"You need to fix Tori. She's broken."
Brody Kent frowned at his brother Wyatt. "What the hell are you talking about?"
They had an early-morning meeting at Kent Construction Company, which meant their office manager, Tori Lewis, wasn't there. Which was why they were talking about her. Because normally Tori had acute hearing, and you couldn't whisper anything she couldn't hear.
"I'm talking about what you did at the company Christmas party a year ago," Wyatt said, looking to their brother Ethan for confirmation.
Ethan crossed his arms. "I didn't see it, but I heard about it. You knowthat kiss. The one that screwed up Tori and made her hate you. And apparently us by proxy. For the past year we've been walking on friggin' eggshells around here."
"More like walking on fire," Wyatt said. "And we're all getting burned because she's turned into a fire-breathing she-dragon. It's unpleasant, Brody. Fix it. Fix her. Make her not hate you anymore so things can be normal again."
"She doesn't hate me," Brody defended, though it had seemed that way over the past year. Ever since that night at the Christmas party last year. They'd been having one of their usual arguments overhell, he couldn't even remember what they'd been arguing about. The only thing he could remember about that night was how beautiful Tori had looked with her fiery red hair pulled up, pieces of it spilling down her neck. He really liked her neckthere was a sprinkling of freckles there that had always caught his attention.
Oh, now he remembered. She'd accused him of staring at her neck, and they'd argued about that. He was so damn tired of her always picking fights with him about the stupidest shit. And maybe he'd had a few beers and he'd wanted to shut her up, so he'd grabbed her, hauled her against him and had done what he'd wanted to do every time she opened her smart, sassy mouthhe'd kissed her.
It had been an accident. Or maybe it hadn't been. But that accident had been a two-way street, because she'd kissed him back. For a full minute. With tongue.
Until she'd taken a step back, and she'd run like her dress had suddenly fallen off, which it hadn't, because he would have definitely noticed if it had.
She'd avoided him the rest of the night. Hell, the rest of the year. She hadn't even come to his family's house for Christmas that year, something she'd done ever since she'd joined Kent Construction four years ago.
So maybe the guys were right, because ever since that night, things had been different. A lot different.
Like she'd avoided eye contact. She'd gotten quiet, and Tori was never quiet. She was loud and brassy and kind of obnoxious in a lot of waysall the things he liked about her. But it was a fun loud.
That Tori was gone. The Tori of the past year did her job efficiently, as always, but it wasn't the same Tori they'd all grown to
Well, the one they'd gotten used to.
And when she wasn't quiet, she was mean. Not fun and sarcastic, just downright bite-your-head-off mean.
"If she doesn't hate you, she sure doesn't like you," Wyatt said. "Things are tense now. I don't like it tense. Nobody does. And you must have your head up your ass not to notice what's going on."
Brody preferred denial to actually figuring out how to deal with Tori.
"The only place my head is right now is on these bids. Can we get back to work?"
Ethan pulled up a chair. "Are you going to fix Tori?"