Home > Easy Kisses (Boudreaux #4)(11)

Easy Kisses (Boudreaux #4)(11)
Kristen Proby

“You’re bright red,” Violet says. “Maybe you should take a break.”

None of you need a break. I’m not too proud to admit that I’m just being stubborn, but damn it, I’m not that out of shape. Surely I can handle a two-mile hike.

“I’m fine,” I repeat and keep climbing, but finally I sit on a tree lying next to the trail. “Jesus, I can’t breathe.”

“Go ahead with the others,” Simon says to Violet. “I’ll stay with her.”

“Just take it easy,” Violet says with a grin and jogs—jogs—ahead to catch up with the others.

“Show off,” I mutter, trying to catch my breath.

“We have all day, darling,” Simon says and pulls a bottle of water out of his bag and offers it to me. “There’s no hurry.”

“I don’t understand,” I reply and gratefully accept the water. “I don’t think I’m that out of shape.”

“You have a lovely shape,” he replies, his eyes suddenly hot. “But there’s quite an altitude difference up here, and you’re not in hiking shape.”

“I run almost every day.”

“Probably on a flat sidewalk,” he says with a knowing smile.

“Okay, you’re right.” I take a deep breath, thankful to finally be feeling somewhat normal again and stand. “Let’s keep going.”

“We can go back to the car,” he offers, but I glare up at him.

“If you think I’m stopping now, you’ve lost your damn mind.”

“My apologies,” he says and gestures for me to go ahead of him, a satisfied smile on that handsome face.

The pace is slower now, but it’s still up and down. The trail is rough, with loose rock and dirt, making it difficult on my balance. It’s kind of like walking through dry sand.

A pain in the ass.

“Talk to me,” I say, already beginning to breathe hard again.

“What would you like me to say?”

He’s not breathing hard at all.

I hate him.

“Tell me about your tattoos.” I take a swig of water. “If you talk, it takes my mind off of wanting to die.”

“I won’t let you die, love.”

There’s that love again.

“Good to know.”

We turn a corner, away from the water. It’s quieter now, and just a little warmer, but still pleasant. The terrain continues to dip up and down, which tells me that the trip back isn’t going to be any easier than going in.

Damn it.

“I’ve only had the sleeve for about two years,” he says, just as I begin to think that he’ll ignore my request.

“That’s not long.”

“No,” he says simply.

“Okay, I’ll pull teeth. What made you decide to get it?”

“A woman.”

“Ah, yes. A lot of men get tattoos thinking they’ll impress a woman.”

“Some do, yes, but that wasn’t it.”

I stop on the trail and take another sip of water. “What was it, then?”

“She scarred me,” he replies simply. “And I decided to have the scars covered with the ink.” He points to his bicep. “But one led to another, and before I knew it, it covered my arm.”

“I think there’s a story there,” I say finally and lead him further up the trail.

“There’s always a story,” he says with a laugh. “But that’s the gist of it.”

And that’s all he’s going to tell me because the rest isn’t any of my business.

“How do you know Todd and Violet?” I ask, wanting to keep the conversation going.

“I’ve known Todd since I was a boy,” he replies. “He’s one of my dearest friends, and I trust him implicitly. And Violet is his sister.”

“No kidding.” I frown. “They don’t look much alike.”

“No, Todd was adopted,” Simon replies. “His wife just had a baby, otherwise she’d be here too.”

“Oh, that’s so great.”

“Do you like babies?”

“Of course. I’m a red-blooded woman in my late twenties.”

Simon smiles, a sadness in his eyes that makes me long to ask more questions, but suddenly he looks ahead.

“We’re almost there,” he says. “You’ve so got this.”

“I sure as fuck do,” I reply and push forward with more confidence than I feel. But suddenly, we walk through a wall of brush and onto a beach.

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