Wick had told Zeke and Tyler the day before I was hired. Now he acted as if he’d found out from someone else.
Zeke took a drag of his cigarette, and then playfully pulled at the sleeve of my puffy navy-blue coat. “Confused?”
I arched an eyebrow, unsure if it was a trick question.
Their laughter was cut off by the sound of Zeke’s pager. He pulled the clip from his belt and held it up, squinting. “That’s me.”
He patted Tyler on the shoulder as he nodded to Wick. “Maybe I’ll see you guys this afternoon. It’s just a meeting.”
I waved to him, and then crossed my arms as the air between the three of us who remained quickly turned awkward. Tyler and Wick traded smug grins, clearly sharing a silent joke at my expense. I glared at them, relieved when Jojo poked her head out through the back door.
“Annie is on the phone for you.”
“You should probably take it. It’s the refrigerator again.”
“Damn it, damn it, damn it!” Wick said, tossing his cigarette and missing the canister.
The back door slammed behind him, and I picked up his still-lit butt and buried the end in the sand.
“Good thing you picked that up,” Tyler said.
“I’ve heard that one already,” I said, taking a drag.
Tyler pulled his cap low over his eyes, and then shoved his hands deep in his coat pockets. Before I could ask him how he managed to get the day off, he grinned.
“How is it? Working for Wick?” he asked.
“Not as bad as I thought it would be.”
I took another drag, watching him put out a cigarette and light another. “Do you come here every day?”
“During fire season, yes. In off season, if I’m here.”
“When are you not here?”
“Oh?” he asked. I could see that familiar desire in his eyes, even behind the shadow cast by his ball cap. The dimple in his left cheek deepened, and he leaned a millimeter in my direction.
Even that nominal response made the old me wish for a bottle of bourbon and a dark room. I swallowed. The old me was just two days away, and she wasn’t buried deep enough to withstand the way Tyler was looking at me. I wanted to hide underneath his body and replace the pain with his fingers digging into my hips and to watch him tense while he thrust himself deep inside me, forgetting everything else but Tyler’s rough hands on my bare skin, letting the sweet escape of intoxication carry me through.
“Stop looking at me like that,” I snapped.
I rolled my eyes, bending down to put out my cigarette.
“Hey,” he said, reaching out. He scanned my face, almost as if he was trying to remember. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you.”
I shrugged him off. “I better get back in there. I sort of need this job now.”
“Does uh … does Zeke have a thing for you?”
“Zeke?” I said, my voice going up an octave. “No. I mean, I don’t think so. No, definitely not.”
“Do you have a thing for him?”
My expression twisted. “Why in the fuck are you asking me that?”
“Just making sure before I make a pass at you.”
“Make a pass at me? Are we in junior high?”
His eyebrows pulled in. He was really concentrating now, looking as confused as I felt. “I went to middle school.”
He breathed out a laugh. “What are you doing later?”
He choked on the drag he’d just inhaled, and then smoke and laughter tumbled from his mouth. “Easy, sweetheart. You’re going to hurt my feelings.”
“Listen, I’m having a hard time going back inside, which tells me one thing: you need to go away, and stay away. I’m trying to be good here, and you’re … not. Good … for me … at all.”
He touched his chest with his palm. “I’m good,” he said, feigning insult.
His confidence made my thighs tingle. “No. You’re bad. And I’m bad. And you need to go back to the station or headquarters or whatever you call it so I can keep my job.”
“I’m going to Turk’s later. You should meet me there.”
I shook my head, backing away. “Nope. Definitely not.”
He took a step forward, amused by my retreat. He knew the effect he had on me, and he was enjoying it. “Am I making you nervous?”
My back touched the door. I sighed, looking up at the clouded sky. “I’m going to get fired.” I reached for his face and planted a hard kiss on his mouth.
Tyler didn’t flinch, gripping my coat and pulling me toward him. His lips were vaguely familiar, commanding and purposeful. He slipped his tongue inside, and I hummed, closing my eyes and letting him take me somewhere else—anywhere else—but the surreal, clusterfuck scenario I was currently in.
I pushed him away, breathless. “Is your truck around?”
“Yeah, the one with the back seat.” I reached down for the rock behind his zipper.
“It’s … at the station.” He moaned, taking my ass in both hands. He lifted up, pressing me against him.
I was glad I was wearing jeans and a flannel shirt. If I had been in the leather and light sweater I’d worn the day before, no amount of fucking could have warmed me up.
“Does Wick keep that storage building unlocked during the day?” I asked.
Tyler leaned back, looking down at me with labored breath. He grinned. “Are you serious?”
He tucked his chin and blinked. “Tyler?”
“What the fuck?” another voice said behind him.
Tyler’s carbon copy gripped the back of his coat and yanked him backward, throwing him to the ground.
Zeke stood wide-eyed behind him before holding up his hands. “Whoa, whoa, whoa! They didn’t know! I didn’t tell him! I didn’t tell her!”
I wiped my mouth and straightened my clothes. “What the hell is going on here?”
The Tyler on the ground wasn’t sure what to think, while the one standing was clearly ready for war.
Zeke pointed to the Tyler I’d just mauled. “Ellie, that’s Taylor, Tyler’s twin brother.”
“Oh, fucking hell,” I said. They weren’t just twins, they were reflections. I couldn’t see a single difference. “What … why didn’t you tell me?” I cried.
“Shit. That’s Ellie?” Taylor asked, holding up his hands, palms out. “You didn’t tell me she worked here!”
Tyler pointed at his brother. “You didn’t even get her fucking name before shoving your goddamn tongue down her throat?”
“Are you fucking kidding me right now?” Taylor said, sitting up slowly. “Don’t act like you haven’t done it a thousand times, fuck stick.”
“You know better than that shit, Taylor! We always make sure. What the hell is wrong with you?”
“She…” he said, looking at me. “I asked about Zeke! I asked her about you! She didn’t act like … she didn’t say anything!”