One Good Reason Online - Sarah Mayberry Page 0,1

narrowed. His brother was quite the amateur sleuth. “I’d say that gets filed under ‘none of your business,’ same as everything else.”

“Doesn’t work that way, sorry. I’m not going to stand by and watch you kill yourself over an old bastard who wasn’t worth it.”

“This has nothing to do with him.” But he could barely get the words past the sudden tightness in his throat.

“You think if you change enough of this place it’ll change what happened?”

“I think you’ve been living with an advice columnist for too long.”

Tyler eyed him for a long beat. Then he tilted his head to one side and nodded slowly, a gesture which Jon read as conceding defeat.

Good. He didn’t need a keeper.

As for the things Tyler had said… This had nothing to do with the old man. It had nothing to do with anything.

“I told Ally you wouldn’t listen,” Tyler said.

He crossed to the kitchen door and collected something from the hall.

An overnight bag.

It took a moment for the penny to drop.

“No,” Jon said.

“I figure if we both pitch in, we can get this place finished in a few weeks. Get it on the market. Then you can go back to Toronto or wherever. Get away from here.”

Jon swore. “I don’t want you here.”

“Tough.”

“I don’t need a babysitter.”

“Then stop acting like you do.”

Jon breathed in slowly through his nose and out through his mouth. It didn’t make much difference—he still wanted to smash a hole in something.

He strode across the room, picked up the overnight bag. Started for the door. Maybe once he’d tossed Tyler’s gear into the street his brother would get the message that his intervention was neither welcome nor necessary.

Tyler blocked his path. Jon stopped short of barging into his brother’s shoulder. He met Tyler’s gaze. There was determination there. And something else. Compassion.

It made Jon’s hand curl into a fist.

“Get out of my way.”

“I’m not leaving unless you come with me,” Tyler said. “Come to Melbourne, move into the spare room. Get away from this place.”

“Get out of my way.”

Tyler didn’t move. Jon reached to push his brother out of his path. Tyler resisted, grabbing a fistful of Jon’s T-shirt as he attempted to hold him off. Years ago, Jon would have been able to shift his brother easily, but Tyler was a man now, and they’d both inherited their father’s big build.

Jon braced his legs, shoving harder. Tyler shoved back. For long moments they struggled, locked together. In any other fight, it would have come to blows by now, but Jon was not going to throw a punch at his brother.

Not in this house.

“Move,” Jon demanded.

“He’s dead. And even if he wasn’t, he’s not worth it. Not in a million years.”

A surge of anger gave Jon new strength. He wrenched his brother to the side. Shoved past him and into the hall and out the door.

The air was cool on his face, the grass still damp from the morning dew. He dropped the bag on the ground and stood half-turned away from the house, chest heaving from the exertion, aware of his brother in the open doorway, watching him.

This wasn’t about his father. Jon refused to let him hold that much power over him. He was simply making the most of the house. Fulfilling its potential. It was what he did—he was a builder. He made homes for people. Until recently he’d co-owned a construction company in Toronto. This was business as usual.

His gaze found the recycling bin, filled to overflowing with various liquor bottles.

Too many bottles for one person. Way too many.

He swore. Ran a hand through his hair, fisting his fingers in it and pulling so tightly that it hurt.

Why couldn’t Tyler have left him here to rot, or whatever it was he was doing? Why couldn’t Tyler have left him to battle it out on his own with the ghost of a dead man?

He laughed, a short, hard bark of bitter amusement.

If this really was a battle, according to the tide of bottles spilling onto the lawn, he was making a pretty poor showing. He was in full retreat, utterly routed, on his way to surrender.

Tyler’s hand landed on his shoulder.

“Let’s patch it up and sell it. Then never look back.”

Jon knew his brother was right but he hated the understanding in his voice. He twisted from under his brother’s grip. Moved away from him.

“We should focus on the kitchen, knock it off first. The bathroom won’t need too much time if we stick to the