Missing (The Brannock Siblings Book 3) (23 page)

"Yeah it is, so you're going to have to listen to
me
now. If you love this woman, I mean
really
love her, to the point where
you forget to breathe the moment she walks into the room or every time you look
at her your chest feels like it's about to cave in, then it's
never
too
late and you
never
stop fighting for her. Because, brother, losing her
now without doing everything in your power to keep her, without taking that
chance… it will destroy you and you will spend the rest of your life thinking
of that one moment you walked away, that one small moment you gave up the one
thing you didn't want to live without. I can't watch my brother lose himself
like that." His tone softened and the emotion in his voice hit me like a
ton of bricks. "I
refuse
to let you lose this, Gus."

For the first time since I walked away from Aiden that
afternoon, I felt myself take a breath. Maybe… possibly… hopefully… I could get
her back to
my
side. "She's worth it, Con… she's
worth
losing myself over."

"Then she's worth finding yourself over, too."

Like always, my brother who didn't ever say much, said the
only thing I needed to hear.

It didn't take much to decide what I needed to do and not
long after that phone call, I was climbing the steps to my apartment, plotting
out ways to somehow stop Aiden from enjoying this date. It wasn't going to be
easy, but it didn't matter. It would be worth it. I was taking the advice my
father had already given me, giving her enough space to take a breath and that
was it.

The sound of a male voice made me pause on the final step
and what I saw made my fists clench.

Some slick haired, lanky dickhead was putting his arm around
Aiden as she turned away from locking her door. I've never wanted to break a
person's arm so much in my life.

Aiden's eyes lifted to mine and she stopped abruptly, making
Mr. Touchy stumble.

"Gus. You're home early."

"Yeah."

Her eyes shifted around, attempting to look at anything but
me and I wanted to grab her and shake her senseless, until all she
saw
was me.

"I'm Donny," Douchey said and offered me his hand.
There was something familiar about him but I was too on edge to try and figure
it out. He was still touching my Red and I still wanted to break is arm.

"Gus," I bit out.

"This is my neighbor and a good
friend
,"
Aiden said to Douchey.

She looked beautiful in the same green dress she was wearing
for
our
date. Her red locks looked vibrant in contrast with the dark
forest green and her curves made my mouth go dry.

"How did you two meet again?" I couldn't stop
myself from asking.

"Online," Douchey replied with a creepy ass smile.
His arm pulled Aiden in tighter and I ground my back teeth together to keep
from ripping her away from him.
Give her this one night, Gus, then lock her
down.
"One of those crazy dating sites. She didn't even have a picture
up, but we spoke this morning and just connected."

"Connected."

"Yeah."

Aiden's eyes still hadn't come back to me and there was
something on the floor that seemed to be changing her world.
Good
.

"Well, it was nice to meet you David."

"It's Donny."

"Whatever. Have a good night, Red."

I shouldn't have been such an asshole, but I couldn't help
it. She was going out with
that
guy? There would be no plotting needed
to ensure the date was a total loss. Was she really that desperate?

No, she wasn't. She was just doing what she thought she
needed to do. She had a life and I was very much a part of that, but it was
time to tell her it wasn't enough. I was getting more. She was going to hear me
out if it killed me. No more interruptions, no more inconvenient timing.

First thing in the morning, she was mine.

I paced around my apartment for a half an hour and
repeatedly talked myself out of breaking everything in sight before I finally
decided to call it a night. The second I dropped onto my bed, my phone started
buzzing on the dresser. I didn't want to answer it. Then the thought of Aiden
or Lily needing my help forced my body upright.

A sigh of disappointment left me when I looked at the
screen.

Lincoln.

"Brannock, some of the guys and I are heading to Sam's
Pub. Come with us."

"I don't know, Linc. I'm pretty worn out."

"No. You get your ass down there before I come over
there and drag you out. You give Aiden tonight and that's it, but you can't
stay there by yourself and let it consume you. Got it?"

Linc had about shit himself when I told him that Aiden was
going out tonight, but after my talk with Con and the reattachment of my balls,
I filled him in on what was going to happen.

"Her date is shifty. I don't like it."

"Then she won't either. You'll be there when she gets
back, Gus. It's one date and don't tell me you think Aiden is the type to run
away with a guy she just met."

He was right. Aiden was smart. She was strong and wouldn't
do anything stupid like fall in love with Douchey on a first date. There was
nothing special about him. Nothing he could give her that I couldn't and even
if she
did
fall for him, I'd fix that immediately.

"I'll meet you there in thirty minutes."

I changed my clothes, keeping a sensitive ear out for any
sign that Aiden may have returned early, but there was nothing. By the time I
left, I was even more pissed off and needed something a lot stronger than beer.

The short drive to the bar felt like a lifetime and my mood
had only darkened.

"Gus! Over here!"

Lincoln was at his usual spot with Pax and Eckart and I
threw myself down in the only empty seat available.

"Someone's in a shit mood," Pax stated with a
chuckle.

"Leave him alone guys. His girl is out with some
creep."

"Your girl? Why aren't
you
with her?"

"Because I'm an asshole," I grumbled and raked a
hand through my hair for the millionth time.

"What's the creep's name?"

"I don't fucking care."

The guys didn't say much more about it, seeing I needed a
moment to myself. They talked about the game on the TV, the projects they were
working on at home, but they kept the topic off of anything to do with women.

Me? I couldn't focus on a damn thing any of them said. My
mind was wherever Aiden was. I pushed away from the table and made myself
comfortable at the bar by myself. I was there only five minutes, staring at the
label on the beer bottle in front of me before realizing that there wasn't a
damn thing that was going to take my mind off of her or what she was doing at
that exact moment with that piece of shit.

"Hi handsome. Want some company?"

