Hell on Wheels (A Bluewater Bay Story)
Nash is the reliable one in the Holly family, the guy everyone counts on to keep things going. His genius twin brother is off at university, so Nash runs the family’s auto repair business and cares for his partially-paralyzed little sister while his crackpot father invents. His life seems mapped out for the foreseeable future, however much that might chafe.
So when Wolf’s Landing actor Spencer Kepler-Constantine lands in his life, Nash is ready for a diversion. Spencer is in the middle of a very painful, very public divorce and isn’t ready for a relationship—not that Nash wants one. But they both need a friend, especially one with benefits.
As they grow closer, Nash starts to see his family in a whole new light. Do they really need him so badly? Or does he simply need to be needed? Then Spencer’s ex reappears with a grand romantic gesture, and Nash has to figure out what he wants—and how to get it—before Spencer’s gone for good.
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As Nash leaned in to each sharp turn, his heart lodged in his throat. His matte-black Ducati EVO roared over the damp tarmac, eating up Highway 112 between Port Angeles and Bluewater Bay. The weather had lived down to everyone’s expectations. Deep, silent fog obscured everything but the brief illumination of his headlight—a bright sliver slicing through the empty dark.
Misty rain spattered intermittently, just to thumb its nose at him. He plunged through it, wind whistling over his leathers. There was no one to see what he was doing, no one to remark on his lack of common sense. There was nothing for miles but the roar of his engine, the darkness, and the rush.
In the blank oblivion of night, Nash was free to pursue guilty pleasures, whether it was drink or speed or the occasional trick in the city. By morning he’d be home to eat breakfast at the scarred Formica table with his family. He’d find out what his pop was working on and talk his sister Shelby through whatever math problems had her on the ropes this week. He’d see that she got to school okay. He’d even text his twin Healey to give him a ration about his latest boyfriend, Ford. Pop could make jokes about that all day long.
A few more breathless miles passed under his wheels before he almost careened into a Mercedes SLK roadster parked on the shoulder. As he shifted his weight one way, then the other, adrenaline flooded his veins. His muscles tensed painfully, and he nearly laid the bike down before he got it under control. He just managed to whizz safely around the small silver car.
Thank God the driver had been flashing his hazard lights, or he’d have plowed right into it.
He brought the bike to a halt some hundred yards ahead and flipped his visor up, taking deep gulps of air to compose himself. Visibility was definitely getting worse.
The stranded driver was utterly alone on an isolated strip of road, and Nash couldn’t have lived with himself if he’d just driven off without seeing if he could do anything to help. He turned his bike around and rode back to the parked car.
Nash hiked his bike onto its kickstand and pulled his helmet off, catching the familiar perfume of ocean and evergreens.
The driver stuck his head out his window. Despite the gloom, he was wearing a ball cap and shades.
Sunglasses at night? In this weather?
This guy had to be from the Wolf’s Landing production. Since they’d started filming the werewolf show in Bluewater Bay, that ball-cap-and-shades look had become a kind of uniform. The Hollywood people wore it to maintain the pretense they could go among the flannel-and-denim denizens of Washington with no one the wiser. Yeah, right. ’Cause everyone from Bluewater Bay wore thousand-dollar hiking boots.
Some of the locals had started wearing the Hollywood “uniform” in the hopes of getting comped in bars and restaurants by mistake. Stupid, really, because local businesses were all for charging the Hollywood people double if they could get away with it.
The man said something Nash couldn’t hear.
Nash gave him a thumbs-up and, ignoring all the warnings he’d ever given Shelby about strangers and isolated places, stepped over to knock on the passenger-side window. The tinted glass rolled down slowly.
“You got car trouble?” Nash’s words collided with the scent of leather and luxury. He got a glimpse of the driver’s hands and smiled. They were lean and elegant, resting carefully on the wheel. Beautiful. Nash was a hand man all the way, and he could just picture those soft, supple fingers wrapping around his—
“I called for service.”
The crisp British accent was a momentary surprise. The man surprised him too. He was pretty hot from what Nash could see, lean and pale with dark hair under that hat. His high cheekbones and long, straight nose belonged on a coin.
“You’re having it towed?”
“It’s a rental. They’re bringing a new car to replace it.” The man’s pursed lips were full enough, soft enough in that arrogant face to make Nash take a second look and then a third.
Nash’s inner horndog said, Gimme.
“Do you mind if I ask what happened?” Nash rested his arms on the passenger door and tried not to leer. “I know a thing or two about cars.”
“This car?” The implication it was way out of Nash’s league stung. “It’s a computer on wheels. I doubt there’s anything—”
“Humor me. I’m Nash Holly, by the way.” Nash took off his gloves and held out his hand.
The driver removed his sunglasses before giving it a firm shake. Oh, wow. Dude had eyes like a cloudy sky. Clear and cool and gray. They were so light they appeared silver in the faint glow of the dashboard.
“Nice to meet you, Spencer.” Nash held on a little too long.
Spencer pulled away. “About an hour ago, the light came on telling me the car was too low, so I edged over to the curb. When I started it up again a few minutes later, the warning light was gone and everything seemed fine, so I kept driving.”
Nash nodded. Waited, because he knew what was coming. “But?”
“But since then the same thing has happened every ten miles or so. I finally pulled over and called for service.”
“It’s probably your suspension system. That custom ride is the result of what they call Active Body Control. It compensates for terrain changes.”
Spencer sighed. “I knew this car was compensating for something.”
Nash grinned at that. He backed away and squatted so he could watch the body of the car rise into position. “Fire her up. Let’s see where your problem is.”
“Okay.” Spencer did as he asked, then shouted out the window, “The dreaded light still informs me my car is too low.”
“Put it in gear?”
The car growled and shifted.
Nash walked around to get a look at the other side and, sure enough, the left front fender was low. The ABC ride was cool, no doubt about it, but when the suspension went, it went, and you couldn’t drive the car without the risk of damaging the undercarriage. He walked back to lean in the passenger-side window again.
“The left front isn’t responding to the system. You’re lucky it’s a rental and you don’t have to shell out for repairs. It would cost you a bundle.”
“It’s not the money. It’s the bloody inconvenience. I can’t be without a car. It’s the only freedom I’m likely to have until—” Spencer snapped his mouth closed. Probably worried he’d let too much slip.
“I hear you. Sometimes it’s nice to get away. You’re from the werewolf show, aren’t you?”
Spencer narrowed his eyes. “Why do you ask?”
Nash had seen a lot of photographers buzzing around town on motorcycles—nimble paparazzi who made their living invading the actors’ privacy. “I’m not press or anything, if that’s what you’re worried about. I’m just out for a ride. I like to get away sometimes too.”
