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The Will
  • Текст добавлен: 9 октября 2016, 02:02

Текст книги "The Will"

Автор книги: Kristen Ashley

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Текущая страница: 20 (всего у книги 35 страниц)

The man named Neal tore his gaze from Conner and looked to Jake.

“We gotta talk,” he bit out. “Private.”

Jake studied him only a moment but did it closely. He then nodded and held out a hand to the living room, which was a room that had a door, unlike the others on the bottom floor.

We trundled in, me holding back which meant Conner had to hold back and this meant I maneuvered it so that Conner and I were the last to enter the room.

I kept him well removed from Mia and her father and twisted to ask him quietly, “Please close the door, sweetheart.”

I could see by his face he was confused, perhaps a bit angry, and also very wary.

He closed the door.

When he turned back to the room, so did I.

“What’s this about?” Jake asked.

Neal didn’t delay in laying it out.

“Mia’s pregnant.”

Oh my.

He wasn’t done.

Your boy got my girl pregnant.”

The room became stifling. I felt it coming from all directions as I watched Jake’s face turn to marble.

But I heard Conner clip, “That’s complete bullshit.”

“Mind your boy, Jake,” Neal instantly demanded in an irate rumble.

Jake turned to Conner but said nothing when Conner repeated, “It’s total bullshit, Dad.”

“I can’t believe you,” Mia hissed at this point and I looked to her.

And it was then I knew that if she was going to instigate this kind of drama in order to salvage her wounded pride and inflict pain on the one who wounded it, she should be a much better actress.

“And I can’t believe you,” Conner shot back. “You know that’s totally whacked.”

“It is not!” she snapped.

“If you’re pregnant, whose is it? ‘Cause it sure isn’t mine,” Conner returned and the air in the room grew even heavier.

“Con,” Jake said in a warning tone.

“You need to be real careful, son,” Neal just warned.

“May I ask how you know you’re pregnant, Mia?” I queried at this juncture and I saw her eyes come to me but felt her father’s do it.

“Can I ask who you are?” her father inquired.

I looked to him but Jake answered. “Neal, this is Josie Malone. She’s close to the family.”

“I wish it was better circumstances, Neal,” I said quickly but softly. “But really, it’s rather important to know the basics of what’s happening here so we can have a constructive discussion.”

“I took a pregnancy test,” Mia stated before her father could reply.

I looked to her.

“A drugstore one?” I asked quietly.

“Yes,” she answered.

“Do you have the results with you?”

Her face got hard but I noted it did this to hide the shifty. “I freaked when I got a positive and threw it away.”

“I bet you did,” Conner muttered and the air shifted again so I turned to him.

“Please, sweetheart,” was all I said.

He held my eyes and shut his mouth, his jaw going hard.

I turned back to the room and looked at Mia’s father. “I’m very sorry, Neal. I know this is extremely upsetting for everyone but I hope you can understand that if this news is indeed true, much needs to be discussed as much may change. Indeed, entire courses of the lives of very young people. We’ll have to ask for Mia to take another test so we know what we’re dealing with.”

“She says she’s pregnant,” Neal returned.

“She’s also recently sustained a break up with our Conner and I myself witnessed her behavior at the game so I know that she was understandably upset about that,” I told him and his eyes narrowed.

“Are you sayin’ my girl would make shit like this up?”

I shook my head but held his eyes.

“I’m saying that this is a volatile situation but in the end what may come of it affects all parties and thus all parties should be involved in every step of the process.” I looked to Mia. “I’m happy to go get a test right now. I’m of the understanding it takes little time to take them. You can do it here and then we can resume this discussion.”

Her face got harder but I saw her mouth move in a telling way before she stated, “I’m not takin’ another test. Taking the first one was bad enough.”

“Alas, young Mia,” I said, forcing my tone to be gentle. “With pregnancy, much will be unpleasant in the coming months. But Conner deserves to see the results.”

She tossed her hair and crossed her arms on her chest. “He doesn’t deserve anything. Playing me, knocking me up and then dumping me. He doesn’t deserve crap.”

