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She nods as a chorus of objections float down the hallway and the dog perks up from his spot on the floor and trots off to investigate.
“They’re watching the game,” Mrs. Camden tells us and gestures to where the dog disappeared to. “They’re in the den. Head on back.”
I follow Eric through the wide entry hall towards the back of the house. We enter a large kitchen, an assortment of snacks out on the marble-covered island. The kitchen has a wall of windows showcasing the backyard and a set of French doors that open onto a paved patio. There’s a large in-ground pool, covered for the season, in the yard beyond the patio, complete with a pool house of some sort. The landscaping in the back is no less impressive than the front. The pots on the patio are filled with seasonal plantings and the yard is filled strategically with towering maple and pine trees.
Eric continues to the right, a short wide hallway emptying into the den. He strides in, confident on his path, as I trail behind and assess my game plan.
But any game plan I can conjure is pointless in the end. Because everything is about to change.
Three Hours Ago
Finn is on the couch, his focus on the television as we enter the room. But he’s not alone. And he’s not watching the game with his father, as I’d assumed. There’s another man on the couch with him. A few years older, maybe. A bit darker, surely. Their body types are nothing alike. Whereas Finn has a lanky runner’s physique, this man is built in an entirely different way. Fit, most definitely. But stronger. He must have twenty pounds on Finn, all of it muscle across a broader chest and a taller frame.
This other man notices us immediately and his eyes run over me and spark with an interest I’m familiar with. An interest I’m always searching for in Finn and never finding, no matter how aggressively I push for it.
Finn is a moment behind in noticing us and he deflates a little when he sees me. I hate to admit it, but it’s true. I can see that now. The difference in reaction between Finn and this other man is so discernible when I can analyze them simultaneously.
The moment is over in a heartbeat, Eric calling out a greeting that has them rising from the couch, and then they’re all clapping each other on the back in that way that men do. There’s a pause then, a moment so brief I know I’m the only one catching it, as the man looks between Eric and me, quickly analyzing our body language, the shade of our hair, the similarity in our features, and correctly assessing who I am, the same way I’ve assessed him. Recognition crosses his face and his eyes land on mine with amusement and a hint of fascination.
“You’re Eric’s little sister.”
A lifetime of etiquette forces me to nod and step forward. “Yes,” I say, reaching out a hand to shake. “I’m Everly.”
“You two haven’t met, have you?” Eric notes as the man grasps my hand. Sparks do not fly. Chills do not run through my body. I do not suddenly recognize this man as my soulmate based on a handshake. Such bullshit. His hand is nice though. Firm, large. His thumb caresses the back of my hand and fine, that touch alone is enough to make me recognize that he’s probably good in bed. But that’s it.
“No, we haven’t,” I agree, as I wonder why I’ve never given this man a moment’s thought before now. I’ve known of his existence, certainly. My mind flips through every reference Finn has made to him throughout the years. I just haven’t cared, I suppose. He had nothing to do with my Finn Camden agenda and was thus irrelevant.
“I’m Sawyer,” the man says. “Finn’s brother.”
I’ve figured this out for myself, of course. Just as he’s determined I’m Eric’s sister. It wasn’t any similarity between Finn and Sawyer that gave it away. It was simply the way he belonged here. An arm across the back of the couch, legs sprawled before him. Confident. Relaxed. Lounging on this couch, in this room, a mundane event.