A Day Late
Love is never convenient.
Grady Mallory is a disaster at relationships. Or, well, at starting them. He always manages to move too late or too slow or fall for absolutely the wrong woman. You know, the sort that is committed to someone else, like his brother’s fiancée.
Claire Dabney is done with her veterinary medicine program and is finally going to Foothills with her boyfriend, Ryder Mallory, to “meet the parents.” Turns out, when you’re both working your butts off and never see each other, you may not have noticed that you haven’t had a meal together in weeks, forgot the other’s birthday, and haven’t had sex in months.
Stuck in a pretentious mansion with a snooty mother-in-law and a man you don’t like as well as you thought… and finding out the love of your life isn’t the guy you came with, but his brother? Worst and best vacation ever.
Again, there went the rich, honest giggle. “Yes. Again, I’m so, so sorry. I had visions of gracefully spinning pirouettes around the rink. Not sure why, as I can’t manage a pirouette on land. I hope I haven’t chipped my ischial tuberosity.” She winced as she pushed herself up to a sitting position and gazed wistfully around the rink, those mysterious eyes-of-many-colors sparkling in amusement.
He sat up on his elbows and watched, fascinated, as she seemed totally at ease with her awkwardness. Gorgeous, good sense of humor, intelligent, witty… she was absolutely taken. That’s the way this worked. He was interested. She was unavailable.
Dammit, don’t think like that. Luck, fate, Aphrodite, whoever was currently messing with her life, was pissing her off. Things with Ryder were complicated enough.
Part in panic and part in crushing exhilaration, her heart fluttered wildly in her chest like a stampeding herd of bison. Not that she’d ever heard bison stampede in real life. Dressed in casual jeans slung low on his narrow hips, a fitted black t-shirt, bare feet, and his surfer blond hair tousled playfully, he sauntered in like an actor on the cover of a magazine trying to show his bad-boy side. He was clearly the black sheep of the Mallory family. Damned if it didn’t make her like him even more.
He shifted his weight on his feet and tugged at his surfer-blond hair. “Stepped away from the office for the moment.”
She nudged him in the tummy. “Actually, I see a glimpse of him tonight. You’re happy here.”
“It’s a good business; Zane has great vision. But this other guy? You caught him at a strange time. He’s got a lot going on right now. And living with Patricia doesn’t help.”
“Nor does having Ryder visit. As he hardly talks about you, and I don’t think you two have said more than five words to each other since we got in, I’m guessing there’s a story there.”
“One or two.”
In no mood to play, Grady had the feet raised on the leather recliner like an invalid. He rubbed his eyes and pretended he wasn’t in the pickle he currently found himself in. “Not sure the truth is going to make anything better. How about this: Ryder, I’m in love with your fiancée and made it to third base with her Monday night? By the way, she might have fidelity issues. Although you two deserve each other, I still want her for myself, because I’m that pathetic. Think that will go over well?”
Rolling his eyes, Asher managed a successful running play while mocking Grady at the same time. “I meant, talk to Claire first."
“Me? You’re the crazy one driving through a blizzard so we can freeze to death together. How can you even tell where you’re going?”