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Flawless: Chapter 7

Rhett

Kip: Talked to the rest of your sponsors today. A couple were undecided on what they’re going to do. But Wrangler and Ariat are still on . . . so long as you keep your shit together.

Kip: Hello? You going to thank me?

Rhett: Nope.

Kip: I know you love me.

Rhett: I don’t. You sicced an attack dog on me. Your princess is a real ball-buster.

Kip: Good. Your balls could use some busting.


I’m in the middle of recounting one of my most recent rides, something I actually like talking about, when a glass slides in front of my spot at the table.

My eyes snap up to little Bailey Jansen, nibbling on her lip with rosy cheeks. “This is from your future wife.” I rear back at that. “She says she knows it’s your favorite.” Bailey can barely get the words out.

I do some mental gymnastics as I glance around the table, but everyone here seems equally confused as I feel. The few men here are chuckling, but the girls range from looking confused to downright feral.

If one of them was smiling at me, I’d know it was her.

When I take a proper look at the drink, I’m even more confused.

“What is this?”

“It’s . . . um . . . a White Russian?”

My brows knit together as I stare down at the milky drink, threads of dark liquor pulling up from the bottom. What the fuck?

“Enjoy!” Bailey squeaks before peeling away. If I didn’t know she was the only good Jansen of the entire group, I’d suspect her. But the only thing I suspect is that someone else has put her up to this.

My first guess is Beau.

My eyes scan the bar for him as Laura, someone I’ve known in passing since high school, tries to flag down a server like this milky umbrella drink is an affront to my masculinity. There’s even a fucking maraschino cherry on top—plump and bright. And as I stare at it, I’m reminded of Summer’s mouth.

I ditched her and didn’t think twice about it when we got here. Not my finest moment. And definitely not a gentlemanly way to welcome her to town. I swivel on my stool, trying to see where she landed.

When I finally find her, she looks deep in conversation with my brother and his friend. They all seem relaxed, and oblivious to whatever this stunt is here. So, I rule them out. Though my eyes linger. She’s talking, and those fuckers are hanging on every word like she’s the most interesting person in the world.

And truth be told, if I wasn’t so miffed about this whole thing, I might be interested in talking to her more. She does seem interesting. There’s something intriguing about her. The way she looks, the way she talks, her confidence and spunk.

Summer Hamilton is an unusual combination.

“Excuse me, Rhett would never drink something like this.” I almost scoff out loud. The way Laura is talking like she knows me grates on my nerves.

Someone promptly takes away the drink and replaces it with a bottle of local brew. Something I like.

But within minutes, Bailey is back, looking like she’d rather run out the front door than face our table again.

“Your future wife sent this over. She said she knows how much you love chocolate milkshakes.” Then she darts away while I stare down at the creamy brown drink in a long-stem martini glass.

With an umbrella and cherry again.

These cherries are going to be the death of me. Somehow, my brain has connected them to the lipstick Summer wears, and the color isn’t even that similar. But it’s going there anyway.

It’s going other places too. Like how that mouth would look wrapped around my dick.

When I peer up at her this time, her big brown eyes flit in my direction, but she purses her lips and turns away, like she finds something distasteful about me.

Some guys at the table are having a real good laugh now. “Thought you didn’t like milk, Eaton?” one of the older men blurts out, and a smile tugs at my lips. At least these people don’t hate me for saying what I said. And as usual, their attention feels good. I roll my shoulders back and choose to ignore whoever is pulling the hilarious prank.

“This is ridiculous,” Laura hisses, rubbing my back like I’m upset. But I don’t get mad, I get even. And when I figure out who is getting a kick out of sending me these milky fucking messes, it will be game on.

“Bailey, darlin’, I don’t want this.”

She nods quickly and snatches it away before leaving us again.

Laura leans close, her lips brushing across my ear in a way that should be sexy, but makes me recoil as she whispers, “I’m so sorry someone is doing this to you. Mocking you like this. It’s been a tough week for you already.”

