Breaking Even (The Sterling Shore Series #5)(9)

By: C.M. Owens

“The ketchup?” she asks, still seeming confused.

“Yep. Just like anyone else that uses a bottle of ketchup, he'll shake it first.”

She walks over just as I open the door, and she asks, “What happens when he shakes it?”



Wren and Tag deal the cards again just as I bring the burgers in.

Dane is sitting next to Maverick, though I don’t know why either of them came. Dane isn’t my biggest fan. But Tag and Wren keep trying to put us together.


“Your luck has to run out sooner or later,” Tag growls, glaring at me.

“He wouldn’t be winning if Raya was here,” Wren points out.

“She’s banned from the poker tables,” Dane says idly, picking his cards up.

“I refuse to even watch her play poker anymore,” Tag grumbles.

I just laugh. It feels good to finally have Tag over. He rarely gets out of Ash's ass these days.

I pull out more beers and all the shit we’ll need to start making our burgers.

“Where's your girl?” I ask, putting the spread out on the kitchen island.

Maverick hops up to grab a plate while Tag answers.

“She's hanging out with Rain and Raya tonight. Raya and Kade have been on the rocks since his grandfather’s death. So Ash and Rain took her out to cheer her up.”

That’s why Tag came. His girl wasn’t at home.

“Ketchup?” I ask Maverick as he turns around.

“Nah, it’s not my thing. I don’t eat anything red,” he says suggestively, forcing my stomach to roil.

I roll my eyes as I put my bun on the plate and reach for the ketchup, shaking it before continuing my conversation with Tag. “So that's why you came over—”

A loud bang halts my retort as something wet and cold slaps me in the face, and I jump back while trying to see anything but red. Fucking ketchup is every-damn-where.

For a brief moment there is stunned silence, then suddenly there is nothing but riotous laughter as the scene around me registers to everyone.

“I guess red is your thing,” Maverick jokes.


Tag and Wren are laughing hard enough to be in stitches right now. Assholes. I'm still trying to wrap my head around what the hell just happened as I wipe away the red goop from my eyes.

Ah, fuck. The shit even got on my ceiling.

Then anger bubbles up as realization sets in. She couldn't have. How would she have gotten into my house? No. I'm giving her way too much credit.

“What's wrong?” Dane asks, trying his damnedest not to laugh as my fury seeps through every feature on my face.

“I'm going to kill her,” is my simple response.



I'm not surprised to see him stalking across the yard, muscles flexing as his jaw ticks. But I am surprised to see him still covered in ketchup.

All the streetlights illuminate him, but I swear he’s angry enough to glow on his own. His dirty-blonde hair is smeared with red, and he looks as though he just walked out of a massacre.

My laughter breaks out before I can do anything about it, and he stops and looks through the window where I'm gripping the ledge for much needed support.

“That's what I fucking thought,” he growls. “Okay. Remember this shit.”

He turns around and walks away, and I drop to the ground to pray for air. But I'm just laughing too hard. It was a shitty day at work, but having this to look forward to made it bearable.

“I take it the ketchup volcano worked?” Maggie asks, amused as she struts out in her formfitting dress.

More like a ketchup bomb.

I nod when words can't form, and my laughter infects her, making it impossible for her not to join in. She rolls her eyes as she grabs her purse.

“I have to go meet Carmen. Try not to get the house burned down while I'm gone.”

It physically hurts to breathe right now. I love it when my plans come together.

Maggie waves while shaking her head, a small bit of laughter still lingering in her wake. I'm glad she's found someone to date, even though she's constantly gone now. I'm actually looking forward to my date tomorrow. I almost wish it was tonight. It sucks to be here alone with nothing to do, but at least I got my nemesis back.

He's going to come back with something terrible, so I have to be prepared. I shouldn't be enjoying this as much as I am, but it's the most fun I've had in years.

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