The Good Luck Charm Page 20

Now that I’m no longer locked inside a panic room, I’m mortified that I lost it in there like a kid throwing a temper tantrum. I kicked Ethan in the shin for Chrissake.

I consider slipping out and going home without telling them, but my purse is in the kitchen, along with my car keys, so I don’t have a choice but to go get it. Just as I’m about to take the last step from the carpet runner to the marble floor, Carmen says, “If you want to think about it and come back later in the week, we can schedule another appointment. The Hoffmans are in France until next Friday.”

I step into the kitchen, arms crossed over my chest. “I thought you said this was urgent, that Ethan only had a short window to view the property.”

Carmen looks up, eyes wide—the way I associate with being caught in a lie rather than innocence.

I point an accusatory finger at her. “Did you set me up?”


“You’re unbelievable.” I shift my anger, finger wagging to Ethan. “Were you in on this? Was the whole panic room thing part of the damn plan?”

“I don’t even know what there is to be in on.” His confusion seems genuine, but I’m too upset with my sister’s meddling not to project my anger on him, too.


“And I would never lock you in a windowless space on purpose,” he adds.

I prop a fist on my hip and narrow my eyes. “Are you sure about that? It seemed to give you opportunities you otherwise wouldn’t have had.”

“Come on, Lilah—it’s really not what you think,” Carmen says.

“You tricked me,” I say to her. “You pushed me into this.” I swing around and point at Ethan again. “And you—I don’t know what you want from me. You say you want to be friends, but friends keep their damn lips to themselves!” I’m embarrassed and overwhelmed all over again. “I’m going home.”

I need time to process. Alone.

chapter nine




I admit I check out Lilah’s ass as she stalks out of the kitchen. It’s a great ass, even in a flowy, pretty sundress. Especially in a flowy, pretty sundress.

“Should we go after her?” I ask Carmen.

I’m at a loss here. Eight years ago I wouldn’t have thought twice about chasing her down to find a way to fix whatever I’d done wrong, but now I’m not so sure. She’s really damn angry. And I just unloaded a lot on her while she was trapped with me. Her anger might be justified. The slam of the front door echoes that thought.

Carmen grimaces. “Probably not? You know what she’s like when she’s upset.”

“I used to know what she was like.” I tap on the counter, memories of past arguments flooding back, when frustration and lust sometimes collided in the tornado of emotions exacerbated by hormones.

“For a long while there she was flat, but since you came back, well …”

“Since I came back what?”

Carmen shrugs. “There’s some fire in her soul again.”

I motion to the empty space she occupied seconds ago. “That’s not the kind of fire I’d like to evoke.” Now, that kiss in the panic room—I could totally handle more of that.

“She needs time to calm down. I’ll go by her place when we’re done here and explain.”

“What exactly are you going to explain? Why does she think you tricked her?”

Carmen looks down at the counter and rearranges the papers. She and Lilah have very little in the way of sibling resemblance. From the color of their hair to body type, they’re complete opposites, but they have a few of the same mannerisms, such as the way they fidget when they’re nervous.


“Well, I sort of did.”

“I’m sorry, what?”

“I wasn’t lying about being stuck in traffic, but I might’ve made it seem like this was the only opportunity for you to see the house and that there was a time constraint.”

“Ah, fuck. Why would you do that?”

She blows out a breath that makes her bangs puff up and settle funkily. “I was trying to help.”

“By pissing her off?”

“By getting you two together for reasons that don’t directly involve Martin, or under the guise of her being helpful.”

“What does that mean? ‘Under the guise’?”

Carmen tilts her head and regards me with that expression women have, the one that implies I’m clueless.

“Come on, Ethan, she’s not just helping with Martin because she loves your family. I mean, she does love your family. It’s just … you two have so much history. It’s been years, but she’s never really gotten over you leaving.” Her eyes go wide and she makes a hissing sound. “Shit. I should not have said that.”

“She got married.”

“And that didn’t work out, did it?”

“Lots of people get divorced.”

“I’m just saying, things happen for a reason, don’t they? You’re here and clearly there’s still something between you.”

“I’m not sure that’s true—not on her side, anyway.”

“But on your side there is?”

I sigh. Seeing her again after all this time has brought back a lot of memories and all the feelings that go with them. And if I’m completely honest, I don’t think I ever really allowed myself to get over leaving her, either. The kiss in the panic room reminded me of how intense things always were between us, and as amazing as it was to finally have that again, I pushed her too hard today, and now I’m paying the price for that. “I was aiming for friendship first.”

Carmen gives me a sly grin. “Oh, really? So the keep-your-lips-to-yourself-next-time comment pertained to a friendly kiss?”

“She was having a panic attack in the panic room.”

“So you laid one on her?” She arches a brow.

“It was a good distraction,” I mumble.

“Oh, I bet. Did she kiss you back?” Carmen is all over this.

I rub the back of my neck, uncomfortable with the kiss-and-tell and Carmen’s apparent enjoyment over it. “She might’ve.”

Carmen laughs. “No wonder she’s so pissed.”

“Well, that and I forced her to finally talk to me about what happened when I was drafted. So yeah, she feels set up.”

“Well, the whole point was to get you to talk, so mission accomplished.”

“I wanted to make it better, not worse, though.”

“Just let me talk to her, and it’ll be okay.”

“Will it? I don’t know, Carmen. It feels like every time I get a little closer, she’s off running again. It’s like she has this brick wall around her heart and I’m the reason it’s there.”

“You can’t blame yourself, Ethan. It’s a lot more complicated than that.”

“I’m not so sure it is. She was always such an easy person to love when we were young, her heart open—at least for me. It makes me sad that she’s so untrusting now.”

“You have to earn it from her, and that’s going to take time. You’re not the only person who left her, Ethan.”

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