The Bromance Book Club (Bromance Book Club, #1)

“I don’t have a lot of that right now.”

“Not your confidence, dipshit. Hers. You want to make her feel like she’s the only woman in the room. It’s about putting a smile on her face, a spring in her step, a little blush in her cheeks. Say things that she’ll replay over and over again when she’s in bed.”

Gavin nearly groaned at the image that conjured. Thea in bed. Wearing one of those short silk things she wore . . . alone. Or worse, with some other guy. Oh God, he was going to puke.

“Put down your coffee,” Del ordered.

Gavin obeyed. Del adopted a weird-ass smile and started walking toward him. His eyes locked with Gavin’s, and goddamn, Gavin couldn’t fucking look away. He didn’t even realize he’d backed up until he collided with the wall. Del flattened his hands on either side of Gavin’s shoulders and smiled as he leaned. “Hey.”

“Hey,” Gavin automatically answered.

“I can’t stop thinking about last night.”

Gavin gulped. “Wh-what happened last night?”

Del winked. “You want me to remind you?”

Jesus. Gavin flattened himself against the wall. “I feel obligated to tell you that I might be mildly aroused right now.”

“You must really be desperate,” Del said, still in character. He twitched his eyebrows and glanced at Gavin’s mouth. “This isn’t even my best effort.”

Mack cleared his throat. “Sorry to break up your special moment, but we have a crisis.” He held up a gray sweater. “This is the one and only decent thing Captain Douchebag has in his entire pathetic closet.”

Gavin knocked Del’s arms away.

Del backed out of his personal space. “Just remember to stare into her eyes a lot. Eye contact is key.”

“And wink,” Mack said, tossing the sweater on the bed. “Women love that shit.”

Del added one last thing. “And look at her lips. You want her to think that you’re imagining them all over your body.”

That part, at least, wouldn’t require any work. Gavin spent the better part of his days imagining Thea’s lips on his body.

But wait . . . Gavin looked back and forth between them. “That’s it? Tell her I like her dress and act like I want her to lick me? That’s your entire plan for me?”

“For now.”

Gavin sank back down on the bed. “This is hopeless.”

“It’d be easier if you’d tell us what really happened between you two.”

“Not going to happen.”

“OK,” Del said with another drawn-out sigh. “Then just tell us something. Anything. Tell us one thing she said on Saturday that might help us come up with a plan for tonight.”

Gavin fell on his back and stared at the ceiling. Every word she’d spoken on Saturday had taken up permanent residence in his brain, but most of it would reveal too much if he shared it with the guys.

“She wants to keep the house,” he said.

Del perked up. “She said that?”

Gavin nodded. “She said it would be easier for the girls if one of us kept the only house they’ve ever known, and she asked if I would pay it off for her.”

Del and Mack looked at each other. “That could work,” Mack said.

“It’s risky,” Del added. “And this isn’t like Regency times. Thea is half-owner of all property by law.”

“But the symbolism of it could go a long way,” Mack said.

“Hey,” Gavin said, sitting up and waving his hands. “You guys want to fucking clue me in here?”

“You’re going to up the ante.”

“Am I supposed to know what that means?”

Del and Mack exchanged a glance that said Gavin wasn’t going to like the answer.

He was right.

Del sucked in a breath and let it out fast. “You’re going to agree to a divorce.”

What. The. Fuck.

“Yeah,” Mack said. “But first we’re going shopping.”





CHAPTER SIX




“Mommy, too hard.”

Thea looked down at the face-paint crayon in her hand pressed against Ava’s face. She’d volunteered to help with stage props and face paint for the school musical, and though the task provided some much-needed distraction, her mind kept wandering as the clock ticked closer to the moment when Gavin would arrive.

She wished for the hundredth time that Liv could be there for moral support, but her sister had to work a late shift tonight.

“Sorry, honey,” Thea said, lifting the crayon from Ava’s face.

“Mommy, that’s so pretty!” Amelia gushed next to her. “You draw so good.”

“So well,” Thea quietly corrected. “And thank you. That’s very sweet.”