Conner had done well with being silent and not escalating matters, but with that, he was just done.

“Not sure how I could knock you up since we haven’t had sex, Mia.”

I found this interesting and a huge relief.

Because I believed him.


“Neal,” Jake quickly put in at this juncture. “Unfortunately we got a he said, she said situation goin’ on here and there may be an easy, quick fix. I’ll go get the test. Josie can stay here with you and Mia. Conner can go in the other room. To get to town and back, Mia takes the test, we’ll know what we’re dealing with in less than twenty minutes.”

Jake said this but Neal was staring at Conner and he wasn’t exactly furious anymore (or at least, not entirely). However, I knew him not at all. Therefore, I didn’t know what he was.

Then he looked to his daughter and his face gentled. “Just take the test, honey.”

It was then I knew what he was. He was a man who was simply a man therefore was once a teenaged boy so he knew how he’d feel if a girl’s father showed up at his doorstep with this news.

Her back shot straight as her face started to pale and she snapped, “I’m not takin’ another test.”

“It’ll take no time at all and—” Neal began.

She leaned into her father, her face twisting. “I’m not takin’ another test, Dad.”


Her eyes shifted around the room and she interrupted her father to announce, “I’ll take it at home.”

“I must insist you take it here,” I stated.

“Don’t know how you can insist on anything. It’s my pee. It’s my body. And you aren’t even family,” Mia fired back.

I held her eyes and, unperturbed, replied quietly, “You know why I can insist.”

“Respect, Josie, but I’m not real big on you standin’ there callin’ my daughter a liar,” Neal said with forced calm.

Before I could say anything, Conner did.

“She’s pregnant, she shouldn’t have any problem takin’ a test. Why do you have a problem with it, Mia?”

“Because you’re a dick and I can barely stand bein’ in the same room with you. I’m not gonna hang around for twenty minutes doin’ it,” she retorted.

“Now, Neal, I’m gonna have to ask you to ask your daughter to be careful,” Jake said in his quiet, angry voice.

Neal turned to his daughter. “This isn’t easy for any of us, honey. Don’t make it harder.”

“It’s hardest for me.” She leaned toward her father and jerked her thumb to herself at her last two words.

“Actually, it’s hardest for me,” Conner stated firmly and angrily and I looked to him to see his eyes slice to Mia’s father. “Mr. Earhart, I have not had sex with your daughter. I broke things off with her and she wasn’t happy about it. Josie saw her make a scene at the game and so did my sister and her friends and probably a bunch of other people. Pretty much anyone will tell you she’s made threats to the girl I’m seein’ and made more scenes than just the one at the game. But bottom line, no lie, if she’s pregnant, it’s absolutely not mine.”

After this rather well delivered speech (I thought), I turned back to Neal and saw him again studying Conner.

He did this but moments before he looked down at his daughter.

“You’re takin’ the test, Mia. Here.”

“Am not,” she spat.

His tone was deadly when he decreed, “You absolutely are.”

And when he did, Mia’s face went ashen.

Her father didn’t miss it and I knew this when he whispered, “Please tell me you did not lie to me about Conner Spear gettin’ you pregnant.”

She said nothing but visibly swallowed and her body language changed from extremely cross to exceptionally nervous.

Her father didn’t miss that either.

“You lied to me,” Neal stated, still in a whisper.

She rubbed her lips together as she rubbed her palms on her jeans.

“You’re not pregnant?” her father asked, his voice now sounding choked.

She stared into his eyes for some time before she finally jerked her head in a negative.

“What were you gonna do when that shit was found out?” her father asked incredulously, a question he probably didn’t want the answer to, but asked it anyway.

She shifted on her feet.

“Mia,” he started, his voice awful and I didn’t know him, but I felt for him. “What were you gonna do?”

“Get pregnant in the meantime, but pin it on Conner,” she whispered, voice trembling, eyes glued to her dad.

“Jesus,” Neal bit out, staring at her like he’d never seen before.

