Lily’s eyes dart to a man carrying a huge bottle of liquor. “Tequila!” she exclaims.
He turns to the table.
“You don’t drink,” Ryke reminds her, almost growling, even though the alcohol was, obviously, a distraction. I don’t think she wants it, but I’m feeling a little defensive today.
I shoot him a look. “She can have some if she wants.” I don’t want her to think she has to be sober because of me. I wouldn’t ask her to do that.
“No,” she says, wide-eyed. The waiter comes over and she physically pushes him away.
I grab her arms. “Keep your hands to yourself,” I tell her easily, not wanting her to get in trouble.
“You’re on Antabuse, right?” Melissa asks me. “My step-mother took that for a while. She couldn’t even kiss my dad when he had a glass of wine. It made her so sick.” She motions to Lily. “Is that why you don’t drink?”
“What? No,” Lily says roughly, offended. “I never liked drinking, really. But if I did, I wouldn’t care if I couldn’t kiss him.” She cringes. “I mean, kissing doesn’t matter to me. In general. Not just with Lo. So…yeah. I could give up kissing.”
“I think she gets it,” I tell her with a smile. She turns bright red and takes my hand in hers. I lean over and whisper, “I’m glad I can kiss you.” I put another soft one on her temple. Ever since her involuntary cli**x in public, she’s been allowing me to touch her without desiring more. We’ve even slept in bed without a pillow wedged between my c*ck and her ass. She doesn’t grind on me or ask for more. It’s just sleep. In a way, something amazing came out of something terrible.
The waiter starts taking everyone’s orders, and when I place mine for the fish tacos, I just barely catch Daisy’s words.
“I think kissing is overrated.”
Ryke tenses beside me, and I hope he’s hearing my f**king voice raging in his head right now.
“How so?” Melissa takes the bait.
Rose chokes on a bite of rice. She clears her throat and puts a hand to her chest. “This isn’t appropriate dinner conversation.” Rose isn’t a complete prude. She swears and talks dirty like the rest of us. I’ve heard her curse out a three-hundred pound redneck for slapping a girl’s ass. Her language was vulgar and kind of hilarious. Rose just knows this is headed to a bad place.
Melissa rolls her eyes, not the biggest Rose-fan considering Ryke blamed her and Connor for shutting the room down for sex. “I, for one, would love a sixteen-year-old’s perspective,” Melissa says, turning right back to Daisy. “I want to know how the younger generation feels.”
“Totally,” Daisy says with a head bob. “So my theory about kissing—”
“There’s a theory?”
“Oh yeah. And my theory is that not kissing is sexier than actually kissing.” She holds up her hands. “Just go with me on this. Say you’re with a guy and you can tell he’s interested. There’s some heavy petting, some under the bra fondling.”
“We get it,” I snap.
“And then,” she continues without missing a beat, “he goes in for the kiss. You pull back, refuse him an intimate piece of you. Tension builds, and every other touch, flesh against flesh, feels illicit and intoxicating.”
“So you’re a tease,” Ryke says.
I’m about to curse him out, but Daisy cuts me off. “No, we end up hav**g s*x.”
Ryke doesn’t even flinch. “If I’m not f**king mistaken,” he says, “you mentioned sex being overrated as well.” When?! Rehab. I f**king hate rehab. I missed everything.
“That was until I took your advice.”
This is a train I cannot stop, and I selfishly want the information I lost more than trying to halt it. “What advice?” I ask, my voice edged.
Lily taps my leg repeatedly in fear. She knows, but I don’t want to wait until later to hear myself.
Daisy opens her mouth and Ryke interrupts, seeing my anger begin to boil. “We don’t have to talk about it.”
It’s bad. Whatever he said to Daisy involved sex, and my mind is already reeling. “No, I’d like to hear,” I say, motioning for Daisy to continue.
“Me too,” Melissa adds, shooting Ryke a side glare.
Lily buries her head in her hands. She’s the only one who knows what they said to each other. She was the only one who went to Acapulco besides Daisy’s friends.
Daisy hesitates now, and she tries to backpedal. “Just so you all know, my sexual experience before was less than stellar, and I had planned on warding off the male species entirely before Ryke talked to me.”
“That’s comforting,” Connor says flatly. He has a finger to his cheek in contemplation, but his gaze is directed on Ryke, not Daisy.
I turn to my half-brother. “Thank God for your advice, Ryke.” I wear a bitter smile and slap him on the back, hard.
He jerks forward and almost tips over his glass of water, but he grabs it before it spills.
“Honestly, his advice worked,” Daisy continues, trying to dig him out of a hole, but he’s buried too deep. “So really, you can’t fault him for saying it if it helped me in the end.”
“Seriously,” I say between clenched teeth, “if you don’t f**king tell me what he said, I’m going to flip the table.”
Ryke winces and gestures to Daisy. “Just say it.”
