Home > Beautiful Burn (The Maddox Brothers #4)(11)

Beautiful Burn (The Maddox Brothers #4)(11)
Jamie McGuire

“Beautiful?” he asked, amused.

“Mercer,” Tyler said, his voice booming over the music. He stood close behind Todd, taunting him with the lack of personal space he offered.

Sugar stood up. “We’re leaving, Maddox.”

One side of Tyler’s mouth turned up, but he didn’t take his eyes away from Todd’s. “Not with all these pretty girls just getting here.”

Paige touched my hand and I squeezed, not because I was afraid, but because the spike in testosterone was making my lady parts cry out in the best kind of pain.

Zeke stood up, too, and the bartenders took notice.

Todd and Tyler stared each other down for a solid twenty seconds until Todd finally spoke. “I’m curious.”

“I’m sure I can answer,” Tyler said.

“If you’re worth a fuck without your brother around.”

Tyler’s eyes sparked with excitement. “Don’t just get my hopes up, Mercer. Swing or shut the fuck up.”

Without thinking, I stood between them, looking up. “Why do guys do that? Why do they call each other by their last names? Is saying the first name a pussy thing to do? Is it too intimate?”

Sugar reached out for me. “C’mere, Ellie.”

My face twisted. “They’re not going to do anything.”

“We’re not?” Todd asked, unsure if he should be insulted or relieved.

I touched his shoulders, reaching up on the balls of my feet to softly kiss his cheek. “You’ll thank me later.” I lifted my knee, sinking it deep into his groin. He doubled over, and then fell forward in the fetal position while everyone stood around in shock.

“Hey! Get the fuck outta here!” Annie yelled.

Tyler grabbed my hand and rushed out, pushing through the door and running down the alley, and then down the street. Our shoes crunched through the snow as we cut through a light flurry. Tyler didn’t stop until we reached his white crew cab Dodge truck, his friends close behind.

He pressed his key fob and looked down at me with a surprised grin, his breath visible in the cold night air. He nodded toward the truck as two doors on the passenger side opened and then slammed shut. “Get in. I’m going to take them home, and then—”

“And then what?”

He shrugged. “I’ll take you home.”

I shoved my hands in my coat pocket and shook my head. “Nah. I have to go back and wait for Fin.”

“She’s with Sterling.”

“We sort of left Paige back there, too.”

“Why did you do that?” Tyler asked. “I’ve never seen a girl do that—ever. Well, maybe once in middle school, but never with so much enjoyment.”

“The bruise on his face. Is that from you?”

He nodded. “Two weeks ago. Bar brawl. It was brutal.”

“But no bruises on you.”

He shrugged. “I don’t like getting hit, so I don’t.”

“No one does.”

“But I don’t.”

“How is that? Are you trained or something?”

“Sort of. I have four brothers.”

“I thought you said you didn’t fight?”

“Not over girls.”

“Are they all like you? Your brothers?”

He shrugged again. “Pretty much.”

“Explains a lot.”

He took a step toward me with the same look in his eyes he’d had at the bottom of my stairs. “You didn’t have to do that. I had it handled.”

“I didn’t do it for you. I did it for him.”

“Because you knew I’d kill him?”

I breathed out a laugh and then licked my lips when I saw him pull out a cigarette. “I’ll take one of those.”

Tyler held his cigarette between his lips while he lit mine, cupping the lighter as he puffed on his own. We exhaled at the same time, and I felt my body begin to shake.

“Come home with me,” Tyler said.

I shook my head. “I’m taking Paige home. She was into Sugar. Now she’s back there, sitting alone, feeling deficient when she’s really the most beautiful thing to ever grace that shit hole.”

“Not the most beautiful,” he mumbled, looking away. When I didn’t respond, he turned to meet my gaze. “I wanna take you home.”

“I’m in the mood for something soft tonight.”

He leaned down, kissing my lips once. “I can do soft.”

I breathed him in, feeling my thighs tense. “Not like we can.”

He slid his fingers behind my neck, backing me against his door, and then pressed his lips against mine, tasting me like he had the first night, with a yearning that made all reason melt with the rest of me.

He pulled away, brushing his thumb across my bottom lip. “Fuck Paige.”

“I intend to,” I said, walking backward a few steps before turning around.

Tyler puffed, and then I heard his door open and close and the engine fire up. I crossed the street and returned to Turk’s. Paige was standing outside in the snow-lined alley, smoking, looking relieved to see me.

“You came back,” she said.

My phone buzzed, and the display lit up. I recognized Finley’s magazine-worthy selfie and frowned.

On my way. Marco will drive us.

I growled, shoving my phone back into my back pocket.

“Bad news?” Paige asked.

“It’s just … the girl I was with, my sister, Finley. She has an assistant, and she’s with him now. They’re coming to get us.”

“Us?”

My face softened. “Yeah. You have plans for the next three hours? Or until morning?”

Paige swallowed and then smiled, shaking her head. She had such a sweet face. The death of her innocence was still fresh, and I could tell that she still liked to pretend it existed.

Headlights beamed into our eyes, and we both held up our hands. “The fuck, Marco? Turn off the brights!”

“I’m sorry!” he called from the driver seat.

The lights dimmed, and I held out my hand to Paige. “This is not happy ever after. It’s just tonight.”

She hooked my fingers with hers and nodded, following me to Marco’s rental.

“Hi,” Finley said as we settled into the backseat. Her lipstick and mascara were smeared.

I recoiled. “Ew, what happened to you? Please don’t tell me you guilt-sucked Marco.”

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