Before We Fall

Before We Fall by Courtney Cole Read Free Book Online

Book: Before We Fall by Courtney Cole Read Free Book Online
Authors: Courtney Cole
work for Gabe and me as our assistant. We need another one since our last one quit. Working at Saffron puts you into bad situations. Look at you tonight! Jumping into a fight, Jacey? I can’t even kick the shit out of someone for hurting you… because you did this to yourself. You know better than to get in the middle of a fight.”
    I stare at the floor, trying not to cry again. He’s probably right. I’m too gullible. I’ve fallen for the wrong guys a hundred times and I’m surprised by it every time. I’m a horrible judge of character. I get myself into the worst situations because of my bad judgment. But all of these things are issues that I’m working on. Because I think I’m already doing the best I can, I don’t even know what to say. Brand just doesn’t understand.
    “Are you listening to me?” Brand demands grumpily.
    I nod wearily. Being up all night, getting arrested, and listening to this endless lecture is taking its toll, and I can feel my shoulders droop more and more by the minute.
    “I don’t want to work for you and Gabe,” I tell him limply. “I need to stand on my own. That’s part of what I learned in therapy. Thank you for the offer, but I’ve got to make my own way.”
    I steel myself for another lecture, but thankfully, the end is in sight. Brand pulls up to the curb in front of my house and sits there for a second, staring first at his big hands, then at me.
    “It scared the fuck out of me, Jacey,” he admits quietly. “When you called and said you needed help, I mean. A hundred things went through my mind before you were able to tell me what was going on. Don’t do that shit. When Gabe moved to Hartford, I promised him I would watch out for you, but you’re making it difficult.”
    He sighs and I swallow hard, hating that I caused him worry. He levels another gaze at me, his blond eyebrows knitted together in consternation.
    “I don’t know what to say,” he continues. “I know you’re trying, but try harder. You’ve got to make smarter decisions. Please. Your brother, me, Madison… we’ve all had enough drama to last us for a couple of lifetimes, okay?”
    The look on his face, serious and tired, makes my throat close up.
    He
has
had enough drama to last for two lifetimes. He and Gabe both, back when they were still in the Rangers. They’re fucking heroes and they don’t deserve to worry even a minute about me.
    “I’m sorry,” I whisper as I scoot over and kiss him on the cheek. “I’m sorry for not being good enough. I don’t know why I can’t seem to pull things together. Thank you for coming to get me, Brand. And thank you for always being someone I can count on.”
    I get choked up now, because honestly, there are very few people I can actually count on. My dad’s worthless, and my mom’s a flake. Brand is a pillar of strength and he always has been.
    I slip from the seat before I cry on his broad shoulder again as I remember how he’s always been there for me. When I turn to close the door, Brand is looking at me, his blue eyes soft.
    There’s something there, something gentle, something different from the way he usually looks at me. It suddenly seems not-so-brotherly, and my stomach wavers. But then he covers it up.
    “Jacey, you
are
good enough. That wasn’t what I meant. All I meant was that you’ve got to try harder to make better decisions. And you can always count on me. You know that. Call me when you get your court date. I’ll go with you.”
    I nod and slam the door closed, watching his taillights until they disappear.
    The look I’d just seen in Brand’s eyes bothers me. A
lot
. It’s the same look I see in the eyes of every other man on the planet, but it’s something I’ve never seen in his before. Until now.
    My heart sinks a little. I can’t have Brand thinking about me in any other way other than sisterly.
    I need him.
    I need him to be the person that he is to me, the person he’s always been, a brotherly figure. Someone I

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