He gave her permission, but she’s still wary. Slowly and cautiously, she says, “You shouldn’t let any guy f**k you until he makes you come at least twice.”
The table practically silences with Rose giving Ryke an unparalleled death glare.
Ryke and Daisy are both in the wrong. I know this, but I’m putting all my frustration on Ryke. I don’t even know what to do or say, but if I look at him, I think I may lose my mind.
Melissa breaks the quiet. “What great instruction for a sixteen-year-old.” She crosses her arms over her chest.
Ryke lets out a breath. “What can I say? I give good advice.”
Melissa slaps him across the face, the sound like a gunshot, and most of the restaurant quiets.
Ryke sets his chair legs on the ground, his cheek red. That had to sting like hell.
“I need to talk to you,” Ryke says. At first I think he’s speaking to Melissa. “Lo.”
I shake my head, unable to meet his eyes.
Melissa lets out a low laugh. “Really?” She rises and throws down her napkin. “I’ll be back at the hotel, not that you’ll care.”
“Wait…” Ryke stands up but he glances at me and falters.
“I’ll talk to her,” Daisy says, rising from the table. Melissa hates Rose. She’s not that fond of Lily either, but I’m pretty sure it’s Daisy that she despises. And I can’t say a word. I sit in my chair, replaying Ryke’s advice to Daisy. I don’t care if it helped her or if it was good—there’s a line there that I think he knows he crossed. Like he told me before—he just doesn’t give a shit.
“You won’t be able to,” Ryke tells her. “Just let her go. I’ll talk to her when we go back to the hotel.”
Daisy shakes her head, not taking this as an answer. She sprints after Melissa.
“Fuck,” Ryke curses, running his hands through his hair. He turns to me. “Please, just give me a f**king minute, Lo.”
I’m about to curse him out when Lily says, “Go on.” She nudges my side, and I find myself rising off the seat and following Ryke into the bathroom.
When the door closes, he turns to me and opens his mouth. But for some reason, I have to be the prick who has the first word.
“You could have told me that story about your stupid advice on the beach when we were having a f**king heart to heart,” I fume.
“Clearly it wasn’t stupid if it helped her, and I didn’t think you’d take it well, obviously.”
“I am so close to punching you, and I can promise that it will hurt a hell of a lot more than Melissa’s bitch slap.”
He holds up his hands in peace, which doesn’t ease my temper.
“Let’s hear your apology,” I say.
He glares. “I wasn’t going to apologize.”
I make my move towards the door, f**k this shit, and he steps in front of me. “You can’t be that angry at me. Not over this,” he says coldly. “She’s not your little sister. You couldn’t even tell me ten facts about Daisy if you tried.”
“Fuck you,” I shoot back. “She’s Lily’s little sister. I remember her in diapers, so don’t try to defend yourself based on a goddamn family tree.”
Ryke has had enough, his fists clench and he looks ready to fight me. Instead, he actually uses his words.
“Don’t make me into the villain because you’re upset you lost out on a human f**king relationship with her,” Ryke almost screams, pointing towards the door. “Blame booze, blame our father, but don’t you ever f**king blame me.”
I stand my ground, seething. He’s right. I’m partly upset over all I’ve lost by drinking, and maybe I am being too hard on him. But I can’t stop what happens next.
“Do you want to f**k her?”
He doesn’t hesitate, and his tone softens, less defensive. “No. I don’t,” he says. “She’s the last person…ever. I promise, Lo.”
This is where I have to trust him.
“Can I explain at least?” Ryke asks. “There is a reason I said those things to her.”
I run my tongue over the bottom of my teeth and shake my head, a laugh caught in my throat. “Since when do you have to have a reason?”
“Usually, I f**king don’t,” he agrees. “But that time, I did. So can I talk now or am I going to get the third-degree?”
I motion for him to continue.
“It was Daisy’s sweet sixteen and we were on the boat. Her friends were discussing sex, and I was not a part of that conversation, believe me. They roped Lily into it, and she looked ready to fling herself off the yacht. I mean, she’s a f**king walking oxymoron: a sex addict who’s uncomfortable talking about sex.”
“She’s working on it.”
“That’s what I thought too, but she ran away from the girls. And when Daisy confronted her to talk about sex, she was flustered again. I was just trying to show her that it’s okay. That people can be comfortable about it. I knew I was going to cross a line, but I thought it was going to be f**king worth it. For Lily…and a little bit for Daisy too.” He pauses. “It just happened, Lo. I can’t take it back, and I honestly wouldn’t.”
I think that should be Ryke’s motto. It just happened. Or better yet, throw in his favorite word. It just f**king happened.
I’m strangely calmer—mostly because I can picture Lily turning a shade of red, crawling into herself over all discussions about sex. Even with her sister.
“Are we good?” he asks hesitantly.