I wake to my buzzing cell.
Three missed calls.
A dozen new texts.
All from Chase.
What the fuck?
Chase: Your girlfriend is here. I'm pretty sure she needs you. But she might kick the shit out of you too.
That sounds like her.
I don't think.
I reply immediately.
Hunter: Where is here?
He sends an address.
A shitty shop in Mar Vista.
One that doesn't deserve his talent.
Hell, the place shouldn't even be open.
But one thing at a time.
* * *
Emma is sitting in a chair in the lobby, fingers curled around her purse, head resting against the back of her chair.
She's sleeping like a baby.
The picture of serenity.
No doubt she's dreaming about murdering me in cold blood, but it still feels good, seeing her like this.
Chase moves out from his suite.
His eyes meet mine.
They fill with a tiny hint of hope.
There's a part of him that believes I'm not a worthless piece of shit.
It shouldn't mean everything.
But it does.
"She fell asleep about an hour ago." His eyes flit to Emma. "Can't believe she's comfortable here."
Fuck, it's the most he's said to me in six months.
"She probably hasn't slept," I say.
"Heard you dumped her."
"I ended things."
"You always had a way of losing a good thing."
"It's my signature."
He chuckles. "This time, you really fucked-up."
"Yeah." His gaze shifts to Emma. "She came here to defend you. Tore me a new one."
He nods. "Said I need to get the fuck over myself and accept your apology."
I can't help but smile. After everything, she's here.
Hell, she's defending me.
"She's in love with you," Chase says.
"You love her too?"
"Fuck, I guess I'm a sucker for romance." He shakes his head.
"Always have been."
He laughs at himself. "Yeah. But… fuck, Hunter, you broke my heart."
"I don't fucking care if you know."
He nods. Not accepting the apology but acknowledging it. "It's gonna take me a long time to forgive you."
"And I'm gonna take Emma up on her offer to keep us on different shifts."
"Yeah. Called Ryan twenty minutes ago."
"Guy's moodier than you are."
I chuckle. "It's close."
He laughs too.
For a second, everything is normal.
My brother loves me.
Wants the best for me.
Wants me in his life.
The moment passes, but it doesn't drift into hell.
Chase doesn't forgive me yet, but he does love me. He does want the best for me.
Right now, I can see that.
He's doing all this because he cares.
Not in spite of it.
He continues, "Ryan has a lot of good shit to say about you."
My cheeks flush. It's weird hearing secondhand compliments. Hearing Chase say anything good about me.
"I have a condition."
"Don't hurt her again."
"Didn't mean to—"
"I don't care. You hurt her again, that's it. I'm out."
"You don't know her."
"What can I say? I'm a romantic."
Behind us, Emma stirs.
Slowly, her eyes blink open.
"Hunter…" She looks around the room, slowly taking in her surroundings. "Shit."
"I'll drive you home," I say.
"No, I…" She bites her lip.
"You're not driving right now." I move closer. Until I can offer my hand. "So it's either me or Chase."
"You're talking?" she asks.
"Yeah. And if you want the details—" I hold out my hand.
She takes it. "And coffee."
"And coffee." I help her up.
Chase nods a goodbye. "Give him hell, kid."
She smiles oh, I will.
I'm going to make him work for this.