“Oh, hey, Sam,” Deacon says, unperturbed by his brother’s sudden intrusion like I am. “Do you know Remy?”

“I do know Remy from next door. What I want to know is why she’s here and why you’re practically naked in front of her.”


Deacon’s face loses its good natured appearance and turns into a hard, sculpted mask of distaste. “She’s here because I need a babysitter for Bailey and I’ve been around this girl since she was a kid and I know her mom. I’m not going to trust my child with some stranger I’ve never met. A glass of juice was spilled and now I’m about to put my shirt in the washer. So that’s why I am currently shirtless. Any more accusations you’d like to make?” he says, voice flat and curt.

It’s nice of him not to throw me under the bus by telling Sam I was the one who spilled the juice in the first place. What I would like to do is step on the wet carpet and really set that stain. Sam seems like the kind of guy who would cry over a stain.

Sam looks at me, then at Deacon and says, “Can I talk to you for a minute.”

Deacon breathes long and slow, then turns to me, his expression lightening, but I can still see the shadow of anger haunting his eyes. “Could you give us a minute, Remy?” he says.

I chew the inside of my cheek to keep from saying something stupid to Sam. “Sure. I’ll go get a towel to clean up this mess,” I say.

“Do you know where the towels are?” Deacon asks me, his voice softer, nicer when he speaks to me.

I nod. “I saw some in the laundry room.” I also saw some of Sam’s clothes in the laundry room as well as a muddy pair of boots. Let’s see if I can get creative.

This doesn’t look good. Both of them are fuming. I don’t know what I did wrong or why Sam doesn’t like me. I suspect he’s just being a dick because I don’t remember ever having an actual conversation with him, and it’s not like I’ve ever thrown a raging party at my house that would’ve pissed him off. I’m so confused.


I rush downstairs while they argue at the top of the staircase. When I’m in the laundry room, I realize there’s a vent above my head and I can still hear everything they’re saying as clear as if we were standing in the same room. My plot to ruin his fresh pressed clothes is set aside for now.

“What’s going on here?” Sam says. There’s no denying the accusation in his voice.

“Nothing’s going on. It’s completely innocent.”

“Somehow I doubt that,” Sam says. “Did you not see the way that girl was looking at you? She was stripping the rest of you down with her eyes.”

Deacon laughs as if it’s the most ridiculous thing he’s ever heard. “She was not.”

I open my mouth, shocked. How long had Sam been standing there before he announced himself? I seriously need to figure out how to rearrange my face to not be so transparent about my feelings. I’m surprised Deacon didn’t pick up on it.

“You’re blind, brother. That girl wants you,” Sam says.

“There’s no way a girl that young and beautiful is going to want an old single dad like me. She could have any man she wants.”

My breath stops. How can he not see how incredibly hot he is? Every woman in the neighborhood wanted him when he lived here. Him being a single dad doesn’t make a bit of difference. Whenever my mom’s book club would come to the house for their Thursday night meet-ups, it was more like the Deacon fan club. Ten minutes were spent talking about whatever book they were reading at the time and the other fifty minutes were spent talking about his ass. I used to sit at the top of the stairs, rolling my eyes at all the sad housewives. It’s been a few years since then, but he hasn’t changed much in looks. If anything he’s gotten better looking with age. He’s still as incredibly sexy as ever.

And he thinks I’m beautiful. I was afraid he’d still think of me as a child—if he even thought about me at all.

The brothers continue to argue. Sam begs him not to hire me. He thinks I’m trouble and that I’m just like Deacon’s ex-wife. What an ass. How could I not be incredibly offended by the things he’s saying? He doesn’t know me. I’ve never had a conversation with him. We’ve never even said ‘hi’ to each other in passing, so where does he get off saying I’m trouble? I would never leave Deacon and my kid to go off and party. I hardly ever party even though I’m eighteen and that’s what most eighteen-year olds do. That’s never been me. I’ve always been the responsible one in my group of friends. The one who always gets A’s, who always gets home before curfew, and I’m always true to my word. Deacon’s ex is a disgrace. How dare he compare me to her.

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