Chapter One

“Marry me.”


Molly Tatum put her hands on her large hips and stared at the man she’d cried over for most of her adult life, Dale Lewis. He’d been her on-again, off-again boyfriend through high school, and one reckless night, he’d become the father of her child.

Dale glared at her. “You know, I thought we’d gotten over this. You were going to marry me and stop being a bitch, and allow me to be the father of my children.”

Throughout high school, she’d loved this guy. There had always been something about Dale. The girls on the cheerleading squad just wanted the reputation for screwing him. To Molly, it had been a lot more than that. She’d fallen in love with the guy that he seemed to portray to her, the misunderstood jock who was so much more than a pretty face.

In the last few years, though, she’d seen another side to him, and she sighed, turning back to face him.

“You really think ordering me to marry you would help?” she asked. A few months ago, he’d actually ordered her to marry him, as if that would help their current problem. No matter how many times she promised herself she wouldn’t end up in his bed, she always did.

Since leaving high school, she’d given birth to two of his children, both of whom were now in school. Sasha was in kindergarten, and Luke was in nursery school. Their time away meant she could put in a few extra hours at the bakery for June, who had become her best friend since getting back into town.

“What did I ever do wrong? I know we fooled around and you ended up pregnant. I offered to do the right thing, and you turned me down. I can’t do anything right with you.”

She stared at the man she’d been in love with nearly all of her life, not just since high school. Her crush on Dale had started in kindergarten when he’d helped her up after she fell down, grazing her knee. He’d taken her to the teacher and been really sweet. Over the years, she’d seen his acts of kindness, and she found him to be extraordinary. The only problem was he hid it all. He never let anyone know exactly how great he was. He always hid it, always kept it to himself, and she found that really sad.

Enter high school, and of course he was one of the sexiest men there. Trey, Max, and Dale were best friends, and could have any girl they wanted. For the longest time, she’d kept Dale at arm’s length, until she couldn’t do it anymore. She often wondered if he even knew that he’d claimed her virginity, and she’d not had another guy before, after, or since while he screwed everything with a vagina.

When she got pregnant, she’d expected him to do the right thing. If she’d not heard him talking in the cafeteria about a news article about young pregnancies and his response, she may have accepted his offer.

“There’s no way in this life that any girl is going to pin a pregnancy on me, and I sure as shit am not going to be bogged down by a screaming brat. Not in this lifetime.”

She was pregnant, and instead of taking him down, she decided to set him free. At the time she didn’t realize how hard it would be. Her friends had abandoned her as if she was some kind of slut because she wouldn’t name the father, so they automatically assumed she didn’t know. The pressure her parents placed on her, everything. It was like the town of Winters Fall turned their backs on her and her baby. When Luke arrived that was like the final straw, but bad words were said by the both of them. She knew without a doubt that Dale wasn’t ready. She’d seen how happy he was away from her and the kids. How could she trap him in a marriage he felt obliged to offer?

Life had been tough, but that had been before June got back into town, and their friendship blossomed.

“Look, Dale, I really don’t want to fight with you right now. I know you want to do the right thing and marry me, or whatever, but I don’t want to force you into a life that you don’t want.” They hadn’t come out to the town yet. Dale was seen playing with her kids, and spending time with her, but they’d not told anyone other than their friends that he was the father of her children.

“I want this, Mol. I can’t … what do I have to do to prove to you that I want this?” He suddenly started sniffing the air. “Is something burning?”

“Oh, crap.” She rushed to the back of the bakery and cursed as she pulled open the large oven and saw the black mess before her. This wasn’t good. The entire day’s batch of brownies was ruined, and now she’d have to call June so she could come and assess. Molly hated it when she made mistakes and needed June to come back. June was nearly five months pregnant now, and Molly hated more than anything interrupting her time off. It was rare for June to be away from the bakery, but she had no choice.

Rubbing at her temple, she grabbed the phone and dialed her best friend’s number.

“Hello,” June said, followed by a giggle.

Just great. She was at home with her very loving husband having a great deal of fun, and Molly was about to ruin it.

“June, it’s me. I’m so sorry about this. I got distracted, and all the brownies are burned.”

“Oh, is everything okay?”

“Everything is fine, but brownies are now my nemesis.” They were one of June’s sell-out products. She made so many different varieties, and now they were burned to a crisp.

“I’ll be there in half an hour.”

“Do you want me to take these out of the tins?”

“Yes, take them out, leave them on the counter for me, and wash out the tins,” June said.

“Are you going to fire me?” Molly asked.

June burst out laughing. “Not a chance, honey. You’ve been doing really well. Stop being a pain in the butt.”

Molly chuckled and hung up.

“She wouldn’t fire you. She likes you too much,” Dale said, placing his hands on her shoulders.

Why, even after all these years, and all the heartbreak, did her body crave his touch?

Whenever he was near, she was weak, and she hated that.

She’d seen him with other women. Not having sex with him, of course. She wasn’t that obsessed with the father of her children.

Walking through town, she’d seen his arms wrapped around women, the way he leaned in and kissed their cheeks, or touched them in a certain way. She knew what was going on, and each time she saw it, she’d go home, sob until she couldn’t bring herself to spill another tear, then get up and start again.

“Can we please talk another time?” She spun in his arms, and realizing how close they were, she took a step back. “I don’t … I’ve got to concentrate, and you still have that way of making me forget everything.”

Tags: Sam Crescent Falling in Love Erotic
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