She’s not wrong about that. But she won’t be the factor that turns this week around either. Things aren’t going to turn around until I can ditch my babysitter once and for all—even if she isn’t following me around like I thought she might.

I don’t throw Laura any bones, but I don’t push her away either. Even if I’m not remotely interested, I don’t want to be rude. So, I tip my beer bottle in her direction before taking a swig.

“All good. I’m a big boy.”

She smiles suggestively, reading an innuendo that isn’t there, and I take another swallow. Because that was not how I intended for it to come out.

With a wink, she slides her hand up to play with the ends of my hair. “I’ve heard.”

And that is why I don’t hook up with women in this town anymore. I had one casual girlfriend before I learned my lesson. You get a blowjob from someone in Chestnut Springs and the next thing you know, it’s in the newspaper, and the ladies at the salon are planning a fucking wedding. No, I keep that shit on the road where it belongs.

When I come home, I want privacy.

My eyes flit up to where my brother is sitting, and this time, I’m met with all three of them staring back at me. When they catch me looking, Summer and Beau quickly glance down and reach for their drinks.

Jasper grins at me from beneath the brim of his cap. The guy is quiet and doesn’t smile that much. He gives thoughtful pauses and one-word answers until you get a few drinks into him. They say goaltenders are a different breed, and in Jasper’s case, that’s true. I should know, we grew up with the guy.

And more than anything, it gets me wondering why he’s staring at me like the fucking Cheshire Cat. It’s creeping me the hell out. The way it slowly widens further as his eyes drop to the table in front of me.

I glance over in time to see Bailey hustling away. This time, she didn’t even say anything. Just dropped the drink and ran. Can’t say that I blame her.

“Is that. . .” Laura looks offended, like someone just called her mother a whore.

The clear glass mug is one typically used for speciality coffee. But the liquid inside is solid white. It’s topped with whipped cream.

And a fucking cherry.

When I touch the side, it’s warm. Not hot. Warm, like I’d make hot chocolate for Luke.

“Is that warm milk?” Laura’s voice is shrill, and I hear snickering from around the table, but I don’t address them.

Instead, I tear my eyes away from the whipped cream melting down the sides of the mug, making a colossal mess, and peer up at the couches in the back.

Jasper is still staring at me, but this time, his hand is thrown over his mouth, shoulders shaking with barely restrained laughter. Beau, the cocksucker that he is, has flopped back on the couch, like this is the funniest joke in the world.

Spoiler alert: it’s not.

I just lost a huge sponsorship over milk, and these dickheads are sitting around sending me warm milk. I almost shudder at the thought.

But it’s Summer that really gets me. She’s sitting there looking perfectly put together, perfectly smug. Legs crossed in the most lady-like way with the chocolate milk martini I sent back in her hand. She holds it up to me in a silent “cheers” and then plucks the cherry off the top and wraps her lips around it.

And then I’m moving across the bar. Storming up toward them. Half amused and half pissed off that these fucking traitors are playing tricks on me with the woman whose presence they know I don’t like. It seems like they’re taking her side when it’s me they’ve known their entire lives. Am I having a minor internal temper tantrum over it?

Maybe.

I’ve always been the joke in this family. The one that gets poked fun at. The one nobody takes seriously.

“Rhett, you forgot your warm milk,” Jasper says as I approach. Beau makes some honking noise as he tries, and fails, to keep himself from bursting out laughing. He always has been the giddy, lighthearted one of us. Which is fucking wild considering he’s JTF2, Canada’s top special forces unit.

“No, no, no.” Beau gasps for air. “He’s coming up here because he wants the White Russian instead.”

I shake my head. The corners of my mouth tilt up, even though I’m working hard to keep them down. “You guys are such fucking losers.” I prop my hands on my hips and stare up at the ceiling where an ornate brass chandelier hangs, completing the upscale country vibe this place has taken on under new ownership.

“Shouldn’t talk to your future wife that way,” Jasper bites before snorting and barking out another laugh.

Their laughter is infectious, and I’m trying to not let it overtake me. I don’t want to find this funny. But if there was ever a person who could give me the giggles, it would be Beau. And right now, he is unhinged.