Her face screwed up and she threw out a hand Conner’s way. “We dated for three months and he just blew me off.

Good goodness.

All of this for three months?

I was aghast.

“Go to the car.” Neal was again whispering.

She looked to Conner. “You can’t be with a girl and just blow her off.

“Mia, go to the car,” Neal demanded, a lot louder this time.

She looked to her father. “He humiliated me. I was the second one cut!”

“Swear to Christ, Mia, you don’t go to the car right now…” Neal trailed off.

She looked to Conner and hissed, “You’re still a dick and you’ll always be a dick.”

That was when Jake was done.

“Not sure your girl is welcome in my home, Neal,” Jake said low.

“Mia—” Neal started but her bravado disintegrated as her face crumbled.

I felt no pity for her.

Lying about a pregnancy and conniving to become that way?


“You hurt me,” she whispered to Conner.

Conner said nothing.

“Car, Mia,” her father ordered but his voice was gentler, thus giving some understanding of why Mia was as Mia was. What she’d done was not suitable by any stretch of the imagination, but she showed some emotion, and her father gentled to it.

She stared at Conner with wet eyes then looked to her father and without a word or another look at anyone, she rushed by Jake, by me, by Conner and out the door.

Neal lifted a hand and ran it through his hair before he looked to Jake.

“Jake, don’t know what to say,” he murmured.

“Nothin’ to say,” Jake replied. “Kids do crazy shit. It’s done.” Jake paused as he held the man’s eyes before he finished, “Though, would appreciate it you have a word with your girl about shit she’s pullin’ with Conner’s girl, Ellie. She’s pissed at Conner, I get. Her doin’ this, I don’t get, but we’re past that. Her messin’ with Ellie, that shit isn’t right.”

Neal stared at him a moment before doing the only thing he could do at that juncture, nodding and moving. He gave a curt jerk of the chin to me and looked to Conner.

“Conner, son. Sorry.”

Conner said nothing.

Even without a response, Neal nodded to him too and walked out the door.

Conner delayed not a moment before shutting it behind him and cutting his eyes to his father.

“She told Ellie that shit. Or got someone to do it.”

She did indeed, I thought.

“Yep,” Jake said.

“That’s why Ellie’s not calling me,” Conner went on.

It certainly was, I thought.

“Yep,” Jake said.

“I gotta go to her,” Conner announced.

He absolutely did, I thought.

“Yep,” Jake said.

Conner put a hand to the door.

“Son,” Jake called.

Conner looked to his father.

“Lesson,” Jake said gently. “Man’s got the power to break a woman’s heart. Women have their own power. Learn this and in future, choose better.”

Conner’s jaw got hard then he jerked up his own chin, threw open the door and exited the room.

Jake walked to the door, closed it again and turned to me.

“How’d you know?”

“She’s an immensely unpleasant young woman and a terrible actress.”

He tipped his head to the side. “She gonna cause more problems for my boy?”

I drew in a deep breath and lowered my voice when I replied, “Unless her father successfully imparts wisdom through appropriate punishment, it’s highly likely she’ll do that every chance she gets.”

“Conner shares, not everything but we’re tight and he gives a lot to his old man,” Jake told me. “He made no promises of exclusivity to any of them, not until he told Ellie she’s the one. I’m a man so I’m gonna think this kinda punishment doesn’t fit the crime ‘cause I’m not sure he committed one.”

I said nothing.

“You got a take on that?” he prompted.

“It wasn’t like he was dating five women in a large cosmopolitan city, Jake. He was dating five girls in a small high school. This was a recipe for disaster. But, in essence, you’re correct. If he made no promises, the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. He simply chose poorly.” I paused and finished. “Very poorly.”

“And how does he deal with this girl, she keeps fuckin’ with him?”

“He gives her what she deserves,” I told him.

His brows went up as he asked, “And what’s that?”

“He ruins her.”

“Come again?” he asked, brows still high.

