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Deciding not to put it off any further, I stride to the front door of the shop and open it like a woman on a mission. There’s a man standing at the front that I’ve never seen before. “Hey, is Ozzie busy?”

He looks down at the books and back up at me. “Do you have an appointment?”

No, I’m his stalker, I think. I almost slap my forehead with my hand. Maybe I should have made an appointment. “Uh, no. I was his appointment last night.” I hold up my hand pointing to my finger.

He nods his head. “Oh, okay, uh let me get him.”

I wait for him to go back to his booth to get him, but instead he picks up his phone and calls someone. “Hey, you got a woman here to see you.”

He nods his head. “Okay.” He hangs up the phone and says, “He’ll be right down. You can wait in his booth.”

I stride across the room into the back, ignoring the curious look I’m getting from the man.

I sit down in the same chair I was in last night, and it isn’t long before Ozzie walks in and instantly stops, obviously surprised to see me. Heck, he’s probably expecting someone else. He probably has women lined up out the door for him most days. But I’m here now. “Hey, Ozzie.”

His gaze travels down my body and back again. It’s the same heated look he gave me last night, and my insides turn to putty.

“Hey, Ginger. How’s your hand?” he asks, obviously thinking I’m here because of it.

I wave my hand. “Oh, it’s fine. Really. That’s not why I’m here.”

He crosses his arms over his chest. “Okay, why are you here?”

I should probably take offense to his abruptness, but I can’t seem to. He’s still watching me, trying to act guarded and cut off, but there’s no way he can look at me the way he is and not be interested.

“I came to see you. I wanted to see if you wanted to go out with me tonight.”

I rush the words out, but before he can respond, the man from the front pokes his head in. “Hey Ozzie, you have another woman here to see you.”

I sort of fold into myself. I definitely should have called before I came. Am I making a complete fool out of myself for this man? He may just be a player. “Uh, I can go.”

I start to walk toward the door, but Ozzie holds his hand up. “No, you’re fine. Duke, quit your shit. You might as well send Ma back, let’s make this a party,” he says dryly.

Ma. Oh crap, am I about to meet his mom? I look down at my cut-off shorts and my T-shirt that says “eat your vegetables” on it and about fall through the floor. Talk about first impressions.

A woman comes in and slaps a brown paper bag against the man Ozzie called Duke. “Here you go, Duke. And eat it all, even the vegetables.”

The woman walks farther into the room, and she doesn’t notice me, instead going straight for Ozzie. “Hey, Oz. I brought you a peanut butter and jelly with the edges cut off. And I put some veggies with dip in there. You and Duke both need to start eating more veggies.”

“Ma!” he says, but she doesn’t stop. “What? It’s the truth. You can’t live on pizza—” It’s then she notices me. Her mouth drops open, she looks at me, then back at Ozzie. “I’m sorry—I didn’t know you were with someone.”

Ozzie says, “Ma, this is Ginger. I gave her a tattoo last night. Ginger, this is my mom. She owns the—”

“Pawn shop. I know. Hi, Mrs. Cunningham. You sold me a generator last year when ours went out and the hardware store was sold out of them.”

Pearl snaps her fingers. “That’s right. You and your sister own the produce stand over in Ranchlands. You brought me a bunch of veggies after that.”

I nod my head. “Yeah, it’s the least I could do. That generator saved our family’s ranch that winter.”

Pearl is smiling looking between me and her son. “So, uh, you here to see my Ozzie then?”

I laugh, and her smile gets even bigger. “Yeah, well, actually I just asked him out, but he hasn’t given me an answer. I think he’s beginning to wonder if I’m stalking him.”

I say it jokingly, but it’s half the truth. I’m beginning to feel like a nuisance.

“Well, son, what do you say to the pretty girl? I would think you can’t turn down an offer like that. I mean, you’re not getting any younger.”

Ozzie rolls his eyes before looking at me. “We talked about this last night.”

And he’s right. We did talk about this last night. He’s on the straight and narrow, getting his life together. But I’m not here to mess it up. I’m here to find a way to make him whole. His eyes tell me that’s exactly what he needs.

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