Strong Silent Type

By: Lorelei James

Chapter One







“Get your goddamn hands off my wife.”

Quinn McKay was in a rage. A red rage. An aneurysm-inducing rage. A going-postal rage.

And the worst part? His wife, his helpmate, his lover, his partner, his…everything—goddammit, Libby was his everything—didn’t give two shits about his foul mood.

Not. Two. Hot. Shits.

Which enraged him further.

“Walk it off, Quinn,” Libby McKay tossed over her shoulder, letting the young buck lead her deeper into the crowd on the dance floor. The last thing Quinn saw was the sassy head shake of her sassy new hairdo.

“I’m gonna fuckin’ kill him. See how goddamn happy his hands are after I break ’em off at the wrists.”

“Jesus, Q, will you sit the hell down? People are starin’ at you.”

“Let ’em look.”

His brother Ben hissed, “Screw that. Get your dumb ass back to the table or I’m leavin’ and you can hoof it home.”

“Be worth it to punch that sonuvabitch in the face.”

“I ain’t bailin’ you outta jail neither.”

Quinn scowled, reluctantly following Ben back to the booth. He drained his cup of beer and poured another from the pitcher. Mostly foam. Didn’t it just figure even the beer wasn’t cooperating with him tonight?

“You gotta stop doin’ this, man.”

“Doin’ what? Drinkin’?”

“No.”

“Oh, you mean quit comin’ to Ziggy’s to watch my wife dance with every good-for-nothin’ loser in this place?”

“Bingo.”

“Fuck that.” Quinn slammed his empty cup down. “It’s a free country. I live in this goddamned county. I got just as much right to be here as she does.”

Ben jerked the pitcher away before Quinn dispensed a refill. “It’s been three months since you and Libby separated, Q. Face it. Maybe it’s time you moved on. Looks like she has.”

“Wrong. If Libby is so all fired up to ‘move on’ then why the hell hasn’t she hired a lawyer and filed for divorce?”

“Probably waitin’ ’til school gets out and she has more time.”

His answer resembled a growl.

“I don’t know why you’re so surprised.” Ben poured himself a cup of foam. “You guys’ve been headed down this road for a while.”

“The hell we have.”

“You tellin’ me you were just rollin’ along, mindin’ your own business and wham! Her demand of ‘I want a trial separation’ came from left field?”

Quinn hated—hated—talking about this kind of touchy feely crap with anyone. “All married couples hit rough patches. I thought it’d blow over. It always has before.”

“Before?” Ben choked on his beer. “This ain’t the first time?”

“It’s the first time she’s kicked me outta my own damn house.” Three fucking months he’d been living in tin, eating out of tin and sleeping alone in absolute misery.

“So you been goin’ to counseling and shit?”

“Nope.”

“Why not? Did she ask you to?”

Sort of. Quinn knew he and Ben weren’t talking about the same type of professional help Libby had suggested. He hedged. “Yeah.”

“What’d ya say?”

“No.”

“Jesus. You are one stubborn sonuvabitch. I can see why Libby is tired of it and booted your ass.”

Stubborn sonuvabitch. A familiar phrase. His normally sweet-tongued wife had hurled those words at him as she’d hurled a suitcase full of his dirty clothes on the front porch. “Fuckin’ great. I’m glad you’re takin’ her side, bro.”

“Quinn, man, no offense, but you suck as a husband.”

Embarrassment flared. Libby had said that much too. “How the hell do you know? You’ve been married what, zero times?”

“Don’t mean I can’t see when something ain’t workin’,” Ben countered. “Obviously your marriage ain’t doin’ so hot. I’d be more’n happy to offer you red-hot tips to fire it back up.”

“Tips from the guy whose last relationship barely passed the one month mark? This oughta be interesting.”

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