Life in the Lucky Zone (The Zone #2)

BOOK: Life in the Lucky Zone (The Zone #2)
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The author makes no claims to, but instead acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of the word marks mentioned in this work of fiction.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Patricia B. Tighe

 

LIFE IN THE LUCKY ZONE by Patricia B. Tighe

All rights reserved. Published in the United States of America by Swoon Romance. Swoon Romance and its related logo are registered trademarks of Georgia McBride Media Group, LLC.

No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

 

Published by Swoon Romance

Cover designed by Hunter Blue

Cover copyright © 2015 by Swoon Romance

 

 

 

 

 

For Kate Martin, my resident “shipping” expert

And for Steven, just because

One

 

Berger

 

 

She was at it again. Lindsey Taylor had settled into storyteller mode, waving her arms as she talked. I thunked my empty hot chocolate mug onto the café table a little harder than necessary. But nobody noticed. Everyone else stared at her with their mouths partly open. Like,
what’s she gonna say next?

I didn’t even know what she was talking about. Something about a bus trip? I’d stopped paying attention ten minutes ago. I was probably the only guy within a three-table circumference who wasn’t listening—or at least looking.

The café door swung open, depositing a middle-aged couple in heavy coats in front of the receptionist’s post. They unwrapped heavy woolen scarves from around their necks.
Geez.
It wasn’t
that
cold outside.
It couldn’t be less than thirty degrees out there. Just the usual for North Texas in December.

Laughter broke out around me. Good. The story was over. Lindsey took a swig from her water glass, her face flushed and satisfied. “Well, children,” she said, “this has been delightful, but I have to get to the airport. Adam’s plane lands in an hour.”

“Wait,” Claire said, pushing her glasses back up her nose. “I thought he told you not to come, that he had a ride.”

Lindsey slid her arms into her puffy white jacket. “He did. I’m going to surprise him.”

“Uh-oh,” Rose said. “Surprises can be bad, Lindsey.”

“It’s no big deal,” Lindsey said, adjusting the blue scarf around her neck and then flicking her auburn hair back over her shoulders. “If he has to ride home with his family, that’s cool. I just want to be there. It’s the little things, you know?”

“If you’re sure,” Claire said, her voice full of doubt.

Lindsey got up, drawing the attention of two guys at the next table. Why shouldn’t they stare? She stood there as if she were posing. I held back a snort.

“I don’t know what that look means,” Lindsey said to Claire, “but I’m going. I don’t want to be late. Bye, guys.” She smirked at me. “Oh, and you too, Dragon Master. Or whatever the hell they call you in that game you play.”

As a jab it was pretty weak, but I decided to play along. I nodded as regally as I could. “See ya, Drama Queen.”

She gave me a fake grin. “Bye-ee.” She waved and headed for the door.

A collective sigh went around the table, as though everyone could relax now. Maybe I could finally get a word in. “So,” I said, “what’s everybody doing this afternoon?”

Rose dropped her napkin beside her mostly empty plate of lasagna. “Sam and I are going Christmas shopping.”

“Lucky,” I said in a whiny tone.

Sam laughed and then leaned forward. “You want to take my place?” he asked.

I smiled as Rose punched him lightly in the shoulder. “You’re going,” she said. “You have to help me pick out a present for your mom.”

He glanced at her out of the corner of his eyes like she was a scary monster or something. “Yes, of course. That’s what I’ve been dying to do all day.”

The waiter showed up and handed us our bills. He looked confused for a second when he realized Lindsey was gone. I couldn’t help myself. “You mean she didn’t pay first?”

Claire lifted a hand. “I’ll take it.” The waiter gave her the bill and left. “She’ll pay me back,” Claire said. “She always does.”

That said a lot right there. “You mean she’s done this more than once?”

Gray tugged the slips of paper out of her fingers. “Let me get ’em.”