I peek down at Summer. Her wide, sparkling eyes looking up at me are downright disarming. She’s trying not to laugh, and I’m trying not to get a boner from staring at her mouth. It’s a fucking struggle for us both.

“Was this your idea?”

“No.” She huffs outs a laugh, her composure finally cracking as a pink stain spreads out over her cheeks. “Not even a little bit. I am an innocent bystander.”

I regard her with a raised brow, not entirely sure if I believe she wasn’t playing a part in this. She already seems to be amused by my suffering, so I’m not sure why she’d draw the line here.

Plus, the fact that I can’t stop staring at her gorgeous face makes me feel like she isn’t innocent in my frustration at all.

“Hey now,” Jasper interjects with his raspy tone before taking a big swig of his beer. “Don’t pick on Summer. The warm milk was my idea. That was more fun than I’ve had in ages.”

Beau slaps his knee and wheezes. “You should have seen your face!”

I shake my head and let out a chuckle that rumbles in my chest.

“I’m going to get you back for this,” I say, but my eyes dart back to Summer’s face. And then she nods, dropping my gaze for a moment as the shadows from her lashes fan across the apples of her cheeks. She looks almost shy, not smug at all.

Not what I expected.

With a deep sigh, I turn and kick Jasper’s boot. “Shove over, asshole.”

I flop down beside our childhood friend and feel immediately more at ease than I did at that other table—even with my lush-lipped babysitter princess here.

Then I reach forward and swipe the White Russian off the table in front of me and take a big swig of it as I throw an arm over the back of the couch.

“Fucking delicious,” I announce with a cocky grin. Beau giggles like a schoolgirl all over again. Idiot. I roll my eyes at him and then turn my attention to Summer as I take another sip of the milky disaster in my hand. She’s smiling at me now.

And as much as I hate to admit it, I like her eyes on me.


I thought a few drinks would provide me the pain relief I need to get a good sleep since that rough dismount last weekend, but I was wrong.

I’ve been lying here for the past two and a half hours trying to get comfortable. Failing. And then berating myself for taking such a stupid fall. I’ve been at this for over a decade. The bull didn’t pile drive me into the ground—no avoiding that—it was just a stupid landing.

And because I’m truthfully too old to still be doing what I’m doing, I don’t bounce back like I used to. I’m trying so hard not to live on painkillers—only one set of kidneys and all that—but I’ve been popping them like candy for the better part of my life. I just didn’t use to care.

Scrubbing my hands over my face, I let out a groan and roll myself out of bed, wincing as I do. The wooden floorboards are cold against my feet as I pad across my bedroom and turn the door handle. In the hallway, I tiptoe like a child.

I feel like one, too, trying not to wake my dad up. Can’t say I ever imagined living with him at this age, but when I’m on the road for the better part of the year, maintaining my own house makes little sense.

Once I retire, I’ll build, just like my brothers have.

Once I retire.

That’s what I keep telling myself. That’s what I keep putting off. Because without a bull to get on every weekend, I have no idea who I’ll be. Or what I’ll do.

It’s a terrifying prospect. One I’m happy to continue ignoring.

Once I’m down the stairs, I take normal strides again, heading straight toward the kitchen where I keep my meds up high so Luke can’t get his grubby, trouble-making hands on them.

Rounding the corner into the kitchen, I freeze when I find it’s not empty.

Summer is sitting at the big family-sized table, scrolling through her phone with a glass of water in front of her. The light from her screen reflects on her bare face, capturing the look of surprise when she realizes I’m standing in the wide archway watching her.

“Hi,” she says carefully, like she’s not sure how I’ll react to her presence.

Things seemed to settle between us at the bar after we all got a good laugh out of the way. I don’t want to be a dick to Summer. None of this is her fault. But I’m pretty sure I’ve been one all the same. The woman can get a rise out of me without even trying.

“Hey. Everything okay?” I ask, sounding loud in the otherwise silent kitchen.