“That’s why I enjoy having a car.” Spencer relaxed a little. “Yes, I’m with the show. I’m not one of the regular cast members, but I have a recurring role. I’ve been filming here for a few weeks.”
“That’s cool. I live in Bluewater Bay. I see the production people all the time.”
“You probably resent the industry people invading, don’t you?”
“I don’t know. It’s good for business, but it’s a little weird seeing all the strangers roaming the streets. My sister goes apeshit every time she thinks she sees one of the actors. And the werewolf tourists . . . Don’t get me started.” He shook his head. “Those people are nuts.”
“You should be sorry.” Nash grinned. “You come up here with all your Hollywood cash to steal our womenfolk with your wicked, big-city ways . . .”
Spencer lifted his left hand to display a diamond-studded wedding band. “Your women are safe with me.”
“I guess.” Nash was mildly disappointed at the sight of the ring. There was a Mrs. Spencer, then. Too bad. “But you know, a mere wedding ring doesn’t stop a whole lot of people these days.”
“It stops me.”
“Yeah, it would stop me too, if I was married,” Nash agreed almost regretfully. “It stops me from hitting on the espoused. Even the affianced are off-limits. I don’t poach.”
“Glad to hear it. That’s rare these days.”
“Who wants somebody else’s cheater anyway?” The moon broke free of a thick wad of cloud, causing light to fall over the shiny expanse of Spencer’s hood. “So you called for service? How long ago?”
“Twenty minutes or so. Not long.”
Nash looked both ways along the deserted road. “Could take a while.”
“I don’t have much choice.”
Nash tilted his head, the better to see under the brim of Spencer’s ball cap. “You want some company while you wait?”
Spencer hesitated before shaking his head. “I think I’ll be fine here.”
“Sure.” Nash nodded. What had he expected? That some stranger would invite him in and they’d play Rock, Paper, Scissors until the tow truck got there?
“Thanks for asking.”
“Okay, but just so you know, I’m a guy with a bike, not some outlaw biker or anything. See?” Nash turned halfway so Spencer could look at the back of his jacket. “No skulls, no colors. Nothing scary.”
“I never thought—”
“But anyway . . . Who do you play on Wolf’s Landing? If I don’t find out, my sister will never forgive me.”
“I play Delaine Romanov.” His grin turned, well, wolfish. “The big, bad wolf.”
“Subtle. What does he do on the show?”
“He makes trouble.”
“Oh yeah?” Nash grinned at that. This man didn’t seem the trouble-maker type. He looked more like an Ivy League lawyer. Fancy office. Designer suits. “Delaine. What’s your story?”
“I’m one of the hidden royals—werewolf members of the Romanov dynasty who managed to hide and escape the revolution.”
That didn’t ring any bells. But then, even though his sister talked about the show constantly, he mostly tuned her out. “So you’ve been alive all that time?”
“No. I’m a descendant. My family has been living in Canada, biding its time, amassing wealth through various criminal means. My job is to muscle in on the Washington pack to expand our power base into America. There’s a tragic love story in my past. I’m a cold-blooded killer who is kind to widows and orphans.”
“Oh, I see now. My sister probably eats that up like Skittles. You’ll hate me for asking, but can I get a picture? Just so I can show her I met you? She’ll blow a gasket.”
Wariness filled Spencer’s eyes again. “A picture.”
“Yeah.” Nash took out his phone and fiddled with it. “Shelby’s Tumblr is all about that show. Werewolves on My Mind. That’s her. See?”
Spencer took the phone from him and scrolled through the entries. “Some of these pictures are of me.”
“Really? Which ones?”
Spencer turned the phone around so Nash could see.
Nash gasped at the sight of Spencer’s head stuck on some steroid-enhanced porn star’s body—totally naked except for the strategically placed skull hiding his junk. “My sister posted that?”
“The picture’s been manipulated.”
“Well, obviously that’s not your body, but she’s fifteen years old.” Nash fumed. “She has no business posting naked—”
“Wait. I don’t disagree, but for the record, what makes you so sure that’s not my body? I’m not exactly a troll.”
“Holy cow. I thought she was making up stories about that show for fun. I thought she was still acting out werewolf weddings with her little pony dolls. I had no idea she was getting into stuff like this.”
Spencer frowned at him. “I’m not saying I’d ever pose like that, but if I did, I wouldn’t exactly suck at it.”
“Yeah, sure.” Nash took his phone back and scrolled through more pictures. Sure enough, many were R-rated. Nothing X-rated yet, but still . . . “Wait until I get home. Pop and I are going to have a talk with her about the human body and why at her age she is better off appreciating it clothed.”
A picture of the real Spencer would be good for her. He unleashed his librarian-tested, teacher-approved Say yes face—the same expression that got him through language arts in high school despite the fact he barely read anything more literary than Cycle World.
“C’mon. Can I get one quick picture? Once I get over the shock of seeing my little sister’s online spank-bank I’ll never forgive myself if I don’t.”
“Never mind.” Nash gave up his most winning smile. “I can’t promise you won’t end up on her blog, but at least you’ll be wearing clothes.”
Spencer laughed at that. He took off his cap and ran long fingers through his sleek black hair. “All right, turn on the video and let’s make a movie.”
“Sure. You stopped to help me, didn’t you? It’s the least I can do.”
Nash got out his phone. He pressed record, then nodded for Spencer to start. The next thing he knew, he wasn’t leaning in the window of a Mercedes and talking to some English actor anymore—he was watching a ruthless gangster werewolf say hello to his little sister.
“Shelby? Is that your sister’s name?” Spencer eyed the camera lens as though he were planning to incinerate it using nothing more than the power of his evil. “Hello, Shelby.”
That anyone could say hello and still be so perfectly menacing chilled Nash to the bone. There was something powerful inside Spencer, some unseen switch that made him so scary Nash had to steady his camera hand on the window frame to keep it from shaking. Spencer’s soulless gaze was electrifying.
“Family is important, don’t you think? Family is everything. Your brother is currently enjoying my hospitality. I hope you’re giving a great deal of thought to the proposition I put before you. I’d hate to see anything happen to him. He’s really quite . . . beautiful.”
The camera loved Spencer. Every chiseled plane of his face looked carved from marble. Every shadow held deep mystery. Nash bobbled the phone in his sweat-slick hand but managed to catch it again. He stopped the recording with an embarrassed chuckle.
“That’s going to be kind of hard to explain if it falls into the wrong hands.”