She smiled and took them back. “Not this time.” Then she looked at me. “I know you think she’s taking advantage of us, Berger, but Lindsey is our friend. She’s paid for me more times than I can count.”

I doubted that, but figured it was time to change the subject. “So, how about you two?” I asked, angling my head toward Gray and Claire. “You got plans?”

“I have to babysit Jack,” Claire said, pulling a card out of her wallet.

“I can help,” Gray said.

She looked up and saw something in his face that made her blush. Great. More lovey-dovey time. Sam and Rose got up to pay. I focused on digging wadded-up bills out of my jeans pocket so Claire and Gray could have some privacy. Something I was having to do a lot lately.

Gray cleared his throat and then drank more water.

I figured it was okay to talk again. “Don’t you have to watch your little brothers?”

“They’re spending a couple of days with our mom,” Gray said.

“Oh, right. I forgot.”

“You can come over too, Trey,” Claire said. “Baby Jack loves you.”

Gray frowned at her. “Call him Berger. I get confused when you use Trey.”

She raised an eyebrow at him. “I like you confused.”

Gray leaned in and whispered in her ear.

Here we go again.
“Uh, no thanks on the babysitting thing. I’ll be fine. I need to be alone in my dungeon fortress to best fight off the enemies of the universe.”

Claire chuckled.

“Don’t fight them all off,” Gray said. “I’m coming over tomorrow, remember?”

“You want me to sacrifice my life so you can kill a few measly aliens?” I shook my head.

“You obviously don’t love me anymore,” Gray said.

“Ha! Did I ever?”

Gray pretended to yank a knife from his stomach. “Ouch. You can have your blade back. We gotta go.” He stood and helped Claire pull back her chair.

“Wait,” I said. “No one’s leaving a tip.”

“Chill,” Gray said. “I’m putting mine on a card.” He and Claire moved off to get in line at the cashier’s counter.

“Right,” I said to nobody. Nothing like looking like an idiot. I didn’t know why it bugged me when people didn’t leave cash on a restaurant table. But it did. I dropped a couple of extra bucks next to the salt and pepper shakers and then followed the others to the line. Sam and Rose waited by the door for us to finish up.

“I hope Lindsey’s not making a big mistake,” Claire muttered.

“Going to the airport?” Gray asked.

“Yeah,” she said.

Oh, come on.
This was Lindsey they were talking about. “She can handle any disaster,” I said. “Don’t you listen to her stories?” That came out a little harsher than I’d meant it to. But whatever.

Gray looked over his shoulder at me. “Something bothering you?”

“Nah,” I said. “Just sometimes it’s nice when the queen has other things to do,” I added in a low voice.

“I heard that,” Claire said.

Busted. “Sorry. Didn’t mean to diss her.”

Gray laughed. “Yes you did. And I know why she bugs you so much.”

“I didn’t say—”

“You’re too much alike,” Gray said and then smirked.

Claire swung around before I could say anything, her eyebrows raised practically to her hairline. “That’s so true!”

“We are not!”

“Oh, yeah you are,” Gray said. “You both like to be the center of attention.”

I was just about to deny it again when Claire spoke.

“How funny,” she said. “I never saw it before.” She grinned at me and moved up to the cashier.

Great. Just great. How could they accuse me of that? There was
no way
I was like Lindsey Taylor. I didn’t make my friends pay for my meals without asking. I didn’t try to rule every situation I found myself in. Especially in theater. Lindsey acted like she was second only to our teacher, Mrs. Macintyre. She directed people. She let her snark loose on people. She’d even, I had to admit, encouraged that freshman girl whose face burned red every time she opened her mouth.

Lindsey had to have a say in everything. And since this was my first year in drama, I still couldn’t believe what Mrs. Mac let her get away with. Just once I would love to hold my hand across Lindsey’s face to keep her from talking, if people wouldn’t faint from shock.

BOOK: Life in the Lucky Zone (The Zone #2)
4.99Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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