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Jet (Marked Men #2)

By:Jay Crownover

bench press a semi-truck without breaking a sweat. He also looked good and pissed off on top of being soggy and irritated that his brother was getting in his face. I glanced down at my wife (hell, yeah, I called her that any chance I got) and gave her a questioning look.

"What do you make of that?"

She lifted a shoulder and rested her hand on my stomach under the edge of my shirt. Her pinkie finger snuck below the waistband and it made me suck in a breath. She still went to my head faster than a shot of Jameson and nothing would ever be better than that as far as I was concerned.

"Who knows? Cora has a big mouth and isn't afraid to give anyone her opinion, even if they don't want it, and Rome doesn't strike me as the kind of guy to just sit back and let her steamroll him. He's kind of intense."

She moved her finger a little lower and I narrowed my eyes at her. She just gave me an impish grin and batted those bright eyes at me.

Things in the yard escalated when Rule reached out and shoved his brother in his massive chest. Shaw screamed something I didn't hear, and Rowdy yanked her out of the way as the older Archer brother returned the favor by putting Rule on his ass. Some really angry and heated words were exchanged and the next thing we knew, Rome was storming past us and slamming the back gate to the fence on his way out. The roar of the Harley he had arrived on rattled the tension in the air and everyone just kind of looked at one another in silence. I sighed and reached out to put my hands in Ayden's back pockets.

"It's never boring with this crew, is it?"

She stood on the toes of her boots-these were red and my new favorites-and kissed me on the underside of my jaw.

"We're a family, and when you're a family, there's going to be issues. They'll get it figured out. Shaw will make them. Let's go watch the fireworks."

"It isn't even dark out yet."

She wiggled around until she was plastered to my front and wrapped her arms around my neck. This girl was just the best part of my day, every day, and I would never take that for granted.

"Those aren't the fireworks I was talking about."

She made me laugh. She made me happy. She was my family and my future, and while it might have taken both of us letting go of what we thought we wanted and needed to be happy in order to see that all we needed was each other, it was so clear to both of us now.

"You already lit the fuse, Ayd. You better be ready to deal with the boom that follows."

She licked her bottom lip and gave me the look that told me she would never be afraid of the fire and the heat I threw her way. She just stood in the center of it and let the embers fall all around her. Every time she walked away unscathed, and I had a little less of it inside me burning things up. We were going to leave without even saying good-bye to anyone, when Cora's head popped over the edge of the deck. She still looked mad but there was something else moving around in her two-toned gaze.

"See . . . like I always said, you two are just perfect. That's what I want." She sounded so sad and wistful that it concerned me.

"I keep telling you that your expectations are too high."

Ayden nodded.

"Love isn't perfect. It's hard work and sometimes it's more effort to be in love than it is to just run away. If you keep looking for perfect, the real thing is going to pass right by you."

She waved a hand and walked over to sit down next to Asa, who was watching the entire show in silence. I could swear I could see wheels turning in his head.

"I'll know it when I see it."

I didn't have a response to that because even though Cora was a good judge of character, when it came to her personal life, she was kind of like a lion tamer, always fending everyone off with a whip and a chair no matter how fierce or tame the predator was.

I looked down at Ayden and I could tell she was more than likely thinking the same thing.

"You ready to go?"

"Yep."




And that's how it was. We walked the same way, no more running, no more fear, no more secrets. Just me and her, in sync and together, even though we came from two separate sides of the spectrum. I was her perfect future and she my perfect love and that was how every good love song should end.

So it ends . . . at least for now

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