“I am not a man, or a teenaged boy becoming a man, and I’ve never been either. But I would guess if I was, if it was known a girl would go to these extremes simply because her non-exclusive boyfriend of three months broke up with her, she would not be high on my list of girls I’d wish to spend time with.”

“So he spreads this,” Jake said.

“No. That would make him look tactless and it would be obvious. But the Taylors could do it. However, in all honesty, in high school with his station in it, I don’t believe it would be untoward for him to do it himself. That was an extreme, completely uncalled for and utterly overdramatized reaction to a breakup. Young Mia has a lesson to learn too.”

Jake shook his head. “Unless he asks, I think I’ll let him come up with that. Even if he asks, not sure I’ll give him that option.”

“Pity,” I replied. “Although he was quite angry and it’s unlikely he’ll keep this to himself, she came to his home with her father demanding to see his father, dragging you both into something exceptionally unpleasant and she did something that is utterly inexcusable. I, for one, hope she gets what she deserves.”

At that, Jake grinned and moved to me.

He had his arms around me and had drawn me close to his front before he muttered, “Momma bear.”

“I do not like that young woman,” I declared, my body stiff even being held in his arms.

He kept muttering and grinning. “Total momma bear.”

I stared up at him and noted, “This must be excruciatingly difficult for you, to be close, for matters to mean so much, but to be mostly powerless as your son and daughter learn how to make decisions in their lives and sometimes are forced to face the consequences.”

“It ain’t a walk in the park,” he agreed.

“Hmm,” I mumbled, looking at his shoulder just above where I’d placed my hands on his biceps.


I looked up at him.

“You’re the shit.”

I stopped thinking about Conner and Ellie and Mia and Amber and boys with motorcycles and smiled.

“Wish like fuck I could strip you bare and fuck you on my couch right about now.”

I stopped smiling and experienced a rather intense and exceptionally pleasant tingle.

His mouth dropped to mine and I felt as well as heard his next words. “Sucks the kids are in the next room.”

It most certainly did.

“Yes,” I breathed.

His lips brushed mine and then slid along my cheek to my ear where he whispered, “Take you again in your bed when I take you home tonight.”

My fingers clenched into his biceps when I whispered back, “Yes.”

“Really lookin’ forward to that, Slick.” He kept whispering.

“Me as well, Jake.”

“You gonna give me somethin’ to go on until then?” he asked.

I absolutely was.

I didn’t tell him that.

I gave it to him. Turning my head, he felt it, turned his, and our mouths collided.

In the end, it wasn’t entirely correct that I gave it to him. It was more that he took it from me.

But pressed tight to Jake Spear in his living room with his kids’ laptops and tablets and backpacks all around, being kissed dizzy, I didn’t mind him taking anything he wanted.


I didn’t mind at all.

Because I’d give him anything.

I’d give him everything.

If I had the power, I’d give him the world.

* * * * *

“Um…that sweater…no,” boy Taylor decreed.

It was over an hour after the day’s latest debacle had finished and we were watching an interview with a quarterback who was wearing a cream lapelled cardigan that did him no favors.

Conner had not yet returned.

Jake nor I had shared what had occurred in the living room with the kids in the family room, although we did receive speculative glances.

I’d turned attention away from this curiosity by asking to see the photos of the Spear house prior to renovation and Ethan had run to get the envelopes of pictures. I’d then seen that Ethan was indeed correct. The house had been a “dump,” completely ramshackle. I shouldn’t have been surprised, yet I still was, that Jake had wrought miracles.

Now we were carrying on with football Sunday but without the food fest. Though Jake did say he was going to order pizza in about an hour.

“Indeed,” I agreed with boy Taylor. “He’s very pretty. Too pretty and he knows it. An African-American football player could pull off that sweater by sheer force of will. A rougher man, with, say, no neck and a crew cut, absolutely. A pretty man who knows he’s pretty, he simply looks ridiculous.”

“Totally,” girl Taylor agreed.

“I’m psyched Josie thinks he’s a pretty-boy. Everyone thinks he’s so hot. He does nothing for me and never has,” Amber put in just as I felt Jake move and then felt his lips at my ear.

