“Just don’t wait too long, honey.”

“Promise I won’t,” I say as my insides twist.

“He’s hot.” She smiles after a moment.

“What?!” I shriek, looking at her.

“He is, and that kiss he gave you when he walked into you house. “Very nice.”

“Shut up.”

“What? I’m old, but I’m not dead.” She smiles.

“You better not let Dad hear you say that,” I warn, and the smile slides off her face.

“Watch it, young lady,” she says, and I wrap my arms around her waist.

“Love you, Mom.”

“Love you too, honey.” She kisses my hair. “Now,” she pulls away, leaving her hands on my shoulders, “let’s get this stuff done, and get outside and enjoy your dad’s birthday.”

“Right,” I agree, pulling the rest of the platters out of the fridge and heading back outside.

“Bye, Mom. Bye, Dad!” I yell out my car window to my parents, who are standing on the front porch with their arms wrapped around each other.

“Bye, honey,” my mom calls back as my dad lifts his chin as I back out.

After dinner, we FaceTimed my sisters while we sang him happy birthday before cutting his cake. I missed my sisters, but with all of them going to college out of state, it was hard for all of us to get together like we used to when we were all home. The good thing is over the next few years, all of my sisters will be moving back to town one-by-one as they finish college. I pull out onto the main road and press send on Wes’ number when it pulls up on my call log.

“Hey, babe,” he answers, and I hear music in the background then moving.

“Hey,” I say when his side goes quiet.

“You on your way?”

“Yeah.” I smile.

“Good, I miss you,” he says, lowering his tone—not like he’s trying to hide what he’s saying, but like he is really happy I will be there soon.

“Me too.” I smile again, turning onto another road.

“How did things go with your dad?”

Shit. I don’t want to lie, but I don’t want to tell him I never even mentioned him to my dad, and that I actually tackled Jax to the ground when he was going to say something about Wes to his dad.

“He had a great birthday,” I say, playing dumb while hoping he doesn’t ask anything else—at least, not yet, not until I’ve spoken to my dad, which I will do soon. Okay, maybe not soon, but sooner, rather than later. “I’m going to stop by my house and change really quick, and then I will be there.”

“Why do you need to change?”

“’Cause I wore a dress to the party.”

“Come straight here,” he growls, and the space between my legs tingles.


“Come straight here, July,” he demands, causing the tingle to become a shiver of excitement.

“I’ll see you soon,” I say, and the phone goes dead. I drop it into my lap and attempt to focus on driving, not on the ache that the tone of his voice caused.

When I pull up outside of the compound, Wes is waiting out front. My mouth waters as I take him in. Wearing a white tank that shows off his tattoos, his cut over it, a pair of jeans, and his black boots, leaning against the building with a beer in his hand at his hip.

I shut off my car and check my face in the mirror, noticing that my eyes are bright with excitement and happiness. They travel from my reflection to Wes, and his eyes hold me in a trance as I unlock my seatbelt and fumble until I get my door open.

The moment my sandal-covered foot touches the ground, Wes steps away from the building. I clear the door and slam it behind me, and his eyes run over me from head to toe. I left my hair down after I got out of the shower this afternoon, so it dried with messy waves. The dress is the color of buttercups. It has wide straps, and the top of the dress is snug, with buttons down the front, the bottom flaring out at the hips, making it look like I have the perfect hourglass figure.

I let out a long breath and wipe my hands down the front, trying to settle my nerves.

“I don’t know if I’m going to be cool with my boys seeing you like this,” he places a hand on my waist and dragging my body close to his until we’re hip-to-hip. “You look beautiful,” he says as his eyes take me in.

“Thank you.” I smile, placing my hand on the leather of his cut, sliding up to wrap around the back of his neck so I can pull him down to kiss me.

“I should just take you back to your house,” he whispers as his mouth hovers just out of reach of mine.

“Then I wouldn’t get to meet your friend,” I tell him, pressing up on my toes, trying to reach his mouth.

“He’s not important.”

I smile when I finally get the kiss I had been waiting for, and somehow end up with my legs wrapped around his hips and my arms wrapped around his neck, my back pressing into the door of my car. When we finally end our make-out session, he leads me inside and straight to the bar towards a group of guys who are talking.

The moment we’re close, the conversation stops and one of the guys turns to look at us. His hair is low to his scalp, his face ruggedly handsome, almost so much so that it’s intimidating. His eyes sweep over me and heat slightly then drop to the hand Wes has wrapped around my hip. Then they travel up to meet mine again, and this time, the heat is gone and understanding is in its place.

“So this is her, huh?” he asks, looking over my shoulder at Wes.

“Baby, this is Tuck. Tuck, this is July,” Wes introduces us.

“Tuck?” I ask, and Wes chuckles.

“You don’t want to know how I got that nickname.” He shakes his head and sticks out his hand. “It’s nice to meet you. Seems you have my boy strung out.”

“I don’t think so,” I tell him as I shake his hand.

“You wouldn’t.” He looks over my shoulder and smiles as he drops my hand. “So what’s your poison?”

“Oh, I’m not going to drink tonight,” I say, shaking my head as memories of the last time I was here come to mind.

“One shot?” he questions, and Wes squeezes my side then whispers in my ear, “I’ll make sure you don’t challenge anyone to a dance-off.”

“Very funny,” I huff, looking over my shoulder at him and smiling.


“Shot, shot, shot,” is cheered, and I shoot back a shot of tequila and slam the glass down on the table then cover my mouth with my hand, wincing as the taste floods my mouth.

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