Bonus Scene: Whispers and Wishes Deleted Scene
“Nope, I think Jake is just the right touch. And it’s a quick conversation. We’ll be right back. Not going to lay a finger on him.” The promise cost me nothing to make. Amusingly enough, Frankie didn’t buy my crap for an instant. If anything, she smiled at us and rolled her eyes without rolling her eyes. We weren’t fooling her.
Then again, I wasn’t really trying to fool her.
“Hmm-hmm,” Frankie said. “I’ve heard that before.” Then… “Just remember, if Sis likes him, you have to be careful.”
“So does he,” I reminded her. This wasn’t our first rodeo. It was one of the first for me to have to deal with some little punk eyeing my sister. I’d had plenty of practice with the guys who used to check out Frankie.
She gave it a beat, then nodded. “Well, go get ’em.”
“Like I said,” I spread my hands. “It’s just a conversation.”
She chuckled and shook her head, but shifted in the chair to watch us, and emotion fisted tight in my chest. Not only did she not try to stop us, she offered her support. I bet if I asked, she’d help me threaten the guy. Not that I’d ask.
Or that I would threaten him.
No, threatening him was why Jake was going with me.
He had zero issues delivering threats he could not only back up, but had already paid interest on in the past. His reputation gave us a leg up.
“This is going to be fun,” Jake admitted as we headed right for the little shit.
I snorted. “Not as fun as this morning.”
This morning had been amazing. Irritation flamed through me at the fact that I had to go and deal with Auburn when I’d rather be back at the table with Frankie.
Check that, I’d rather be back at Frankie’s place with her. I hadn’t expected to find her right on the cusp of orgasm when I opened my eyes, but I sure as hell wasn’t sorry about it. And it had been everything I thought it might be and more as Jake took her apart.
Fuck. I was already half-hard. Mood souring rapidly because the little jerk had decided to hit on my sister, which meant I had to do this rather than be where I wanted to be, I stalked forward.
Jake hummed as he strolled along next to me. The kids at the table spotted us coming. Two of them were freshmen, and they paled. They also abandoned their buddy without even a gesture from me or Jake. I tapped the kid on the shoulder sitting to Noah’s right.
The arrogant expression on his face faded as he looked from me to Jake. Then he muttered, “I gotta go be somewhere…”
He left, and the kid on the other side of Noah wasted no time following him. Jake hadn’t even had to ask.
Biting back a smirk, I dropped down into the first kid’s spot, and Jake bracketed Noah on his other side. With a dismissive look across the table, Jake said, “Go away.”
The other kids scrambled, and that left us with Noah. He started to stand, but we clamped a hand each down on him and kept him in place. All friendly-like, Jake slung an arm over his shoulder as I turned half-sideways so I could study his expression.
Noah wasn’t a bad looking kid. A little bit on the scrawny side. He didn’t do sports, but that wasn’t a crime. I didn’t do them either. He did smell like a fucking ashtray though. “So…” Jake said, opening the conversation. “How you doing?”
Sliding a look from me to Jake, Noah cleared his throat. “I’m…fine. I think.”
“You think?” I mused aloud. “You having trouble figuring out the answer to that one? It’s pretty binary. Yes and no.”
The kid swallowed convulsively, and his Adam’s apple bobbed. Jake grinned wider and gave Noah a little squeeze. “So, either you are fine or you’re not. What’s it going to be?”
“I was fine before you sat down,” Noah admitted. Then he slanted a look at me. “Am I going to be fine when you get up?”
I didn’t smile. Damn good answer though. Look at that, the kid scratched out a point. “Undecided,” was how I answered him, and he paled a little.
“My friend tells me you’ve been giving cigarettes to his little sister.” Jake leaned in and took an audible sniff. “Not that I needed the update. Here’s a tip—you stink.”
“No shit, Sherlock,” I retorted in a dry tone. “Only the nose blind wouldn’t notice.””No shit, Sherlock,” I retorted in a dry tone. “Only the nose blind wouldn’t notice.”
“And…your sister’s Trina, right?” Noah squinted at me, uncertainty etched into every facial contortion. The kid really didn’t know whether to piss his pants or try to bluff his way out of this one.
Okay, so he wasn’t stupid because he took the mid-line. That might scratch him out another point.