“Uh…babe, just sayin’, that’s my team’s quarterback.”

I turned my head to look at him, uncertain why my assessment of the man’s looks and attire would mean anything regardless if he played for Jake’s team.

“And Ethan’s,” he finished when I caught his eyes.

It was then I looked to Ethan who was sitting on the couch, legs out, arms crossed, lips pressed tight, eyes glued to the television, looking fit to be tied.

I found this interesting.

Apparently my assessment of a man’s looks and attire did mean something if that man played for a beloved team.

“Taylors and Amber,” I called out. “We should cease insulting this man’s sweater. It’s upsetting Ethan.”

They all looked to Ethan.

“Sorry, Ethan,” girl Taylor said.

“Sorry, Eath,” boy Taylor said.

“Sorry, runt,” Amber said.

Ethan screwed up his face and glared at Amber.

“Don’t call me runt!” he snapped at his sister, uncharacteristically indignantly.

“Eath—” she started but Ethan looked to his father.

“Is Conner okay?” he demanded to know.

My insides melted.

He was possibly upset about our insulting his quarterback’s knitwear but he was more worried about his brother.

He was such a good child.

“He’ll be okay, bud,” Jake replied.

“That’s not okay now,” Ethan pointed out rather astutely.

And he was so very bright.

“You’re right, Eath,” Jake said gently. “But he will be.”

Ethan glared at his father for a long moment then demanded, “Promise?”

“Promise, son,” Jake promised.

Ethan kept glaring at his father before he turned his glare to the television and declared, “I’m never dating ever.

Jake made a grunt that sounded like a swallowed chuckle and the Taylors and Amber grinned at each other.

“I’d like to rewind our afternoon and go over that safety business again,” I announced to change the subject and perhaps lighten the mood. “I know your father explained it to me when it happened but I fear it still makes little sense. Ethan, please expound on that explanation.”

“It’s super easy, Josie,” Ethan told me. “It’s when the offense gets downed in their own end zone.”

“And what’s an end zone?” I inquired.

Ethan blinked.

Jake emitted another grunt.

“That big part at the end of the field,” Ethan explained. “Where you go to get a touchdown.”

“Ah,” I murmured. “I thought so.”

Ethan studied me narrowly and asked, “Are you bein’ full of it?”

“Entirely,” I answered.

At my admission, his face cracked in a grin, which pleased me greatly.

Alas, with very bad timing, at that very moment we heard the garage door going up and Ethan’s smile froze as his eyes went to the entryway to the family room.

In no time, Conner appeared in the entryway with eyes only for his father, his expression making my stomach clench, and I knew Jake’s assertion that he would be okay in the future was in jeopardy.

“Dad,” was all he said before he disappeared from the entryway.

That was all he had to say. Giving me a quick squeeze of the knee before he pushed out of the chair, Jake followed his eldest son.

“Uh-oh,” boy Taylor murmured.

But Amber got up and walked to her little brother, sat next to him on the couch and bumped him with her shoulder. “Want a hot fudge sundae?”

“Not hungry,” Ethan muttered, the first time he had been thus since I’d met him.

Very worried about his brother.

“Wanna help me make some for the Taylors and me?”

He looked up at his sister. Then he nodded.

They got off the couch and went to the kitchen but not before I caught her hand as they passed me and gave it a squeeze.

She gave me a worried look but squeezed my hand back.

She was such a good sister.

The Taylors and Amber were consuming their sundaes (and Ethan must have given in because he was consuming one too), when Jake appeared in the entryway.

“Josie,” was all he said but he didn’t then disappear.

He waited until I made it to him before he turned to the side to let me precede him but did this in a way that I knew we were heading to the kitchen.

I went there. Jake followed.

I moved to the far side of the island, stopped and rested a hip against it. Jake got close and did the same.

“Is Conner all right?” I asked quietly.

“Not by a long shot,” he answered.

Oh dear.

I waited and Jake gave it to me.

“Seems Mia Earhart is a real piece of work.”

I said it out loud this time.

