Home > Flirting with the Frenemy (Bro Code #1)(17)

Flirting with the Frenemy (Bro Code #1)(17)
Author: Pippa Grant

I force myself to sit through the rest of the game, which is painful more for knowing Ellie’s upstairs naked than it is for watching the blowout. Tucker doesn’t wake up when I carry him upstairs and tuck him into the queen-size bed that makes him seem even smaller, and my heart lurches even though I know he’s getting the childhood every kid deserves, safe, happy, and loved, despite the hiccup with me not being able to leave Georgia to join him in Virginia yet.

He’s not growing up hiding in shadows.

He has a capable mom who takes good care of him when I can’t.

He’s not me.

And I’m sure as fuck not any of the sorry excuses for human beings my mom used to date.

I should go to bed too, but I’m restless, and I want a snack, so I creep softly downstairs. I expect Ellie’s in bed, but I hear her voice drifting down the hall when I get to the kitchen. “Don’t even try to play innocent. You did this on purpose.”

I swallow a grin, because it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know who she’s talking to, and I’m not surprised to hear the echoes of Beck’s voice, even though I can’t make out the words.

None of my business—he can tell her whatever story he wants, and she won’t believe him, because she shouldn’t—so I dig into the fridge instead.

The same carton is sitting there, right in front, calling my name, just like it has been since I spotted it yesterday.

A take-out carton of banana pudding from Crusty Nut.

Ellie would probably kill me if I ate it.

There’s a line between annoying her and going too far, and I can’t decide which side of the line eating her leftover banana pudding would fall on.

On the one hand, it’s not a donut. On the other, it’s still banana pudding.

“He has a what?”

The surprise and sudden hush in her voice makes me pause.

“You’re lying,” she says. “Because it doesn’t make any sense. He freaking carried me to my room last night.”

And now I’m interested.

I grab the banana pudding, pop the lid, and snag a spoon and meander down the hallway. Beck’s voice gets clearer.

“—undiagnosed cardio-telepathy-rhymmeria. He’s being fucking stubborn and refusing to admit something’s wrong, so we need you to be extra nice to him. And watch out for his kid too.”

“Rymmeria? What’s a—Beckett Ryder, so help me, if you’re lying to me—”

“Ellie, it’s three in the morning here, I have a ten-hour plane ride tomorrow, and I’m talking about one of my best friends. Do you think I’m lying to you?”

“Yes.” There’s a hint of doubt in her voice.

Beck grunts in frustration. “You really want to take that chance? If he has a heart attack on your watch, you’re going to feel like an asshole for the rest of your life. He might even get kicked out of the Air Force.”

I knock and don’t wait before pushing the door open. Ellie gapes at me wide-eyed from the bed, holding her phone out in front of her. “What the fuck are you—do you have a heart condition—is that my banana pudding?”

She starts to leap, winces, looks down at her white tank top that leaves little about her nipples to the imagination, and pulls the covers up to her neck. “You are dead,” she tells me.

I cross the room to lean into the screen on her phone, which puts me right in the sweet spot to have Ellie’s dark hair tickle my face while whatever fruity bath crap she used tonight fills my senses.

Beck grins on the other end of the video call. “Wyatt, buddy, how you doin’?”

“A heart condition?” I say.

“Ellie was all we had on short notice to watch you, but you’re gonna pull through.” He winks, his blue eyes the same as Ellie’s, though his face is sharper and his hair weirdly more styled. “Hang in there. More help’s on the way.”

“We beat your high score in Frogger,” Ellie growls at the phone.

Beck’s eyes go round. “The fuck you did.”

“We did,” I agree. “Ellie ditched wedding stuff all day today to cook for me, and Tucker kept running to refill my Dr Pepper.”

“Prove it, motherfuckers.”

“Maybe tomorrow. I’m tired, and we didn’t get any sleep last night,” Ellie replies.

“You two couldn’t get along well enough to tie a shoelace.”

We make eye contact, and I don’t have to know what she’s thinking to know that I’m thinking the same thing.

What’s the one thing worse than ruining his high score?

We move in sync like we’ve planned this, and suddenly I have my fingers threaded through the loose tendrils of her curly hair to cradle her scalp while she fists my shirt at the collar and pulls me to her mouth, still holding the phone out in front of us.

