Ruined (A Barnes Brothers novel)

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Book: Ruined (A Barnes Brothers novel) by Shiloh Walker Read Free Book Online
Authors: Shiloh Walker
He had the hardest damn time saying no to her.
    He heard liquid splashing against metal and closed his eyes. “That’s eighteen-year-old scotch, Marin. You could just drink it yourself instead of . . .” He paused, trying to remember what he was saying. “Instead of waishing—wasting it.”
    “No, thank you. I prefer to do my drinking
after
one o’clock in the afternoon, Seb.”
    At the soft sound of her voice, he looked over at her. The room spun around him but he didn’t stagger. Sebastien prided himself on being a rather excellent drunk. He didn’t stagger or get stupid—friends always remarked on it. What he did was get sleepy. Soon, he’d end up passing out and he’d probably forget a hell of a lot.
    Which was why he drank a lot. He got tired, he slept, and he forgot.
    Marin came closer.
    When she reached up to touch his cheek, he found himself wishing that maybe he hadn’t been so drunk because her touch felt good. It felt right.
    “Why do you keep torturing yourself, Seb?” she asked softly.
    “’M not.” He caught her wrist and squeezed, managed to smile. “I’m fine, Marin. You. . . . go on home. Come back later. I’ll be . . . I’ll be sober.”
    “You’re hardly ever sober.”
    That hurt. He’d spent the past week sober. He wasn’t even totally wasted now. Why hadn’t she come around
then
? He could have shown her. She might have been . . . well, not proud. Big fucking deal.
Look at me, Marin . . . I’m a good little boy. I’m not drunk.
But
he
had been proud of himself.
    Up until now.
    Now he was just pathetic.
    And he was tired of it.
    Frowning, he nudged her hand down and edged around her, moving to the cabinet where he’d taken to keeping his alcohol. He’d long since drank the supply in his bar and he didn’t entertain anymore, so why keep it in such an inconvenient place?
    He grabbed two bottles at random and moved to the sink. “Wanna help?”
    Focusing on what he was doing, rather than whether or not she’d join him, he fought with the heavy wax seal on a bottle and finally got it open. Marin had already drained the one she held before he got the stopper out of his. The room was soon filled with the heavy miasma of booze—the peaty scent of scotch, underscored with tequila and rum.
    When they were done, six bottles emptied of booze, sat on the counter.
    “No more drinking, Marin.”
    “I’m glad.”
    They shared a glance.
    Sebastien nodded, feeling awkward, and then he turned away. He staggered a little, half tripping over his feet, and the rush of blood to his face didn’t help his state of mind any. Of all the times to turn into a clumsy drunk—he had to do it in front of
Marin
?
    “Here . . .”
    She came to his side but he pulled away. “I can do it,” he snapped.
    “Sebastien—”
    “Don’t touch me!”
    She jerked back, stung.
    He saw the hurt in her eyes and he swore, because that was the last thing he’d ever wanted.
    “I . . . Marin . . .”
    She went to back away and he caught her arms. The strappy tank she wore left too much of her skin bare and the feel of all that softness under his hands hit his alcohol-laden brain hard and fast. The need lingering just under the surface began to pulse through his veins and he throttled it down as he grappled for a way to fix the pain he’d caused.
    “It’s not . . . I’m sorry,” he said. “I just . . . I don’t want you having to . . .” He stroked a thumb down her arm. “It’s my own damn fault if I end up on my ass, Marin.”
    She tugged away from him again and he let go, his hands falling to his sides, big and empty and useless. She turned away from him and that sense of uselessness increased, only getting worse when she sniffed. Standing a few feet away from him, she cleared her throat. “We should get you sobered up,” she said. “I came out here to talk to you.”
    Sebastien didn’t want to sober up and talk, though. He wanted oblivion, wanted to forget the

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