Out of the corner of her eye, Lara saw her brother’s slight frown.
Classified, her ass.
“Okay, one of you say something,” Castillo demanded. When they both only stared, he threw his hands in the air. “What is your problem? You’re brother and sister. So talk. Yell. Hell, throw things around the room. Whatever it takes to be family again.”
Lara’s laugh was bitter. “Now, see, that’s where you screwed up.” She walked back into the bedroom to snag her laptop, then slung her purse over her shoulder before returning to stop in front of Castillo. “We were never family.”
“Now, sweetheart, you’re just being stubborn. Right, Banks?”
Lara followed his gaze to her brother. For a second something flashed in those eyes. Humor, regret. Hurt so deep Lara didn’t understand it. Then in a blink, he went all stoic again, offering only a shrug.
Looked like agreement to her.
Lara turned to leave.
“Where are you going?” Castillo grabbed her arm, halting Lara’s move toward the door.
“Away.” She glanced at his hand, then gave him a chilly look. “So let go.”
“You’re being—” Not being a total idiot, he bit off the rest of his comment before he said something really stupid.
But Lara didn’t need to hear the actual word to know where he was going. He thought she was stubborn, stupid, crazy. Since he clearly didn’t think she was smart enough to make her own choices or lead her own life, she shouldn’t be shocked.
Yet she was.
“Phillip?” she asked, not taking her eyes off Castillo. “Can you hold this?”
Her eyes still locked on her ex-lover’s face, she held out her laptop. It was wordlessly taken.
“In the future, you might want to give a girl a little credit for knowing her own mind,” she advised Castillo quietly. She clenched her fists together, one wrapped over the other. Then with another deep breath, she swung sideways with all her might to slam Castillo in the gut. Damn the man, he didn’t budge. He didn’t even gasp. No matter. It was the gesture that counted. “Not our future, of course. We’re through.”
Lara wanted to shake her fingers to release the stinging pain, but wasn’t about to give him the satisfaction of knowing he’d hurt her. In any way.
She held out her numb hand, glad her fingers were working enough to wrap around the laptop when Phillip handed it back.
She met her brother’s eyes. There was no mistaking the laughter in his gaze this time.
“I take it we’re through here?” she heard Phillip say as the door swung closed.
“Not by a long shot,” Castillo muttered.
“Sorry. My money’s on her.”
For the first time since she’d walked in and seen betrayal standing in her sitting room, Lara smiled.
Sure, it was salty from tears and wobbly at the corners.
But it was still a smile.
Uptight and righteous though he might be, her brother definitely knew a smart bet when he saw one.
* * *
DOMINIC’S SHOCKED STARE rocketed between the man standing unfazed in the sitting room and the door that Lara had just stormed through.
The door looked friendlier.
What was with this family?
First Banks argued up a storm over seeing his sister. The guy had been through a traumatic situation, between the capture, the rescue and a handful of Navy shrinks poking at his brain to see if it’d gone soft. You’d think he’d want the family connection. That he’d be grateful for a chance to fix things.
But no. He’d been a total pain in the ass about it. Dominic had had to play dirty to get him there.
She’d gotten irritated that he was fixing her career issues, then she’d stormed out instead of thanking him for giving her back her brother?
This day sucked.
“Why the hell didn’t you say something to keep her here?” he snapped at Banks.
“What was there to say? Your claim that I owe you got me here, despite my warning you that cozy family reunion s aren’t my style. From what I saw, Lara probably issued that same exact advice.” Banks shrugged. “So what would you have me say? The only thing that comes to mind is ‘I told you so.’”
Dominic blinked, his shock holding fury at bay.
“Did you just say ‘I told you so’?”
What were they? Teenage girls?
“No. I said that’s the only thing that came to mind.”
Dominic ground his teeth together so hard he swore he could taste enamel. The guy was hell on technicalities.
“Don’t you want family?” he asked, truly baffled by their behavior. If he’d ever seen two people more in need of connections, it was Lara and her brother. But both of them were fighting like crazy to stay alone.