“Oh dear.”

“Oh yeah,” Jake agreed. “Orchestrated one helluva maneuver. Got one of her friends who’s mom is friends with Ellie’s mom to tell that mom that Conner got Mia pregnant. That mom didn’t hesitate to tell Ellie’s mom. Seein’ as Conner’s been seein’ a lot of Ellie, this did not go down real good. Ellie’s mom and dad told Ellie that she had to break it off with Conner at school tomorrow and was not to have anything to do with him before or after that shit went down. Seein’ as Conner showed at their house, this sped that up and got Conner not only a face to face with a very irate father who wants him to have nothin’ to do with his daughter, it got him a face to face with a girl he likes a whole fuckin’ lot who thinks he’s a dick.”

“But Mia isn’t pregnant,” I reminded him.

“I know. They weren’t so easy to convince.”

I pressed my lips together before I got closer and noted even more quietly, “The truth obviously will out.”

“Not sure my boy’s real hip on waitin’. Liked her, didn’t know just how much until he lost her. He’s gutted.”

I looked to the door and whispered, “Poor Conner.”

I looked back to Jake when I felt his hand curl around my neck and when I did I saw his face was closer.

“Puts a hitch in my plans for us tonight. He’s probably not gonna come outta his room but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be here for him just in case that happens. And I gotta get to the club later but wanna do that when all the kids are asleep. So after pizza, when you’re ready, I’ll drop you home but I can’t stay.”

That was highly regrettable, but also understandable, so I replied, “Okay.” Then I suggested, “Perhaps you could phone Ellie’s parents and explain this situation.”

“I offered, Con said no. He’s hurt and for a guy, hurt equals pissed. He can’t believe Ellie doesn’t believe him because he, thank Christ, hasn’t done the deed with either of them. Don’t know if my boy’s a virgin. Hope to God he never shares that with me just as I hope to God he’s bein’ smart about that, somethin’ I’ve shared repeatedly that he should be. Just know he hasn’t gone there with either of those two. Possibly outta self-preservation with Mia, definitely outta respect for Ellie. So he says it’s her loss, she didn’t go to bat for him with her parents because she believed Mia’s lies, and he doesn’t want me to get involved.”

“I can’t say he’s wrong, Jake,” I told him.

“She’s a good kid,” he told me. “But yeah. He’s always been way more into her than the others and she’s shy, he’s all about that, likes that about her, likes lookin’ after her and at their first hurtle bein’ exclusive, she fell. I get him bein’ pissed. He’s hurt he lost her and he’s hurt she didn’t believe in him and stand by him in an extreme situation. That’s a lotta hurt so it’s a lotta pissed and both are justified. ”

“Agreed,” I stated then repeated. “Poor Conner.”

“Yeah,” Jake murmured and studied me a moment before he asked, “Do you think your shit for brains boss is gonna fuck with you?”

I felt my brows draw together at this swift change in topic. “Pardon?”

“He gonna show again at your place,” he explained.

I couldn’t have any idea what Henry would do for that morning he had shocked me with his behavior not to mention even being at Lavender House at all.

“I’ve no idea,” I told Jake.

His eyes went over my head as his fingers pressed into my skin.

“Jake?” I called, uncertain what was on his mind outside of what obviously was with his son, and he looked back at me.

“I think the kids get what’s happenin’ between us but it’s way too soon for you to be spending the night.”

“Of course,” I agreed readily.

“But I’m not real big on you bein’ there alone, him havin’ a key and maybe showin’ his face to fuck with you.”

It was at that, I understood.

And I liked what I understood.

So I slid my arms around him and pressed close, tipping my head way back to keep his eyes and dipping my voice low to assure him, “I’ll be all right.”

“I get you got a long history with him and he means somethin’ to you but I don’t think you get what he did this mornin’ was fucked. I don’t want him messing with your head.”

“If he comes around, I’ll ask for him to return the key and then ask him to leave and tell him we’ll speak later when things aren’t as fresh and I’m not as angry.”

His head tipped to the side. “You’re angry?”

