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“I’d like that, a lot. I know that it’s not all your fault. I developed feelings when we said we’d keep it strictly a friends-with-benefits type thing, Keller. I honestly didn’t think you’d change your mind either. That’s why I texted to cut ties because even though I may not know the full story surrounding Jace’s mother, I’ve heard rumors floating around town to get the gist of it. So, when you hit me with those words while I was standing at the door, I honestly didn’t know what to think.” I shrug my shoulders. Not that Keller can see this, but it helps relieve some of the stress I’m unknowingly carrying around with me.

“Good. Now I’m going to let you go because it’s getting late, and I know you’re working tomorrow. I’ll see you in the morning, gorgeous.” Keller doesn’t lead into anything else, and truth be told, I’m probably not ready for anything else too heavy for the night.

“Good night, Keller. See you soon,” I respond.

“Soon, Lana, real soon.” He ends with that. I wait until he hangs up first before taking the phone away from my ear, already knowing I won’t be sleeping a wink tonight. Nope, I’ll be doing that usual thing most women do, you know, analyze and process our conversation over and over again. Tonight is going to be freaking phenomenal, said no one ever.



Twice, that’s how many times I’ve seen Alana. That’s also the amount of time I’ve called her. The first time might have been only twenty minutes, but the second time, we talked until she was yawning from working all week. My shoulder was ready for me to relax, but I would have ignored it if it meant a few more minutes listening to Alana’s voice. That didn’t mean I didn’t text her something random throughout the day. When Tanner gave me his advice as well as Alana practically throwing me off that one day, I knew there was only one way to handle this, and that was to go hard.

I’ve had all these rules for the past five years—no bringing a woman into Jace’s life, don’t get involved with a woman where the heart is involved, and never trust one either. That’s the type of damage Jace’s mom did when she willingly signed over her parental rights the day he was born. Shit like that, it leaves a scar bone deep, builds up a callous on your heart, and fuck if it doesn’t scare the living crap out of you.

Alana came out of left field, sneaking in, and it damn near had me choking on my own rules. Little did she know when I was with her, peace surrounded me. I wasn’t the single dad, the workaholic busting his ass, and I damn sure wasn’t the man I was five years ago. Not when I was with Alana. I was just Keller, a man who lived in the moment, my only goal getting her off and feeling good in the process. So, yeah, she fucking snuck in. Only when Alana texted, I wasn’t the Keller I was when I was with her. I was Keller, the single dad, the workaholic, my only focus on those two things and not Alana, causing me to fuck it all up. I’m only hopeful that she’ll give me the chance to show her I’m more than that useless excuse of a man.

I already know there’s no going back to sleep for me, not after waking up in the middle of the night with Jace, a rare occurrence these days, but sometimes, he’ll wake up out of a dead sleep, sweating, soaked through his pajamas, and just in need of a bit of comforting. It took a warm bath, new clothes, and settling into my bed beside me until he calmed down from whatever spooked him. Of course, once he fell back asleep snuggled so close to me, drooling on my arm, I let him stay there until I knew there was no waking him. I peeled myself away, started his sheets that were soaked, put new sheets on, and then gingerly put Jace back in his own bed, hoping I’d get some sleep. That didn’t happen, so now it’s three o’clock in the morning, and nothing is helping me shut my brain off.

“Fuck it. Maybe a shower will help.” I walk into my bathroom, turn the water on all the way hot, take off my sling, more a nuisance than anything, especially when your boy needs you, and strip out of my clothes. I left the door open in case Jace wakes up again, not giving a shit what it says about me that there’s a baby monitor in his room and one set up in mine in case he needs me again. My head is under the showerhead, hot water spraying down on my head. I hope the stress from Jace being upset and this stupid broken collarbone will ease up some with the dual shower heads hitting both sides of my body.

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