This Isn't You, Baby(62)

By: K Webster


“I, uh,” I say and yank my hat off. Running my fingers through my thick hair before shoving my cap back on, I then flit my gaze to Brie and give her a weary smile. “I need to check on Calder and make sure he hasn’t lost the kid or some shit. Vee, I’ll be in my truck on the phone. Brie,” I murmur, “it was good seeing you. I’ll speak to you soon.”

Vee reaches for me, but I’m already off her bed and stalking toward her bedroom door. I hear Brie asking about me, but I don’t have time to listen. When I sling the door open, I nearly run right over Heath.

“What the fuck are you doing here?” he hisses. But even though he hates me, his attention is in Vee’s room.

“She’s happy. Leave her the hell alone,” I growl as I shove past him.

He mutters something to me, but I stalk far away from him. And far away from Duvan’s possessive hold over the girl I thought I belonged with.

This shit is fucking ridiculous.

I’m sitting in my truck, blaring Nine Inch Nails, when Vee slips out through the front door ten minutes later. Since she doesn’t have Oscar to impress, she isn’t dressed like a ho. Today she’s wearing a simple lime green dress that fits her slim figure and a pair of matching flip-flops. Her dark red hair has been braided into some fancy design down the front of her shoulder. Toto would call it an Elsa braid if she were here. Vee’s definitely a knockout. It makes me wonder why Oscar just strings her along. And she strings Calder along. It’s all so fucking pathetic.

“Loud much?” she grumbles when she climbs in.

I roll my eyes when she pushes the button to silence my vehicle. “We going to eat first?”

She arches a sculpted eyebrow up at me. “You’re being a grouch,” she pouts but then her gaze softens. “Look, it sucks loving someone who doesn’t love you back. Trust me, I know. But you have to move on. I’ve known Brie for three years. The only time she’s ever looked that happy was on the few occasions with you. They’re married now. Just let them be.”

“I’m not doing a damn thing, Vee,” I snap as I put my truck into reverse. “It’s too late for me. She’s moved on.”

She’s quiet at that. I flip the radio back on in an attempt to drown out the awkward silence. “Aren’t you happy for her?” she asks finally after we’ve been driving for several moments.

I cast a weary gaze her way. “I’m so fucking happy.”

She frowns and starts to pick at her nude-colored nail polish. “Why is it that people like us never get what we want?”

I chuckle, but it’s humorless. “I don’t know. I’m not sure I’ll ever get what I want…” My jaw clenches as I replay how he touched her over and over again in my mind. Sure, Brie and I have forged forward some semblance of a friendship, but it will never be enough for me.

“You’re a guy…” she says softly. “Why doesn’t Oscar see me? Like how you and Duvan see Brie?”

I glance over at her. Her full pouty lip trembles. I can’t see her eyes now that she’s donned a pair of sunglasses, but she’s visibly upset. From my vantage point, she’s actually a sexy woman. All long legs, narrow hips, and big-for-her-size tits. She practically throws herself at Oscar, and he teases her with subtle touches or glances. But not once has he gazed hungrily at her. Not once have I see that look in his eyes. A look that shows a craving for her. Calder’s eyes, on the other hand, never leave Vee. Ever.

“He sees you. Just doesn’t appreciate how hot you are,” I tease with a half-grin, hoping to lighten the mood in the vehicle. We’re both fucking depressed as hell.

“I’m not hot,” she says in a way that tells me she wants me to argue.

So I do to indulge my friend. “Keep telling yourself that, mermaid girl.”

A smile tugs at her lips. “Calder calls me Ariel too.”

“Calder says a lot of nice things about you,” I confide. “Unfortunately he sees you like you see Oscar. It’s unrequited.”

Her plump lips form a tiny ‘O’ and she jerks her gaze out the window. She fiddles with the hem of her dress while her mind works with unsaid thoughts. Finally, she speaks again. “It would be easier if I could just let Oscar go and date Calder.”

I shrug as I pull into the apartment complex we’re supposed to be visiting. When I park the car, I turn to look at her. “Don’t toy with my brother, Vee.”

She gapes at me, a slight flare of anger flickering in her green eyes. “I only said it would be easier. I didn’t say I was going to. Sheesh, I’m not a bitch, Ren.” With a huff, she climbs out of the truck and stalks toward the management building.