Home > Waiting On The Rain (McKinneyWalker Brothers #3)(9)

Waiting On The Rain (McKinneyWalker Brothers #3)(9)
Author: Claudia connor

“Ava!” Hannah yelled.

Luke nearly groaned, nearly suggested they should go for coffee, or… He didn’t know. Couldn’t think of anything that felt quite right. Then Hannah was doing a light jog up to them in her heels.

“Ava. I’m so sorry but I forgot about the extra car seat and we took out the back row so we could help with the gifts.” Hannah handed Ava her purse, phone, and two bags of cookies.

“Oh, that’s okay,” Ava said, completely unruffled. “I’ll call an Uber. I do it all the time.” She already had her phone out.

“I feel awful,” Hannah said. “I really do. Why don’t you let Luke take you home?”

“Oh, no. Really. My parents live ten minutes from here. It’s not a big deal.”

“I’ll take you,” Luke said.

They went through the dance of you don’t have to and I don’t mind, with Hannah there thanking Luke and encouraging Ava to accept.

“I totally vouch for him,” Hannah added.

Ava wasn’t worried about that. Not really. She’d been with him for a while now and he seemed perfectly nice. Definitely wasn’t drunk. And it’s not like she didn’t get into cars with strangers all the time. But she didn’t need him to.

“Please,” Hannah said.

“Okay.” She might not need it but Hannah obviously did. “Well,” she said turning to Luke. “Guess you’re taking me home.”

“I guess I am.”

 

 

5

 

 

Luke walked Ava to his truck and opened the door for her. He was trying to figure out if she needed guidance getting in, if he should describe it or touch her or… And then she was already in.

He reached up, grabbed the seatbelt and was just about to stretch it across her body when she reached to do it herself. Her hand caught him in the arm at the same time her cheek turned into his hand. They both froze.

“I can buckle myself,” she said, with just the hint of a smile but her eyes were definitely laughing.

“Right. Got it.” Cursing himself, he rounded the hood and got in. The second he cranked on the engine, Luke Bryan blasted through the speakers.

He immediately turned it down. “Sorry,” he said again.

“Like it loud, huh?”

“Well, I was uh… driving to the wedding earlier. Or the pre-wedding photos… I had the windows down and… Yeah.”

“I listen to loud music when I’m nervous.”

“I wasn’t nervous.”

“Oh. Okay. I just thought wedding so…I would have been nervous.”

“You ever listen to Luke Bryan?”

“No. I don’t know this song. I don’t listen to country music really.”

“Mmm. You’re missing out.” He glanced over at her face, noticed her nose scrunched up in an apologetic smirk. Adorable.

He let the music play, let the song finish out between them as he drove out of the lot and turned onto the main rode. “Okay, fine. I was nervous.”

She grinned but didn’t do a told you so. “Country, huh?”

“Sometimes,” he said, lying because it was pretty much all he listened to. “We can listen to whatever you want. The controls are all right here.” Should he take her hand? Guide her to them so she could choose what she wanted for herself? “The music and if you want heat or air.”

“Got it,” she said, and looked like she was trying not to laugh.

He didn’t blame her. He was acting like he’d never had a female in his truck before.

“Well. That was fun,” she said, having pity on him.

“Yeah. A busy day all around, but not too bad.”

“I appreciate the ride.”

“Sure. No problem.” Why the hell was he so edgy? He’d held her in his arms earlier now he couldn’t handle being two feet away. He could still smell her, even over the lingering baby vomit faintly clinging to his shirt.

Her parents’ house was just as close as she’d said and they were there in under ten minutes. He searched the mailboxes lining the quiet residential street for the number she’d given him. He found it, turned into the driveway. The home sat on a medium sized lot, a neat one story, red brick and white siding. He cut the engine, came around and opened her door offering his arm when she got out. Getting the hang of this, he thought to himself.

“Well. Thanks again,” she said as they scaled the three brick steps to the front door.

“You’re welcome.”

Ava turned to open the door and he waited behind her. She wasn’t the sort of girl a guy met and walked to the door a few hours later to cop a kiss. He thought about holding his hand out for a shake but that was ridiculous.

Or did she want him to kiss her? God knows he was dying to.

Ava stepped inside and hesitated, looking back at him. There was something he wanted to say, but he didn’t know what it was and it didn’t come to him fast enough.

“Goodnight, Luke.”

“Good night, Ava.” And with that, she closed the door.

 

 

6

 

 

“Damn it,” Ava said, tripping over a pile of laundry then banging her knee on the corner of the coffee table. Breakfast dishes clanged in the sink followed by her mom’s profuse apology as she hurried in from the kitchen.

“Are you okay, sweetie?”

“I’m fine,” Ava said, forcing a smile through gritted teeth.

“Are you sure? I’m just out of practice since you’re never here. I keep forgetting.”

“Yes. Positive.” Ava rubbed at her knee, ignoring her mom’s subtle mention of her lack of visiting. “It’s okay, Mom.” It’d been three weeks now, and if her mom had picked up the clutter, it had reappeared. Or maybe it multiplied. Even though she’d grown up in this house, it was her parents’ space, and it made her even more anxious to get back to her own.

“Where’s your cane?”

“It’s in my room,” she said stepping cautiously around the table. She wasn’t used to having to rely on her cane in her apartment. She knew where everything was and wasn’t. Could move confidently through the clear paths she left for herself. “Hey, I’m going to grab a shower.”

She counted out twenty–two steps down the hallway to her old bedroom and grabbed what she needed before crossing the hall to the bathroom.

She closed the door behind her, turned the lock. She hadn’t lived at home since she was eighteen. At thirty–one, she didn’t need her mom poking her head in while she was naked.

When she’d been young, her mom had been meticulous about the house and keeping Ava’s paths cleared. A constant problem for her older brother who had a habit of dropping backpacks and shoes where he stood.

She was just coming into her bedroom, her wet hair wrapped in a towel, when she heard her best friend’s ring tone on her cell. Sliding her hand across her dresser, she tapped her phone twice to answer the call. “Maddie. Hey.”

“When are you coming back?”

Ava dropped the towel and grabbed some underwear. “What?”

“I said, when are you coming back? I’ve had the worst two days of my life, beginning with walking out of my apartment without my purse and thus locking myself out of my apartment—”

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