Max Savage glanced across the lush green lawn of Gabriel and Isabelle Dare’s Bedford, New York, home, his gaze focused on the sexy brunette he couldn’t get out of his head. Lucy Dare, dressed in a conservative pants suit, her luxurious dark hair pulled into a bun, stood beside her date, a Hollywood director who was a douchebag of the first order.
The last time Max had seen Lucy, she’d been her wild and free self. Then she’d hooked up with that guy and she’d changed. And not in a good way. He wanted fun, sexy Lucy back.
“How badly do you want to punch that guy’s teeth in?”
“So badly,” Max muttered, then glanced over, realizing the question came from Lucy’s brother, Decklan Dare.
Max shook his head and changed his answer, because it would do no good to let his best friend know he was obsessing over the guy’s little sister. He’d kept it to himself for years, partially as an excuse to deny what he really wanted, but regardless, this wasn’t the right time to bring up the issue.
“Who do you mean?” Max asked.
Decklan rolled his eyes. “Oh, come on. I know you hate that Spielberg wannabe as much as we do.”
“Can’t say he’d be my first choice for your sister.”
“That’s rich considering it’s your fault she’s with him to begin with.”
Decklan eyed Max with distinct annoyance in his gaze.
“How the hell do you figure that?” Max asked.
Decklan’s older brother, Gabe, joined them, and from the look on his face, he’d clearly caught the tail end of the conversation.
“Face it, Savage. We know you have a thing for Lucy,” Gabe said.
Just how the brothers had gleaned that bit of knowledge was beyond Max. Nobody had a better poker face than him.
Decklan merely nodded in agreement.
“You didn’t take your chance last time she was in town, and now she’s with that asshole,” Gabe added, angling his head toward where his sister stood with Lucas Kellan.
“Well, fuck.” Max wasn’t about to deny what had clearly been more obvious than he’d intended.
Both Dare brothers narrowed their gazes on him, waiting for an explanation.
“What? I didn’t think you’d approve, and I wasn’t about to mess up years’ worth of friendship if you didn’t.” He was sticking to the tried-and-true excuse he’d told himself for years. In reality, Max had his reasons for staying away from Lucy for so long and for fucking up more than just his life in the process. But they were his, and he wouldn’t be sharing them.
“The only way you’d compromise friendships would be if you used or hurt my sister. If your intentions are honorable, I have no issue,” said Gabe, the man who’d raised Lucy after their parents died in a car accident.
Max glanced at Decklan. They both knew Max’s recent past. He’d married young, lost his wife, Cindy, in a car accident, and had a subsequent lack of serious relationships since. What Decklan didn’t know was the guilt Max harbored over the emotions he hadn’t been able to give his wife, due to the feelings he’d always had for Lucy. Hell, he’d married Cindy because he didn’t have those intense feelings, and everyone had paid a price.
Max shifted uncomfortably and cleared his throat and glanced at Decklan, who, like Gabe, was extremely protective of his sister. “You too? You’re okay with this?” he asked.
His best friend shrugged. “Well, you’re an asshole but you’re our asshole.” He slapped Max on the back, his expression sobering. “Look, Cindy died four years ago, and you haven’t been with anyone seriously since.”
Neither one of them mentioned Max’s penchant for sex clubs on the weekends. It had been a way to fill the emptiness inside him, nothing more.
“But Gabe is right,” Decklan said. “I see how you look at Lucy. You should do something about it if your intentions are solid.”
They finally were. For years Max had denied his need for Lucy and the emotional bond he knew they would share if they took things to the next level. Fear had driven him. Now Max was finally ready to go after the woman he’d always wanted.
“Just don’t blow it or we will have an issue,” Decklan cheerfully added.
Max didn’t need to be told twice. He made his way across the lawn and veered between guests, coming up to where Lucy and her date stood by the bar.