Home > Flirting with the Frenemy (Bro Code #1)(5)

Flirting with the Frenemy (Bro Code #1)(5)
Author: Pippa Grant

“I’m sure you’ll have a lovely time,” I tell Wyatt while I tighten my robe ties.

I love the Pirate Festival.

Adore it, even.

But I’m not here for the pirates this week. Or to help dig up the town square—again—in search of Thorny Rock’s treasure. Or even to hunt for the peg leg hidden somewhere around town.

Not for myself, I mean. I’m here to be maid of honor while my ex-boyfriend plays best man in my best friend’s pirate wedding, since she’s marrying his brother.

Apparently while Wyatt gets to dig for treasure and hunt for the peg leg and drink his heart out at The Grog.

Or maybe not the drinking part.

Not when he’s here with his son.

That would be a mistake. And Wyatt Morgan doesn’t make mistakes.

Not twice, anyway.

An uncomfortable silence settles between us. I want to squirm, but I won’t give him the satisfaction of knowing he’s getting to me.

“You looked like you needed help,” he says. “In the bathtub.”

I bite my tongue, because my pre-teen years were basically me telling Wyatt I’ll tell you when I need help, now back off, followed by my early teen years where he grew a foot, discovered weights, got hot, and finally left me to my own devices while he did everything with Lydia.

Pretty, perfect, helpless-without-Wyatt Lydia.

Who is none of my business.

Although I’d rather think about Lydia than think about the last time I saw Wyatt.

“Thank you for trying,” I say, politely, because it would make my mother proud, and my mother thinks Wyatt hung the fucking moon. And I don’t want to argue with him right now. I have to save my energy for tonight. And tomorrow. And the next day. All the way until Friday, when Monica and Jason are getting married in the biggest pirate wedding ever seen in Shipwreck.

“Are you…sticking around for a while?” he asks.

“All week.” I study the furniture again, looking for the sparkly cover of my doodle pad, but no luck.

He clears his throat like he’s eaten a bad banana pepper.

“But I won’t be here much,” I add “so…”

“Yeah. Us either.”

Wyatt and Ellie, sitting in a tree. A-W-K-W-aaaarrrr-ding!

“Great. I’m actually leaving in…” Shit.

My phone.

I don’t have a phone.

I can drive. I’ve been driving again for two months. In a new hybrid car with more airbags than a bagpipe convention and sensors everywhere because other than refusing to drive a gas-guzzling tank, I didn’t have it in me to argue when Beck decided it was his job to make sure I had every safety feature known to man, including the freaking color of car least likely to be in a car accident.

Except the one feature none of us thought I’d need—internal satellite phone support.

I’ll always have my phone, which has a voice assistant, and that’s plenty good enough, we all agreed.

I don’t drive without a phone.

And I can’t call Monica—or Grady, my date for the week—because I don’t have a phone.

Fuck. Dammit.

If I don’t show up for dinner and the parade tonight, she’ll send someone up here to find me, because that’s exactly what I’d do if she was my maid of honor and she didn’t show up for a planned event on my itinerary when I knew she was still a little jumpy driving and that she had to come down off a mountain to get there because she desperately needed space from a certain other member of the bridal party and therefore wasn’t doing the easy thing and spending the week at the Inn.

I didn’t tell her I was bringing Grady as my plus-one, just that I was bringing a date, so she won’t know she can go to a local for help.

And the only person in the wedding party other than Monica who knows the backroads up the mountain is Patrick.

I flinch at the thought of his name, because while Wyatt was happy to tell me we shouldn’t have done that, at least he didn’t proclaim to love me with all his heart first.

And at least he didn’t bring his smart, skinny, beautiful new girlfriend along for the week.

That would be even better.

Look, Ellie, everyone but you is worthy of love. You couldn’t even get a fake date without asking four guys first.

I need to get off this mountain.

And get to that dinner.

I turn to head to the kitchen—Beck might have a spare phone in his junk drawer, not because he thinks of things like spare phones, but because he’s unpredictable and just when you think he’s completely irresponsible, he pulls out a spare cell phone—and for a moment, I forget that my hip doesn’t like to move that fast.

My knee buckles, but I catch myself on the end table before I go all the way down.

Wyatt’s crossing the room before I can think boo, but I hold a hand up. “Foot fell asleep,” I lie.

