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“Shit.” I take my ball cap off my head and move it to my hand that has my arm in a sling to run my fingers through my hair. “It’s time to nut up or shut up,” I say to the empty house. I walk down the hallway, turning lights off that will wake up Jace, picking up a few things that landed where they were dropped. I usually stay on top of it, but today was a bit different. With the way Jace mentioned hanging out with me one-on-one and soaking it up, I’ve clearly worked entirely too much lately. After that’s done, I make my way to where my phone is sitting on the counter, fully charged for the first time in months. I already know I’ll be outside sitting in one of the chairs that are set up on the back of my deck overlooking nothing but grass and trees. A necessity when I bought this place knowing all little boys need a place to roam and get dirty in. I grab my phone, walk to the fridge, pull out a beer, and open the sliding glass door, leaving it that way in case Jace needs me. I need to let Alana know my intentions, and after that dumbass response in a text, I have a feeling she’s going to make me work for it. Little does she know I’m more than up for the challenge.



I’m sitting on my oversized chair that’s situated in the corner of my room, a book my grams sent me home with in my hand, a glass of wine on the drink table I bought especially for this chair since there isn’t a ton of room for an end table. The silk pajama set that grams and I picked up on our last shopping adventure feels like butter along my skin when my phone rings. All night, I’ve been waiting for it to ring, and now that it does, I’m too scared to look at the display to see who it is. That’s probably why I let it ring five times until I give in to looking. If it’s another one of those ‘your car warranty is about to expire’ calls, I’m going to scream.

“Hello,” I answer the phone, not looking at the screen in case it pisses me off.

“Hey, gorgeous, you okay?” Keller’s voice is smooth like velvet on the other end of the line. The way he uses the word gorgeous, though, it has me stuttering in my thoughts, tumbling through emotions. Not once during those few months we spent together did he ever call me anything except Alana or Lana.

“Me? Yeah, I’m… uh, I’m okay. Well, to be honest, I’m not okay. I had no idea if you’d really call, and now that you have, I don’t know what to think about it.” This is the time I really wish my layers wouldn’t peel back. Any other time, I can hold it all in, well, until I explode. Apparently, that’s happening here because my mouth just ran away from me.

“Fuck,” Keller says so low, I can barely hear it. I decide not to say anything, instead leaving it up to him to say the words that I so desperately want to hear but know it’s a pipe dream. I settle back into my chair, grab the blanket that I keep in a basket beside me, throwing it over my lap as I tuck my legs beneath me, and then grab my glass of wine I was smart enough to pour before settling in to read earlier.

“I screwed up. I know that now. Honestly, I knew it then. It’s not been a secret that Jace’s mother has never been in the picture. Saw your text and didn’t realize how you felt, shit, how I felt until you were gone, Lana. It hit me deep in the gut that I lost something good, real good.” He stops. I hear him take a sip of something then the clinking of metal hitting a table.

“Keller,” I start, but he says, “Lana,” at the same time, causing me to laugh.

“You go first,” I give in because it’s not like I really know what to say right now.

“I’m an asshole, and trying to get you to talk to me while at school, that was a dick move. I know this might take me a hell of a long time to fix, but if you let me try, I’m willing to bet it’ll lead us to somewhere fuckin’ amazing.” It’s not an apology, and Keller is right about one thing—I’ll most definitely keep the ball in his court in the work department.

“You could say that again.” This time, I’m the one taking a sip of my drink to shut my mouth up.

“I deserve that and so much more. We’ll take things slow. I’ll call you, and when you’re ready, maybe you’ll let me take you out for dinner.” Now, that brings a smile to my face.

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