“Ha.” Spencer barked a laugh and presto change-o, he turned back into an ordinary human being. “That’s a scene from last season. Shelby will recognize it if she’s a fan.”
“Sure.” Nash felt like an idiot. “I recognize you now, without the hat. I’ve seen your picture enough.”
“Oh Lord.” Spencer raked his hands through his hair again. “That’s the part you don’t think about when you sign the contract.”
“Does it ever bother you that your image is all over?”
“It’s a trade-off.” Spencer shrugged. “I get to do what I love, but I pay for that with my privacy.”
Spencer said privacy with a short “i” sound, which was kind of easy on the ear. The light patter on the roof of the car indicated rain was about to start coming down. Cold water built up in the collar of Nash’s jacket. “I guess I’d better go before the interior of your car gets soaked.”
“Oh hell.” Spencer unlocked the door. “You shouldn’t ruin your nice leather suit. Get in.”
“Gimme a second.” Nash ran off into the fog. Spencer watched him remove a folded plastic sheet from his backpack. Somehow he got it secured over his motorcycle. Then he sped back, diving inside the car just as rain started coming down in torrents.
“My nice leather suit?” Nash pulled a threadbare hand towel from his pack and mopped his face.
“It is nice,” Spencer offered. “Very leathery. You don’t want to get that wet. Won’t it shrink and squeeze you like a python?”
“No. Weather is why I wear it.”
Spencer hadn’t realized how awkward things might get until a full minute ticked by without either of them saying a word. A single minute could feel like forever if one spent it sitting enclosed in a car with a damp stranger.
Nash kept his hands clasped in his lap and stared straight ahead. Maybe he felt awkward too.
Spencer couldn’t take the silence any longer. “Have you always lived in Washington?”
Nash nodded. “Born and raised in Bluewater Bay. Where are you from?”
“England.” Spencer relaxed a little now they were on firm conversational ground. “Watlington, specifically.”
“What’s it like there?”
“Like you’d imagine.” He turned the CD player on, and one of Chopin’s nocturnes started to play softly in the background. “Ye olde England. Plenty of green, rolling hills, cottages, and cricket. It’s near Oxford.”
“Must be nice.”
“It is, although I don’t get home much. There’s no reason to go, really, now my parents are gone. What do you do?”
“I’m a mechanic. My family owns Holly’s Haus of Imports.”
“So you were trolling for work when you stopped?” Spencer teased. “I suspected you had ulterior motives from the first. It was either my car or my virtue.”
Nash tilted his head and grinned slyly. “Your car’s safe.”
Christ, Nash was a good-looking man. Early twenties. Built like a fighter. Dark hair, blue eyes. His frank, appraising gaze caused a shiver to run down Spencer’s body. Wait . . .
“Was that . . .? Are you coming on to me?”
“I’ve got a bad habit of yanking people’s chains.” Leather creaked when Nash shifted. The sound was unusually arousing. “I was out of line. We’re cool, right? Tell me about your wife. Does she come along when you go on location?”
“It’s not—” Spencer closed his eyes and let his head relax against the headrest. “I’m no longer married, really. My husband and I are in the middle of a divorce.”
Nash stared at him, one eyebrow lifted. “Husband?”
“Yes, husband. Is that a problem?”
“Not for me.” Nash’s teeth dented his plump lower lip before he said, “My pop’s always telling me to find one of those.”
“Really?” So Nash had been hitting on him?
“He still believes in marriage, even though his last one was enough to put me off the idea forever. What happened to yours, if you don’t mind my asking?”
“He left me for a woman. She’s pregnant.”
Nash’s lips parted on a sharp intake of breath. “That’s some epically cold stuff, right there . . . Wait.” Spencer saw the moment Nash made the connection. “This has been in the tabloids, right? She’s some big actress? My sister talks about it all the time. That’s you?”
“That’s me. The man everyone talks about.” He punctuated his words with a sad little wave of his fingers. “Mr. Spencer Kepler-Constantine, formerly of New York ‘it couple’ Spencer and Peter Kepler-Constantine, cordially invites you to the utter destruction of his life. RSVP.”
“So you’re separated now?”
“Any chance you’ll get back together?”
Is there any chance? No. Right then he could say no, there was no chance. “None.”
“Well, that’s too bad.” Nash sat quietly for a moment before he spoke again. “But marriages fail. Hollywood marriages fail spectacularly and at a more frequent rate, so you’re not alone.”
“It does seem to be a losing proposition. I’m not sure why I expected ours to succeed.”
Nash tilted his head. Quirked a shy smile. “You got a backup plan?”
What was it about the way Nash looked at him? Nash was kind of a rogue, wasn’t he? He’d made his intentions very clear. He’d said he didn’t poach, but as soon as Spencer had confessed the truth, Nash’s eyes had gone from indifferent to interested in a big way. Spencer suddenly found it hard to breathe. “Not really.”
“Because the way I see it, now would be a good time to make a list of all the things you’ve wanted to do but couldn’t because you were married . . . then do them.”
“What, like a bucket list?”
“If you want to call it that, go ahead. When my stepmom left, my dad started making a list. It gave him something to do besides wallow.”
“What sort of things were on his list?”
“Well, one thing was my stepmom hated fish. While they were married, we never even ate tuna salad. And forget fishing—out of the question. For a while after she left, we went fishing every weekend.” Nash leaned in. The movement made that sexy little leather sound again. “You have something like that for your list?”
“Peter wouldn’t let me eat eggs.”
“Eggs?” Nash frowned. “Who doesn’t like eggs?”
“If I ate eggs, he’d make me brush and floss before he’d let me anywhere near him.”
“What a dick.”
“I can’t blame him—even the smell of a hard-boiled egg made him sick to his stomach.”
“Hard-boiled eggs don’t even smell.”
“Exactly. And I love eggs Benedict. He let me order them from room service on our honeymoon. We shared two bottles of champagne.” Spencer closed his eyes. His thoughts drifted back to their candlelit honeymoon cottage. To the scent of tropical flowers flowing in on the sea breeze. To gauze curtains moving like ghosts while he and Peter made love in the massive bed. He opened his eyes and found rain obscuring the rapidly fogging windows of his rented car.
You couldn’t get much further from a tropical paradise than that.
He sighed. “That seems like a long time ago, but it was less than a year.”
Nash propped his hands on the console. “So okay, you’re going to get yourself some eggs Benedict, right? Because now the dish is on your list.”
The moment carried an odd intimacy. Spencer felt Nash’s breath on his cheek. “There are probably a number of things I can do now . . .” He let the words trail away as if they didn’t matter. As if his heart wasn’t rocketing around in his rib cage and his pulse wasn’t drumming in his ears.