It’s one thing I love about coming home. The silence. You just don’t get that in hotels or in the city. Out here, it is truly quiet. Truly peaceful.

She places her phone down before lifting her glass in my direction. “A few too many sugary drinks mixed with the biggest glass of white wine ever. Thanks for driving back.”

I click my tongue as I pull open the cupboard over the sink. “The Railspur has gotten a facelift in recent years. Still not the place for fancy-girl wine though.”

She hums thoughtfully. “Good point. I’ll go for the warm milk next time.”

“You just gonna make fun of me for the next two months?” I pour a glass of water and then march back over to the table, not missing the way her eyes trail over my body. I’m only wearing boxers, not really accustomed to having to cover up for a woman in the house.

Her lips press into a thin line as I take a seat, deciding not to be a total dick and storm out of here. Her company isn’t the worst. She could be Laura pawing at me like a bear on a beehive. That would be worse.

“Probably. It’s my default when I’m uncomfortable.” She doesn’t whisper or drop my eyes; she just says something vulnerable like sharing that kind of shit is normal.

“You’re uncomfortable?”

Summer blows a raspberry and flops against the worn ladder-back chair. And it’s only now that I notice she’s wearing some sort of silky tank top and matching shorts. They’re light purple, and they shimmer in the dim light cast from the bulb over the stove.

“Of course, I am.”

“Why? You’re all smirks and quick comebacks. Winning everyone over.”

She reaches up, combing her fingers through her long silky hair. Tresses that shimmer like her matching pajamas. And it’s now I notice the scar on her chest, followed by the outline of her nipples through the top. They’re not hard, but I can see the swell, the tease of the shape. It’s almost more alluring to imagine what they might look like.

I flick my eyes up, but they land on her lips. Smirking lips. Which reminds me that Summer Hamilton pisses me off.

“You think this is ideal for me?” she asks. “Trial by fire? Having to follow around someone who clearly can’t stand me as I try to do a brand-new job while also trying not to make him hate me more? Oh, yeah. Sign me up. Good times.”

I raise a brow. “The embarrassing milk drinks were an excellent path to making me like you. Well played. Having you join in with my dickhead brother felt great.”

That actually might be the worst part. I wanted her to pick my team, not Beau’s. Everyone picks Beau because he’s all sunny and handsome and shit.

She scoffs and squeezes her eyes shut. The first sign of frustration I’ve seen on her. “Would you have preferred I march over there and intervene? Embarrass you myself?”

My brow furrows as I swallow the pill. “Why would you?”

She levels a stare at me and very seriously says, “Because I was freaking out that we shouldn’t have gone out at all. That I’m not going to be able to handle this—or you.”

“I wasn’t doing anything wrong.” Jesus, is a few beers at my local watering hole off the table?

“I know that. But I’m supposed to keep Little Rhett in your pants. And that one girl was ready to pack him up and take him home.”

“Pardon me?”

“Your dick.” She points at my lap. “No coming out to play until this is all dealt with. Kip’s orders. Your reputation can’t take you getting caught up in any more drama. You’re supposed to seem wholesome.”

“I am wholesome. Does enjoying sex make a person less wholesome?”

She shivers, and then quickly rolls her eyes like she doesn’t believe me. “It doesn’t matter what you are or are not. You need to look wholesome, which means keep it in your pants. Keep your hands to yourself. Win the whole fucking thing so we can both put this behind us.”

I stare at her. Is this fresh-out-of-law-school knockout seriously telling me what I can and cannot do with my dick? How must she see me?

“And for crying out loud, Rhett.” She stands and swipes her phone off the table before pointing down at me. “Realize that I’m on your side. I don’t want this to be miserable. I don’t want to embarrass you. If you let me, we can be a team rather than fighting the entire time. Use your head.”

I’m accustomed to getting dressed down. Getting in trouble isn’t new, and I’m not about to roll over and take this from her. Which is why I reply with, “Which one?”

And with that, she storms out. Ass barely concealed by her silky shorts. Leaving me wondering if those are the new “team” uniform.

Because if so, I just might be in.


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