Home > New Jerk in Town (Carolina Kisses, #2)(7)

New Jerk in Town (Carolina Kisses, #2)(7)
Author: Sylvie Stewart

“I take it that didn’t work.”

I nod and turn my attention back to the water, relying on the rhythmic ebb and flow of the surf to fix something in my head.

“Hell, your last check had to have been months back, wasn’t it?” Bran leans forward in his chair and inspects the rolling tide next to me.

“Fuck. I don’t know.” Hobbs was never all that reliable when it came to paychecks—or anything else for that matter. Back then, in what seems like another life now, it didn’t matter. All I needed was a place to rest my head and an ocean to swallow me up. Running pop-up diving charters with Hobbs all over the globe was a perfect fit. Until dear old dad kicked the bucket this spring, and I had to haul my ass back here.

“You know what you need?”

“I’m sure you’re gonna tell me.” I allow myself the smallest of grins. Pity parties never help anyway.

Bran points the mouth of his beer bottle at me and grins back in his easy way. “You need to get laid.”

Hell, maybe Bran and Felicity have a point. My mind flashes back to the brunette at the SWiN before I can stop it. The electricity is back, but this time its location is farther south. “Yeah, maybe you’re right.”



Felicity emerges from her room the next morning without the accompaniment of her usual racket.

“Hey, check this out! I didn’t even burn the house down.” I grin over at her from my spot in front of the new-to-me range where I’m cooking an egg and cheese sandwich with the last of our eggs—and bread. Her expression makes me do a double-take. It’s one I’m not familiar with, but it spells trouble, of that I’m positive.

“Nice.” Her tone is cheerful.

Yup, trouble.

“What are you up to?” I switch the stovetop off and slide my sandwich onto the waiting plate, pausing briefly to cut it in half.

“Nothing much.” She’s playing with the skull ring on her right index finger.

“Is that so?” I approach and hold out half of the egg and cheese. She shakes her head.

“That’s okay, I’m not hungry.” This is followed by a forced smile and a series of furtive glances around the kitchen. It’s nice to know my niece will never be able to pull one over on me.

Just as I’m about to call her out and put an end to this, there’s a knock on the aluminum storm door out front.

“I’ll get it!” Felicity races off before I have a chance to pin her down.

“If it’s another one of those damn vultures, tell them I’m busy loading my shotgun!” They don’t need to know I don’t have a shotgun.

No response comes, and all is quiet at first. It’s probably our friend Ted dropping off another of the countless comic books he supplies my niece with. But then I make out the sound of two female voices so I follow, planning on ushering this latest realtor right back out to her car.

My entire body locks up when I get a glimpse of the woman standing in the doorway talking to Felicity. It’s not a realtor—at least I hope the hell not. It’s the ghost that’s been running through my mind the last four days, the very one I had to travel half the world to forget and the same one who always managed to catch up with me sooner or later.

She hasn’t seen me yet, which is a good thing because I no doubt have a dumb fucking look on my face. It takes all my willpower to shift my stance to a casual one, my shoulder leaning into the entryway wall and arms crossed over my chest.

“Hello, Jill. Long time, no see.”

Felicity’s head jerks my way, and then it’s a ping pong match between me and the blast from my past.

“You guys know each other?”

“No.” Jill’s uncertain voice matches the creases in her brow. She’s wearing a pair of tight jeans and a red shirt with a neckline that plunges right down between a set of perfectly formed tits. Her hair is long and wavy, just like I remember, but her body is a little more rounded than the last time I set eyes on her. One glimpse is all it takes for my dick to perk up. She parts her full lips again, and I hold back a groan because Jill Holloway has always had a knack for driving me nuts. “Do we? How do you know my name?”

I don’t respond, partly because my brain is still stuck on how gorgeous she is and partly because the possibility that I’d be so forgettable to her never once crossed my mind in any of the twelve years since I’ve seen her.

But in the next second, recognition dawns, and Jill is smiling her brilliant sunshine smile—the same one that’s woken me up too many nights to count. It’s a hard punch in the gut.




Chapter Four




Twelve Years Earlier

“I can’t believe by this time next year, you’ll be married.” I make a barfing noise because I know it will bug Jenna.

“Gross.” She rewards me with a curl of her lip and a toss of her new straight bob. I’m still not used to the style. She’s always had long hair just like mine. “And what exactly is so wrong with being married?”

“I don’t know. It just makes you sound so… old.” A shiny purple shell catches my eye and I pluck it from the sand before hurrying to catch up with her again.

“Gee, thanks. That’s just how I love seeing myself—old, crusty, and, gasp, married.” She pulls on my ponytail, and I step sideways into the surf to get out of range. At twenty-two, she’s six years older than me, but it still feels too young to tie yourself down.

“I just mean, don’t you want to, I don’t know, see what else is out there?”

My sister’s responding headshake either means “no” or “you’re too young to understand, you poor little child, you.” Regardless, I hand her the shell because the purple ones are her favorite. I bend to pick up another one, and when I straighten, she’s wearing that secret smile I’ll never understand.

“There’s nobody out there half as good as Mike.”

Yuck. I throw my new shell as hard as I can out into the waves and bound ahead of her on the sand. “God, Jenna. Talk about old.” Turning back to her, I begin to tread backward, kicking up the white sand with each step. “I meant seeing what’s out there besides guys. Don’t you want to travel the world? Climb a mountain? Jump out of a plane? Sing on Broadway?” Here comes that headshake again, and it makes me want to scream.

It’s not that I don’t like Mike. He’s… fine. But Jenna is way too good for him on her most annoying day. I mean, the guy listens to talk radio instead of music, eats his pizza with a knife and fork, and uses the word “indeed” way too often. “Indeed, Jill, I’d love nothing more than to marry your sister and turn her into a total snore like me.”

“I’ll leave the Broadway thing to you. I know how much you love being the center of attention.” She shoots me a wicked grin.

She’s not wrong, and I know it’s no use, but I still need to try. “But there are so many things waiting out there to be discovered, Jenna.”

She takes me by surprise with a tackle-hug, and we both fall onto the sand in a heap, her body on top of me and my boobs no doubt threatening to pop right out of my bikini. I shriek with laughter.

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