The Best Goodbye(Rosemary Beach #13)(14) by Abbi Glines
The ache in my chest was back. I hated seeing this side of him. It was something I’d never experienced directed at me. Letting go of the past was hard, but he was making it easier with moments like these. I’d never be able to say goodbye to River—he’d always be a part of me—but I was preparing myself to let go of him.
“I understand,” I replied through clenched teeth.
“Hey, Rose . . .” Brad’s voice trailed off as he walked into the room. “Oh, hey, Captain. I tried out that entrée we discussed. Rose and I are going to her place to test it.” He held up the carryout boxes in his hands. “We’ll let you know our verdict.”
Captain gave a stiff nod and left the room without a word.
I was in a shitty mood. Eating dinner with my sister wasn’t something I wanted to do tonight, but canceling on her wasn’t an option, either. If I tried to back out of it, she’d pout, and her husband would show up at my house pissed. So to avoid the drama, I decided to go.
Pulling up outside their mansion on the beach, I did a quick scan of the cars in the driveway and was relieved to see that it was just us. She hadn’t invited the rest of her friends. Tonight I wasn’t in the mood for all the happy couples and their kids.
When I reached the door, I rang the bell and waited. I could hear small feet running inside just before a thump hit the door.
“I got it!” my nephew called out. He was three going on twenty.
The door swung open, and I looked down to see Nate Finlay smiling up at me with a big, toothy grin. His silver-gray eyes were his father’s. Heck, most of the kid was like his father. Blaire couldn’t claim much.
“Hey, Unca Cap,” he said, as he held out his fist for me to bump.
I reached down and bumped his fist, then made sure to “blow it up,” or he’d make me do it again until I got it right. I’d learned that lesson already. “Hey, kid,” I said.
“We’re eatin’ mash ’tatoes,” he announced, as if that was the best thing in the world.
“That’s the only item on the menu he cares about,” Blaire said, walking up behind him. “I promise I made more than just mashed potatoes.”
The smells coming from the kitchen made me hungry. I was ready for some food. What Brad had cooked at the restaurant had smelled incredible, but then he’d used that meal to impress Rose.
Thinking about that pissed me off more. I didn’t want to admit to myself that I didn’t like the idea of Rose with Brad, but fuck if that wasn’t true. Thinking about Addy had screwed with my head. It was making me blur the line with Rose. Hell, I’d barely had a conversation with Rose. I had no claim on her other than that she reminded me of Addy. She brought back memories I’d tried hard to repress.
Telling her I’d fire her had been cold and uncalled for, but deep down, I wanted to do just that. I wanted an excuse to get her away from me. She was possibly the best worker I had, but I was trying to run her off because of my haunted past. It wasn’t fair to her, and once again, I owed her an apology. This shit didn’t need to become a pattern.
“What’s with the frown? Mashed potatoes aren’t that bad,” Blaire said, studying me closely.
Blaire knew nothing of my past, and I wanted to keep it that way. “I love mashed potatoes. I’ve just had a long day. A lot on my mind, with the restaurant opening in a week.”
My sister did not look convinced.
“Ribs are ready,” Rush called from the kitchen.
Blaire grinned again. “I cooked the sides. I put him on the grill.”
Ribs sounded good. “I’m starved.”
“Perfect. Let’s feed you.”
“Mash ’tatoes!” Nate cheered as he ran ahead of us.
The kid had no idea how good his life was. His dad adored him, and his mother loved him unconditionally. His world was so much different from the one I’d lived in. Blaire’s life had started out good, but after her twin sister was killed in a car accident, it had all gone to hell. I was glad she’d gotten a second chance. She deserved it.
Blaire had the life I had wanted for Addy. The one we used to sit and dream about together. Addy would have been an incredible mother. She had a heart so goddamn big it overpowered any evil we had to walk through. If I hadn’t needed her so much, I could have saved her. Gotten her out sooner. But I’d wanted her close to me.
Eleven years ago
I didn’t even go inside when I got home from my date. I knew Addy wouldn’t be inside. Mom was at her newest fund-raiser event tonight. It was the only reason I had agreed to go anywhere without Addy. I knew she’d be safe.
I still hadn’t been able to enjoy myself or the girl, who had quickly gotten naked for me. My thoughts had been with Addy and how I needed to check on her. Thinking of her alone bothered me. She shouldn’t be alone. I didn’t need sex, anyway. I could get that during school hours if I needed to.
I walked around to the back of the house and headed out to the path I knew would lead me to Addy’s favorite spot by the pond. I could see her blond hair in the moonlight before I could see anything else. I loved her hair.
I stepped on a limb and gave my presence away. She jerked, turning around to see me approaching her. The look of fear on her face quickly faded into a pleased smile. The one only I got. I’d watched her smile at other guys. No one got this smile but me. The smile that made her eyes light up and sparkle. If another guy ever did get that smile, I wasn’t sure I could handle it. I’d hurt someone.