Marrying Mr. English:The English Brothers #7(4)

By: Katy Regnery

Eve Marie turned away from Tom to look at Van with wide, innocent eyes. “A waitress. But she goes to college. At Colorado Mountain College over in Edwards.”

“Wow,” said Van sarcastically. “Colorado Mountain College! You don’t say!”

“I do say,” said Eve Marie earnestly. “She saves up her tips every month to pay for it. She’s, like, supersmart.”

“What does she study?” asked Tom, kicking Van under the table so he’d stop being an asshole.

“Bookkeeping,” said Eve Marie. “Because math is a . . . a . . . oh, I remember! A universal language.” Tom smiled at her, forcing himself not to give her a round of applause since she’d worked so hard for the answer. “But she also reads a lot of books. Ellie’s, like, always reading books. Since as long as I’ve known her, and that’s forever because I’m three years younger. It’s, like, her favorite thing to do.”

“Too bad partying isn’t her favorite,” said Van under his breath.

“Nope. That’s my favorite,” said Eve Marie, arching her back provocatively as she slid her gaze to Van.

Van chuckled, nodding at her with appreciation before glancing at his friend. “So, Tom, what’s your all-time favorite nonfiction tome, huh?”

Tom glanced at the kitchen door, wishing Ellie would come out for a second. He’d like to look into her eyes again. He’d like to see her reaction as he answered The Joy of Sex or A Moveable Feast or . . .

He looked up at Eve Marie and grinned.

“Tell her if she wants to know my favorite nonfiction book, she has to be my date tonight.”

Chapter 2

Eleanora didn’t know what had prompted her to play the What’s Your Favorite Book? game with the man at Auntie Rose’s this morning, but as she and Evie walked to the Hotel Jerome at seven thirty, she had to admit that she was looking forward to this evening a lot more than the others set up by her cousin.

The Swiss Family Robinson, while not Eleanora’s favorite book, was a good, honest choice, and she was curious about why he loved it. She also appreciated that he’d volleyed back, asking about her favorite poet, and she’d wondered all afternoon if he had a favorite too. Maybe tonight—instead of awkwardly sipping a club soda and leaving after an hour—she’d actually have a date worth talking to. Now wouldn’t that be a nice turn of events?

Evie pushed through the revolving door of the hotel and walked confidently to the bar. She was familiar with all the local hotel bars, a fact that made Eleanora grimace, but she couldn’t fault her cousin either. Eleanora had chosen an education as her way of bettering her life; Evie was on the fast track to love, albeit via lots and lots of quasi-anonymous sex.

“Evie,” she said, placing her hand on her cousin’s shoulder and making her turn around. “You don’t have to sleep with him.”

Evie shrugged her older cousin’s hand away. “Ellie, I’m not smart like you.”

Undeterred, Eleanora threaded her fingers through Evie’s thick, dark hair, gently tucking a strand behind her ear. “You’re sweet. And young. I worry about you.”

“You’re young, too,” Evie said, her tone holding a reminder. Whenever Eleanora hinted about Evie’s promiscuous ways, Evie countered that her cousin just didn’t know how to have fun. She tilted her head to the side, grinning at Eleanora, her face bright and fearless. “Trust me. I know what I’m doing.”

Then she strode into the hotel bar, leaving Eleanora to stand in the doorway on her own for a moment. The two men who’d been sitting together at Auntie Rose’s several hours earlier were settled into a booth at the back, and rose as Evie approached.

The brunet, a man named Van, had already been claimed by Evie, so Eleanora looked more closely at her own date: he had a mop of sandy-blond hair and a neat mustache and wore a white button-down shirt with a tan corduroy blazer. He glanced over Evie’s head and caught sight of Eleanora, a pleased smile taking over the entire real estate of his face. It was a good smile—confident and kind, interested and warm, flirtatious without being grabby. And beautiful, she thought, unable to look away from him as she made her way closer. So very, very beautiful.

“This is my cousin, Ellie,” said Evie, accepting a kiss on the cheek from Van, then shimmying into the maroon leather cocktail booth beside him.

“I’m Tom,” said the blond man, still holding Eleanora’s eyes. “Tom English.”

He didn’t lean forward to kiss her, which she appreciated. It saved her the trouble of jerking back and creating an awkward moment. Instead, he held out his hand, and she saw it was wrapped in a white bandage she hadn’t noticed earlier.

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