The house is dark and silent when I let myself in through the mudroom off the kitchen. Nearly ten thousand square feet and no one is here. A grin splits my face. With my brothers scattered, the housekeeper gone, and my dad off who knows where, that means my girl and I have the Royal mansion all to ourselves.
I break into a light jog as I cross the kitchen and climb the back stairs. Hopefully Ella is waiting for me upstairs in her bed, looking all cute and sexy in one of my old T-shirts she’s taken to sleeping in. It would be even better if that was all she was wearing… I speed up, bypassing my room, Easton’s and Gid’s old room until I’m outside Ella’s door, which is disappointingly closed. A quick knock gets me no response. Frowning, I fish my phone out of my back pocket and shoot off a quick text.
Where RU, babe?
She doesn’t answer. I tap my phone against my leg. She’s probably out with her friend Valerie tonight, which is kind of good, actually, because I could use a shower before I see her. The boys were smoking a shit ton of weed over at Wade’s place tonight, and I don’t want to stink up Ella’s room.
New plan. Shower, shave, and then hunt my girl down. I pull off my T-shirt, wad it up in my hand, and shove open my bedroom door without bothering to turn on the light. I kick off my shoes and cross the carpet to my attached bath.
I smell her before I see her.
With the sickening scent of roses clinging to my nostrils, I swing toward the bed. “No way,” I growl when I make out the shadowy figure on the mattress.
As a jolt of annoyance rips up my spine, I march back to the doorway and flick the light switch. Then I instantly regret it, because the pale yellow glow that fills the room reveals the naked curves of a woman I want nothing to do with.
“What the hell are you doing here?” I snap at my father’s ex-girlfriend.
Brooke Davidson offers a coy smile. “I’ve missed you.”
My jaw falls open. Is she fucking serious right now? I quickly swing my head out in the hall to make sure Ella’s still gone. Then I head straight for the bed.
“Get out,” I growl, grabbing one of her wrists to pull her off my bed. Shit, now I’m going to have to change the sheets, because if there’s anything that stinks worse than old beer and weed, it’s Brooke Davidson.
“Why? You never complained before.” She licks her red lips in a way that I’m sure is supposed to look sexy, but that I find stomach turning. There’re a lot of skeletons in my past that Ella doesn’t know about. A lot that would make her downright sick. And the woman in front of me is one of them.
“I distinctly remember telling you that I never wanted to touch your skank ass again.”
Brooke’s smug smile turns thin. “And I told you not to talk to me like that.”
“I’ll talk to you however I want,” I spit out. I cast another glance at the door. Desperation is starting to make me sweat. Brooke can’t be here when Ella comes home.
How the hell would I begin to explain this? My eyes fall on Brooke’s clothes strewn across my floor—the skimpy minidress, the lacy underwear, a pair of stilettos.
My shoes happened to land by hers. This all looks like a hot mess.
I grab Brooke’s heels off the floor and toss them at the bed. “Whatever you’re selling, I’m not buying. Get the fuck out.”
She throws the shoes back. One of the heels scratches my bare chest before they fall to the floor. “Make me.”
I squeeze the back of my neck. Short of forcibly picking her up and tossing her out, I’m not sure what my options are. What the hell would I say now if Ella caught me hauling Brooke out of my bedroom?
Hey, baby, don’t mind me. I’m taking out the trash. See, I slept with my dad’s girlfriend a couple times, and now that they’ve broken up I think she wants back in my pants. That’s not sick or anything, right? Cue awkward chuckle.
I clench my fists to my side. Gideon always told me I was self-destructive, but man, this is self-destruction on a whole new level. I did this. I let my anger toward my father drive me into bed with this bitch. I told myself that after what he did to Mom, he deserved to have me screw his girlfriend behind his back.
Well, the joke’s on me.
“Get your clothes on,” I hiss out. “This conversation is over—” I halt at the sound of footsteps in the hall.
I hear my name called.
Brooke’s head tilts. She hears it, too.
Oh fuck. Oh fuck. Oh fuck.
Ella’s voice is right outside my door.
“Oh goodie, Ella’s home,” Brooke says as my blood pumps unsteadily in my ears. “I have some news I can share with both of you.”
It’s probably the dumbest thing I could ever do, but the only thought running through my mind is fix this. I need this woman gone.
So I drop everything and charge forward. I grab Brooke’s arm to haul her off the mattress, but the bitch yanks me down. I try to avoid making contact with her naked body but end up losing my balance. She takes advantage and pushes herself up against my back. A soft laugh puffs in my ear as her store-bought tits burn against my skin.
I watch in panic as the doorknob turns.
Brooke whispers, “I’m pregnant and the baby is yours.”
My entire world lurches to a stop.
The door swings open. Ella’s gorgeous face takes in mine. I watch her expression turn from joy to shock.
I’m frozen in place, but my brain is working overtime, frantically trying to calculate the last time Brooke and I were together. It was St. Patty’s Day. Gid and I were hanging out by the pool. He got drunk. I got drunk. He was beyond upset about something. Dad, Sav, Dinah, Steve. I didn’t understand it all.
I vaguely register the sound of Brooke giggling. I see Ella’s face, but I’m not really seeing it. I should say something, but I don’t. I’m busy. Busy panicking. Busy thinking.
St Patty’s Day… I’d stumbled upstairs and crashed and woke up to wet, hot suction around my dick. I knew it wasn’t Abby, because I’d already broken it off with her and she wasn’t the type to creep into my bedroom anyway. And who am I to turn away a free BJ?
Ella’s mouth falls opens and she says something. I can’t hear it. I’m caught in a tailspin of guilt and self-loathing, and I can’t pull myself out of it. All I can do is stare at her. My girl. The most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen. I can’t turn away from all that golden hair, those big blue eyes pleading at me to explain myself.