Chapter 2


Sweet mother of all that is holy. When I stand up and turn around to face him, I drop my phone. It falls to the ground and is probably cracked, but I don’t care. My mouth hangs open.

He stops a few feet away from me, looks down at himself and back at me. “Is this okay? I didn’t have any gloves or anything.”

My gaze goes from his tennis shoes, up his muscled legs across his black gym shorts that I swear twitch under my gaze. I lick my lips and keep moving upward. No shirt. He doesn’t have a shirt on and his hard abs and chest are on full display for me to ogle. I can count his abs from across the room. My face pinches at the black silk robe he has on over it, stopping me from seeing his arms. When my gaze finally reaches his face, he has a smile a mile wide. Dammit. I’ve been caught.

He flexes his pecs. “Do you like what you see?”

My face flushes but I answer him honestly. “Yes.”

The air crackles between us and he prowls over toward me. His hand comes up to rest on my cheek and he tilts my head back to look up at him. Eyeing him greedily, I lick my lips. He lowers his head, his lips only inches from mine, when my phone starts ringing. We pull apart with a start. “Sorry,” I stutter. “I have to answer that. It’s probably my family and they will send out the Cavalry if I don’t answer.”

I assure my mom that I am on my way as he locks his door and then I follow him out to his truck. When I finally hang up, he’s opening the truck for me and helping me in. He seatbelts me in, even after I assure him I can do it myself. He just smiles at me with a smug look and walks around to the driver’s side.

“Where to?” he asks me as he pulls his seat belt on and then grips the steering wheel.

I give him directions to the dance hall and when he pulls out of the parking lot, I ask him, “So what brings you to town?”

He hesitates. “Work.”

I laugh. “Okay, what do you do? Or is it a big secret?”

His jaw tenses, but he answers me briefly. “Investments.”

I want to ask him more, but he changes the subject. “So tell me about your family.”

“Well, let’s see. Right before you got to my apartment, my older brother Jackson just left with his date, my best friend, Megan to go to the party. So, that’s new and I sort of planned it and I hope it works out. My other brother, Ford, is taking Jackson’s ex fiancée to the party tonight, so that should be weird. My oldest brother is in the army and we are hoping to see him around Christmas, if all goes as planned. My mom and dad have been married forty years and they are great. You’ll like them,” I ramble on to him. “So, uh, tell me about your family.”

“No siblings. Just me and my dad,” he answers shortly.

“Wow,” I exclaim.

“What?” he asks defensively.

“I bet it was nice not sharing a bathroom growing up,” I tell him and start laughing.

It takes him a minute, but he smiles at me and his deep laugh fills the cab of the truck.


The more time I spend with her, the more I know I like her. She turns heads everywhere we go. I’ve had to stand next to her as old men all the way down to young boys take their turn hugging her or telling her hello. When I meet her mom and dad, they were obviously surprised to see me with her instead of Derrick, but they don’t comment. They were very nice to me and I stood with her dad and chatted while she took her mom aside to talk, to probably explain things, I’m thinking.

“So, you’re pretty old to be out on a date with my daughter, don’t you think?” her father asks me.

I turn to face him. “I don’t even know how old she is, sir,” I tell him honestly.

“Twenty-three,” he grunts at me.

“I’m ten years older than her, sir.” I take another swig of the water in my hands.

“Do you have a steady job?” he asks me, looking me square in the face.

“Yes, sir,” I answer, not taking my eyes off him.

He’s measuring me up. I get it. If I had a daughter like Abby, I would do the same.

He must see something he likes, because he slaps me on the back. “That’s good, son. Because she seems like a hard ass, but let me tell you, I’m about tired of these boys trying to take advantage of her good heart.”

“Daddy, can I borrow Brent now?” Abby walks up to us, laces her hand with mine and starts tugging me away.