I nodded. “His behavior this morning was uncalled for. You were correct, if he had feelings for as long as he said he did, he should have done something about them long ago. He should not have communicated them well later when too much had happened and it was way too late.”

I took a breath and held his eyes before I cautiously continued sharing and did it candidly.

“I cared about him, Jake, deeply, in just that way some time ago. It was painful to do that thinking he didn’t return those feelings. I don’t understand why he, as you say, played it the way he did. I’ve been very forthcoming about the way things have progressed, coming to know you and the children. I didn’t share how they are now as you know I wasn’t even aware of where things were heading. But I suspect he was reading between the lines and, as Mickey would say, came to stake his claim. I daresay he was about twenty years late doing that. How he could not know that, I can’t fathom. That he would put our business relationship and more, our personal relationship at jeopardy to do this, I can’t fathom either. It hurts. How he did it was extremely inappropriate. So yes, I’m angry.”

As I was speaking, he started to stroke my jaw with his thumb and his eyes warmed. As I continued speaking, they warmed more.

When I was done, they were so warm, they warmed me.

“Just to make things clear in case you aren’t gettin’ it, baby, I’m hopin’ things with you and me and my kids keep progressing.”

At his words, I melted deeper into him and whispered, “I hope they do too.”

He dropped his head closer and touched his mouth to mine, lifting away nary an inch before he went on, “I’d like other things to progress too, a lot faster than they are, the part that just you and me can do, but we’ll have to find time tomorrow.”

I understood precisely what he was saying so I melted even deeper into him and replied, “Okay.”

“A lot of time,” he stated.

I bit my lip, let it go and repeated, “Okay.”

His mouth came to mine and he whispered, “Fuckin’ hours.”

I trembled against his frame.

He slanted his head, slid his hand back into my hair and kissed me.

I pressed even deeper and kissed him back.


“Gross!” Ethan shouted from close and we broke the kiss but Jake didn’t let me move too far away even as we both looked to the door.

Ethan’s head was turned so he could shout over his shoulder, “Amber! Get this! Josie and Dad are makin’ out in the kitchen!”

“Good God,” I breathed.

Jake emitted another swallowed chuckle grunt.

“Get in here, runt, and leave them alone!” Amber shouted back.

Well, there it was. It appeared the kids did, indeed, get how things were with Jake and me.

It was only me who missed it.

Fortunately, I wasn’t missing it at all now.

“Don’t call me runt!” Ethan yelled, looked at us and demanded to know, “Are you two getting married?”

My entire body seized.

“You think maybe you might not wanna freak out my girl, bud?” Jake asked.

“All girls wanna get married,” Ethan told his father authoritatively.

My breath started coming in pants.

“I’ll try something else,” Jake said. “You think your old man might want a little privacy?”

Ethan looked to me and announced, “I’m not wearing one of those monkey suits.”

“So noted,” I forced out.

That seemed to assuage him for he turned and strolled out of view.

When he did, Jake’s hand that had been resting on the counter beside us (even through our kiss) came to me so he could wrap his arm around me and his hand that had not left my hair glided through it.

I looked back at him.

“Your home is not boring,” I remarked.

“Nope,” he agreed.

“It’s been a very interesting day,” I noted.

“Yep,” he agreed, lips twitching.

“And oddly, I’m hungry,” I shared and his lips curved up.

“Time to feed my woman.”

“Mm,” I mumbled.

“No delivery. We’ll pick up the pizzas, leavin’ right after we order so we can make out in my truck waitin’ for them.”

“Mm,” I repeated but the noise had a different meaning this time.

Jake didn’t miss the meaning and I knew this when his mouth came back to mine even as he held my gaze. “Let’s do that now.”

“Okay,” I breathed and got another smile from Jake, this one I saw only in his eyes but felt against my lips.

It was extraordinary.

Then he slanted his head and kissed me again.

In other words, we didn’t order pizza right then. We ordered pizza five minutes later when Jake stopped kissing me.

And we left two seconds after he disconnected.

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