I looked away from my untouched beer toward the sultry voice
at my side. The woman next to me was pretty. Her face, her body. For the
briefest moment, I thought maybe I could have a night of my own.

"Sure."

She pressed into my side and ran her fingers over my
shoulders. "You look lonely."

Then I got a glimpse of her hair. Auburn. A brown that was
trying to be red, but couldn't pull it off no matter how hard it tried. Nothing
like the red I wanted to tangle my fingers in. Her nose was perky, but there
was not one freckle to be seen and I desperately wanted to see freckles.

No matter how hard I tried, all I saw was a woman who could
never be Aiden. That should have helped, but it wasn't what I wanted. It would
never
be what I wanted.

I wanted the flaming haired, freckled nosed, sassy little
firecracker that lived next door to me. The one who blasted crappy kid music
for her niece in the morning, the one who could keep up the banter for hours on
end and the only one who I could see a future with,
wanted
a future
with. I wanted to see the woman that looked like a goddess when she was covered
in paints of every different color. I wanted the woman who couldn't cook a damn
thing to save her life, but wouldn't stop trying.

"Who is she?"

My eyes came back into focus and I looked at the woman who was
now a respectable distance away. "Who?"

"The girl you are sitting here pining for. The one you
were just trying so hard to see in me. Who is she?"

It didn't surprise me that it was so blatantly obvious. I
could hardly keep a casual conversation going with the guys without biting one
of their heads off, how the hell could I even
start
one with another
woman?

I smiled regretfully and she moved further out of my space,
but stayed seated next to me. "Sorry."

She shook her head and smiled back before resting her chin
in her hand, her green eyes sparkling with curiosity. "Nothing to be sorry
about, I just wish I was the one on the other side of those thoughts. She's a
lucky woman, so tell me why you aren't with her right now."

"It's complicated."

"Please, honey. I'm a woman. I thrive on
complicated."

She ordered a beer and settled in with a nod of
encouragement. So what did I do? I told her the short version. Angela was her
name and she was actually quite the listener. I told her how I had fallen in
love with a woman I hadn't met yet, she turned out to be the neighbor I thought
I hated, we became friends, I got attached, she wasn't giving me anything until
she
started
giving me something, the stupid call from Cindy that
probably ruined everything, and her recent decision to start dating anyone but
me. Then I told her about my plan to get her back.

"Wow. That is so fucking romantic."

I shook my head and stared down at the shiny bar top.
"If you think about it, it's actually really sad. If I hadn't acted like
such a jerk for all those months, I probably would have forgotten about the
woman I hadn't seen face to face and thrown myself at Aiden. She's beautiful,
she's funny, she loves her family as much as I love mine. I can't see a life
without her. I just need to get through this night."

"But why are you waiting?"

"I'm giving her some space, letting her see that what
we can have together is better than what she could have with anyone else."

She rolled her eyes at me and shook her head at the ceiling.
"Men. You all just don't open your eyes to the bigger picture. You think
we want space when we don't, think we want to be smothered when we want space.
It's so frustrating."

"Are you serious?"

"Yeah, I'm serious," she scowled at me.

"Then why don't you fill me in on where I can get the
book of secret codes you women live by?"

"It's not
us
that live in code. All you men need
to do is talk to us, be honest with us, and ask
us
to talk to
you
.
Your plan is perfect in every way except for one flaw."

"And what would that be?"

She smiled wickedly and patted me on the back as if I were a
child just learning my first math problem.

"It's pretty obvious, don't you think?"

"It's not," I replied in exasperation. "So I
am
asking
you to fill me in here."

"You think you need to give her this night to decide
what she wants, but what you don't realize is that she has already decided.
She's had to question everything since she met you and not once has she gotten
a direct answer from
you
. It sounds to me like she was risking
everything at one point only to suffer from a self fulfilling prophecy. Being
present for that phone call probably shattered her world. You have to go get
her, Gus, but you have to go
now
. If she isn't there yet, wait for her
to show up. Not tomorrow, not later tonight. NOW!" she shouted and slammed
her hand down on the bar.

I stared at her in shock. Her rant had gradually grown
louder and louder and by this point, the entire bar heard her last two
sentences loud and clear. She sat there staring back at me in concentration for
a few seconds before seemingly coming to a very important decision. "If
you don't walk out of this bar in the next five seconds, I'll kick you in the
balls myself because you won't deserve her anymore."

I immediately stood, threw down some money for our drinks,
kissed her on the cheek, and walked out of the bar without another word.

Aiden may have a wonderful time with Douchey, but she was
coming home to
me
. We weren't going to leave each other tonight until
everything was said.

 

Chapter 11

Aiden

What a nightmare
, Aiden thought as she entered the
door to her building. She should have listened to Lily when she begged her not
to go on the date, accusing her of setting up a revenge date instead of facing
what she had with Gus.

Revenge date.

That was totally opposite of what this date had been, or was
supposed
to be. She didn't want to make Gus jealous
or
get back
at him for going out with another woman. She had no right to do that. She just
wanted to move on from the never ending distraction that was Fergus Brannock.
No stringing him along, no games, she just wanted to… she didn't know what she
wanted anymore.

Not that the date had been even a smidgen of enjoyable. It
was awkward from the very moment she opened her door to that man. Donny Marks
was attractive and smart, but he couldn't keep a normal conversation for even a
minute. No matter what topic she tried to steer him to, he shifted it into
something weird and creepy. At first, she thought it was just her stubborn mind
playing tricks on her because of the heavy guilt she felt at the look on Gus'
face. Was she giving herself a reason
not
to like Donny? After their
meal had arrived, she wasn't so sure. It kept happening and she knew the heavy
feeling in her chest wasn't just guilt, but a bad vibe altogether.

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