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

“Then why did you move into the guest room afterward?”

Gavin held up his hands in a truce-like gesture. “Because I overreacted and fucked up, OK? I know that. And I w-w . . .”

His mouth worked to push out words that his muscles were determined to hold in. He dragged his hand along his jaw and then gripped the back of his neck. He finally looked at the floor with a growl, frustration tugging his lips into a frown.

The front door suddenly flew open for the second time that morning. Gavin bit back a curse as Amelia and Butter ran into the house with Ava and Liv following slowly behind. Amelia stopped in the hallway and held a dog treat as high in the air as her little arm could reach. “Daddy, look!”

Amelia commanded Butter to jump. The dog merely lifted his head and took the treat from Amelia’s fingers, but Amelia squealed as if she’d taught Butter to talk.

Gavin smiled softly. “Very cool, baby,” he said, his voice strained.

Liv caught Thea’s eye as she walked into the kitchen. A few seconds later, “All the Single Ladies” blared from the Bluetooth speakers.

“She’s subtle,” Gavin said quietly.

“No one is as loyal as a little sister.”

“We’re going to go jump on the trampoline,” Liv said, picking up on the still-unresolved tension in the room.

She turned up the music before going out back with the girls.

Gavin approached Thea cautiously. “Just tell me what it w-w-will take. What do I need to do?”

His face conveyed a beseeching plea that reminded her way too much of the fake baby, please tone her father would use whenever he begged her mother for a second chance. Or a third or a fourth. How many times did her mother believe her father’s promises and take him back? Too many. Thea wasn’t going to make that mistake.

“It’s too late for this, Gavin.” Thea sighed, repeating her words from earlier.

Gavin’s face blanched. “Just give me a chance.”

She shook her head.

His eyes pinched at the corners. With a strangled noise, he spun around, his hands stacked on top of his head. His T-shirt tugged over taut back muscles that bunched and bulged as he battled his thoughts. A moment fraught with tension passed before he spun back around. Determination drove his steps as he ate the distance between them. “I’ll do anything, Thea. Please.”

“Why, Gavin? After all this time, why?”

His eyes dropped to her lips, and, oh God, was he going to—

Gavin let out a growl, slid one hand to the back of her head, and slanted his mouth over hers. Thea stumbled back and grabbed the back of the couch to keep from falling, but she didn’t need to because Gavin wrapped an arm around her back. A strong, protective, bulging, masculine arm that held her against his hard body. His mouth plundered hers. Over and over. And when his tongue swept between her lips, she couldn’t stop herself from responding. She curled her fingers into the front of his shirt and opened wider for him with a sigh. He tasted like toothpaste and whiskey and a shot of long-lost dreams.

But the shot came with a chaser of confusion and betrayal. Was she really this easy? One wild kiss and she was literally weak in his arms? One kiss and she forgot everything that had happened between them?

Thea wrenched her mouth away. “What the hell are you doing?”

“You asked why,” Gavin panted, his eyes dark. “That’s why.”


“You did what?”

Gavin slumped in the passenger seat of Del’s truck, the smell of the pizza, chicken wings, and other snacks in the back seat threatening to break the cease-fire in his stomach. It had been several hours since he last threw up, but the spicy odor of buffalo sauce warned that could easily change. “I kissed her.”

Del swore. “I specifically told you not to go see her!”

“I know.”

“And I definitely did not give you permission to kiss her.”

“I didn’t know I needed it.”

“You do. But more importantly, you need hers. Shit.” Del banged his hand on the steering wheel. “You might have set yourself back weeks with that stunt.”

Gavin didn’t argue because he had the sinking feeling Del was right. If Thea could’ve gotten her hands on a frying pan, she might’ve bashed him over the head with it. After pushing him away, she’d told him he had no right to kiss her like that and ordered him to leave.

But there’d also been a moment when she leaned into him, opened for him, let her tongue tangle with his, and breathed a little sigh. A real sigh. It was brief, but in that moment his wife had kissed him back. So maybe he hadn’t completely struck out.