I don’t know if I’m kissing her or if she’s kissing me, but our tongues are clashing just like they did at Christmas, and her sweet taste is the perfect complement to the lingering banana pudding flavor in my mouth, and she’s making whimpery moaning noises that might be real or might be for show but I don’t care, because fuck, this feels good.

So damn fucking good.

Just like it did six months ago.

“QUIT FUCKING MY SISTER’S MOUTH, YOU ASSHOLE!”

Fucking hell, I don’t want to. But Ellie starts to pull away, so I let her go. She smiles sweetly at Beck, holding the phone close enough to her face that I’m not in the picture anymore. “We totally beat your Frogger score,” she informs him.

He’s glaring at her, jaw flapping like he wants to say something.

“Also, I think I’d know if Wyatt had an undiagnosed heart condition. Especially after what he did to me this morning.”

I start to talk, because isn’t undiagnosed kind of hard for anyone to know if I don’t even know it?, but she holds up a hand, and since I don’t actually want to give her a reason to notice another condition that kissing her makes me suffer from, I shut my mouth.

“You—” he starts.

“Goodnight, Beck,” she finishes sweetly. “I have to go do…something.”

She hangs up the phone and flings it on the bed, then grabs the banana pudding that somehow ended up on the nightstand. “Thank you for delivering dessert. You may go.”

I watch her for a minute, and when she looks at me, the craziest thing happens.

We both start to grin.

“Davis,” we say together, and it’s suddenly a race to see who can call him first.

There’s no telling if he’ll answer—there’s a lot I’ll never know about Davis Remington, despite living next door to him for half my childhood—but if he can’t do what we need, he’ll know who can.

My call goes to voicemail, and I start talking two seconds before Ellie does. “Dude, it’s Wyatt. Call me. It’s about Frogger.”

“Davis, it’s Ellie. Beck’s on my shit list and you owe me one for you know what, so get your ass up here to Shipwreck yesterday.”

She hangs up and pulls the banana pudding out of my reach. “Don’t even think about it.”

“What does Davis owe you for?”

“Sexual favors.”

My blood pressure goes past red to black. “The fuck he does.”

“Why did you kiss me?”

Of course she won’t shy away from asking. “So Beck knows there’s something worse than losing his high score in Frogger. Why did you kiss me?”

“Because you’re a good kisser.”

Of everything she could’ve said, that’s the last thing I expected.

But it shouldn’t be.

It’s Ellie. She charges in like a bull, fucks up, adjusts, and then hits it out of the park.

She’s fucking unstoppable.

“That’s not all I’m good at,” I tell her, and I think that damn frog from the game is sitting on my vocal cords, because that came out way huskier than it was supposed to.

Like a promise instead of a threat.

“I’m aware,” she says, equally throaty, but also equally tentative.

If that was all she said, I could walk away. But she adds, “I don’t hate you, you know,” in a soft whisper, and I sink to the bed next to her, because I’m pretty sure that was an invitation.

“And if you were suffering from a real heart condition, I would help you,” she continues, softer still.

It’s like Christmas all over again, hiding out in her parents’ basement after finding out I lost the battle to keep Tucker in Georgia with me while I waited for orders to Copper Valley.

“You’d make a terrible nursemaid,” I say hoarsely, because someone has to stop us from doing what I’m thinking of doing every time she lets her gaze drift to my lips like that.

“You’d make a terrible patient.”

“I should leave.”

“Why did you tell Beck you were going to make a terrible husband and father?”

Fuck, how did she know that? “Listening in on people’s private conversations, nosy-ass?”

“Don’t get high and mighty with me. I know you too well.”

“Ellie—”

“Was I that much of a mistake? At Christmas?”

“No. Yes. Fuck.” I rub a hand over my eyes. “The guys—your family—they’re all the family I have left. Them and Tucker. I don’t want to fuck that up.”

“Do you honestly believe any of my family would put up with you if you weren’t good enough for all of us?”

“Don’t be nice to me.”

“What if we were nice to each other?” she whispers.

“Ellie—”

“Shut up, Wyatt. I’m not asking for a relationship. I’m asking for a friend. I don’t want to go to Monica’s wedding by myself. I don’t want to feel broken. I want to dream again. I want to know I can be normal again. I want to believe in the future. I can’t—I haven’t—I don’t know if I can—”

   
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