“Whatever. Better you than me, though.”
“I second that,” Khalil said, joining them. “I need a little variety in my life and I like having my own space.” He ate a bite of his sundae. “What does she look like?”
Brandon hesitated. His brother loved beautiful women and had no qualms about staking a temporary claim on one, especially if Brandon said he wasn’t interested. Women had been falling at Khalil’s feet since grade school and Brandon didn’t want Faith to be one of them.
Malcolm angled his head and gestured with his spoon. “You’re taking a long time to answer. Is she that ugly?”
“She’s not ugly at all.”
Malcolm and Khalil grinned.
Khalil leaned forward. “I think big brother is trying to keep her a secret because he knows she’ll like me better.”
“Or me,” Malcolm said. “He is getting up there in age.”
“Would you two knock it off?” Growing up, whenever Brandon showed interest in a girl, the two of them would tease him mercilessly.
They burst out laughing.
Brandon shook his head and went out to the backyard deck to finish his dessert. Against his better judgment, he called Faith. They hadn’t talked after her visit to her father and he wanted to know how things went. At least that was what he told himself. A more honest assessment centered on him just wanting to hear her voice. He had never felt this compelling need to call a woman. For some reason, he couldn’t dismiss her as easily as with other women.
“Hey, Brandon,” Faith said when she picked up the phone.
“Sorry I didn’t call you back yesterday. I just needed a moment.”
“That’s okay.” Coming face-to-face with a man she believed to have been dead must have been emotionally draining, he suspected. “How did it go?”
“Surprisingly well. We talked for a long time and made plans for dinner this coming week.”
“I’m sure that’s a load off your mind.”
“It definitely was. He seems to be a genuinely nice man and I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to know him.”
They both fell silent. It had to be hard for both Faith and her father to know they’d lost so much time. “Since the visit went well, do you think you might be staying in LA longer?”
“He asked and I told him I’d consider it.”
Brandon didn’t know why her response made him so happy. He heard laughter and turned to see Siobhan and Justin in the far corner of the yard. He observed their smiles, the look of adoration on Justin’s face as he placed a gentle hand on Siobhan’s stomach and the tender kiss he placed on her lips. They were totally into each other. Was that—?
Faith’s voice broke into his thoughts. “I’m sorry. What did you say?”
“I just asked if you had a busy week ahead.”
He let out a short bark of laughter. “Every week is a busy one, but I don’t mind.” His gaze strayed back to the yard and a strange sensation stirred in his belly. “Ah, Faith, can I call you later? I’m at my parents’ house right now. I just wanted to see if everything went okay yesterday.”
“Of course. Enjoy yourself.”
“I’ll talk to you soon.” He disconnected and scrubbed a hand down his face. He had a problem.
Faith was enjoying dinner with Thad Wednesday evening. He had chosen Harold & Belle’s, a restaurant he’d said was like having a bit of New Orleans in Los Angeles. The space was open and done in varying shades of brown and tan and she liked the warm and cozy atmosphere. Thad had insisted on picking her up when she said she would meet him there and his response had been similar to Brandon’s when she’d offered to pay for her meal. Both were gentlemen.
“You told me about your business last time. Where do you see yourself five to ten years from now?” Thad asked.
She shared her dream of starting a youth entrepreneurship program. “But that won’t be for a while.” She had told him a lot about herself and understood his need to learn as much as possible, but she was curious about his life, as well. “Are you still working or have you retired?”