Covering All the Bases (For the Love of the Game)(8)

By: Jody Holford

That was his read, too. And damn if that didn’t make him want to know more about her. And fast.

Chapter Three

Isla wasn’t naïve, and she didn’t typically rely on the kindness of strangers. Probably because most didn’t offer it as freely as Liam and his sister. It was an unfamiliar, though welcomed, feeling. Texting Addie that she was going to stay above the bar, along with its location, made her feel better. Seeing that her brother and father still hadn’t texted did not. If she was contacted, they had to have been as well.

Talia had flipped on the lights, showing Isla the wide-open space with a living room and kitchen combo. Two doorways led off the main square. One to a bathroom and the other to a small bedroom. It was clean and cozy.

“You’re not staying long. Are you here on business?”

It was clear from her gaze that Liam’s sister had more questions, and Isla figured she deserved the truth. “My grandfather died. I’d hoped to get here before he passed but didn’t make it.” If she’d known he was sick, she’d have come earlier. If you’d known he existed, you could have been part of his life.

As if she’d been connected to him herself, Talia’s face scrunched up with grief. She closed the distance and pulled Isla into a hug. “I’m so sorry.”

Guilt bubbled below the surface. Why did it feel like a loss? Because unlike your father, he actually wanted you there. Even if it was only in his very last moments on this earth.

Pulling away, Talia firmed her lips and nodded, stepping back. “I’m glad you took Liam up on his offer. You’ve been through enough. There are towels in the bathroom if you want to shower. You sure you’re okay? It would be understandable if you didn’t want to be alone,” Talia said.

She’d kept her emotions securely wound, but this unexpected kindness might unravel all the knots. Isla let her carry-on slip down her arm until it settled on the floor. She smiled.

While grief was unfamiliar, being alone was as common to her as breathing. At home, she worked long days, and the people in her department tended to keep things surface-level due to her being the boss’s daughter. Other than Addie, Isla wasn’t used to having people in her personal life. She didn’t date much, because she was so busy proving herself. So, alone, she could do.

She didn’t have to like it to excel at it.

“I’m okay, really. It’s been a long day. I appreciate this. You guys could rent this space,” she said, looking around. With a few pictures, some throw pillows, it could be charming. It certainly met her needs at the moment. She didn’t want to face the rain again, and she didn’t want to check into a hotel. She just wanted to fall into bed and forget today. Tomorrow, she’d figure out what to do next.

Liam’s sister regarded her carefully, as if she was making a decision about something. “We used to, but Liam has lots of friends who come to the bar. He likes to make sure he has a place for them to stay if they’ve had too much to drink.”

Isla looked at the gorgeous dark-haired woman and noted the similarities between her and her brother. Same eyes—dark and intense. Same raven-black hair and similar jaw structure. Talia was all generous curves that she clearly knew how to accentuate with great colors and style through her wardrobe. Her brother, with his sharp angles and wide chest, more resembled a Gucci model in nothing more than a T-shirt and jeans.

“He’s thoughtful. You both are.” Obviously being that way was second nature to them and something that was sorely lacking in her life. Funny how a person could go without something easily when they didn’t know it was an option.

“Takes nothing to offer someone a hand when they need it,” Talia said, still studying her as if she were waiting for another shoe to drop.

Speaking of shoes, Isla desperately wanted to take hers off and was just about to when Liam came through the door with a few bottles of water and a couple cans of soda.

“Hey. Will this work okay for the night?” he asked.

Isla nodded, unable to speak. She couldn’t help but stare. He was really good-looking. Movie star hot, but real. So sweet it made her insides feel like mush, and that initial burst of attraction had nearly knocked her off her stool. But he had an edge, too. She’d seen it with the blonde. Talia took the drinks from her brother and went to the fridge.