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Authors: Nicole Edwards

Braydon

BOOK: Braydon
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To family.

PROLOGUE

G
etting his feet to move in time with the music was harder than Braydon Walker anticipated. It had nothing to do with the fact that he was a poor dancer, either. In fact, he wasn’t all that bad.

At least
he
didn’t think so.

Since he had yet to trample any feet with his size thirteens, he considered that a good thing.

No, for him, there was a simple explanation for the figurative two-ton boulder sitting on his chest today. The one that made him ache with a need so intense, he sometimes forgot how to breathe.

She
was always the answer to every unexplained reaction he had these days.

Jessica Prescott, better known to them all as Jessie, Kylie Walker’s younger sister, aka Travis’s sister-in-law. Yep, Jessie was the woman who kept Braydon in a state of high alert. On every count.

Because of her, or rather, because of his overwhelming feelings for her, Braydon felt as though he was dragging the bottom of a raging river, his head barely above water. No matter how many branches flew past his head, he couldn’t seem to grab on to one and pull himself to safety. The only thing he wanted to do was to grab hold of something . . .
anything
.

But like Jessie, salvation was always just out of reach, leaving him grasping but still coming up empty.

Not that it was bad. That wasn’t necessarily the right word for it. No, what he was feeling was intense, magnified by the reckless ache he had developed over the past few months. And he wasn’t opposed to the feeling, it just wasn’t what he had anticipated for the first time he fell in love with a woman. Everything seemed to be back-ass-ward from what he would’ve expected.

Love.

Damn, the word even sounded strange in his head, but he had accepted that there wasn’t any other way to explain the feelings he had for this woman.

The bigger issue was the fact that Jessie was their friend with benefits. “Their” referring to him and his twin brother, Brendon. The sad part . . . it was even more complicated than that, thanks to the unconventional nature of their friendship.

The friend part didn’t bother Braydon. It was the benefits aspect that he was having an issue with. Ever since the beginning, for whatever fucked-up reason, Braydon’s hard-on for Jessie wasn’t purely a physical reaction. Well, technically it was, but there was more to what he felt for her than just simple lust.

As for Brendon, Braydon knew his identical twin cared about Jessie. But Braydon also knew there weren’t any deep feelings between Brendon and Jessie. Yet something between the three of them was off.

Until Jessie had walked into their lives last year, appearing out of the blue at the same time her sister Kylie showed up in Coyote Ridge, Braydon had been happy with the ebb and flow of his life. For reasons that a shrink would likely have a field day with, Braydon had been content with sharing women with his twin. Hell, up to that point, they’d lived by one main rule—variety was key. And maybe because of that, no one had ever captured his attention the way Jessie did.

Before Jessie came along, Braydon had experienced countless threesomes where his one and only intention was to pleasure a woman beyond her wildest imagination. Anything that went on outside of the bedroom was pretty much immaterial by design. It was a path that he and Brendon had taken since they were old enough to realize their passionate fascination with women. And it had worked, too.

There had only been one flaw in that plan. Neither of them had bothered to update their woman code since they were young and dumb and . . .

Up to this point, Braydon had never encountered a woman he wanted to hold on to—not since the first girl they had both kissed back in the sixth grade. Apparently, thinking about the future had never occurred to him because, in Braydon’s world, one plus one equaled three. For sure when it came to his sex life.

Yet here he was, holding Jessie against him, the warm, smooth skin of her back beneath his fingertips, swaying to a slow song in the middle of the elaborately decorated reception hall, and he still found it hard to breathe around her. The sweet scent of her golden-brown hair, the way her body moved perfectly with his, and the sexy way she laughed . . . Every single one of his senses was well aware of her at all times.

Braydon got lost in the slow country tune, focused on the way Jessie swayed against him. She smelled so damn sweet. Like lavender and a hint of vanilla, a fragrance he’d grown quite fond of.

“You okay?” Jessie whispered in that sexy, husky tone he loved, pulling back and staring into his eyes.

Braydon swore he could see so much emotion in the beautiful blue depths of her gaze. The way Jessie looked at him, spoke to him . . . He had recognized a difference in the way she responded to him as opposed to her reactions to Brendon recently, but he’d feared reading too much into it. As much as he wanted to believe Jessie felt something for him, he wasn’t sure he’d be able to deal with the truth if he were wrong.

Smiling, Braydon felt the insistent punch of his heart in his chest. He couldn’t find the words to answer her, his throat closing as he looked down at the most stunning woman in the room.

“The ceremony was beautiful,” Jessie stated, obviously wanting to make small talk.

As far as Braydon was concerned, he just wanted to hold her against him; words were merely an interruption he didn’t much care for at the moment.

“Yeah,” he croaked, forcing the word out through the lump in his throat.

