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Craving (Steel Brothers Saga #1)
Author:Helen Hardt

“Talon? Why would he say such a thing?”

“He didn’t say those exact words. But while we were driving home yesterday, he mentioned that I was imposing.” Okay, so I fudged a little. He’d actually said I could drive one of their cars. I was the one who’d used the word imposing, and then he’d repeated it.

“I’m sure he was just kidding, Jade. Tal is… Well, that’s just the way he is.”

My curiosity was piqued. “What do you mean ‘just the way he is?’”

“You know he was overseas with the Marines. He doesn’t talk about that. The truth is he’s always been the kind of guy who keeps to himself. I’m much closer to Joe and Ryan than I am to Tal. He’s definitely a loner.”

“Yeah, I can kind of see that. I got up last night in the middle of the night to get a cup of tea, and he was sitting alone in the dark in the kitchen.”

“He has trouble sleeping. He gets up at night a lot.”

“But why does he sit in the dark? What doesn’t he turn on the TV or read a book or something?”

Marjorie bit her lip and fidgeted with her hands. “Talon has always been a little bit…off. But he’s a good man, Jade. He just has…issues. I mean, he was in Iraq. I have no idea what he saw over there, and he never talks about it, at least not to me. But it had to have some kind of an effect on him.”

“Do you think he has post-traumatic stress disorder?” I asked.

Marj shook her head. “I’ve considered— Oh!” Her eyes widened as the door to the coffee shop clicked open.

I turned around, and my heart nearly stopped. Talon Steel strode in, his ass looking delectable as ever in snug jeans, the sleeves of his black western shirt rolled up, his gorgeous bronze forearms visible.

“Hey, Tal, over here.” Marj gestured for him to join us.

My skin prickled. All I could think about was that kiss last night, his tongue devouring me as if I were his last meal. I hadn’t seen him since then. I wasn’t sure how to react.

“I’m just getting a coffee to go, but thanks.” He walked to the counter.

“Please, join us.” Now why in hell had those words come out of my mouth?

Marjorie looked at me like I had two heads, her brow furrowing. “Yeah, come on over, Talon. You have a few minutes to hang out with your little sister and her friend, don’t you?”

Talon turned away from the counter, his dark eyes a mixture of fire and…was it sadness? “Yeah, sure. I guess I have a few minutes.”

“My brothers don’t deny me anything,” Marj said, smiling. “Of course, they’re also overprotective as all get out. The price I pay for being the youngest and the only girl.”

Yes, Marj was the youngest. I had never even thought to ask the ages of her brothers. “How old are all your brothers?”

“Jonah is thirty-eight, Talon is thirty-five, and Ryan is thirty-two.”

Wow. Talon was ten years older than I was. Of course, I knew he was older. I just hadn’t considered how much older. Marj was twenty-five, the same as me. Sounded like she was an afterthought. “I guess I didn’t realize they were that much older than we are.”

“Oh, yeah, I used to chase after them when I was a kid and drive them crazy.”

“You must have had a fun childhood.”

“Well, I never knew my mother…”

I let out a breath. God, I was such an idiot. Her mother had killed herself when Marj was only two. “I’m so sorry. I don’t know why I said that.”

Marjorie attempted a smile. “It’s okay. I mean, I did grow up on a gorgeous ranch with everything that money could buy and three older brothers who adored me.”

“Adore you?” Talon sat down and set his coffee and the scone on the table. “Why do you think we would adore you, squirt?”

I let out a chuckle. The nickname squirt did not fit Marj. She was model tall.

“So what are you doing in town today, Tal?” Marjorie asked.

“Just had an appetite for one of Rita’s scones.” Talon took a bite of the confection, crumbs falling to the table. “What are you all doing here?”

“I’m just showing Jade around town. Had to introduce her to Rita’s coffee.”

“Yep,” Talon agreed. “Best coffee this side of the Rockies.”

They were delusional, but I smiled anyway. If that was what passed for good strong coffee around these parts, I needed to stop at a store and pick up a coffee maker, grinder, and some decent beans.

“The city attorney’s office isn’t far from here,” Marjorie said. “I know the city attorney. His name is Larry Wade. We could stop by, and you could introduce yourself if you’d like.”