Brody opened his front door. “Why’d you knock? You have a key.”
Adrian moved past his brother and kicked off his shoes in the hall, hanging his jacket on the way.
“It was late. I didn’t want to just walk in. You and Elise could have been doing all manner of things and my fragile psyche can’t handle that.”
“It’s seven at night. You called her, didn’t you?” Brody looked him up and down and jerked his chin toward the kitchen. “Come on. There are leftovers.”
“Where are your fine ladies?”
“They’re out with Erin and Ella. Beer?” Brody put one in front of him before going back to the fridge.
Adrian looked around the room. Drew his knuckles over the same spot on the kitchen table so many times it was smooth there. Sometimes he’d see what his brother had and be filled with a hundred different feelings.
He had a dad growing up. Until he was eleven anyway. But that man hadn’t been around nearly as much as Brody had been. Brody picked him and Erin up from school so much their teachers began to talk to him about any problems. It was Brody who checked homework.
Brody who had bought him his first guitar as a bribe to bring his failing grades up.
Truth was, he could have let himself in, yes, he knew he could. But sometimes he liked to see his brother at the door to feel that welcome and connection he only had with a handful of people.
“So tell me.” Brody made a plate and slid it to Adrian before sitting across from him.
“Not much to tell. I called. You didn’t mention her accent.”
Brody’s left brow rose slightly. “I forgot about it until just now. Nice voice. Got all starchy when I told her to either tell me or call your manager.”
Like a naughty fucking governess. Yeah, that was it. Goddamn, her voice had stirred up all kinds of shit in his gut.
“And?” Brody prompted.
“And nothing. She played coy. Wouldn’t tell me what it was about. I admit it, the voice did things to me. I offered to give my people a heads-up for her call. She got pissed and we hung up.”
Brody looked him over. “Okay. Cut the shit. Professionally you are at the top of your game. I’ve heard you play hundreds of times and you are tighter now than you’ve ever been. This next CD is going to be monstrous for you. But what’s that mean when you only talk to the ten people in the world you trust? You need more than that. You can see it, I know you can. I see how you watch the rest of us with wives and kids and all that shit. I’m not saying this chick is a love connection or anything like that. But there’s a reason you’re unsettled. It could totally be bullshit. Chances are it is. But what about the chance that it could be something extraordinary? Huh?”
Adrian ate and considered the situation. “Chances are, she’s going to want something from me, and man . . . I am just so tired of that.”
“I get that. I don’t know how you do it on a regular basis. Even Erin loses her patience before you do. But you are crispy-fried. And it’s blinding you to your gut.”
He patted his stomach. “Nothing wrong with it. I can’t have the same belly I had at twenty.”
“I’m not playing, Adrian.” Brody used the Dad voice and Adrian straightened his posture automatically, chagrined.
“Fine. You really think this woman is someone I should hear out?”
“Yes. Yes, I do. I know I’m not usually in your business this much. But all I know is that I think you need to hear her out. She said she knew I was a good man because of my eyes.” Brody waved away Adrian’s look. “No, not like that. She didn’t say it to flirt. Anyway. Meet with her. What can it hurt? You already think people are assholes. If she is, fuck that. You’re still not one. You used to be adventurous, bro. Why not now? Huh?”
Damn it. The man wasn’t one to ask things from his siblings. Despite their money and their success, Brody made his own way. He and Erin had to sneak attack him with gifts.
So when he actually did ask for something, it meant a great deal.
“Fine.” He picked his phone up again and dialed her number.
“And so he called me sweetheart! Can you imagine that? The cheek of a total stranger to accuse me of trying to thieve from him? I never said any such thing.”
Jules snorted. “Sounds like he’s been in show business too long.”
Miles was out front in Mary’s large driveway, shooting hoops with Cal and Ryan, Mary’s brothers.
She looked out to her son and huffed. “I almost feel sorry for him. Not Miles. Adrian Brown.”
“Don’t. You’re offering him that boy out there and he’s too conceited to even listen to you. It’s his loss, but you tried.” Jules shrugged.
Her phone started ringing and she looked down to see the same private number designation she’d seen before.
“Hello? This is Gillian.”
Jules sent her a raised brow at her tone.
“Upon further reflection, I’ve decided to meet with you.”
She sighed. She would have said no. Wanted to say no. But she caught sight of Miles laughing with Cal and Ryan out front. The place was filled with warmth and love. The family she’d built for herself and her son. This was for Miles, she reminded herself for the two hundredth time. For him she could do anything.
“All right. I can only meet on weekdays during the early part of the day. I need to be back home by two.”
Laughter burst out from where Mary had shown up with a platter of something that smelled like heaven. Gillian smiled, thankful this call happened here, while she was surrounded by her friends.
“Tomorrow at ten. There’s a cafÃ© next door to my brother’s tattoo shop. I’ll meet you there.”
“Fine.” She hung up and slid her phone back into her pocket.
“Was that him?”
“Yes. Turns out he does want to meet after all. Tomorrow at ten.”
Jules did that little head whip she did when she was vexed. The familiar sight eased some of her anxiety. “Do you want one of us to go with you?”
Gillian let out a breath. “No. I’m good.” She called out to Mary. “Where are you guys going to be parked tomorrow?”
“Um, Phinney Ridge from eleven to two. You gonna come see us?” Mary, part owner of Luxe, a mobile gourmet food truck, walked over and popped a little bite of something redolent with roasted pepper and garlic into Gillian’s mouth.
She paused to appreciate the taste. “So good. I may come by after my appointment.”
“He just called right now. Has changed his mind apparently.” Jules rolled her eyes.
“We can park there and kick his ass if he gives you any guff.” Mary winked.
“Thanks for the backup. I think I can kick butt on my own, but I have you on speed dial if I need to.”