“Yeah?” Nash ran a light finger over Spencer’s forearm. His touch was so delicate that if Spencer hadn’t seen Nash’s fingers traveling down the sleeve of his sweater, he might not even have felt it. As it was, the light caress made the hair on his arm stand up and beg for more.
Spencer let out the breath he’d been holding and lifted his gaze to meet Nash’s.
“This okay?” Nash deepened his contact with Spencer’s arm.
Nash shot him a knowing smile. “Maybe you can put me on that list, huh?”
Unable to form words, Spencer nodded.
“That a yes?” Nash asked. “Can I touch you, Spencer?”
“Why?” He let the word rush out. “I-I’m truly not ready for—”
“I don’t want it to mean anything. It’s just touch. Feels good, right?”
Spencer swallowed hard. The whisper of a sigh behind the word yes told its own story.
“Maybe I’d like to make you feel good.” Those light fingers found his inseam, just above his knee. “May I touch you?”
Spencer shifted, letting his legs fall open. “All right.”
“Are you sure?”
Nash’s hand stopped a breath away from Spencer’s balls, and all he could think about was how it would feel to have a man touch him again.
Can I let a man who isn’t Peter touch me?
No fair. No fair. Peter was gone, and he was alone, and he could still hear Peter’s voice in his head saying the words Love, honor, cherish.
To hell with Peter.
“Yes.” He whispered the word. “I’m sure. I’m sure.”
Nash gave a soft chuckle and glanced around the confined space. “Okay, Spencer. But I’m telling you now, this is officially the crappiest Mercedes model for making out in.”
How is this happening?
Spencer-Delaine whatever was all planes and shadows, head tilted, just a breath away. He looked like he wanted to be kissed, like he needed it, and who was Nash to argue with something like that when it was what he wanted too?
He pressed the lightest, softest kiss to Spencer’s lips, and Spencer startled, surprise and something more, something shaky and fearful rising between them.
“Sorry.” Nash immediately backed away. “Sorry. I don’t know what—”
“I . . . Kissing is probably . . . Why did you do that?”
Nash froze. “I wanted to, I guess. If you don’t kiss, that’s fine.”
Spencer let his head fall against the headrest. “I do kiss. I spent nearly an hour yesterday kissing someone over and over until we got the take just right.”
“But kissing a stranger in your car?”
“Feels . . . wrong.”
“That’s fine, Spencer.”
Spencer gripped the wheel in his fists. “I’m not being precious. I haven’t kissed a man since Peter. I didn’t know I’d have this reaction.”
“I said it’s fine. Do you want me to leave?”
“No.” The word was whispered.
Nash unzipped his jacket and shrugged it off. There wasn’t much room to maneuver. He ran a hand over the sleeve of Spencer’s sweater. “I like the way this feels.”
“Cashmere.” Spencer glanced down at Nash’s hand.
“It’s so soft. But I’d rather . . .” Nash dropped his hand back into Spencer’s lap, lightly cupping his balls. Spencer’s cock surged in response. “Oh yeah. Look at that.”
Spencer squirmed. “Wh-what if someone drives by?”
“It’s late, the weather is terrible, and we’re not exactly on a main highway here. If someone comes by, we’ll tell them we’re waiting for a tow.”
“That’s the truth.”
“Are you always this . . . impulsive?”
“I’ve been told, yeah.”
Nash laid his finger over Spencer’s lips. “If you’ve changed your mind, just say so. No problem, okay?”
“Okay. Then let me give you something else to think about.”
Levi’s 501s. The original button fly. Cool. Nash dug beneath the denim to slip his hand inside the softness of Spencer’s boxer briefs. He found Spencer’s cock, gratified by a little shiver that sped through Spencer’s body. He was working blind, finding everything by feel, stretched over the console like some horny high school kid.
An earthquake of arousal rumbled through his body.
With one hand, he tested the size and weight of Spencer’s dick. Thick, not too long. Uncut. Hard and slick with pre-cum and sweat. He practically gasped at every touch.
With his other hand, Nash found Spencer’s tight balls and the strip of sensitive skin behind them, the pucker of his—
“Is that a ‘stop’?”
“No.” Spencer huffed a deep breath. Squirmed so his dick sprang free. “Not necessarily.”
“A ‘go slow’?”
“God, yes. Please let this last . . .” Spencer slid down and gave Nash access to more of the goods.
Nash continued slowly, stroking and caressing Spencer’s body, watching every sensation manifest on his expressive face. As Spencer dropped the anxious look he’d been wearing, Nash smiled. Spencer gave up a groan of pure pleasure.
“That’s right. Relax.” Nash wasn’t in any hurry, so he worked Spencer patiently. He molded Spencer’s balls and jacked his dick, letting the urgency build, keeping him on a low simmer until Spencer’s hips started rocking up into his hand, demanding more.
“C’mon, pretty boy,” Nash urged. “Show me how you like it.”
Spencer wrapped his fingers around Nash’s, and they took a few strokes together. Spencer seemed to like a little more pressure—a little twist over the fat, dark head. Nash was happy to oblige just to hear the sexy man-purr leave Spencer’s throat when he got it right. With his other hand he gave Spencer’s pucker a nudge and those pretty ice-cold eyes rolled back in his head.
“Yeah,” Spencer panted, driving his cock up into Nash’s fist. “Just like that.”
“Got it. It’s okay. Let it go, sugar.” Expressions played over Spencer’s handsome face—base desire, pleasure, urgency, necessity, and at last, bliss, when that tight little rosebud of skin clutched Nash’s finger and cum splashed from Spencer’s cock.
While he was still pulsing with release, Spencer hooked his hand around Nash’s neck and hauled him halfway over the console. Caught by surprise, Nash almost lost his rhythm.
Apparently kissing wasn’t off the table after all.
Spencer parted his lips, and his tongue sought entry. Nash tilted his head so he could grant it. Spencer deepened the kiss, and Nash surrendered like he’d been made for it. Despite starting out desperate, Spencer’s kisses became searching and sweet. Tender, even. As Nash pulled his hand away and discreetly wiped jizz on his towel, his smile coaxed a similar grin out of Spencer. He caught Nash’s jaw and continued kissing him as if the handjob had been antipasto and kissing was the main dish.
Nash took everything Spencer offered and basked in the warmth of his caresses because Spencer truly knew how to kiss. He tasted like he’d had a glass of wine at some point, and his hands felt cool but sure on Nash’s skin. His lips were firm yet mobile and oddly soft.
This was a man who took his time making love, and Nash regretted the urgency. He understood the futility of wishing for more when he didn’t want more, when there wasn’t room in his life for more. Might not be room ever.
