Between the Lines (Paradise Bay Sweet Romance Book 1)(10)

By: Ella Linden


Andrew glanced around, and Scott waved at him from their usual table at the back. He made his way over and shook Scott’s hand and greeted the other guys at the table. It was their usual crew: Andrew, Scott, his brother Carter, who always reminded Andrew of the lumberjack from those old paper towel ads, Nathan, who owned the tattoo parlor on the other side of Gutters Comics, and Sean, who was another of the town’s volunteer firefighters.

“Where’s Jack?” Andrew asked as he sat down.

“He’s on his way,” Carter said. “Some lady found a bunch of abandoned puppies and he went to pick them up.”

“So I guess we’re all getting a dog,” Scott said with a grin.

“Not me,” Andrew said, and they all rolled their eyes.

Scott sat up straighter, looking at his brother. “Hey Carter, speaking of Jack.”

“Yeah?”

“You remember his little cousin, Livi? We met her a couple times when we were in high school. ”

Carter nodded. “Quiet blond? I remember her. Another comics nerd.”

Scott laughed. “Yeah. I didn’t realize it at the time, but Holly and Lauren hired her at Gutters. She grew up cute as hell, man.”

“Not interested,” Carter said, shaking his head.

“You haven’t even seen her yet.”

As the brothers bickered, Andrew let that little tidbit work its way through his mind. So his pink-haired girl was Jack Weston’s cousin?

He hadn’t had a one night stand in a long time, but he’d definitely been fantasizing about it with her. He grimaced. Not anymore. Jack was an even-tempered guy, but anyone who messed with his family would get a fist to the mouth in about a half of a second.

“Hey,” Scott said, turning toward him and lowering his head. Andrew leaned in so he could hear him over the din in the bar. “Did you get that signing request from Holly at Gutters?”

Andrew lifted his glass and took a deep gulp. “Probably. I’m sure I carefully filed it alongside all the other requests I get.”

Scott heaved a deep sigh. “Man, why are you always such a jerk?”

“You’ve known me since I was ten. Have I ever not been a jerk?”

“You used to be less of one, sometimes.”

Andrew shrugged. Scott leaned in again. “Look. I know you have this whole reclusive author thing going on. I get it, all right? I’m asking you this as a friend—”

Andrew grimaced and leaned back, glaring at Scott.

“You know I wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t important. Holly and Lauren are trying to get some good buzz going for the shop. They’re trying to make it something. They’re trying to get the community support and involvement, and hell, maybe even get some press, right? This could be a huge help to them.”

“What do you even care? Holly can’t stand you,” Andrew said, and the rest of the guys at the table chuckled.

Scott just grinned. “She’s warming up to me. I think.” After a few barbs from their friends, Scott waved them off and leaned in toward Andrew again. “I never ask you for anything. I know how you are about that and I can respect it. And if there’s ever anything I can do for you, call that favor in, all right? Will you at least consider it?”

Andrew rolled his eyes and took another gulp of beer.

“It would mean a lot to me.”

“Okay.” He glanced over at his oldest friend. Scott had known him when he was a poor kid, wearing ratty third-hand pants to school, and he’d stayed a friend to Andrew through everything — the Army, war, PTSD, his surprising rise after his second book came out. He’d never been anything but Scott, and Andrew had experience with enough false friends by now to be able to tell the difference and appreciate someone who was real. “I’ll do it. Give me the woman’s contact info and I’ll set it up with her. You are so whipped and you’re not even getting any from her,” he said, grinning to soften the blow.

Scott shrugged. “It isn’t even like that. I like her. She’s a pain, but she’s smart as hell and she’s succeeding in spite of how hard it is to keep something going here. And I got a hand up when I was starting out, thanks to Nathan. I’m trying to pay it forward.”