Trust Me:Rivers Edge - Book 1(5)

By: Lacey Black

“I’m glad he’s taking care of you,” Jake chimes in. Jake’s always been the protective big brother. He goes ape-shit if anyone hurts his baby sister, physically or emotionally. I smile a little as I recall the last douchebag who hurt her. Seeing Drake bleeding on the ground and gasping for air after the punch Jake landed to his stomach is one of my favorite memories.

Jake helped Avery get the job at the law firm a couple of months back. She had been working as a waitress in the diner on Main Street and was struggling with the schedule to take care of Brooklyn. All her brothers and parents pitched in, but her hours were sometimes unpredictable and made it difficult when she was called in last minute. Jake and I went to school with the oldest Andrews boy so when he heard that Mr. Andrews’ secretary quit, he called him up. Avery was pissed for weeks. Once she realized she had a fixed income and set hours though, she finally let her anger go a little. But, man, did she give Jake hell for interfering again.

Just then Mrs. Stevens comes into the family room with Brooklyn’s hand in hers and announces that dinner is ready. As all of the other guys start filing out of the room and heading towards the dining room for dinner, I take the opportunity to excuse myself from Jake and Avery and head to the bathroom to wash my hands. Maybe a little cold water splashed on my face wouldn’t hurt either.

There is something about those intoxicating chocolate brown eyes. Every time I come face to face with Maddox Jackson, I want to confess all my secrets. His eyes are his best feature. And that’s saying a lot considering the rest of him is perfection. Maddox is almost as tall as Jake, I’d guess six foot two. His coal black hair is just long enough on the top to run your fingers through it. His shoulders are broad, his body is hard and chiseled, and his smile is panty-wetting sinful. As he walks away towards the restroom, I glance down at his perfect rear fit snugly into a pair of worn Levi’s. I almost audibly sigh until I remember I’m standing with Jake.

I glance at him and plaster on my best smile. He watches me with his eyebrow slightly raised and I can tell his wheels are turning as if he’s onto me and my big secret. Not-so-subtly changing the subject and steering him towards the dining room, I ask, “How’s the job?”

“Good. We busted a meth lab on Friday. Stupid kids could have blown themselves and all their neighbors sky high.”

Jake and Maddox are local deputies and have been best friends for as long as I can remember. Following their high school graduation, both enlisted in the Marines for four years, excelling in shooting and becoming snipers. It was no surprise when they returned home after their tour of duty and entered the police academy. Jake and Maddox were teammates on the football field, brothers in the military, and now partners in the squad car.

We walk into the dining room as Mom is placing Brooklyn in her booster seat to the right of my chair. As my brothers start to sit, I realize that the only seat left open is the chair to my left. Maddox walks into the dining room, looks around, and locks eyes with me as it dawns on him that the only seat is smack dab between the kid sister and Jake. But in true Maddox fashion, I can’t read his facial expressions, and his face remains neutral as he walks towards me.

“This one must be mine,” he says as he sits down between me and Jake.

I give a nod and serve a little mashed potatoes and gravy on Brooklyn’s plate. I add a little corn and a small slice of homemade meatloaf handing her a small plastic toddler fork with a Disney princess on it. She’s independent as all get out and has gotten to the age where she won’t allow anyone to help her eat anymore. More food will probably be on her face, in her lap, and smeared on her booster seat than in her little belly, but she’ll be happy and content, and honestly, that’s all that matters.

I load my plate with Mom’s meatloaf and all the trimmings and realize Maddox has yet to help himself to any food. “Aren’t you eating?” I ask.

“Ladies first,” he replies and hands me a homemade yeast roll.

I swoon inside at his manners and start handing him bowls. After he’s piled on the food, he starts politely talking to Jake and my dad at the end of the table. I take the opportunity to check out his features from the side. Strong jaw, nose with a slight bump left over from defending his little sister, Jessica, at his senior prom when her date got a little handsy, and that jet black hair slightly curling around his ears as if to confirm he’s overdue for a haircut. I realize I’m practically staring and glance away before I get caught. I look up across the table straight into the questioning eyes of Nate. Busted. He raises his eyebrow as if daring me to deny the fact that I was just ogling my brother’s best friend behind his back. I quickly look away and tend to Brooklyn who is happily smearing mashed potatoes across her face in an attempt at shoveling them into her mouth. A smile creeps across my face as I watch her eat her dinner. Mom is at the end of the table on the other side of Brooklyn, so I strike up a conversation with her to keep my focus on that end of the table and away from Maddox.

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