Despite their rather cramped and public circumstances, Spencer was thorough and inventive. Nash wrapped as much as he could of himself around him, straining to be closer, console be damned.
Spencer broke off their kiss, framing Nash’s face with both hands. Smiles blossomed between them.
“I’d have rented a minivan if I’d known this could happen. But we have company.” Spencer tilted his head toward the very real, very clear headlights of the tow truck idling behind them. Nash gripped the dashboard, a little dazed.
“Wow.” He hadn’t even heard the truck roll up. How could he have been that oblivious? His dick was crushed behind the zipper of his leather pants, hoping for more. His brain had apparently turned to mush. He blinked his confusion away and hurried to grab his jacket and pack his towel away. “Sorry.”
“I’m not.” Spencer kissed him again. “I’m nothing like sorry.”
“Cool.” Nash stopped what he was doing to commit the image of Spencer’s kiss-swollen lips to memory. “Pleasure meeting you.”
“The pleasure was all mine.”
Nash nodded, struggling into his jacket and gloves. “Maybe I’ll see you around?”
Spencer gave him a wink. “Maybe.”
Nash pushed the door open and headed back into the rain. The downpour hadn’t let up, but there was no help for it. He uncovered his bike like he had all the time in the world. That seemed smooth, right? Then he wiped the rain off his helmet and turned to wave before putting it on. When he was ready to leave, the EVO’s engine roared to life, ready to eat up some more road.
Nash never second-guessed what life handed him. He’d started out that evening feeling hemmed in, anxious about his family, a little too burdened by responsibility. He’d gone for a ride to break the chains tying him to Bluewater Bay, if only for a few hours.
Now his balls were blue. At least he had a video of a TV star for his sister and a memory that would fuel happy masturbation for a good long time.
He’d never see Spencer again, probably.
Still . . . you never knew.
“Shh,” Spencer hissed as he joined Tick outside the RV he used between takes. “Bast just got back from the oral surgeon. His face was so swollen from the extractions, he cried for an hour. He’s finally asleep.”
“Ah, poor baby. Thinks he’s going to stay like that.” The menacing South Sea Islander, an ex-rugby player who acted the part of both bodyguard and personal chef, dropped a set of keys into Spencer’s outstretched hand. “Got your ride back.”
“They finished it in one day? That was quick.”
“I might have told them you wanted the car back very badly.” A wide grin split Tick’s terrifying, tattooed face, giving him a surprisingly boyish appearance. “I guess I can be a little intimidating.”
Understatement of the year. “They did fix it, didn’t they? You didn’t just scare them into handing it back without—”
“It’s fixed. All proper. Drives like a dream, even though it’s so small I can barely get my left nut in it.”
“Thank you. I have an errand to run. Will you look after Bast for me?”
“Don’t let him leave alone. He’s drugged to the gills.”
“I’ll take good care of our boy.” He leaned in. “Hey, boss? Why’s your car smell like sex?”
Spencer turned. Clenched the keys inside his pocket. “I’m sure you’re imagining that.”
“Right. Did you know I have a particularly acute sense of smell? Always have.” He tapped his nose. “Hard to fool this.”
Spencer frowned at him. “It’s a bit of a story.”
Tick seemed to be waiting for him to tell it, but he would have to live with disappointment. Spencer shook his head.
“Oh, all right. Will you be home for supper?”
“I hope not.”
Tick stepped up the stairs and opened the door to the RV. “Call if you need anything.”
After finding his car, Spencer drove to Nash’s garage, determined he was doing the right thing.
I am returning Nash’s wallet, which fell out of his jacket while he gave me a handjob.
I am returning his wallet because it’s the civilized thing to do.
I am certainly not chasing after a pair of startling blue eyes or looking for another opportunity to make them glaze over with passion . . . but if I were, no jury in the world would convict me.
From the outside, Holly’s Haus of Imports didn’t look like much more than a long, gray warehouse with offices situated in one corner and a place to drive cars through a rolling fence at the other end. Beyond that, there were four garage bays. Spencer didn’t see Nash, nor did he see any sign of life coming from inside the building, but the sign on the door read Open.
He entered and let his eyes adjust to the grim fluorescent lighting. There was no one at the reception desk. He peeked down the long hallway. Not a soul in sight.
He rang the bell. Nothing happened.
Someone had to be there because from behind the walls, he heard what he imagined were the sounds of labor in an auto shop—air-powered tools and a boom box playing Linkin Park. He leaned over the counter and saw a tiny office to the right and, farther down the long corridor, an employees-only door.
The office was little more than a disorganized jumble of filing cabinets and shelves piled high with books and photographs and only God knew what. He edged over to peer inside and saw a teenage girl with headphones on.
“Ah, miss?” He made his way carefully around the counter and stepped toward the office door. It really was a frightful mess. The girl seemed to be singing while she worked, studying from a book and typing into a computer. She was a pretty little thing, dressed in a school uniform of the plaid-skirted variety, seated in a sporty teal-blue wheelchair.
She didn’t hear him. Didn’t notice him standing there at all. He edged inside, trying not to startle her. For a moment or so he stood there like an ass. When that failed to get her attention, he leaned over so he was in her field of vision.
“Hello, can you help me? I’m—”
“Oh my God.” She clutched her heart with both hands.
He pulled himself upright again, already uncomfortable. “Er . . . no. You’re thinking of Tom Hiddleston.”
That response always got him a laugh at Comic-Con. This girl just eyed him with shock for one more second and then let out an earsplitting scream.
At the sound of his sister’s distress, Nash picked up the biggest crescent wrench he could lay his hands on and burst through the office door. A tall guy was leaning over Shelby’s wheelchair, his hand on her thin shoulder. Adrenaline sang through Nash’s bloodstream.
His heart thundering with rage, he roared, “Back off. Now.”
The man leaped back and held his hands out at his sides. It took Nash a second to recognize Spencer from the previous night. Aw, shoot. He’d come in to work at 5 a.m., so he hadn’t had a chance to tell Shelby about meeting her wolf guy yet. Now she was flapping her arms. Was she hyperventilating?
“What the hell? Slow down, baby. Breathe. Why did you scream?”
“I might have given her a shock.” Spencer twisted his hands together, turning the knuckles white. “I don’t think she realized I was here. I’m very sorry.”
Nash didn’t have time to deal with the tingle of happy awareness that shivered through him at seeing Spencer again. He stalked to his sister’s side, leaned over, and put his hands on her knees to calm her. “Come on. You’re okay. Is that any way to treat a guest? Breathe.”
