sticks & stones (cut & run 2) - Page 17

Zane’s eyes slid to Ty to check his reaction. His partner had narrowed his eyes at his brother, but he was still smiling slightly, like they were about to play a game he enjoyed.

“Another interrogation?” Zane said, amused. This could either go well… or not. There was potential for all sorts of questions Ty might not want answered for him.

“I don’t interrogate,” Deuce answered with an easy grin. “That’s my brother’s job. I just listen when you give me answers.”

“I’m sure you listen very well,” Zane allowed after a long moment’s pause. But before he said anything else, he glanced over at Ty for some sort of comment.

Ty rolled his eyes. “You don’t have to dance around it. He knows.”

Zane’s brows jumped. “Knows… what… exactly?”

Ty tilted his head and gave Zane a look that asked him not to make him explain. Zane leaned back into the chair and considered. He suspected Ty was talking about them f**king around. But if he wasn’t….

“Interesting,” Deuce drew out with an obvious smile.

Zane took his time speculating how this conversation might go. Deuce merely smiled at him widely and rocked. Zane shook his head; he hated playing head games with shrinks. It took a lot of concentration that he just didn’t want to muster. He was supposed to be on vacation, after all. “I just might learn to dislike you,” he said conversationally.

“You won’t be the first, Slick,” Deuce responded easily.

Even if he wanted to, Zane honestly didn’t know if he could manipulate Deuce. The man was too much like Ty. Zane shifted in the armchair and shrugged. “What are you curious about?”

Deuce narrowed his eyes and glanced at Ty again. “You got him on the hook, man, ask away,” Ty advised, smiling slightly.

Deuce nodded and glanced back at Zane speculatively. “I think I got my answer. But we’ll talk later,” he decided as he pushed himself out of his chair. “Right now I gotta see a man about a shovel,” he said easily as he walked past and toward the front door.

His lips curving into a rueful smile, Zane watched the man walk out, knowing he’d let himself be outplayed. Now, Deuce would know he could broach the subject at any time, and he knew Zane would have been thinking about it and dreading it all the while. “Goody. Something to look forward to,” he muttered before looking up at his partner.

Ty was watching his brother, smiling slightly as Deuce let the screen door bang shut. The look in his eyes was almost one of pride. “Pain in the ass, ain’t he?” he asked softly as he looked back at Zane.

“Like someone else I know,” Zane said pointedly, though he smiled to offset it. It was obvious Ty loved his brother very much. It was odd to find brothers just two years apart in age and not see at least one point of contention between them.

Ty shrugged unapologetically. “He’s a hell of a lot smarter than I am,” he warned.

“That’s what I’m afraid of,” Zane said. Then the proverbial light bulb came on. He shifted his full attention to Ty. “That another reason you brought me here?” he asked mildly. “Your shrink brother?”

Ty met his eyes and sighed. “If it was, would you be pissed?” he asked.

The corners of Zane’s lips turned up. “Probably,” he admitted. “But I suppose I’d forgive you.”

“Good,” Ty grunted. “’Cause you caught me.”

“I’m too comfortable to kick your ass right now. Remind me, and I’ll do it later,” Zane said, leaning his head against the back of the chair, scooting his feet on the floor so his legs stretched out. Ty nodded agreeably, looking like he thought he might have dodged a bullet. But Zane wasn’t ready to let him off the hook. “What does your brother know?”

Ty cleared his throat and looked toward the kitchen, where his mother was making quite a bit of racket as she prepared her pies. He stood and nodded for the front door. “Let’s take a walk,” he murmured.

Zane sighed before pushing himself up and out of the chair, and he gestured for Ty to lead the way. Ty pushed through the screen door and put a hand on Chester’s shoulder in passing before clomping down the steps into the front yard. When they got into the soft grass, Zane started patting his pockets, looking for his cigarettes.

Ty shook his head and held out a pack, shaking it at Zane tauntingly. Zane grimaced and swiped at it. Ty easily evaded him and slid the pack into a hidden pocket inside his jacket. “No ruining my mountain air with cigarette smoke,” he said sternly. He didn’t hint at when, where, or how he’d gotten Zane’s cigarettes from him.

Zane growled softly. “And you can ruin it with cigar smoke? I’m not even smoking half a pack a day,” he reasoned. “I could sure use one right now.”

“Why? What’s to stress about?” Ty asked easily. “You’re on vacation, Garrett.”

“Think about that question real hard, Grady. Put yourself in my place,” Zane instructed. “I’m in a strange place with strange people, and I’m really afraid I’m going to say something wrong.”

“I don’t lie to my family, Zane,” Ty murmured. “Although if you tell anyone but Deuce that we’re f**king there might be problems,” he amended. He gave Zane a wry smile and shrugged. “They’ll find out eventually. But not this weekend,” he said good-naturedly.

“It’s not something I’d make normal dinner conversation out of,” Zane said, wondering about the “eventually” comment. “But you can tell me why Deuce knows, when I didn’t even know he existed until about… eight hours ago?”

“He’s my brother,” Ty answered seriously. “We have very few secrets.”

“But we do,” Zane finished for him.

Ty opened his mouth to respond but closed it again with a sigh. His lips quirked in a smile. “I wasn’t keeping my brother a secret from you, Garrett,” he said wryly.

Zane jerked his head to the side in silent comment but was smiling slightly when he again made eye contact. “That’s not a denial.”

Ty rolled his eyes. “Of course we have secrets. Everyone does,” he claimed as he turned and started walking again. “I don’t want to know that you keep your Maxims under your mattress, and you don’t want to know that I cry when I watch Bambi. That’s what makes partnerships work,” he rambled with a wave of his hand.