Jessie was referring to the ceremony that had resulted in his brother Ethan and Ethan’s better half, Beau, tying the knot. At least as tight as the state of Texas would allow them to anyway. It had certainly been a day chock-full of enthusiasm and well-deserved celebration.

Braydon would’ve never thought Ethan, the loner of the family, would find love, much less open himself up enough to let it in. Considering Ethan had spent the majority of his life purposely avoiding permanent relationships because of a brutal incident he’d experienced as a teenager, something he had recently revealed to his family, Braydon was happy Ethan had finally come around. Of course, they all knew Beau Bennett wasn’t one to sit on the sidelines, and from the rumors Braydon had heard, the man had steamrolled right over Ethan’s arguments throughout their brief yet intense courtship. Which had led to a union that Braydon figured would last until the end of time.

Lucky them.

Without hesitation, Braydon could admit to himself that he was somewhat jealous of the relationships his brothers had found. He wanted what they had. The love Travis shared with Kylie and Gage, the pure adoration between Kaleb and Zoey, the intense heat that transpired between Zane and V, and, yes, the deep affection that Ethan and Beau had found together.

Braydon should’ve been fighting for what he wanted, but like now, he was settling just to have Jessie to himself for a little while, sharing a simple dance while happy couples shuffled around them.

Settling because the alternative just seemed like a mountain he wasn’t ready to scale.

JESSIE WAS LOST
in the warmth of Braydon’s arms. Overwhelmed by the feel of him against her, the hard planes of his chest against her breasts, the silky softness of his dark hair beneath her fingertips, the delicious, spicy scent of him. For the last few minutes, she’d nearly forgotten where she was and why she was there. But that wasn’t a new occurrence for her. Especially when she was with Braydon.

The way he held her, almost reverently, his big hands gently caressing her lower back, his lips brushing her forehead every so often . . . It was enough to make her hopes soar. This was what she’d longed for, these few minutes she could steal with this man. She could forget all about the course her life was on and pretend that she wasn’t fumbling blindly through each day, wanting something she couldn’t have.

Something she wasn’t supposed to want.

But she did. Oh, how she did. Because in her heart, she knew that Braydon was different from the men in her past. He wasn’t going to hurt her, at least not physically.

All in all, it still boiled down to the fact that Jessie fell in love too easily and far too often.

Braydon Walker had taken her completely by surprise from the moment she met him. Well, to be fair, she’d been rather captivated by his twin, Brendon, just as much, but in an entirely different way. While she was attracted to both men, it hadn’t taken long for Jessie to realize that she had begun to feel something for Braydon. Something powerful. Something she’d sworn she wouldn’t feel again.

And to her credit, she’d managed to fool everyone else, just not herself. Although there was that tiny piece of herself that refused to get too attached, because in her brief experience with men, love usually ended with pain.

Braydon’s fingers caressed her bare back, over the small expanse of skin that was exposed by her gown, sending an electric charge along every nerve ending in her entire body. The ridiculously expensive teal-blue sheath that she’d splurged on just for this occasion, just for this reason, was nearly nonexistent in the back, leaving plenty of room for Braydon’s warm, callused hands to graze lightly, something she’d found him doing quite often since he pulled her into his arms. When Braydon’s eyes had widened upon seeing her earlier in the day, she’d no longer regretted the dent that particular shopping expedition had made in her checking account. That moment, and this one, had been worth every single penny.

As she leaned into Braydon, his presence overwhelmed her, consumed her on all levels. Although her shoes were killing her feet, Jessie liked that they gave her additional height, bringing her closer to Braydon’s six-foot-four-inch frame, although he still had several inches on her. She felt as though she was made to fit in his arms, against his big body. For whatever reason, she felt safe with him, and that was something she needed.

Braydon shifted their direction easily, his hands squeezing her ever so lightly, making her feel cherished. He was still looking down at her, their eyes locked together as though they were the only two people in the room.

But they weren’t. They were surrounded by Ethan’s family and friends, all of them there to celebrate the union of the two men who’d recently announced their desire to make their relationship permanent. And Jessie knew she should be cognizant of who was watching them, but she couldn’t help herself. As much as she wanted to blame it on the wine she’d had earlier, she couldn’t even do that much. This was what she wanted, what she’d wanted for so long.

Braydon.

Only Braydon.

Forcing her gaze from his, Jessie glanced around the room, curious as to who might be watching them and what they might see when they did. She slowly perused the room, noticing Lorrie and Curtis dancing a few feet away, neither of them paying attention to anyone but the other. They were such a lovely couple, and after all the years they’d been married, the adoration they felt for one another was clearly expressed on their aging faces. Even now, as they edged closer to seventy, they were an incredibly attractive couple, Curtis with his rugged good looks and Lorrie with her sweet, simple style.

BOOK: Braydon
13.5Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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