“Nash, go ’way.” Long seconds passed before she gushed, “Oh God, it really is you. You’re really here.”
Nash briefly glanced at Spencer. “I didn’t get a chance to tell you, baby. I met one of the actors from your show last night.”
“Don’t call me ‘baby.’” She wheeled her chair away from the desk to face them with both hands over her heart. “Oh my God. Oh. My. God. Say something from the show.”
Nash frowned. “Be polite.”
“It’s fine,” said Spencer. “I get recognized all the time, only now it’s mostly because of—”
“Can I just tell you?” Shelby asked. “I am so pissed off at that cheating son of a bitch.”
“I . . . er . . .” Spencer sputtered at the same time Nash barked her name again.
She ignored him. “You deserve so much more. No one thinks any less of you because Peter Constantine couldn’t keep it in his pants.” She covered her mouth with both hands, fingers pointing up like a little picket fence, and laughed. “I can’t believe you’re here.”
“Thank you, I think.”
Spencer glanced at Nash, who frowned again. First at Spencer and then at his sister. “You’re old enough to know a man’s personal life is not a spectator sport.”
“Oh my God, wait until I tell Vicky I met Delaine Romanov.” Shelby pulled her phone from her pocket.
“I’m sorry I startled you, Shelby,” said Spencer.
“You didn’t.” She sighed. “I was reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein for school, and then suddenly you were just standing right there and I freaked . . .”
“I believe that’s the definition of ‘startle,’ actually,” Spencer pointed out.
She laughed. “You’re funny.”
“Er . . .” Spencer reached into his pocket and produced Nash’s billfold. “I came to return this.”
“You had Nash’s wallet?” she squeaked.
Nash’s face heated from both the memory of having his hands inside Spencer’s underwear and the expression of delight on his sister’s face. “Maybe we should talk about this in the other room?”
“Oh my God. Why does Spencer Kepler-Constantine have your—”
“Chill, Shelby.” Nash wished the floor would open up and swallow him. The way his sister was looking at them—as if this was a new plot twist to the wolf show drama and she couldn’t wait to get her ponies out and reenact it—laid him too bare for his liking.
“I am chill. But you met Delaine Romanov, and you didn’t mention it.”
“It was just a casual—” He glanced at Spencer. “I stopped to help him with some car trouble. I got a video for you. I was going to tell you.”
“Just relax here until Vicky and her mom come to get you. I need to talk to Spencer for a minute in the garage.” Nash gave his sister a quelling look and jerked his head for Spencer to follow. He held the door open and indicated the work area. “In here.”
“Hello.” Physical proximity to Nash robbed Spencer of all the witty things he’d meant to say. He shot Nash an awkward smile and wondered exactly when he’d gone from being Delaine Romanov to every character ever played by Hugh Grant.
Nash stared at him. “Hello yourself.”
“Your wallet must have fallen out of your jacket,” Spencer said softly. “I found it just after you drove off.”
“I missed it when I got dressed this morning. I figured one of your people would bring it by, or that you’d messenger it to me.”
“I couldn’t resist. Do you mind?”
“No, of course not.” Nash pointed to an Audi. “I’m almost finished with this, and then I need to clean up. You want to wait for me? Go for a drink, maybe?”
“Yes.” As Spencer had discovered the night before when he’d replayed their meeting—that handjob and the careful, teasing conversation they’d had—he wanted to spend more time with Nash.
“All right, then. You saw where the waiting room was. I’ll be done in no time.”
“I can’t watch you work?”
“Not if you want me to work quickly. I shouldn’t be distracted in here. Bad things can happen.”
“Say no more. I’m on my way.” Spencer headed back through the door to the office. Before he let it shut behind him, he turned and found Nash staring at his ass. “Like what you see?” He smiled and left Nash standing there, blushing furiously.
Holy cow. Nash watched Spencer walk back out to the waiting area. He’d expected some flunky to show up with his wallet. When he’d seen Spencer standing right there in his shop, he’d had nearly the same reaction Shelby had.
Having done some discreet internet research, Nash was now aware Spencer was a Great Big Honking Deal. He wasn’t just Shelby’s crush—his image was everywhere from cologne and luxury ads to television and films. He was regularly in the tabloids too, most recently for the reason he’d described when they’d met—his husband had humiliated him in the worst possible way.
He heard a car horn in the parking lot. He assumed it was Shelby’s BFF Vicky and her mother, picking her up for an all-girl weekend, so he didn’t bother going to the small window to look. A few minutes later he was deep in his work when the horn sounded again.
“Shelby,” he muttered. He marched to the office door and opened it to find her still there, talking to Spencer.
“Your ride is here.”
She ignored him. “So that’s why DeLish is the most shipped couple. You’re the most obvious canon OTP from Wolf’s Landing.”
“OTP? DeLish? Why does it sound like you’re speaking a foreign language?” Spencer asked. He had to be a pretty patient guy to listen to Shelby ramble on about the show like that.
“Okay. OTP is one true pairing. OTP is . . . It’s like you’re meant to be. Your one and only. DeLish is your portmanteau name. It combines your character name Delaine with your love interest character Alicia. The real-life shippers call you Speeter, for you and your husband Peter.”
“He’s my ex.”
“I know, but the Speeter-shippers really, really hope you’ll get back together. Normally, I don’t like IRL shipping because—”
“Shelby,” Nash said louder. “Vicky and her mom are outside waiting.”
“Oh.” She looked crestfallen. She picked up her things, but took her sweet time about it. “Well, wow. It was great to meet you. So I guess since you and my brother hooked up, it’s not too much to hope I’ll see you again?”
“What?” Spencer’s pained expression was comical. For a highly paid actor he certainly had an awful poker face.
“We did not hook up,” Nash said.
“Right. And I’m sure people call my brother Hot Wheels because he still plays with toy cars.” She rolled her chair toward the door. “Anyway, I hope you’ll come back here if you ever need your car fixed. Not that I’m hoping it will break or anything, but just in case . . .”
“I shall, of course, come here straightaway.” Spencer held out his hand to shake. “It was a pleasure to meet you.” At this, Shelby made a ridiculous squawking noise.
Spencer stayed inside while Nash walked her to the car and watched her get in. He’d long since learned she needed her independence, so he didn’t offer to help her with the long process of transferring herself into the car and taking her wheelchair apart. She’d already started chattering excitedly with Vicky about Spencer.
“He’s in there?” Vicky shouted.
“He is.” Shelby’s head bobbed.
“Oh, why didn’t he come out?” she whined, hands clutched to her chest.
“I know, right?” Shelby made similar swooning gestures.
