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Craving (Steel Brothers Saga #1)
Author:Helen Hardt

Say something, Jade. Anything. This silence is deafening.

But to say something, I had to actually have something to say. For some reason, Talon Steel paralyzed me. He was perfectly cordial but not friendly. Impenetrable. Like a suit of invisible armor covered him from head to toe. He had been in the Marines. Most likely he had seen some pretty nasty shit there, stuff I couldn’t even begin to comprehend. He’d been back now for several years. Marj said he had been honorably discharged the summer after we graduated college.

Still, who knew what he had experienced?

I cleared my throat. “Are there any positions open for attorneys in your little town?”

Talon shook his head. “I sure wouldn’t know.”

“Marj said there might be.”

He let out a chuckle. “I sure don’t know how she would know either.”

Okay. That line of questioning hadn’t led to anything. “How is Marj doing? I’ve really missed her.”

“I think you’d know how she’s doing better than I would. Didn’t you just see her last week at your…wedding?”

Yes, yes. I did just see her at my wedding that didn’t happen. Thank you so much for bringing that up. So much for trying to make conversation. “I didn’t actually get married.”

“I know the whole story. And even if I didn’t, you’re coming out here without a husband and without a wedding ring, so I could figure it out.”

Had he actually looked closely enough at me to notice I wasn’t wearing a wedding ring? Didn’t seem possible. All the Steel brothers would know of my humiliation by now. I fidgeted with my phone a little more, but the battery was about to die. I checked the clock on the dashboard. Damn, we had only been driving for about five minutes. How was I going to get through this?

“Are you hungry? I can take you through a drive-through or something.”

Had he just spoken? Come to think of it, I was little hungry. I’d refused to pay for the crappy overpriced airplane food. Eating would give me something to do with my mouth so I didn’t have to talk. “Yeah, if you don’t mind. Anything’s fine. A burger, whatever.”

He pulled into a Wendy’s and, without asking me, ordered two number one combos with Cokes. I nudged his arm a little.

Without looking at me, he said into the speaker, “Sorry, make one a Diet Coke.”

A little presumptuous. Truth was, I didn’t drink soda. Never had. The carbonation bothered me. I nudged him again. “Iced tea for me, please.”

He let out a huff. “Sorry, nix the Diet. Make it an iced tea.” He turned to me. “Does that satisfy you?”

I shook my head. Was this guy for real? “As a matter of fact, no, it doesn’t satisfy me. You ordered me a burger, not asking me what I wanted on it or anything. I could be a vegetarian for all you know.”

A partial smile curved the left side of his lips upward. “You just said anything was fine. ‘A burger, whatever,’ I believe were your exact words.”

My cheeks heated. Yeah, I had said that. Now I looked like a moron. Great. I played with my fingers until the employee handed Talon the bag of food and the two drinks through the window. He handed the drinks to me, and I checked to see which one was the iced tea. I set his in the cupholder next to the driver’s seat and inserted the straw into mine.

He tossed the bag on my lap. “Unwrap mine for me so I can eat it while I’m driving.”

No “please.” No “would you mind?” Just an order. Well, he had been in the military. Maybe he was used to giving commands. Or maybe he was just rude as hell. I didn’t know Marj’s other brothers that well, but when I’d met them, they had been perfectly friendly. So what was up with this guy?

Since I was still embarrassed about my burger blunder, I did as he asked—or rather told—me to do. The burgers were identical, so I didn’t need to worry about which one was his. I unwrapped it, folded the paper over, and wrapped it back up so half of it was out and he could eat it easily while he drove. I handed it to him.

He grunted.

Apparently, that was what passed for “thank you” in the vocabulary of Talon Steel.

I opened my burger and took a bite. Christ, mayonnaise. Not that I had anything against mayonnaise, but I tried to avoid excess fat when I could. No point in voicing this. What was done was done. The burger tasted so good—or maybe I was just that hungry. Now if only I could make it last for another forty-five minutes. I took small bites and chewed them until I had masticated the food into a pulp.

Still, the clock showed thirty minutes to go when I had finished the burger and the accompanying fries.

I stared straight ahead, ignoring the magnetic pull to turn and look at him. The man was obviously an asshole, so why was my libido so interested? My nipples were still tightening against my bra, aching for lips.

His lips.

Damn, this was going to be a long half hour.





Chapter Two





Talon