Marrying Mr. English:The English Brothers #7(3)

By: Katy Regnery

“Me?”

The waitress nodded at Tom, her cheeks flushing. “Yeah. She’s, like, um, well . . . she needs to know your favorite book.”

Without skipping a beat, Tom asked, “Fiction or nonfiction?”

This question proved a bumpy road for Eve Marie, who froze, staring blankly at Tom.

“Which one,” he asked slowly, “do you think she wants to know?”

Eve Marie chewed once, then held up a single finger and hurried away. Tom watched her beeline to the feisty blonde (yes!), who was taking an order across the dining room. Tapping her cousin on the shoulder, Eve Marie cupped her hands around the blonde’s ear for a moment, then leaned back expectantly. A second later, she returned to Tom.

“Fiction. Ellie said fiction.”

“Now we’re getting somewhere.”

Tom chuckled softly, nodding at Eve Marie, who sighed happily, like she’d finally done something right.

“My favorite book of fiction. Hmm . . .”

Glancing around Eve Marie, who was twirling a long strand of teased hair around her index finger as she chewed her gum and eye-fucked Van, Tom looked across the dining room at—what had Eve Marie called her? Ellie?—Ellie, who still had her back to him, writing on her pad. Pocketing the pad, she held out her hand and collected the menus.

When she turned around, her eyes slammed into his, almost like she’d known he was staring at her all along. With the menus pressed against her chest, she stared back at him for a long moment, her posture straight, her blue eyes keen and bright. When her lips wobbled just a little, he realized she was trying not to smile, and he suddenly felt his own lips lift into a grin. But that broke the spell they were under, and she dropped his eyes quickly, heading for the kitchen and disappearing behind the swinging door without a second glance.

He didn’t realize he was holding his breath until his lungs started to burn and he exhaled with a soft puff.

“Uh, Tom?” asked Van in a low voice, utterly captivated by gum-snapping, eye-fucking Eve Marie. “A book. Name a book. For the love of God, please name a book.”

Ellie seemed brighter than average—she was quick with numbers and interested in books—but she looked young too, which meant she’d be impressionable. He considered lying. He thought about saying A Clockwork Orange (to seem edgy), or The Catcher in the Rye (to seem deep). But in the end, something about those clear, blue, unsmiling eyes made him feel ashamed of even considering deception, and he heard “The Swiss Family Robinson” fall from his lips instead.

Eve Marie winked at Van before looking down at Tom with glistening lips and a sexy smile. “Hmm?”

“Tell her my favorite novel is The Swiss Family Robinson, and ask her the name of her favorite poet.”

“Uh . . .,” Eve Marie stared at him for a moment, then shrugged. “Okay. Be right back.”

She sauntered away toward the kitchen, and Van adjusted his pants, grimacing. “Fuck, she’s hot. How many hours is it until tonight?”

Tom looked at his watch. “About ten. But I assume you’re buying her dinner first, so more like ten and a half.”

“Fuck,” Van muttered again. “Dinner better buy some tail.”

On cue, Kenny Rogers started crooning “Lady” overhead, the lyrics Lady, I'm your knight in shining armor and I love you an ironic follow-up to Van’s comment.

“That’s real nice.”

Though, judging from Eve Marie’s come-hither glances, he doubted Van would have much trouble securing that tail. Him, on the other hand? He wasn’t so sure. Ellie didn’t look like a girl who put out as easily. Her appearance wasn’t contrived to seek attention—it didn’t appear that she wore makeup, and she kept her hair in a plain, tidy ponytail—and yet she was so naturally beautiful, every pair of male eyes in the room naturally gravitated toward her.

It felt like forever waiting for Eve Marie to return.

“So?” asked Tom, his anxious heart stuttering, hoping the little spitfire liked adventure fiction as much as he did.

“Elizabeth Burnett Browning,” said Eve Marie.

“Barrett,” he said reflexively.

“Huh?”

“Elizabeth Barrett Browning,” said Tom.

“That’s what I said.”

“No, you said—”

“So, we good?” interrupted Van, leaning across the table to give Tom a look that begged him to shut the fuck up and stop arguing with the waitress he was aching to bang.

“Um, no,” said Eve Marie, wrinkling her nose. “Now she needs to know your favorite nonfiction book too.”

“What the actual fuck?” exclaimed Van. “Is she a waitress or an English professor?”

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