It really is a shame that I look this good and I know it might not do any good. I’m frustrated. Ever since that day in my room, Cohen has been like a ghost. Any chance I thought I might have had to try to further our conversation was just kicked like a bug. He just disappeared.
Okay, he didn’t disappear, but he didn’t exactly make it so that we could ever be alone to have a private chat. Nope. If I tried, he just wasn’t having it. He was hell-bent on keeping his distance, and that shit is ending tonight.
Nate pulls up to the event hall—a rustic, old log cabin—and grunts a few times when he looks over at me, clearly trying to tell me by his caveman speech that he isn’t happy about my outfit.
“What is your problem?” I ask, crossing my arms across my chest.
His eyes narrow, and he grunts again.
I give him a few grunts of my own. What the hell? Maybe he’ll understand what I’m trying to express verbally if I try to dumb it down to alpha speak.
“What are you doing?” he asks with his head tilting like a confused dog when I grunt a few more times.
“Well, dear brother, I’m trying to see if I attempt to vocalize as you and our father do that maybe you’ll answer me back. Clearly, I have no idea what has your panties in a twist today. You’ve been all snappy snapperson since we left my house.”
“Uh . . . can we add a few words to that, maybe a dramatic pause for flair and express a coherent thought that is well thought out and planned to make sense so that it can be understood and processed?”
“God, you can be such a bitch.”
I smile. “Oh? You say that like it’s a bad thing.”
He sighs and looks out the front window.
“Seriously, Nate, what’s going on?”
“It’s nothing, Dani. I’m taking my bad mood out on you. Doesn’t help that you’re dressed like a tramp just to gain Cohen’s attention.”
I look down at my outfit again. I don’t think it’s trampy. Sure, it’s showing my legs off and my top is tight, but I’m hardly indecent.
“Okay, tramp might be too much, but couldn’t you have worn something that, I don’t know, covers all of that under your neck?” He gestures wildly to my body.
“You’re being ridiculous. And I’m not wearing anything for Cohen. It’s summer, in Georgia, and, like, over a hundred degrees. I’m pretty sure this is considered overdressed by most.”
Okay, so I’m lying. He knows it. It could be considered slightly manic in my desperateness to get some sort of reaction from him.
“You’re only going to get hurt, Dani,” he whispers so low that I almost miss it, and hearing him confirming my biggest fear brings tears to my eyes.
“You don’t know that,” I argue weakly.
He does know that though. Cohen’s his best friend. Regardless of the fact that he probably doesn’t like that I’ve always crushed on him, he’s never tried to stop me. Until now.
“What do you know, Nate?”
He doesn’t say anything for the longest time. He just continues to look out the window, taking in all of our extended family as they mill about the parking lot and outside the venue. I follow his gaze when I see it soften slightly and see Ember Locke waving at our direction. Her face falls when Nate doesn’t acknowledge her and she looks over at me. I give her a weak smile but bring my attention back to my brother.
“He’s bringing a date, Dani.”
And cue heart stop.
It just drops right into my stomach.
In all the years I’ve loved Cohen Cage from afar, he’s never, not once, brought one of his dates around the family. I’m not stupid. I know he dates. He practically has girls falling over themselves to get his attention. But throughout the years, he’s never brought them around. And with everything that’s been going on between us for over a month now, I really didn’t think he would stoop this low just to get me to leave him alone. Maybe he didn’t mean to leave a trail of hope in his little goodbye speech the other day.
“What?” I gasp.
“You heard me, Dani. Don’t make me say it again.”
“Is it . . . is it serious?”
“He’s bringing her, isn’t he?” He looks over, and I can tell he hates that he is hurting me right now. “I’ve only met her a few times. She’s nice enough. I honestly don’t know her or their relationship well enough to tell you any more. He’s bringing Chance, too.”
“Oh,” I say, looking back out the window.