I Have to Have Her by Sam Crescent



“N-nothing.”

“Don’t lie to me. I don’t like liars.” He wanted to bite her neck, to suck on her pulse and leave his mark. “Who hit you?”

She turned her head. “My ex did.”

“Give me his name.”

“Why?”

“I’m curious.”

“No.”

“I can find out.”

“Then use your time and money to find out. I don’t care. I’m not telling you anything.”

He liked her fire, her passion.

Smiling, he stepped back without a word. He poured himself a coffee, grabbed the paper, and made his way toward the table. He’d gotten comfortable and took his first sip as his sister joined them.

“You’re not helping cook?” Rhianna asked.

“I don’t cook.” He did, but only sparingly. His life was way too busy and hectic to take on the joys of cooking. The coffee was good though. He couldn’t help but enjoy the smells of breakfast or the warmth that seeped into his chest.

No woman had taken the time to cook for him, certainly not a woman who wasn’t getting paid by him.

“You look really smart today, Gabriel,” Rhianna said.

“I went swimming. I’m not even ready yet,” he said.

“Well, the swimming is really working out. I can just see it now, all those women swooning over you.”

He put his paper down and gave his sister his full attention. “What do you want?”

“What makes you think there’s anything I could want?”

He raised a brow.

“What? Can’t a sister compliment her brother?”

“Normal sisters, yes. You’re not normal.”

“That’s, like, really rude and unfair.” She nibbled on her lip.

“We got over this years ago. Tell me what you want.”

She rolled her eyes. He’d been taking care of her since she was ten years old. Their parents hadn’t exactly been good role models, and neither had Claire’s. Their parents had preferred not to acknowledge they had kids or responsibilities. Growing up, he’d lost count of the number of times he’d gotten a beating. Not that he looked back with any remorse. It helped to build him into what he was now.

“It’s Claire,” she said.

He had no doubt.

“With her eye, and well, she’s got nothing. No one is hiring.”

“And?”

“She’s a good waitress, Gabe. Honestly. She’s hard-working and smart.” If his sister was calling him Gabe, she was desperate. “Claire hates charity and I worry about her.”

“You want me to hire her?” he asked.

“Yes. Please. Any job, that is you know, legal. She’s not into all that dark stuff.” Rhianna nibbled on her lip again.

He wanted to say no but after his little encounter in the kitchen, he smiled. “Sure. I’ll hire her.”

Rhianna squealed and threw herself at him. “Yes. Thank you. Thank you.”

Claire walked in from the kitchen, carrying two plates. “Here you go.”

“My brother is going to give you a job,” Rhianna said.

“Oh.” Her gaze fell on him. “You are?”

“Yes. I’ve got a spot. Don’t worry about your eye. Everything will be fine. You can start tonight if you’d like?” He expected her to turn him down but she was already nodding her head.

“Yes, of course. Er, I’ve got to do some laundry.”

He perused her body and shook his head. “I’ve got some errands to run but I’ll bring you back something to wear. Don’t worry.”

“But my size—”

“Don’t worry,” he repeated. Pushing the paper to one side, he dug into the breakfast she’d made for him, closing his eyes and enjoying the flavors. It had been a long time since he’d enjoyed a delicious breakfast. “When did you learn to cook?”

“She’s self-taught,” Rhianna said. “Most of the time her mother forgot she even existed and she never had the money for takeout.”

“Thanks, Rhi,” she said.

His sister beamed. “Come on, let me brag a little about you. I remember you learning in school and then at home. You nearly gave yourself food poisoning once. Her chicken was raw and she nearly ate it. After that, you only ate vegetables.”

“I got better.”

“How is your mom?” he asked. He didn’t really care as he hadn’t gone back to the small town where they had originally grown up. His family had left to move to the city and in doing so, he’d found Claire there more often than not. The move was for his parents to be closer to him. He’d started making a name for himself and they wanted to reap the rewards. His parents had been money suckers, going wherever there was easy cash to make.