Home > Heat Exchange(5)

Heat Exchange(5)
Author: Shannon Stacey


    There were a few other regulars she said hello to before getting a Sam Adams and standing at the bar. Unlike most, the big bar at Kincaid’s didn’t have stools all the way around. It had once upon a time, but now there were only stools on the back side and the end. Her dad had noticed a lot of guys didn’t bother with the stools and just leaned against the polished oak. To make things easier, he’d just ripped them out.

    About a half hour later, her brother, Scotty, walked in. Like the rest of the Kincaids, he had thick dark hair and dark eyes. He needed a shave, as usual, but he looked good. They’d talked and sent text messages quite a bit over the past two years, but neither of them was much for video chatting, so she hadn’t actually seen him.

    And right on Scotty’s heels was Aidan Hunt. His brown hair was lighter than her brother’s and it needed a trim. And she didn’t need to see his eyes to remember they were blue, like a lake on a bright summer day. He looked slightly older, but no less deliciously handsome than ever. She wasn’t surprised to see him. Wherever Scotty was, Aidan was usually close by.

    What did surprise her was that the second his gaze met hers, her first thought was that she’d like to throw everybody out of the bar, lock the door and then shove him onto a chair. Since she was wearing the sundress, all she had to do was undo his fly, straddle his lap and hold on.

    When the corner of his mouth quirked up, as if he somehow knew she’d just gone eight seconds with him in her mind, she gave him a nod of greeting and looked away.

    For crap’s sake, that was Aidan Hunt. Her annoying younger brother’s equally annoying best friend.

    He’d been seventeen when they met, to Lydia’s twenty-one. He’d given her a grin that showed off perfect, Daddy’s-got-money teeth and those sparkling blue eyes and said, “Hey, gorgeous. Want to buy me a drink?”

    She’d rolled her eyes and told him to enjoy his playdate with Scotty. From that day on, he had seemed determined to annoy the hell out of her at every possible opportunity.

    When her brother reached her, she shoved Aidan out of her mind and embraced Scotty. “How the hell are ya?”

    “Missed having you around,” he said. “Sucks you had to come back for a shitty reason, but it’s still good to see you. I just found out about an hour ago Ashley had called you.”

    “She just called me last night, so it was spur-of-the-moment, I guess.”

    “It’s good to have you back.”

    “Don’t get too used to it. It’s temporary.”

    She’d always thought if she and Scotty were closer in age than four years apart, they could have been twins, with the same shaped faces and their coloring. Ashley looked a lot like both of them, but her face was leaner, her eyes a lighter shade of brown, and her hair wasn’t quite as thick.

    Scotty was more like Lydia in temperament, too. Ashley was steadier and liked to try logic first. Scott and Lydia were a little more volatile and tended to run on emotion. Her temper had a longer fuse than her brother’s, but they both tended to pop off a little easy.

    They caught up for a few minutes, mainly talking about his fellow firefighters, most of whom she knew well. And he gave her a quick update on their dad’s doctor not being thrilled with his blood pressure. It didn’t sound too bad, but it was probably good Ashley had called her rather than let him try to take up her slack.

    Then Scotty shifted from one foot to the other and grimaced. “Sorry, but I’ve had to take a leak for like an hour.”

    She laughed and waved him off. “Go. I’ll be here.”

    He left and Lydia looked up at the television, sipping her beer. She only ever had one, so she’d make it last, but part of her wanted to chug it and ask for a refill. It was a little overwhelming, being back.

    “Hey, gorgeous. Want to buy me a drink?” What were the chances? She turned to face Aidan, smiling at the fact she’d been thinking about that day just a few minutes before. “What’s so funny?”

    She shook her head, not wanting to tell him she’d been thinking about the day they met, since that would be an admission she’d been thinking about him at all. “Nothing. How have you been?”

    “Good. Same shit, different day. You come back for a visit?”

    “I’ll be here awhile. Maybe a couple of weeks, or a month.” She shrugged. “Ashley wanted to take some time off, so I’m going to cover for her. You know how Dad is about having one of us here all the damn time.”

    His eyes squinted and he tilted his head a little. “You sound different.”

    “I worked on toning down the accent a little, to fit in more at work, I guess. Even though it’s only the next state over, people were always asking me where I was from.”

    “You trying to forget who you are?” It came out fuh-get who you ah. “Forget where you came from?”

    “Not possible,” she muttered.

    He gave her that grin again, with the perfect teeth and sparkling eyes. They crinkled at the corners now, the laugh lines just making him more attractive. “So what you’re saying is that we’re unforgettable.”

    She laughed, shaking her head. “You’re something, all right.”

    Aidan looked as if he was going to say something else, but somebody shouted his name and was beckoning him over. He nodded and then turned back to Lydia. “I’ll see you around. And welcome home.”

    She watched him walk away, trying to keep her eyes above his waist in case anybody was watching her watch him. Her annoying brother’s annoying best friend had very nice shoulders stretching out that dark blue T-shirt.

    Her gaze dipped, just for a second. And a very nice ass filling out those faded blue jeans.

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