Chapter 1


I put the phone on speaker and set it down next to me so I can put my boots on. “Yes, Mom. Jackson and Megan just left and I am waiting on Derrick to get here and pick me up.”

“Well, was your brother all right? Was he surprised about Megan being his date?” she asks, and I can hear the excitement in her voice.

I can’t help but laugh at her tone. “Yes. He was definitely surprised but I think it’s going to work out. Look, Mom, you have guests about to show up. Let me get off here and finish getting ready. I’ll see you soon. Okay?”

“Okay. Love you, honey. Be safe,” she says before I hear her end the call.

Picking up my phone to hit the end button, I walk back to the bathroom to look at myself in the mirror. Not bad, Abby. I picked an easy costume; most of it I had already in my closet. Since I’ve been working out at the boxing ring, I even had the boxing gloves.

I’m applying a fresh coat of lipstick when I hear my front door open and “Honey, I’m home.”

I paste a smile to my face and walk out to greet him, trying not to grind my teeth together. I hate when he walks in without knocking. I really need to remember to start locking the door.

“Hey… Why do you have a suitcase?” I’m staring at it like it’s going to jump out and bite me. But it’s definitely not part of his lumberjack costume.

He drops the offending object by the door and starts walking toward me. “I got kicked out. I’m going to need to stay here a while.”

I put my hand out to stop him from coming any closer. This is my own fault. I should have ended this a long time ago. Why do I always date the men that need taken care of? “You can’t stay here.”

His shoulders go rigid before he relaxes them and then walks over to me and puts his arms around me. “Sure I can. Just until I find somewhere else to stay. Plus, we’ve been dating for several months now, Abby. Don’t you think that it’s time we take this to the next level?”

Sex. I know that’s what he means. But I’m not interested. At least not with him. Man, why didn’t I end this? Because you liked having a date, I answer my own question. Yep, growing up with three older brothers and working construction has not really made me a man magnet. Plus, the way I like to control things pretty much tells you what type of men I attract. But even with all that, it still hasn’t stopped Derrick from getting too handsy with me.

I struggle to get out of his arms, but when his grip doesn’t loosen, I stomp on his foot. He releases me instantly. I go over to the door, put his suitcase outside and gesture for him to leave. “No. There is not a next level. I’m sorry, but it’s over between us. You need to leave.”

“I don’t have anywhere else to go,” he whines and it takes everything I have not to roll my eyes. Man, I’m sick of men that expect me to take care of them. When am I going to wake up?

I straighten my back and point out the door. “Derrick, you know that you can go to your mom’s house. Your cousin’s house. Your uncle’s house. You have a long list of places you can go. And I don’t care where you go, but you’re not staying here.”

He walks up to me and stands so close that I press my back against the open door. I can feel his hot breath against my cheek. I can see the anger written on his face. “Fine. You’re too much damn work anyway… and not worth it.”

“Knock, knock. Trick or Treat. Everything okay here, Mrs.?” At the sound of the voice, both our heads turn to the door. I didn’t know what I was expecting, but I wasn’t expecting that. A tall man is standing at my door, his hands fisted tightly in front of him. His short hair, strong jaw and his stance exudes power.

“Get lost, mister. This is none of your business,” Derrick says, but even I can hear the uncertainty in his voice.

I get out from between the door and Derrick, slide into the hallway of my apartment and grab his bag, shoving it at him. I smile briefly at the stranger beside me. “Thank you for your help. But he was just leaving.” I point to Derrick.

Derrick looks as if he may argue, but then when the man takes a step toward him, he grabs his bag and starts walking down the hallway.

Derrick gets down the hallway before he calls over his shoulder. “I’ll see you at the party, Abby. And hey, mister, you’re wasting your time with this one. She doesn’t put out. Just so you know.”