Thea finished the last of the flowers on Ava’s deer face—both girls were playing the part of fawns—and packed up the rest of the paints. Just ten minutes until showtime. The teacher clapped her hands and raised her voice above the excited chatter as she asked the kids to start lining up. Which was Thea’s cue to head out to the auditorium. She wished she had lied to Gavin and said she was needed backstage during the show, because she had lost all her energy for the small talk and fake smiles that were prerequisites for appearing anywhere remotely public with Gavin. God grant her the serenity not to sucker-punch the first person who gushed about Gavin’s grand slam.

Her stomach clenched as she descended the stairs beside the stage. Her eyes swept across the throng of families looking for seats. A dozen women all wore the same annoyed expression that could only mean their husbands had been late and now they couldn’t find more than two red velvet seats together for their families. What she didn’t see was Gavin, thank God. Maybe if she hovered long enough they, too, would be unable to sit together.

Relief was short-lived, though.

“Hey.”

Jumping at the sound of his voice, she turned. Gavin stood below the staircase, smiling up at her in a thin V-neck sweater she’d never seen before. It wrapped around his muscles as if even cotton couldn’t resist him. Good thing Thea could. She’d had a shot in the butt called broken heart and was now immune to round biceps and thick forearms and the tantalizing valley between honed pecs—

Ugh. She descended the rest of the stairs. “You found seats?”

He pointed up the aisle. “Tenth row. I put my coat on it to hold the seats.”

Gavin waited for her to go first, and then he settled a hand low on her back as if they were together. Just another happy mom and dad. She discreetly moved away from his reach just as a voice rose above the cacophony.

“Hey, you’re Gavin Scott, right?”

Aaaand of course. Thea turned around, a string of unintelligible, made-up curse words flitting through her mind. A dad in jeans and a buzz cut held out his hand to Gavin, who stopped politely—as he always did for fans.

Thea pasted on her fake smile and extended her hand, as well. “Thea Scott.”

The man limply shook her fingers. How could there still be men in the world who wouldn’t shake a woman’s hand? He barely spared her a glance as he turned his attention back to Gavin.

“Tough break about that last game,” the man said. “I can’t believe that last call. The umpire must have been blind.”

A vein bulged in Gavin’s jaw. He hated it when people blamed the officials for losses. “Our fault for letting one bad call lead to a loss. I didn’t play as well as I should have.”

“Nah, it was Del Hicks, man. He missed that pop-up. His contract is up, right? Maybe we can get rid of him this year. Shed some dead weight.”

“Del Hicks is m-m-m—”

Thea would’ve known just by the look on the other man’s face that Gavin had started stammering. The asshole looked everywhere but at Gavin. As if stuttering was something to be embarrassed about. Thea despised people like him. They claimed to be such huge fans of Gavin’s, but the minute he began to stutter, they acted like he had a contagious disease.

Acting on nothing more than instinct, Thea slid her hand into Gavin’s and squeezed. His fingers closed around hers, and he exhaled. He started again. “Del Hicks is actually my best friend,” he said coldly.

“Oh. Well, I’ll, uh, I’ll let you guys get to your seats,” the man said, his face burning. “Nice to meet you.”

Thea turned and tried to tug her hand from Gavin’s, but he wouldn’t let go. Instead, he pulled her back and brought his lips to her ear, bringing with him the scent of his soap and the teasing whisper of his Tic Tac–scented breath against her skin.

“Thank you,” he said quietly.

“That guy was a jerk.”

“Thea.”

The solemn tone of his voice brought her gaze to his unwittingly. She looked quickly away, though, because the same heaviness of his voice was in his eyes, and that was just too much weight for her to carry right now. “Can you not do that?”

“Do what?”

“Whatever you were about to do. I can’t do that with you right now.”

“All I did was say your name.”

“It was how you said my name.”

“How did I say it?”

“Like it meant something,” she spit out under her breath.

He leaned slowly, purposefully, a shockingly mischievous glean in his eyes. Her heart did not start to thud, and her skin absolutely did not prickle with goose bumps at the seductive caress of his voice. “And what would it mean if I told you I woke up calling your name this morning?” he murmured.

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