Del hung a right and merged onto the freeway. The inside of the car glowed yellow from the lights of oncoming cars heading into downtown Nashville for a night of honky-tonks. They drove for nearly fifteen minutes until Del exited near Brentwood, a subdivision outside the city where many athletes and country stars lived.

Gavin preferred Franklin. A lot of celebrities lived there too, but the historic, tree-lined streets gave it a small-town feel. They lived in a normal neighborhood, not a stuffy mansion-filled subdivision. Their house was within walking distance of a little downtown where the girls could get a library book and an ice-cream cone, and where they had become regulars at the local diner with its cracked vinyl booths. The only tourists they ever got there were Civil War buffs who wanted to tour the local battlefield.

Gavin was skeptical at first when Thea suggested they live there. His salary could afford something more lavish. But when he saw the way her eyes lit up when she pulled up the listing for the 1930s brick Craftsman on her phone, there was no way he was going to push for anything else. And now he wouldn’t give up their small-town lifestyle for anything.

Except he almost had.

Five minutes later, Gavin balanced five boxes of pizza and four cartons of wings up a manicured sidewalk. “Whose house is this?”

By the ostentatious display of sports cars in the garage, Gavin feared they were at Asshole-Ate-His-Apple’s house.

He was right. The door swung open, and Mack greeted them with a snort. “Hey, look who’s finally sober.”

Gavin shoved the pizzas and wings at him. “Hey, look who’s still a dick.”

“You two need to knock that shit off,” Del growled, walking in.

Mack swung the door shut with his foot. “All in good fun, right, man?”

“No. I kind of hate you,” Gavin said.

Del turned around. “Everyone here?”

“Yeah,” Mack said. “In the basement. Is he ready for his initiation? I have to get that sheep back to the farm by midnight.”

Gavin scowled at that, but he trailed behind them through the soaring entryway and past a wide, curved staircase. Beyond that, they entered a kitchen twice the size of his and Thea’s. The sound of voices grew louder as they approached a door that led to the basement.

Gavin waited for Mack and Del to go first.

“Food’s here,” Mack announced, turning a corner at the bottom of the stairs. A round of voices harrumphed manly approval followed by several about times.

“Are we late?” Gavin asked Del’s back.

“Nah. They just got here early to finalize the plan.”

Gavin grabbed the back of Del’s shirt. “Hold up. What plan?”

“The plan to get Thea to take your stupid ass back,” Del said, turning the same corner that Mack had disappeared around. “A plan you made a helluva lot harder today.”

Gavin sucked in and let out a breath, hovering on the last stair. Finally, mustering his courage with a reminder that this was about saving his marriage, he followed Del.

Ten of Nashville’s movers and shakers—professional athletes, business owners, and city officials—stood around an elaborate bar, shoving one another aside as they dove into the pizza and wings. Del dumped the paper bag of other snacks. Several bags of chips fell out. A single green apple rolled onto the floor.

Mack shook his head as he picked it up. “You are one petty bastard.”

“Everyone hurry up,” Del said. “We gotta get started. Dipshit here kissed his wife today.”

The room exploded. Heads swiveled. Chairs toppled. A hockey player in the corner swore in Russian.

“What the fuck, man?” Mack barked. “We told you not to go see her!”

A dude he recognized as Malcolm James, running back for the Nashville NFL team, choked on his beer. “Did you at least ask permission first, or was it a sneak-attack kiss?”

“Sneak attack, I guess?”

Yan smacked the back of his head. “That’s grand-gesture shit, man! You can’t do that yet.”

“Grand gesture what?”

The guys gave him varying degrees of dirty looks as they gathered their plates and headed for a massive game table on the other side of the basement.

The Russian grumbled over the remains of the food, finally settling on a bag of pretzels. He tucked it under his arm as if someone might steal it. “Too much pizza,” he said, glaring as he walked by Gavin. “Cheese. It shoot straight out my ass.”

That was a visual he didn’t need.

“Gavin, come on. Time to get started.”

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