Home > Nonstop (Open Skies #3)

Nonstop (Open Skies #3)
Author: Becca Jameson

Chapter 1

 

 

“I knew it was a bad idea to invite you over to watch the game with me.”

Bracken jerked his gaze from the cute brunette in the kitchen to find his friend Kraft smirking at him from the other end of the sectional. Bracken frowned. “What are you talking about?” He tipped his beer back, taking another swig.

“Do you know the score?” Kraft teased.

Bracken winced as he looked at the television. Shit. Commercial. He had no idea what the score was.

Kraft laughed. “That’s what I thought.”

Bracken ignored Kraft and turned his attention back toward the kitchen area where Kraft’s girlfriend Christa was making scones with her friend Rebekah—or Bex as she’d informed him. The two women were covered in flour, as was the kitchen island and even part of the floor.

Ordinarily, the mess would make him crazy, but the scene was so domestic that he couldn’t stop grinning. Domestic? Since when did he give a shit about anything domestic?

“I knew you’d fall for her,” Kraft stated, keeping his voice low enough that the women couldn’t hear him.

Both Kraft and Hatch had mentioned Bex to Bracken several times. Ever since Hatch hooked up with his girlfriend Libby, her friends had been pairing off with Bracken’s friends. What were the chances Bracken would actually fall for one of the two remaining women—Bex. That left Shayla, the women’s fourth friend and coworker from Open Skies Airline, and Tank, the men’s fourth friend and coworker from Westside Programmers. The four of them had also been in the Army together.

Kraft chuckled.

Bracken returned his gaze to his friend, growling low. He leaned forward, elbows on his knees, and kept his voice to a whisper. “First of all, you’re the one who set this up, so I don’t know why you’re being so smug and cocky about it. Second of all, I’ve exchanged only ten words of introduction with the woman so far. You can hardly call that falling for her.” He sat back and turned his gaze back to the television, seeing nothing.

His attention was on the soft giggle Bex made when Christa said something funny. Her thick brown waves of hair were pulled up into a messy bun that was beyond cute. He didn’t need to look at her again to picture it. It would probably be best if he didn’t.

He knew exactly what she was wearing too. Pink tank top, white shorts, pink flip flops. She was about five-five, tanned skin, and green eyes that reminded him of emeralds.

Yeah, she was cute and sweet and just as shy as Kraft had warned. She’d blushed and looked away from him at their introduction. In addition, her voice had been soft, barely above a whisper. The guys were not wrong about Bracken’s likelihood of falling for her. She was exactly the type of woman who made him do a double-take.

There were red flags. Most importantly, her age. She was twenty-five. Bracken was thirty-nine. He’d already served twenty years in the Army and retired. He now worked part-time for Tank who owned the computer programming consultant business. Bracken was good at it. It gave him something to do and kept him busy.

When Bracken made the commitment to the Army, he swore he’d never marry. He hadn’t wanted to worry about a woman while he was halfway around the world doing a very dangerous job. And he sure as shit hadn’t wanted someone worrying about him. He’d made that choice, and by the time he’d retired, he figured he’d missed his window of opportunity.

No one else seemed to agree with him, which was why he found himself sitting on Kraft’s sectional, glancing every few seconds at the pixie in the kitchen.

Jesus. This was a bad idea. Bex was fourteen years younger than him. She had her entire life ahead of her. She should find a nice man in his twenties and settle down. Why would she even entertain the idea of dating Bracken?

He knew she had though. While Tank, Kraft, Hatch, and sometimes another of their friends—Zip—conspired to hook Bracken up with Bex, the women—Libby, Christa, Shayla, and Zip’s wife, Destiny—had done the same thing. Bex surely knew a lot about Bracken, including his age.

It wasn’t as though they’d never met. They had in passing a few times, including at Zip and Destiny’s wedding. But they hadn’t spoken or spent any real time together.

Bracken didn’t realize he was once again staring directly at her until she glanced at him. For a moment, they locked eyes, and then she turned away abruptly, biting her lower lip as she resumed rolling out the dough for the scones.

Part of Bracken was itching to help with the baking. After all, his nickname wasn’t Sweets for no good reason. He loved baking. He’d made pastries in his downtime in the Army to center himself after a tough mission. The guys had made fun of him for only a few months. Eventually, they learned to keep their mouths shut if they wanted to get a bite of his confections. From then on, they called him Sweets—a very goofy name for a man of his size.

As Christa opened the oven and removed the scones, the scent of blueberries and pastry filled the air, making Bracken groan.

Kraft chuckled but didn’t say a word.

A few minutes later, both women wandered across the great room with plates of warm scones in their hands.

Christa laughed as she handed a plate to Kraft. “Not exactly afternoon baseball snacks, but I bet you won’t turn them down.”

Bracken’s chest tightened as Bex handed him a plate. “Now that I know you’re a baker yourself, I’m hesitant to let you try my scones,” she teased, her voice soft. He imagined her voice was always a bit soft, at least when she was in uncomfortable situations.

He brought the plate to his nose and inhaled, the steam still wafting off of the scones. “Smells delicious. They look amazing. I’m impressed.”

She chewed on the corner of her bottom lip for a moment and then released it. “Well, you haven’t tasted them yet.”

Bracken picked up one of the triangles and took a bite, hoping he didn’t burn his mouth. Luckily, they had cooled down enough to avoid that embarrassment. As soon as he bit into it, he moaned. Perfect. Possibly better than he’d ever had. “Wow. Those are amazing, Bex.”

She shrugged, not meeting his gaze. “My grandma’s recipe.”

He pushed to standing. “Gonna need a bottle of water.”

She followed him into the kitchen, just as he’d hoped. Christa had settled on the couch practically in Kraft’s lap.

While Bex began to clean up the mess, Bracken sat at the island with a water and his plate. “How have you been doing?” he asked, eyeing her closely, making sure she understood his meaning.

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