Home > Never with Me(4)

Never with Me(4)
Author: Kaylee Ryan

I swallow hard, trying to find my words. “D-Deacon.” I place my hand in his, and I’m shocked when he lifts my hand to his lips and kisses my knuckles. What’s even more shocking is that I’m too mesmerized by him to care that he’s touching me. If that doesn’t spell trouble, I don’t know what does.

“Oh!” Palmer says excitedly. “And I didn’t even have to coach you. Good job, big brother,” she teases.

His eyes smile, if that’s even a thing. If it’s not, it is now. At least when it comes to Deacon Setty. “How do you put up with her?” he asks me, his tone light.

I shrug, feeling so out of place. “You get used to her.”

“I lived with her for years and still never got used to her.” His smile is infectious.

“She must not be too bad. She got you here.” I tilt my head to the side.

“She’s like a puppy. Nipping at your ankles until you play with her.” He laughs, and the sound washes over me like a cool breeze on a hot summer’s day.

“You love me, and you know it,” Palmer fires back. She’s not the least bit bothered by her brother’s comments.

“You know I do, little sister,” he replies. He glances over at Palmer, and I can see the love he has for her. My shoulders relax further, and suddenly, this entire arrangement doesn’t seem so bad.








Her name is Ramsey, and she’s a fucking knockout.

I’ve heard the name many times over the past couple of years, but I’ve never had the chance to meet her. Hell, she’s been to my house to swim with Palmer, but it’s never been while I was there. Now, here she stands before me. Her long dark hair and her big blue eyes are staring at me with so many different emotions. I wish I knew her well enough to read exactly what she’s feeling, what she’s thinking.

When Palmer called me last week begging me to do this photo shoot, I made up every excuse in the book to get out of it. However, my baby sister knows how to get me to cave, and here I stand. I had no idea what I was in for, but I never in my wildest imagination thought I’d be standing in front of the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.

My sister’s best friend.

Way too young for me.

Sexy as hell.

“It’s nice to put a face to the name,” I say, dropping her hand when I realize I’m still holding it. I miss the feel of her soft skin instantly.

“You too.” She smiles shyly, and my cock twitches.

“So, have you ever done this before?” I ask her. I already know the answer. Palmer assured me the woman I’d be photographed with was beautiful and just as nervous as I was.

It’s not that I’m nervous. I just have work to do. I’m thirty-two years old and working my way toward partner at the law firm where I’ve been since passing the bar. I don’t have time for blind dates, especially those that are being photographed by my baby sister.

“No. Never. I actually tried like hell to get out of it.” She shrugs.

I feel my mouth lifting at the corners. “That makes two of us. She’s relentless.”

“That she is.” Ramsey laughs lightly, and the sound washes over me. “So, how do we do this?” I ask her.

“Well,” my little sister breaks into our conversation, “think of it like an engagement shoot.”

I turn my eyes back to Ramsey. “You ever been engaged?” She’s young, like Palmer, so I highly doubt her answer is going to be yes.

“No. You?”

“Never.” We turn to look at Palmer. I point at Ramsey and then myself. “Never been engaged.”

“Come on. It’s not hard. Work with me, people.” Palmer laughs. “Just hug, and be playful, and think about how you’d pose if you were engaged.”

“Yeah, not helping,” I tell her.

“Ugh. Fine. Hold on.” With one hand still holding her camera, she pulls her cell phone out of her pocket and taps the screen. “This.” She shoves the screen in my face, and I take it.

I hold the phone so that Ramsey can see the screen as well. I flip through the pictures that look fun and also intimate. Ramsey steps closer, and her floral scent wraps around me like an embrace.

As I flip through the images, I feel her body stiffen next to mine. “Are you okay with this?” I ask her softly. Surely Palmer didn’t force her best friend into this.

“Yeah, I promised Palmer.”

I glance up and see my sister standing a few feet away, messing with her camera. “You can back out if you want. Don’t do this if you’re uncomfortable.” I turn my attention back to Ramsey as she exhales and stands a little taller, her shoulders straightening.

“I can do this.”

It sounds like she’s trying to convince herself more than she is me. Something about her words, the square of her shoulders, and the tone of her voice has me wanting to encourage her and tell her to leave at the same time. I know Palmer can be a lot. She could also sell snow to an Eskimo. My little sister is convincing as hell when she wants to be.

“Hey.” I wait for her to look at me. “If you’re uncomfortable, we can stop this now. She’ll understand.”

Ramsey gives me a slight smile that hits me right in the center of my chest. “I’m good, Deacon. Thank you.” Her words are softly spoken, and the look in her eyes tells me that she’s on board. She might be nervous, but she’s not going back on the promise she made my sister.

I nod and hold my hand out for her. “Let’s explore.” I give her what my momma calls my charming smile and wait for her to place her hand in mine. When she finally does, I give her hand a soft squeeze, hoping that it will offer her comfort.

“Yay. Okay, this is good,” Palmer says from behind us. “Just do you. I’ll take pictures,” she instructs.

I look over at Ramsey and playfully roll my eyes, which makes her laugh. Her blue eyes sparkle in the sunlight, and my lips once again tip into a smile. “So, what do you do?”

“What don’t I do.” She laughs. “I have three jobs. Well, not three full-time jobs, but three jobs all the same,” she rambles. It’s obvious that she’s nervous, and for some unknown reason, that has me feeling protective over her.

“Wow. Three. That’s a lot. How do you manage to juggle all three?” Our hands are linked, and we’re walking down the paved path of the park. It’s lined with trees, casting shadows in front of us and offering some shade from the hot Georgia summer sun. I can hear the shutter of Palmer’s camera behind us, but I ignore it, giving Ramsey all my attention.

“I work at the Willow Tavern five days a week. My shifts vary whenever they need me, but I usually have my schedule several weeks in advance. I also work two days a week for At Your Service Catering. That was my first job when moving to Willow River, and then I just filled in at the Maid for You Cleaning Service. I worked there part time before I started at the Willow Tavern.”

“Damn,” I mutter. “Do you ever have time for yourself?” My sister snorts, and I turn to glare at her over my shoulder.

“Come on, Deacon.” Palmer laughs. “Pot”—she points at me—“meet Kettle.” She indicates Ramsey. “You’re both workaholics. I’m still surprised I got you both out here with me today.”

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