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I’m done with my old ways.
No more bar fights, making enemies, or saying goodbye to friends who got caught in the crossfire of our dangerous lifestyle.
But it’s impossible for it to stay that way for long.
I’m not that lucky.
Evangeline Snow is the girl from my past who I didn’t deserve. Her father made sure I knew that. But now, seven years later, after running into each other by happenstance, it’s like no time has passed. We’re both stronger people and we know what we want.
Nothing has changed for me. I want her.
The question is whether or not she’s willing to stand her ground and stay by me or choose her father and her own reputation over what we have.
I won’t blame her if she chooses the safe route.
I am the road less travelled.
And trouble will inevitably find its way back to me one way or another.
It always does.
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Rhys was draped carelessly across his chair with one arm over Quinn’s shoulder. The pub was loud. He had to lean forward a bit, moving closer to the table we shared between us and Liam and raising his voice to call to me over the racket of the music and the obnoxious drunks scattered around the place.
“Want to rack up a game of pool?” He nodded across the pub toward the far corner, where there was a bunch of old-school arcade games like Pinball and Pac-man and four felt-lined pool tables. One of them had just opened up.
I smirked. “Why? You looking to get your ass kicked in front of your girl?”
Quinn giggled into her beer as she took a sip. “He won’t lose with me on his team.”
“Tough words.” I chuckled.
Quinn shrugged a shoulder and looked up at Rhys. Her cheeks were rosy from a couple of beers she’d had over the course of the hour. “What do you say, babe? Want to help me embarrass these two?”
“For the record,” Liam said beside me, “I have not done any trash talking, and I would rather you didn’t make an ass out of me in front of all these pretty and very single chicks.”
I clapped a hand on his shoulder. “They’re not paying any mind to you, Liam. You’re too young.”
“Am not,” he said defensively.
I reached for his chin. “Is that the beginnings of a chin strap? Can you even grow a full beard?”
“Fuck off,” he said, slapping my hand away.
Rhys and Quinn laughed at his expense, and then Rhys got to his feet smoothly. “You guys set the table up. I’m going to use the bathroom, and then I’ll order us another round. Want another beer, babe?”
Quinn shook her head. “Just ice water, please.”
He bent down and kissed her forehead. “You got it.”
Rhys strode away, leaving the three of us sitting around the table to quickly polish off our beers.
Quinn finished hers first. “I’ll go get the table set up before someone steals it out from under us. Hurry up, boys. Drink those beers.”
She swept away from the table, hips swaying as she went, and I did a noble job of keeping my gaze on my drink. Liam, however, did not fare as well.
I jabbed him in the ribs with my elbow. “If Rhys caught you looking at her like that, he’d have your head. Or your dick.”
Liam let out a nervous little laugh as he nursed his ribs. “I wasn’t looking.”
“Right. That line won’t work on Rhys, brother. I’m just saying. Nose down.”
Liam tilted his head back to polish off the last couple mouthfuls of his beer. “I just need to get laid, man. It’s getting a little dire in that area of my life. I’m desperate.”
“Maybe you should start looking at more attainable options. You know, women who aren’t spoken for?”
“I’m serious. Here.” I took the back of his chair and dragged him sideways to drape an arm over his shoulders. I nodded at a blonde girl at the bar. She was wearing blue jeans and a white crop top that showed off about an inch and a half of midriff. She was thick, curvy, and cute as hell. She crossed her ankles and leaned on the bar as she ordered herself a drink. “What about her?”
“She’s out of my league.” Liam sighed.
I shook my head. “Give yourself a little credit. You just have to have the right approach.”
“Which is what?”
“Well, for starters, introduce yourself,” I said before slumping back in my chair and sipping my beer. “You’re not gonna get a woman when you’re sitting here and she’s standing all the way over there. Say hello. Talk to her about something generic. Something happening around you.”
I shrugged and looked around the pub. “Like the drunk clowns at the table beside Quinn.”
Liam twisted around in his chair to look across the pub at the pool table area. Quinn was bent over and stretching across the table to rack up the pool balls inside the triangle. She was blissfully unaware of the drunk buffoons behind her checking out her ass.
Liam’s eyes narrowed. “Should we do something about that?”
I watched the men carefully. There were four of them. They had put their game on hold and were leaning against their pool cues and staring unabashedly at Quinn as she straightened up and planted her hands on her hips. Then she walked around the table and pulled a cue from its place on the wall. She chalked the end of it.
The men nudged each other and whispered what I was sure were objectionable remarks about Rhys’s girl, and then they descended into childish snickering.
That seemed to get Quinn’s attention.
She turned to them with her eyes narrowed.
Then they started chatting her up.
Right from the get-go, it was going terribly. It was clear to me that Quinn was telling them to leave her alone. Her body language suggested that she was annoyed, not threatened, and the scowl she wore told me they had already said more than a couple of things that rubbed her the wrong way.