“HEY! THIRD FLOOR!!”
I lean an arm on the balcony railing and spot two American girls in string bikinis, their br**sts hardly contained. Like the locals, they’ve tried to adopt the scarce bottom look, asses fully exposed. Both girls hold brightly colored plastic cups, their hair braided across their shoulders.
Ryke stands and puts his forearms on the railing, taking in the sight. He bites into his bagel nonchalantly, watching as the girl in the green bikini waves us down.
“Come swim with us!!” she shouts with a smile.
“Remind me why I came here with a girl,” Ryke says with a longing look. He checks out her ass, and the girl only grins wider.
“Because you didn’t want to be the fifth wheel.” I smile at his distress.
A loud scream echoes from the room, and we both quickly peel away from the balcony and rush inside. Without much room, I bump straight into Connor’s back. He almost trips over the cot that blocks the hall, but he grabs onto the dresser before falling.
“What’s going on?” I ask, trying to maneuver around the fold-out bed.
Ryke is so annoyed that he kicks the entire thing. It slams into the wall and somehow efficiently makes room for us to walk.
“Daisy is here,” Connor says.
“What?” Ryke goes rigid. Probably thinking the same as me—that was a happy scream?
I frown and search the room with a hesitant gaze. But I only spot Melissa on the couch, eating a bagel and typing on her cell phone. Her lips are downturned, not having as much fun as she probably imagined.
“They’re in the bathroom,” Connor explains. “Rose wants to put makeup on and use Daisy’s flatiron. She’s actually excited, but the luxury of name-brand hair products will probably wear off when she realizes that her sixteen-year-old sister just arrived to Cancun during college Spring Break.”
“So no one knew she was coming?” I ask.
Connor shakes his head. “She wanted to surprise her sisters.”
“She can’t stay,” Ryke says roughly. “I nearly died trying to chaperone her sweet sixteen in Acapulco.”
I heard the story from Lily, who also chaperoned Daisy’s birthday. Apparently the fearless Calloway jumped off a cliff into the ocean and Ryke felt the need to jump in after her.
“I won’t let her jump off anything,” I tell him. “I happen to be a damn good chaperone.”
He glares. “You couldn’t chaperone a f**king sloth. And that requires remedial skills like sitting and watching.”
I shoot him a hard look. I honestly don’t care if Daisy stays or not. One more person in an already crowded room won’t change anything. “Daisy blends in. You won’t even notice she’s here.”
His brows harden and his jaw sets, equally as firm. “When’s the last time you’ve f**king seen her?”
I want to say last week, but I’m certain that’s wrong. I strain my mind. I guess I haven’t seen her since I’ve been back from rehab. In fact, I don’t think I ran into her at the Christmas Charity Gala last year. Granted, I didn’t stay long. The last time I saw her must have been during the yacht trip to the Bahamas—when Lily and I became a real couple. Jesus.
That was a long time ago.
“Daisy doesn’t blend,” Connor says.
“When have you seen her?” I snap accusingly. I don’t like that these two guys have spent more time with my girlfriend’s sister than me. I’ve been around the Calloways longer. I’ve known Daisy since she was a kid. I’m supposed to be the interim “big brother” figure. Though, I’ve done a pretty shitty job of it so far.
“I go to the Calloway Sunday luncheons with Rose,” Connor tells me. Oh. Shit.
If I marry Lily, I am easily going to be the worst son-in-law.
And then I pale at the idea of Connor and Rose.
Connor Cobalt cannot marry Lily’s sister. He’ll set unattainable standards that I will never be able to meet.
Loud, happy squeals resound from the bathroom. I relax at the mere thought that Lily is smiling. Last night she was near tears, and anything that can change her mood is something I wholeheartedly approve of. “I’m going to check on them,” I say.
Ryke takes a seat on the edge of the bed, scowling at the carpet. He seems deep in thought. About what—I have no clue. Could be Daisy. Could be Melissa. Could be me.
As I pass, I point at him, “You know what would make you feel better?” I open my mouth to finish, but he cuts me off.
“I’m fine.” And then he crosses his arms.
“Sure.” I give him a once over. He’s probably pissed that he’s stuck with Melissa. The girl wears impatience like it’s her job. “A beer.”
“A beer would make you feel better.”
He glares. “That’s not funny.”
“It wasn’t a joke.”
“You better go to the bathroom before I punch you, which will actually make me feel better.”
I mock gasp. “But I thought you were fine.”
He actually stands off the bed. I don’t badger him anymore. But Christ, his annoyance made me feel better. Sans beer and all. With a wide smile, I walk over to the bathroom. The giggles grow in octave, and I rap my knuckles against the door.
“Who is it?” Rose calls from inside.
“Lo.” I glance over my shoulder. Ryke and Connor watch me in curiosity by the balcony doors, not attempting to infiltrate the exclusive club that the Calloway girls have. For the first time, I’m a little nervous that the girls won’t invite me in. I’ve always been allowed to be with them. I’m Lily’s other half.