Nash figured that was why. Their squealing was killing his ears. Spencer probably got that all day, every day. He leaned in to get her attention. “You have your meds?”
“Oh.” Her face fell as she folded the chair. “I forgot.”
“Shelby . . .” He tried to keep the censure out of his voice but failed.
“I’m sorry, all right? I was just trying to pack, and they were in the kitchen, and—” she bit her lip “—I just didn’t remember.”
Nash sighed. “I’ll drop them by later. Is that okay, Mrs. Canning?”
“Early night, you two.” Shelby and Vicky were already giggling together, oblivious. “No gambling, no booze, and definitely no hookers this time. I mean it.”
“Nash.” Mrs. Canning shot him a look.
He leaned into the car and kissed Shelby’s cheek. “I’ll drop your pills off after I swing by the house. Call if you need me for anything.” Deliberately, he added, “Baby.”
“Don’t call me ‘baby.’” She shoved him out.
When Nash returned to the office, Spencer was waiting for him. “Hot Wheels?”
Nash nodded. “Family nickname.”
“Your sister is charming.”
“She’s growing up so fast. I guess she’s spent too much time with adults.”
“Maybe.” Spencer was a few good inches taller, but appeared to be concealing it with an ingenious system of leaning and slouching that must cramp his muscles all to hell. In this light, his superfine, pale skin appeared spattered with coppery freckles. It contrasted oddly with his dark hair. Dyed for the wolf show?
“She’s tough, though. Like I said.”
“Is she . . . all right?” Spencer asked.
“Was she born with—”
“She was paralyzed in a car accident when she was three.” Nash toed the ground with one of his heavy work boots. “She had a broken spine and what you call a contrecoup injury, where somebody’s head hits something hard and the force causes the brain to slam into the other side of their skull. That leaves some lasting damage. Seizures. Motor coordination and cognitive problems. The shit that kid has been through . . . you don’t even want to know. She’s come a long way.”
Nash glanced down. “I probably come off as a little overprotective.”
“My dad had to work long hours to afford physical therapy and all the medical expenses that weren’t covered. My brother and I looked after her.”
“My mom died and her mom . . . long story. Anyway, you don’t get out of the habit of looking after someone just because she wishes you’d back off.”
“I imagine not.”
“I’ll go clean things up. Five minutes, okay?”
Spencer’s phone rang. Nash watched him frown at the device. “Goddamn it. I have to take this. It’s my ex.”
Nodding, Nash left Spencer to it. It was none of his business, but now that he’d looked Spencer up on the internet, he was well aware of the Kepler-Constantine divorce. When the news had broken that Peter Constantine had left Spencer for a woman—and that the woman was pregnant—the world had shown an unhealthy interest in the whole affair.
But Spencer still took phone calls from his ex. Maybe he wasn’t ready to move on, despite what they’d done in his car.
Nash pondered that. Of all the lousy foreign-auto repair shops in all the world, he has to walk into mine.
He finished up the car and scrubbed his hands as if he were about to do surgery. It only took him ten minutes. He checked one last time to make sure he hadn’t left fingerprints on the Audi’s paint and then pulled the paper from the floors.
He got back to Spencer just in time to see him smash his fist against the wall.
“Hold it right there, Emo Elmo.” Nash grabbed Spencer’s shoulder to stop him. “What are you doing?”
“Nothing.” Spencer blinked in surprise. “If you must know, I’m angry.”
“How’s busting up your hand working out for you? Feeling any better?”
“Your ex piss you off?”
“Of course he does. He’s my ex. Pissing me off is his new career.”
Nash studied his tight expression. His face was pale and his hand featured a brutal red mark where it had kissed the wall. Pissed off had to be the understatement of the year. “So?”
“Why take it out on yourself? Isn’t the time-honored tradition to serve revenge in an ice-cold dish? Or at least to live well?”
“I—” Spencer frowned. “I’m not very good at emotions. They’re messy.”
“Too good for them?”
That manly chin shot up. “No, of course not.”
“’Cause if ever there’s a time for righteous indignation, it’s when your husband cheats and then runs off with a person who earns more money than you, is better looking, and can do the one thing for him you couldn’t do in a million years.”
“Well j-just-just. Bloody hell. Fuck off, will you? Who asked for your opinion anyway?” Spencer took a deep breath. Ground his teeth. “You really think she’s better looking?”
“Almost had you for a second.” He was thrilled Spencer had some fight in him. “That was rage you were feeling, there. That’s an appropriate response. Not punching a wall or—”
“Wait. You do realize right now it’s you I’m angry at?”
“Details.” Nash hoisted himself onto the counter to replace the Audi’s key on the hook behind the reception desk. He held up his left hand. “High five.”
“What for?” Spencer completed the salute.
“Hey, southpaw. Me too.”
“I shall be sure to note it in my diary,” he said sourly.
“Right emotion. Wrong target.” Nash slid from his perch and faced Spencer, arms crossed. “It’s none of my business, but—”
“You’re right. It’s none of your—”
“Dude, when I walked through the door, you were about to break your hand. Why were you doing that?”
A pause. “You wouldn’t understand.”
“I don’t like getting angry.”
“It isn’t civilized.”
“What isn’t? Feeling emotions or telling someone to eff off? Because I can’t see how you could stop feeling emotions.” Nash went to the glass doors and locked them. “They’re natural. They’re part of how we survive. Fight or flight.”
“But surely we’ve evolved past the need for most of that. If a bear were chasing me, I would respond appropriately. But I’m not about to get emotional over real estate or arguing whether I should be required to pay for the veterinarian’s visits for Peter’s dog. The damn thing bit me whenever I got close anyway.”
“So you’re not allowed to feel anything unless you’re being chased by a bear?”
Spencer shrugged. “My own folly is at the core of my problems. I don’t want to advertise that.”
Nash considered him. “How old are you?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“You’re either much older than you look, or you’re much younger than you act. I can’t tell which.”
“I’m thirty,” Spencer admitted. “Next month, at any rate.”
“And you can’t show emotion.”
“Of course I can show emotion—” he made his voice resonate musically “—I am an actor.”
“I mean in real life.”
Spencer jammed his hands in his coat pockets. “In real life, emotions are a useless waste of energy.”
“Oh my God.” Nash turned on his heel. “Follow me.”
“I will not.”
“Please, follow me,” Nash glanced back. “I have something I want to show you.”
He swallowed. Nodded. “All right.”
Nash led him past the employees-only door and back into the heart of the workshop. It smelled of tire rubber and oil, and he briefly wondered what Spencer must think—if he found the grimy work space and all the clutter depressing. He led Spencer up the wooden stairs to a loft overlooking the workroom floor and, once there, he opened the closet where his father kept their ancient holiday decorations.
