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Up in Flames(Rosemary Beach #14)(19) by Abbi Glines

It had been two days since I’d left Vegas, and with each moment I spent away from Nan, replaying her words in my head, I realized my mistake. How I had messed up. How my fear of feeling too much for the unstable, beautiful, crazy bitch of Rosemary Beach had put me here in this sad pit of hell.

She had wanted me. Now she didn’t. That was the hardest thing to accept: not knowing what you have until it’s gone. The fact was, Nan made me laugh. Her haughtiness was a mask she used to cover up the vulnerability underneath. I’d seen it. Fucking broke my heart whenever she let her guard down. I could clearly see all the ways in which she was broken. Instead of being the man she’d needed and wanted, I’d failed her. I’d failed us.

Cope would fucking break her. He planned on sending her back to me destroyed, and I hated the idea of it. She didn’t need to be hurt anymore. She’d been hurt time and time again. Fucking bastard didn’t care, though. He just wanted the information that I had failed to get.

“Didn’t know you’d decided that lung cancer was the way to go.” Mase’s voice broke into my thoughts. I looked up to see my cousin’s disgusted frown.

“Fuck off,” I muttered, and took a long drag before turning my attention back to the Gulf. When did he get into town, anyway? Mase spent most of his time in Texas at the family ranch.

“If I was smart, I would. Looks like I’m going to be a dumbass, though, and try to find out what’s wrong with you.”

Great. Just what I needed. A fucking intervention. “Not in the mood. You’re in the wrong state, aren’t you?” I grunted, then took a drink.

He sat down beside me on the bench in front of my apartment complex. “Never seen you like this. Not even when your dad kicked you out for fucking his new wife. What’s up?”

Nan was what was up. Motherfucking gorgeous high-maintenance insecure sexy-as-hell Nan. “Go back to Texas.”

Mase chuckled, and I wanted to beat his ass.

If I weren’t on my tenth beer, I would have considered taking him on. But at the moment, I just wanted to be left alone.

“Came to town for a visit. Blaire’s baby shower is coming up. Please tell me this isn’t Nan-related.”

“Can’t,” I shot back, annoyed.

“Shit,” he muttered.

Shit was right. I was in deep fucking shit. I had fucked up everything. Nan would get hurt because of me. Nothing I could do now.

“Why did you decide to tangle up with Nan? I warned you not to. She ain’t the kind of woman a man takes seriously.”

Fucker didn’t know what the hell he was talking about. Mase barely knew her. She wasn’t the half sister he had grown up barely knowing. And she wasn’t the daughter his father had half-neglected for most of her life. She was the one everyone had left behind. The one everyone hated.

“You don’t know her,” I snapped.

“No one does,” he answered instantly. “She’s cruel, cold, and self-absorbed.”

I dropped the cigarette from my hand and crushed it under my foot. “That’s where you’re wrong. You never gave her a chance.”

Mase let out a hard laugh. “Fuck that. She was a vindictive bitch to Harlow every chance she got, and she terrorized Reese.”

I knew both stories. Grant and Mase had gone on and on about how evil Nan was when I’d first come into town and began showing interest. When they were around Rush, neither one brought Nan up, because her brother wouldn’t have allowed it. But when he wasn’t there, they bashed her every chance they got.

It pissed me off that neither of them seemed to think about why Nan might be so cruel. Didn’t they wonder what had made her that way? Talk about self-absorbed.

“You don’t know her. You’ve never tried to know her. So don’t fucking tell me about her. I know all the stories, and I know her.”

“Yet here you sit, smoking a cancer stick and drinking a twelve-pack of beer because of her. What the hell does that say about her?”

I drank the rest of my bottle. “It says that I didn’t handle things correctly. I didn’t treat her like the fragile flower she is. Now she’s gonna get shattered, and it’s my fault. I just hope I can fix it. Fucking bastard that I am.”

Mase didn’t have a quick response to that. Surprisingly. He sat beside me quietly, and we watched the waves crash against the shore. My thoughts were on Nan and what would happen next. And if I’d even get a chance to help her heal before the rug was jerked out from under her yet again.

Nan

I didn’t hear him enter the large, glass-encased, walk-in shower, because my head had been under the rainfall showerhead washing the last of the shampoo out of my hair. His large hands grabbed my waist, startling me, and my eyes flew open as I gasped.

“Turn around, and put your hands on the wall,” he demanded. His pupils were dilated, as they often were when he was turned on. I didn’t argue with him, although I loved fighting back just enough to send him into commander mode. It made me insatiable.

I turned and placed both my hands flat on the wet tile and opened my legs before lifting my butt up toward him. I knew what he wanted, and I was more than willing to give it to him.

I’d never known sex like I had experienced with Gannon. He could go for hours without end. Sending me into orgasm after orgasm. I craved each delicious touch and every painful moment.

A hand came down hard on my ass, and I cried out as the sting made my eyes water. “Sassy little bitch. Sticking your ass up to me like that. You think I want this?” he asked in a hard, cold voice, then slapped the same spot harder as I whimpered and squirmed.