I hadn’t showered fully like I’d wanted to. I had been able to put my hair up and scrubbed quickly, but I hadn’t had time to wash my hair.

Behold, the life of an artist—or anyone really, these days. I looked in the mirror, cringed again, and put my hair up in a cute top knot that looked elegant. Unfortunately, I could still tell that my hair was filled to the brim with dry shampoo. It was fine. I looked okay. Beverly and Clarence wouldn’t mind.

They liked me. A little.

I sighed and looked over my to-do list before I met my in-laws for brunch.

The doorbell rang, and I frowned. Were they supposed to meet me at home? No, they’d never been to this house. They had been to my and Marshall’s house countless times. They were originally from Colorado and had moved back once Marshall got stationed here. Once we had been stationed at the base nearby, I reminded myself. Now, they were close by, even though we didn’t see each other often. It was hard. This was the first time in a month that I’d be seeing them. They’d wanted to meet for brunch, and I was trying. I really was. I loved them. They were my in-laws.

My parents, in a way.

I made my way to the door, opened it, and my eyes flew wide. “Beckett?” I asked, looking at the Montgomery in front of me.

He had on a white tee, work jeans, and carried a toolbox. My stomach did that little flutter thing it tended to do around him, and I ignored it. It was wrong to lust after him. So very wrong. “My sister said you needed help with something?” he asked, and with the way he looked just then, images of a very dirty movie that Marshall and I had watched once together filtered through my mind.

No, I was not going to think about that. Especially not with Beckett standing in front of me.

I blinked and licked my suddenly dry lips. I must have imagined that Beckett’s gaze drifted down to follow the action. “Oh, Beckett. Hi. I was just heading out. I didn’t know you were coming over.”

Beckett sighed and ran his hands over his hair. He had dark circles under his eyes, and he looked like he hadn’t been sleeping.

“What’s wrong?” I asked. He froze for a second and then shook his head. “Nothing’s wrong. I was just in the area for another project and figured I’d stop by here and see what you needed before I headed home to change. I had my toolbox in my car.”

I smiled. “It’s for bookshelves, so I think it’s just a drill. Right?” I asked, and he cringed. “What? It’s not a drill?”

He shrugged. “It can be. Sometimes, an Allen wrench if you’re going with that lovely box store.”

I shook my head. “No, not exactly. I’m sorry. They’re mounted to the wall, and then there’s a few other boxes I need some help with. And the railing. I asked Annabelle about the railing and she said that one of you guys would be over.”

“It’s fine. Just tell me what you need me to do.”

I looked down at my watch. “I actually need to meet my in-laws, I’m sorry. I can’t stay. I mean, you’re welcome to come in. It is your family’s house.”

Beckett shook his head. “No, I should go home and shower before my next meeting. I have to meet Clay.”

“How is he?” I asked, my voice warming at the thought of Beckett’s assistant project manager. Clay was a nice guy, and I adored his three cousins. He was raising them himself and doing so well with it. It always put a little hitch in my breath thinking about him with children compared to my empty house. Once again, I ignored it. Because it wasn’t like anything would change with regards to that.

“I’m not going to be in your house when you’re not here. I’m not your landlord. My sister is.”

“Well, you did help build this place, didn’t you?” I asked, teasing now.

Beckett snorted. “Yes, that was me. However, I’m going to head home and shower so you can get to brunch. You okay with that? I actually didn’t know you were still talking with them.”

He backed up so I could close and lock the door. “I’ll be fine. I haven’t seen them in about a month, but they called and said they wanted to meet. I know this is hard for them, too, so I’m going to do my best to make sure they know that I’m always here if they need me.”

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