A group of girls passed by, and Trenton’s eyes focused on one. “Is that Shannon from home ec? Damn,” he said, turning a one-eighty in his seat.
“Indeed it is. You should go reminisce.”
“I remember. Pretty sure she still hates you.”
Trenton shook his head, smiled, and then, before taking another swig, said, “They always do.”
“It’s a small town. You shouldn’t have burned all of your bridges.”
He lowered his chin, his famous charm turning up a notch. “There’s a few I haven’t lit a fire under. Yet.”
I rolled my eyes, and he chuckled.
Raegan returned, curving her long fingers around four standard rocks glasses and two shot glasses. “My whiskey sours, your whiskey straights, and a buttery nipple each.”
“What is with all the sweet stuff tonight, Ray?” I said, wrinkling my nose.
Trenton picked up one of the shot glasses and touched it to his lips, tilting his head back. He slammed it on the table and winked. “Don’t worry, babe. I’ll take care of it.” He stood up and walked away.
I didn’t realize my mouth was hanging open until my eyes met Raegan’s and it snapped shut.
“Did he just drink your shot? Did that really just happen?”
“Who does that?” I said, turning to see where he went. He’d already disappeared into the crowd.
I shot the double whiskey and took another drag of my cigarette. Everyone knew Trenton Maddox was bad news, but that never seemed to stop women from trying to tame him. Watching him since grade school, I promised myself that I would never be a notch on his headboard—if the rumors were true and he had notches, but I didn’t plan to find out.
“You’re going to let him get away with that?” Raegan asked.
I blew out the smoke from the side of my mouth, annoyed. I wasn’t in the frame of mind to have fun, or deal with obnoxious flirting, or complain that Trenton Maddox had just drunk the shot glass of sugar that I didn’t want. But before I could answer my friend, I had to choke back the whiskey I’d just drunk.
“What?” Raegan said, flipping around in her chair. She immediately righted herself in the chair, cringing.
All three of my brothers and our cousin Colin were walking toward our table.
Colin, the oldest and the only one with a legit ID, spoke first. “What the hell, Camille? I thought you were out of town tonight.”
Chase spoke second, as I expected he would. He was the oldest of my brothers, and liked to pretend he was older than me, too. “Dad’s not going to be happy that you missed family lunch if you were in town.”
“He can’t be unhappy if he doesn’t know,” I said, narrowing my eyes.
He recoiled. “Why are you being so pissy? Are you on the rag or something?”
“Really?” Raegan said, lowering her chin and raising her eyebrows. “We’re in public. Grow up.”
“So he canceled on you?” Clark asked. Unlike the others, Clark looked genuinely concerned.
Before I could answer, the youngest of the three spoke up. “Wait, that worthless piece of shit canceled on you?” Coby said. The boys were all only eleven months apart, making Coby just eighteen. My coworkers knew my brothers had all scored fake IDs and thought they were doing me a favor by looking the other way, but most of the time I wished they wouldn’t. Coby in particular still acted like a twelve-year-old boy not quite sure what to do with his testosterone. He was bowing up behind the others, letting them hold him back from a fight that didn’t exist.
“What are you doing, Coby?” I asked. “He’s not even here!”
“You’re damn right he’s not,” Coby said. He relaxed, cracking his neck. “Canceling on my big sister. I’ll bust his f**kin’ face.” I thought about Coby and T.J. getting into a brawl, and it made my heart race. T.J. was intimidating when he was younger, and lethal as an adult. No one f**ked with him, and Coby knew it.
A disgusted noise came from my throat, and I rolled my eyes. “Just . . . find another table.”
All four boys pulled chairs around Raegan and me. Colin had light-brown hair, but my brothers were all redheads. Colin and Chase had blue eyes. Clark and Coby had green. Some redheaded men aren’t all that great-looking, but my brothers were tall, chiseled, and outgoing. Clark was the only one with freckles, and they still somehow looked good on him. I was the outcast, the only child with mousy brown hair and big, round, light-blue eyes. More than once the boys tried to convince me that I’d been adopted. If I wasn’t the female version of my father, I might have believed them.
I touched my forehead to the table and groaned. “I can’t believe it, but this day just got worse.”
“Aw, c’mon, Camille. You know you love us,” Clark said, nudging me with his shoulder. When I didn’t answer, he leaned in to whisper in my ear. “You sure you’re all right?”
I kept my head down, but nodded. Clark patted my back a couple of times, and then the table grew quiet.
I lifted my head. Everyone was staring behind me, so I turned around. Trenton Maddox was standing there, holding two shot glasses and another glass of something that looked decidedly less sweet.
“This table turned into a party fast,” Trenton said with a surprised but charming smile.
Chase narrowed his eyes at Trenton. “Is that him?” he asked, nodding.
Coby’s knee began to bounce, and he leaned forward in his chair. “That’s him. He f**kin’ canceled on her, and then he showed up here.”
“Wait. Coby, no,” I said, holding up my hands.
Coby stood up. “You jackin’ with our sister?”
“Sister?” Trenton said, his eyes bouncing between me and the volatile gingers sitting on each side of me.
“Oh, God,” I said, closing my eyes. “Colin, tell Coby to stop. It’s not him.”
“Who’s not me?” Trenton said. “We got a problem here?”
Travis appeared at his brother’s side. He wore the same amused expression as Trenton, both flashing their matching left-sided dimples. They could have been their mother’s second set of twins. Only subtle differences set them apart, including the fact that Travis was maybe an inch or two taller than Trenton.
Travis crossed his arms across his chest, making his already large biceps bulge. The only thing that kept me from exploding from my chair was that his shoulders relaxed. He wasn’t ready to fight. Yet.
The Maddoxes could sense trouble. At least it seemed that way, because whenever there was a fight, they had either started it, or finished it. Usually both.
“No, I’m not sittin’ down. This dickhead insulted my sister, I’m not f**kin’ sittin’ down.”
Raegan leaned over to Chase. “That’s Trent and Travis Maddox.”
“Yeah. You still got something to say?” Travis said.