Live Without Regret (A Touch of Fate)

By: K.L. Grayson

“As a matter of fact, I do come here often. How about you?” he asks, absently peeling at the label on his beer bottle. “I don’t think I’ve seen you here before.”

“You haven’t,” I confirm, shaking my head. “I moved back a few months ago.”

“So you grew up here in St. Louis?”

“I grew up across the river on the Illinois side, but, yes, this is home.” I’m reluctant to give him much more than that because it’ll lead to talking about what brought me home, and that’s something I’m not ready to discuss. He doesn’t need to know my fiancé walked out on me, and he sure as hell doesn’t need to know it took me two years to pick myself up from that devastating blow. So instead, I decide to redirect the conversation. “Are you from—?”

“There you are,” Casey breathes. Sliding into the booth next to me, she pushes a chunk of hair out of her face. “I was looking everywhere for you.” She glances up and freezes when she sees Connor sitting across from us. Her eyes widen, a grin playing at the corner of her mouth. “You aren’t Brad, the firefighter.”

Connor laughs and shakes his head. “Connor, the tattoo artist,” he says, reaching his hand across the table. She slips her hand in his and this weird twisting sensation takes place inside my chest. I thought I had gotten rid of that green-eyed monster. Guess I was wrong.

I don’t like them touching.

Why the fuck don’t I like them touching?

My first instinct is to shove Casey out of the booth or accidentally spill my drink in her lap, but I quickly push the thoughts away because those are things a jealous girlfriend would do.

And I am not a jealous girlfriend. Plus, Casey is my sister…whom I love…dearly.

Hell, I’m not even a girlfriend.

But I do need to do something because she’s smiling and—shit—now he’s smiling. And they’re still touching.

Why in the world are they still touching?

“Where’s Mike?” My words are rushed, my voice clipped, but it does the job. Casey releases Connor’s hand and I sigh in relief. I should feel better, but I don’t. In fact, now I’m really pissed off at myself for getting jealous.

“Mike who?” Casey says, interrupting my thoughts.

“The guy you were just molesting out on the dance floor. Remember him?”

Casey tilts her head to the side, narrowing her eyes. For a split second, I’m certain she sees right through me. And she might. Not only is she my baby sister, but she’s also my best friend and knows me better than anyone.

“Oh, right. Mike. He was no one.” She shakes her head and quickly waves me off, returning her attention to Connor. “So, Connor, how do you know my sister?”

I peek up at Connor. Please say you’re the man who’s going to be spending the night with me, I silently beg. “You two are sisters?” he asks, motioning toward us.

I nod. “We are.”

“I,” Casey says, pointing toward herself, “am the younger, sweeter, smarter sister. Oomph.” She grunts when I elbow her in the side and then she giggles. “You still haven’t answered my question, Connor.”

Connor takes a swig of his beer. “I’m her tattoo artist.”

“What?” Connor winces at Casey’s loud screech. I’m used to the sound, having lived with the crazy broad my whole life. “You have a tattoo?”

“Actually, I have two,” I say proudly, holding up two fingers.

“When did this happen?” she asks, looking from me to Connor and back to me. “And why am I just finding out about it now?”

Connor holds up his hands and slowly shakes his head. “Hey, I’m only responsible for the second one. I wasn’t the lucky son-of-a-bitch who got to pop that cherry.”

Warmth radiates up my neck, infusing my cheeks, and Connor’s heated gaze slides to mine. To avoid his penetrating eyes, I look down. My body tingles—literally fucking tingles—under the weight of his stare.

“I like you,” Casey states. “And you just made my sister blush, which I’ve never seen. I feel like you should get some sort of prize for that.”

Lips pursed, I look up. “I’m not blushing.”

“Right,” Casey says, drawing out the word while slowly nodding. A knowing smile slides across her face. “It’s just hot in here.”

“It is hot in here,” I argue.

Connor clears his throat. “I’m not hot.”

Casey’s head whips around and she points a finger at Connor. “Uh, yes. Yes, you are.” Connor grins at the compliment.

My head drops and I bury my face in my hands. I love my sister, but her inability to filter what comes out of her mouth can be a bit annoying. “Go get me a drink,” I mumble, nudging her out of the booth. She sighs but eventually gives in.

“Fine, but only because I need a drink.” I look up as Casey turns to Connor. “Do you want another beer?” she asks.

“That’d be great.” Connor holds up his beer bottle to show her what he’s drinking. “Just put it all on my tab.”

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