Home > All the Pretty Lies (Pretty #1)(12)

All the Pretty Lies (Pretty #1)(12)
Author: M. Leighton

I hear Hemi say the words, “Man, I asked you nicely…” and then all hell breaks loose.

I feel Steven’s fingers disappear and I turn. I see him pivot on his heel and swing his fist right at Hemi’s face. My breath catches in my lungs. Steven is a big guy, and he’s trained to take down criminals. Just the thought of what his fist could do to Hemi’s wonderful bone structure…

My thoughts are curtailed when Hemi easily ducks Steven’s fist. He does it with light grace and comes up smiling.

“That’s a little more like it, big man. What else you got?”

Ohmigod, he’s taunting my brother!

Holy shit, this won’t end well.

Steven brings up his fist and catches Hemi in the stomach. Hemi steps slightly to the side, the blow glancing off for the most part. He uses the momentum of Steven’s punch to roll out beside him and push Steven into the crowd.

Steven goes stumbling for a few feet before he stops himself and turns on a dime. I see hell on his face when he starts back toward Hemi. That’s when the true nature of the situation really sets in.

I’m drinking. For the first time. In a bar. With my brothers. And a fight breaks out. Over me.

This will forever be my first impression upon them as an adult.

Impulsively, I yell at the top of my lungs as I step in front of Hemi. “Stop!”

I’m not sure if it’s my presence between them or my voice that does the trick, but something brings Steven up short. And before he can continue on his warpath, I hurry to continue.

“Steven, before you can take all your ridiculous anger out on a perfect stranger, know this. I’m turning around right now and I’m going home. Sig is driving me. You were way out of line and you can expect this same kind of shit every night for the rest of our lives if you don’t stop treating me like a child. If that’s how you want to play it, fine by me. But I will do what I want to do, whether you approve or not.”

After I finish ranting at him, I turn to face Hemi, ignoring the fact that my heart skips a beat when our eyes meet. “And you, this is none of your business. You don’t have time for a girl like me, remember?” Hemi raises one dark brow. Other than that, he doesn’t move a muscle. Doesn’t say a word. Just watches me. “I appreciate the gesture of you trying to protect me, but I don’t need protecting. Even from my ass**le of a brother.”

His eyebrows draw together in a frown. “This is your brother?”

I glance at Steven over my shoulder. “Yes. Unfortunately.”

When I turn back to Hemi, his brow is even more deeply furrowed.

“Now, I hope you two have the good sense to drop this rather than go act like jackasses out in the parking lot. I’m leaving.”

With that, with my head held high and my spine ram-rod straight, I do my best to walk away without stumbling. And, as far as I can tell, I do a pretty damn good job.


Holy shit! He’s her brother? I can’t decide if this is the best turn of events—an unexpected gift to a man trying desperately to do the right thing—or if it’s the absolute worst—life handing me the very means by which I could destroy myself. Either way, it’s a game changer.

I have a difficult decision to make. Do I let her in? Do I do the unthinkable and let this girl into the shitstorm that is my life? Or do I let opportunity pass me by? Either way, I’m a thoughtless ass**le and it all boils down to one question: Who can I live with hurting more? My family? Or an innocent girl?


I hear the doorbell ring, but I ignore it. It’s probably a salesman. Someone stole the NO SOLICITATION sign from the front of the neighborhood about a year ago. Not that it worked. Solicitors kept coming anyway. Every couple of months, someone would buy another sign and stake it in the grass near the entrance to our subdivision. And every couple of days after that, someone would come by and steal it. Neither the signs nor the stealing of the signs interrupted the flow of solicitors. I just wonder if one of them makes signs. That would be pretty brilliant.

The bell rings again and I roll over to look at the clock. Twenty minutes before ten.

My head throbs like my heart has migrated from my chest cavity and taken up residence between my temples. I moan into the quiet, glad that all the men in my house are either at work or are at the gym on their way to work. The last thing I need on top of my raging hangover is a bunch of arrogant I-told-you-sos and smug looks.

I hear the annoying ding dong sound for the third time. Gritting my teeth, I throw back the covers and stomp down the stairs to the front door. I yank it open, ready to unleash unholy hell on some poor unsuspecting vacuum cleaner salesman, but I’m brought up short when I see Hemi standing on the stoop. He looks like a breath of fresh air in his low-slung jeans with a hole in one knee, his black The Ink Stain t-shirt with the fabulous art on the front, and his aviator sunglasses, shielding his eyes from the harsh light.

I squint as I look up at him, the sun driving a thousand tiny needles straight through my eyeballs and into the center of my brain.

“What are you doing here?”

I see his lips curve into a wry smile and, when he lifts his hand, I notice for the first time what he’s carrying—a cup of coffee.

I reach out and take it in both of my hands, holding the steaming brew to my lips and taking a careful sip. Even the smell makes me feel a little better. Like there’s life inside the cup.

“Come on in,” I say absently as I turn and walk away from the door.

It isn’t until I’m seated on the couch in the living room with my legs curled beneath me that I realize what I must look like—plaid pink shorts, tiny pink t-shirt that says KISS ME on the front, hair in a ponytail, last night’s makeup undoubtedly smeared all over my face.

I close my eyes against the mental image and take another sip of coffee. After a full minute or two, when there’s nothing but silence in the room, I crack my lids and look around for Hemi. He’s sitting on the edge of an armchair with his elbows on his knees, watching me.


I nod and take another sip. “How’d you know?”

“I’ve had a hangover or two.”

“This is my first.”

“Mmm, I’m getting to see all kinds of firsts for you. Lucky me.”

A coil of warmth lazily unwinds in the pit of my stomach. It seems that he’s hinting at other firsts, dark, taboo firsts. His expression gives away nothing and his eyes are hidden by his glasses. I don’t need to see them to know that they’re on me, though. I can feel them. Like a touch. Like a warm finger against my lips. Nervously, I wet them with the tip of my tongue. I’m not purposely trying to taunt him, but I don’t think that matters. I see the muscle in his jaw bunch as he grits his teeth. And I hear a hissing sound as he sucks in a breath past them.

Hot Series
» Unfinished Hero series
» Colorado Mountain series
» Chaos series
» The Sinclairs series
» The Young Elites series
» Billionaires and Bridesmaids series
» Just One Day series
» Sinners on Tour series
» Manwhore series
» This Man series
» One Night series
» Fixed series
Most Popular
» A Thousand Letters
» Wasted Words
» My Not So Perfect Life
» Caraval (Caraval #1)
» The Sun Is Also a Star
» Everything, Everything
» Devil in Spring (The Ravenels #3)
» Marrying Winterborne (The Ravenels #2)
» Cold-Hearted Rake (The Ravenels #1)
» Norse Mythology