“Yep,” Jake answered for me. “She’s just turned fourteen.”
“She’s cute,” Noah admitted. “Funny, too.”
“Fourteen,” I repeated. “You’re what?”
He swallowed. “I’ll be sixteen next month.”
So almost two years. Still, a long way between sixteen and fourteen.
“And how many dates have you been on, Auburn?” Jake asked.
“Um…a couple. Maybe three.” The uncertainty stampeded its way through his features again.
“Three dates. Same girl? Different girl?” I pinned him with a look, but I tried to keep my features pleasant. No glaring.
The kid was already sweating, and it looked like he had some acne along his potential beard line. I said potential because if this kid had to shave every day, I’d wax my balls.
I wasn’t waxing my balls.
“Why is that important?” His lower lip firmed from the trembling, and he lifted his chin.
“Noah,” Jake said, all friendly like and gave his shoulders a firm squeeze. “We ask the questions. You answer them. That’s how this works.”
“Look…Trina’s cute, okay? Just—cute. She hangs out. I like her. Asked her to go to the movies.”
“Still not an answer to the earlier question.” I propped my chin against my fist and studied him. The kid really had lost all the color under his tan and looked like he wanted to puke.
“Fine. Three different girls. Not really good at the dating thing.” Then he tried to smirk, but it looked more sick than amused. “Maybe I should get a couple of my buds to go in on the dating with me. Maybe that would make it work.”
I didn’t say a word. Jake’s grip slid to the back of Noah’s neck, and the pressure had to be unbearable because tears sparked in his eyes.
“Let me be very clear,” Jake said in a low, deadly voice. “You say shit like that again, and I’ll do more than just get friendly with you. I’ll introduce you to the table. At speed. Do you understand?”
“Yes,” he choked out. “I was just kidding.”
“I wasn’t,” Jake told him. “You want to ask Trina out on a date, there will be rules and you will follow them to the absolute letter, or you will piss me off.”
“You really wouldn’t like him when he’s pissed off,” I commented, and reached over to pluck one of the mini-muffins out of the bag the kid had been eating.
“Okay,” Noah said.
“Good, rule number one,” Jake said. “Stop fucking smoking around her.”
“Just stop smoking,” I told him. “You really smell like shit, and I’m going to have to wash these clothes just from being next to you.” I didn’t want to imagine what Jake’s shirt would smell like.
“Rule number two,” Jake continued. “You keep your hands to your fucking self. Any body part you touch her with is subject to me ripping it off and beating you with it.”
I didn’t think the kid could pale any further, but damn, was he going to pass out?
“Rule number three,” I added. “She’s my sister. You treat her with respect and if you’re dating her, she’s the only one you’re dating, and if you can’t hack more than one date, you don’t ask. She’s not there for you to create notches. Clear?”
Noah slid his gaze from me to Jake, then back.
I considered it and met Jake’s gaze. “Yeah,” I said as though I really needed to think about it. “Don’t ever make another crack about Frankie again.”
Jake murmured something to him, and Noah gave a full body shudder. Then he said, “We’re good now, right? We understand each other?”
“Yes,” Noah pushed out in a shaky voice.
“Great,” I told him with a grin and clapped his shoulder before I grabbed the rest of his mini-muffins and stood. “Good chat. Trina asked me to double-date with you. Looking forward to it.”
I swore the kid shrank.
Jake snorted, then rose and glanced at the kid’s apple. “You mind if I have this? No? Thanks.” He winked, then took a bite of it as we walked away. I didn’t look back. Not when the kid’s chair fell over or when the sound of his shoes slapping against the floors echoed back to us.
Even with distance between us, I could still smell the cigarette smoke. Ugh. I offered Jake a muffin. He chuckled, and across the cafeteria, I met Frankie’s amused look as she shook her head. Archie said something, and she laughed.
That was better.
“That felt good,” Jake admitted.
I snorted. “Tell me how it feels when it’s Becca getting asked out.”
His amused look vanished, and he scowled. “She doesn’t get to date until she’s twenty-one.”
I laughed and clapped him on the shoulder. “Keep telling yourself that.”
We were still chuckling when we got back to the table.
“All done?” Frankie asked.
“Yep,” Jake said. “Good chat.”
I nodded. “Definitely.” Then held out the bag to her. “Muffin?”