Those gray eyes bore into me, and his full lips go flat. Between the military haircut, the square jaw, the broad shoulders, and that glare, I feel like I should offer to drop and give him twenty.

And no, I don’t want to talk about what the combination is doing to my libido. My body doesn’t get a vote in this.

It did last time, and that didn’t end so well.

And I’m not talking about the accident.

I straighten myself and make my way more slowly to the kitchen.

If he notices the limp, he doesn’t comment.

If he notices the go away message I’m trying to send him telepathically, he also doesn’t comment.

Or go away.

“What do you need?” he asks, and I get another shiver, like he’s not asking what I’m looking for in the drawer, but what my soul needs.

I jerk my head toward the island, where my phone is in a bag of rice.

“Ah. Did you take the SIM card out?”

“Yes, Wyatt, I know enough to know to take the SIM card out.”

“Right. Of course you do,” he mutters. “You need to call someone?”

I instantly feel like a jerk, because we’re not kids fighting over the right way to shoot a free throw or kick a soccer ball anymore, and we’re not whoever the hell we were six months ago when he was home for Christmas and Patrick had just dumped me and he’d just gotten a horrific divorce settlement and we were both miserable enough to think we could drown ourselves in meaningless sex between two people who hated each other.

A lot’s changed since then.

Mostly me.

“I’m meeting friends in town.” I move aside a hand squeezer, fingernail clippers, a set of cards with Beck’s picture on them, condoms, and taco sauce packets, among other things, but I’m not finding any spare phones.

Beck changes his number on occasion, and because he’s Beck, I’m pretty sure he forgets to cancel his old contracts, but if he has any spare active cell phones, they aren’t in this drawer.

I should keep a burner phone up here.

“You lost your keys?” Wyatt says.

“I need a phone.”

There’s a pause, then a heavy, “Oh.”

And now there’s also this gigantic guilt giraffe standing in the kitchen, leaning all up in my space.

“Not that it matters, because I don’t know anyone’s fucking number,” I mutter as I realize my other problem.

“You want a lift?” he asks. “Tucker wants to see the parade.”

I open my mouth to tell him that’s not necessary, except…it kinda is.

I can either take his help, or I can scare my friend.

Monica was right on my parents’ heels getting to the hospital. She’s gone out of her way to have girls’ nights—without Patrick’s new girlfriend—because just because I’m marrying the idiot’s brother doesn’t mean I’m giving up my best friend. And she begged to ride out here to Shipwreck with me because you are not driving that far alone right now, period.

She doesn’t sugarcoat it.

And I couldn’t be more grateful.

And Grady is adorable and kind and well-loved in Shipwreck, and the perfect foil to Patrick and his wonderful new girlfriend, but he’s not the kind to panic over me, because he’s just a nice guy from town doing me a favor by pretending to be my boyfriend this week.

He’s not actually interested.

Wyatt’s watching me like he always has. Alert. Focused. Aware.

He probably watches everyone like that. I wonder how many other women have had their hearts broken just because of those eyes.

“If it’s not too much trouble,” I say.

“We’re already heading that way.”

“Right. Sure. Thanks.”

“When do you need to leave?”

“We have reservations at six.”

One corner of his mouth hitches. “Crusty Nut?”

I fucking love Shipwreck. And I love that Monica loves it enough to get married here. “Not like The Grog takes reservations or has good seating for the parade.”

“We’ll be ready at five-thirty.”

“Thank you.”

It’s just a ride. And I’m doing it for Monica.

And I refuse to feel uncomfortable just because he’s seen me naked, played wild bucking stallion to my free-range cowgirl, and then decided to return me for a refund.

If he wants to remember that night, that’s his problem.

I am officially moving on.

And I am officially not going to let him see that I care anymore.

Because then maybe I can also convince myself.



While we wait for five-thirty, I introduce Tucker to the joy of Pac-Man in Beck’s basement haven. Because modeling underwear as a second career after being in a boy band for years pays well, Beck has money to burn, and he uses it outfitting his houses with enough games to keep a man busy for three lifetimes. In addition to the old-school Pac-Man arcade game console, he has Ms. Pac-Man and Frogger, plus foosball, table tennis, pool, air hockey, and two closets full to bursting with board games. And more.

This whole house is a man cave, but the basement?

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