“Sorry about all this, I need to get . . .” Nash found what he was looking for. “Aha. This. Scarecrow Sam, meet Spencer. Spencer, meet Scarecrow Sam.”
Scarecrow Sam hung from Nash’s fist, wearing a flannel shirt and jeans. When Spencer failed to acknowledge the thing, Nash grabbed the scarecrow’s hand and waved with it.
“Oh my God!” Nash squealed the words like his sister. “It’s Spencer Kepler-Constantine . . . Oh my God! He’s so cute . . .”
“Piss off.” Twin flags of color bloomed on Spencer’s cheeks. “If you brought me up here to mock me, you can save yourself the trouble. There’s nothing I haven’t heard.”
“I did not bring you up here to mock you. That’s just a side benefit.” Nash dug deeper into the closet and found a rope. He tied it around the scarecrow’s chest, then looped the end over an exposed beam in the ceiling.
“Oh, for God’s sake,” he said as Nash hoisted the hapless dummy up.
“Hold this.” Nash gave the end of the rope to Spencer.
“Are we hanging Peter in effigy? Is that your plan?”
“Something like that.” Nash looked around for a likely weapon. He found a kid’s putter in one of the other closets. He’d probably liberated that from Fun Acres Mini-Golf at some point in his checkered past. He handed the club to Spencer.
“I’ll take the rope. And you—” he motioned toward the dummy “—do what you’ve gotta do.”
“I don’t understand.”
“You know,” Spencer urged. “Get angry, man.”
“So he is supposed to be a surrogate for Peter?”
“Yeah. Well. Hanging’s too good for him. Hit the son of a bitch.”
“Is this some kind of joke?”
“Hit him. With the putter.” Nash figured he’d better spell things out. “As if the scarecrow was Peter.”
“Why would I want to hit Peter? I love him. He was my husband. We were together for—”
“God. You really are no good at this sort of thing.”
“I don’t even know what this sort of thing is.”
“Talk to the scarecrow.” Nash gave the rope a jerk so the scarecrow swung between them. “Tell the scarecrow how you feel.”
Spencer dodged Sam’s flailing arm. “This is insane.”
“Tell the scarecrow whatever it was you didn’t say on the phone that made you hit the wall. Tell him you don’t want to pay for the vet.”
“I don’t mind paying for the vet.”
“Oh, for heaven’s sake, tell him, not me.”
Spencer finally turned to the scarecrow, an expression of resignation and distaste on his haughty features. “I will pay for the vet. Send me the bill. I just . . .”
“Don’t stop now. You just what?”
“I wish he wouldn’t call me with petty demands. That’s what we have lawyers for.”
“Maybe he doesn’t want to talk to lawyers. He wants to talk to you.”
“Maybe he wants to hear your voice.”
“I want that too.” Spencer gave the scarecrow a solid shove to the chest. “I want that, but then he calls about bills and legal matters or he natters on about that woman and fatherhood, and he never . . .” He paused while the scarecrow swung without any help from Nash.
“He never what?”
“He never asks about me.”
Nash barely breathed. “You miss him.”
“God help me, I do. But after we talk, I hate myself for it. I wish he wouldn’t call me at all.” Spencer gripped the putter tightly. “I want him to call my lawyer from now on.”
“Do you think what you want matters to him anymore?”
“No.” Spencer narrowed his eyes. “I know it doesn’t. It’s always been about what he wants. He wanted an apartment in New York. He wanted the place in Park City. He wanted that enormous production of a wedding ceremony—”
“Don’t tell me. Tell him.”
“I feel like an arse.”
Spencer turned to the scarecrow, his face twisted with fury. “What more do you want? You have everything. Everything you ever said you wanted.”
“Well, now I want Evelyn Van Ausch. And a child. And I also want to talk to you whenever I feel like calling. I want to know you still want me.”
Wham! Spencer walloped poor Scarecrow Sam with the putter and, before Nash could get out of the way, drew it back again. Nash jumped before Spencer could strike again.
“You think I want you after you humiliated me?” Wham! “You think I want you after that?”
“Yes, I do think that.” Nash wasn’t known for a finely tuned sense of self-preservation, but he knew better than to get in the way of that golf club. “That’s why I keep calling. I want to hear you lose your mind over me. I want to hear your pain.”
“You want to hear my pain?”
“Yes, I do. And every time we talk, I can hear how much you miss me. I can picture your heart clenching in agony. I can hear you bleed.”
“You want to hear me bleed?” Spencer’s voice rose to an angry shriek.
Uh-oh. Mighta woke the sleeping giant.
“You want to hear me bleed for you?” Wham! “I do miss you. It kills me how much I miss you.”
“Tell me how much.”
“You sorry bastard!” Wham! “That, you will never have. I would rather fling—” Wham! “—myself under a bus than show you one iota of the heartache you’re causing me. I would rather jump off a bridge or eat poisonous mushrooms—” Wham! Wham! “—than let you hear one solitary note of unhappiness in my voice.”
“So you’re in pain.”
“Yes, goddamn it.”
“And you’re angry.”
“Yes, I am angry, goddamn it. Fuck.” Wham! “Fuck, fuck, fuck.” Wham! Wham! Wham! Sam’s seams split and straw started to fly over the railing.
“That’s going to take some cleaning up.”
“Clean this up, you sodding, bloody, bollocksing . . . shit-for-brains fucking— Damn it.”
Sam’s head and shoulders flew one way, and his torso and legs flew another. Straw filled the air.
The utter destruction of Scarecrow Sam didn’t deter Spencer, who kept on beating and beating the poor bastard after he was down, after he’d given up his last bit of stuffing and the putter was simply striking the wooden floor. Eventually, even the putter failed. The faux-leather grip unraveled while the metal bent and twisted more with each of Spencer’s blows.
Nash stayed in the corner to observe the carnage. He didn’t want to end up wearing that putter around his neck.
After a while, Spencer stopped and simply stared down at the mess he’d created. His hands trembled. He dropped the putter and backed away from it, gulping deep drafts of air. He looked nauseated—frankly horrified by what he’d done.
“Okay,” Nash said quietly. “You’re kind of a potty mouth, aren’t you? That was—”
“I was savage,” Spencer said.
“Uh, yes,” Nash agreed. “You seem to have a lot of pent-up rage.”
“I behaved like a madman.”
“Yes.” Nash’s heart rate was only now returning to normal. “Yes, you did.”
Spencer smiled. “Can we do it again?”