But things have changed, I realize. Rose has a boyfriend. I have a brother. Two more guys have been added to our dynamic, and I could easily be grouped off with them.
So when the door swings open and Lily grabs my shirt, pulling me inside, I can’t help but grin. I feel kind of f**king special. I kiss her almost immediately and while my tongue slides into her mouth, she pushes the door closed with her foot.
Rose clears her throat, and I break away, wrapping my arms around Lily’s waist. She leans back into me with a deep breath, and I finally take in the room. Hair products and makeup have exploded across the counter. Rose sits on the bathtub ledge with a flatiron in one hand and a tube of lip gloss in the other.
“Did Saks Fifth Avenue vomit in our bathroom?” I ask.
They all laugh, and Rose is even too happy to retort with her usual ice. She looks like someone saved her from a deserted island. When Lily untangles from my arms and kneels down over a huge suitcase, I see Daisy for the first time.
She sits on the other side of the suitcase where clothes upon clothes pile high, the stack threatening to topple over. Shopping bags are smashed into available corners of the luggage.
“Hey Lo,” Daisy greets with a warm smile.
And as I truly look at her, my face slowly falls. All I can manage to say is this, “You’re…blonde…” A million other thoughts cross my mind. Most of them circulate around one thing: Me, warning Daisy to stay far away from every guy on the f**king planet. And I have a flash of having to beat the shit out of someone on this trip—just to protect a girl who easily looks as old as her two sisters. She can fit in with our group of college-aged kids. And she shouldn’t. She’s sixteen, despite being a high fashion model.
Great. Now I know exactly why Ryke was scowling. He knew she was going to be trouble. Not because of her personality. But because…she’s beautiful and too young to be here.
Daisy runs her fingers through her insanely long hair. “The modeling agency wanted it blonde.” She drops the strands, and they splay past her br**sts. Fuck. I hate that I’m even looking there. I fix my gaze on Lily instead.
She tosses bathing suits from the shopping bag. She looks like she’s digging to China through clothes. It’s kind of adorable.
“So what are you doing here, Dais?” I ask, my eyes staying on Lily. It helps keep my mind off dragging Daisy to the nearest airport. I just want to make sure she’s safe. Three years ago, I’m not sure I would have even cared. Being sober definitely shifts my priorities.
“Well,” she says, leaning against the sink counter. “I always miss out on Spring Break with Lily and Rose. Seeing as how this is Rose’s last official college Spring Break, I thought I’d just kind of tag along. But don’t worry, you won’t even know I’m here. Promise.”
I must be glaring because she smiles again for sincerity. I believe her. That’s not what I’m worried about.
“What about high school?” I ask.
“The teachers gave me extensions on all of the assignments like they do when I have a photo shoot out of the country.” Before I can protest, she adds, “And Rose texted me last night about the stolen luggage, so I had time to stop at the mall and pick up some clothes for everyone.” She grabs a Macy’s shopping bag and hands it to me. “I picked out some swimsuits for Connor, Ryke, and you. I didn’t think you guys would want to suffer through shopping on your first day at the beach.”
“Yessss!” Lily cheers from the floor.
Everyone turns to see her raising a one-piece bathing suit like it’s baby Simba.
“I thought you would like that,” Daisy says. “It’s Billabong.”
“You need sun,” Rose says flatly. She claps her iron at Lily. “Drop. The. Suit.”
Lily clutches the black one-piece to her chest, half the suit multicolored with layers of diamond patterns, like a psychedelic Native American print. “I have Daisy on my side,” Lily reminds her. “She’ll tackle you.”
Daisy nods confidently. “I will.”
Rose is in such a good mood that she concedes. “Fine.” Her eyes flicker to the one-piece that Lily covets. “It is cute in a beach bum, ‘I’m going surfing because I can’t read’ type of way.”
I dig through the Macy’s bag that Daisy gave me, and I pause.
There are five swimsuits, all different bright neon colors but the same style. A mankini.
“Uh…Daisy.” I raise my brows. I hold up the banana hammock on the end of one finger.
Daisy tries not to smile too wide, but she’s enjoying this. “The store clerk said those were the most popular.”
“For children maybe. I’m not sure my dick can fit in this.” And I instantly wince at my choice of word. “I mean, my stuff.”
Lily is distracted enough that she drops her bathing suit, her eyes gleaming between my crotch and the suit. Her imagination is just too f**king vast. I cannot keep up.
Daisy looks at me like I’m the weird one. “It’s okay to curse in front of me. I won’t tattle on you.” Yeah, she definitely makes me feel stupid for trying not to warp her young, fragile mind. But she’s a model. I can’t even begin to understand what goes on after a photo shoot, during one, or before. I’m pretty sure they talk about dicks and br**sts and a whole lot of other shit that would be inappropriate around easily influenced kids.