Every Little Thing

Page 13


Vaughn almost choked on his second sip of scotch. His body locked up on him, and despite the burn of the whiskey in his chest, he felt strangely cold all over.
“Say that again.”
“That asshole cheated on Bailey with some twenty-three-year-old girlfriend of a colleague. She walked in on the two of them fucking on his goddamn couch last night.”
His heart started to pound hard in his chest and he had to fight down the urge to get off his stool and hunt that asinine little prick down.
What kind of moron cheated on Bailey?
She and Tom had been together a long time. How the hell would she cope? He didn’t like the thought of Bailey falling apart. As strong and outspoken as she was Vaughn knew she hid her vulnerabilities.
Then a thought occurred to him and his blood turned hot. “She isn’t going to stay with the idiot, is she?”
The idea that she might stick with Tom ignited a need to throw his glass of scotch at something or someone. And yet at the same time he wanted Cooper to say, “Yes. They’re going to work through it.” He hated the thought of Bailey giving the bastard another shot because she had to know she deserved better than that, but at the same time he hated the idea that Tom Sutton no longer existed as a barrier between “Vaughn and Bailey.”
“Vaughn and Bailey” would only lead to a hurt Bailey and a fucking messed-up Vaughn.
“No. This is Bailey we’re talking about. That woman practically invented the concept of loyalty. She’s finished with him. I say good riddance.”
Relief and fear mingled as he looked at the ice melting in his glass. “Is . . . How is Bailey coping?”
He could feel his father’s curious eyes on his face.
“She’ll be fine. The girls will take care of her.”
“And you?”
Cooper frowned at him. “What?”
“You’ll take care of her, too?” It would ease his mind to know Cooper had her back. “In case Tom gives her any problems.”
As always the bar owner saw too much, and he gave Vaughn a knowing smile. “Sure thing, Tremaine.” And then . . . “I guess Jess was right after all. Not that I’ll tell her that. Damn woman thinks she’s right about everything.”
“What are you talking about?”
Cooper laughed and walked down the bar to clean up an imaginary spillage.
Vaughn stared after him, in that moment wishing he’d never let his guard down with the man or his too-smart-for-her-own-good doctor girlfriend.
“So . . .” his father drawled at his side. “Who’s Bailey?”
“I find it strange that you don’t want to tell me anything about this woman,” William said as they walked out of Cooper’s twenty minutes later.
If his father had been pestering him about any other woman he would have laughed. It was like he was fifteen all over again. His dad had walked in on him getting to second base with Jillian Grace, a girl in the class above him at their prep school, and he’d amused himself by peppering Vaughn with annoying and embarrassing questions all night.
“There’s not a lot to tell.” Vaughn tried not to sound exasperated. “And I thought you might want a coffee to wash down the scotch.”
“Yes, it was a bit early for that.” William buttoned his suit jacket as he followed Vaughn toward Emery’s.
“This place does great cappuccinos. Be warned, the owner is very socially awkward,” Vaughn said. “Beautiful woman. Independently wealthy. Atrocious at talking to men—crippled by inexplicable shyness. It’s a shame.”
“Because otherwise you would have added her to your repertoire of bedmates?”
He smirked, just to be annoying. “Probably.”
“Obviously you’ve not had this Bailey Hartwell in your bed. I’m guessing by her name she’s a member of the founding famil—wait a minute. Is this the woman that tried to postpone your plans for building the hotel?” William stopped just outside Emery’s.
“Yes. When she saw the architect’s drawings she campaigned with the new mayor to have the plans relooked at. But they’d already been passed by the planning council under the last mayor’s purview so there was nothing they could do. Except stir up animosity from the locals. Which was fun for me.” He remembered the trouble Bailey had caused. Once the hotel was up and time had passed, that animosity had waned, but no thanks to the mouthy redhead who fired up his blood beyond reasoning.
“I remember.” William nodded. “She sounds spirited.”
“That’s not the word I would use,” Vaughn muttered, pushing open the door to the coffeehouse.
He came to an abrupt halt at the sight of Bailey leaning across the counter, laughing with Emery.
One, he was surprised to see her. Two, he was surprised to see her laughing considering she’d just been betrayed by the man she loved.
His dad bumped into him. “Jesus, Vaughn, what—” His father peered past him to the two women at the counter. “Oh. Well, yes, those two are definitely stop-you-in-your-tracks-worthy.”
Ignoring that comment Vaughn moved cautiously toward the counter. All of a sudden he didn’t know how to act around Bailey. She straightened up at his approach, watching him with a narrowed green-gold gaze filled with the usual suspicion she felt toward him. There were dark circles under her eyes, but that was the only sign that something might be amiss. In fact she looked remarkably well for a woman whose ten-year relationship had just come to an end.