Jade shook her head. She knelt down to give Roger a pet—“How are you doing, boy?”—and sat down at the table. “No. My bed is perfectly comfortable. I don’t know why I’ve been having trouble sleeping. Maybe I’m not as over the whole wedding thing as I thought I was. Maybe I’m anxious about my bar results. Maybe I’m worried about getting a job and imposing on you guys for too long. Probably all of the above.”
“You don’t have to worry about the last one. We have plenty of room. You’re welcome to stay here as long as you need to. Marjorie wouldn’t have it any other way.”
“That’s kind of you. I appreciate it more than you know. But I’m just not the kind of person who can sponge off of others. Freaks me out.”
“Freaks you out? What do you mean?”
Jade let out a sigh. “My dad was always really adamant about making his own way in the world, and he transferred those values to me. We had a modest life, but we were always fed and clothed. And I knew he loved me.”
“So you’re close to your dad?”
She nodded. “I miss him.”
“What about your mom?”
“I haven’t seen my mom since I was a kid. She left us for her career.”
“Her career? What kind of career would she leave her kid for?”
Jade shook her head and let out a sarcastic chuckle. “You ever hear of Brooke Bailey?”
“Yeah. She was a supermodel a couple decades ago, right?”
Jade nodded. “She was. She’s also my mother.”
I arched my eyebrows. Brooke Bailey had been the hottest thing walking when I was a teen. Jonah had nursed a major hard-on for her while we were growing up. The signature poster of her in the royal-blue bathing suit had hung on the wall right by his bed. She was taller than Jade and thinner—leaner and not as buxom. Her hair was a dark blond compared to Jade’s soft brown. She must’ve gotten her father’s hair.
But Brooke’s eyes—they watched you from the wall. Every guy fantasized that Brooke was looking at him, smiling for him, her nipples hardening and poking through that blue spandex for him. The camera loved Brooke Bailey. She must have made a mint on that poster. So why had Jade had such a modest childhood?
I gazed at her.
And then I saw it.
Jade had Brooke’s eyes—that steely blue-gray that seemed to penetrate through every layer of a person.
That’s what had first drawn me to Jade—those eyes. I felt naked, like she could see right through me, into the very recesses of my broken soul. It scared the hell out of me.
So why did I want her so much? I hadn’t been able to get that kiss out of my mind. Her lips were so full, so red, and she tasted like champagne and strawberries. I had never tasted anything when I kissed a woman. Something about the kiss with Jade had been different, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. All I knew was that I desired her.
In my bed.
She was my sister’s best friend. I couldn’t just bed her and forget her like I did with the others. Even more scary? I didn’t want to.
Those eyes… I could never let her get close to me. She would see right through all of the walls that I had built up around me, all the secrets I’d buried deep inside. I could never tell her the truth about why I didn’t sleep, about the demons that haunted me in my dreams. I could never tell anyone.
“Really?” I finally replied to her revelation.
She looked down to her teacup. “I know it’s hard to believe. I don’t look anything like her.”
“You have her eyes.” I couldn’t help myself. It just popped out.
“You think so?”
I nodded. “Joe was obsessed with Brooke Bailey when he was younger. He had that blue swimsuit poster that she made. You know, the one where you could swear she was looking right at you and smiling?”
Jade rolled her eyes. “That poster embarrassed the hell out of me while I was growing up. Most people didn’t know Brooke was my mother, and I kept as quiet as I could.”
“Why would you be embarrassed? That poster was a hit. Your mom is beautiful.”
“Yeah, more beautiful than I’ll ever be, but that’s not why it was embarrassing.”
I didn’t agree that Jade wasn’t as beautiful as Brooke. Brooke was model beautiful, but Jade… Jade was stunning, warm, inviting.
“Well…it’s kind of hard to say…” Her cheeks flushed an adorable pink.
“Come on,” I urged. “Tell me.”
“Well…because pretty much every teenage boy I knew had masturbated to my mom’s hard nipples poking through that blue suit, that’s why.”
I let out a chuckle. Poor girl did have a point. “I’m sure the poster made a lot of money for you.”