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“We’ll see. Now go play, or I’m putting you to work. I know there’s a TV room that hasn’t been picked up all week.” That does it. He’s moving his body as fast as he can, hurrying out the sliding glass door, making a beeline for his swing set.

“I think we’re being swindled by an almost six-year-old,” I tell Keller, helping him pick up the bags of groceries.

“That kid, he’s always up to something. At least it’s not one of Asa’s notorious pickup lines.”

“There is that. What time is the gang getting here? You know Grams and Gramps will be here a good hour early. They can’t help themselves.” I’m sure Grams will bring another present for Jace, too, which I’m not even touching the subject with Keller because he’ll say they don’t need to do anything for him. That’s the difference, though; they want to, and no one is going to stop them.

“I told them around two. They’ll probably stagger in around that time. Except Leena. She’ll be like your grandparents, here as early as she can, but she’ll also be the first one to leave.” We make our way into his kitchen, where Keller places the bags on the island so I can go through them.

“Why is that?” I ask. From what I can tell, Leena doesn’t mind being around everyone as much as possible.

“You didn’t notice it at the last barbecue? Leena can only handle peopling in small doses. Even at work, she’ll work in the morning and then go remote in the afternoon. It’s how she’s always been,” Keller explains.

“An extroverted introvert. I can understand that. Plus, I’m sure when Marlie or your mom aren’t around, that’s a whole lot of testosterone bossing her around.” I look at the ingredients to make broccoli slaw, worried now that Jace may not like it, but it’s so good and usually a crowd pleaser. At least Grams is bring her homemade peach cobbler. The ice cream we’ll make will pair with it perfectly.

“Are you saying I’m bossy?” Keller asks from his perch leaning against the counter, legs crossed at the ankles and arms resting on his chest.

“Keller Hart, you are the epitome of bossy, especially at night.” God, the way he dominates my body, it lights me up so deep inside that I’m ready to somehow sneak away and see if he’ll do it again.

“You act like you don’t get off on it, gorgeous. We know better than that, though, don’t we? I bet if I slide your dress up, pull your panties to the side, you’ll be dripping wet for me.” Keller starts to prowl towards me.

“No way, not before everyone comes. I am not walking around with wet panties, you menace.” I move around the island so there’s something between us.

“You could just take them off, then, when Jace goes to bed tonight, it’d give me all the access I want.” He darts around the island. His hands reach for my side, and he’s picking me up. My ass meets the counter, and Keller steps between them, spreading my thighs.

“Keller.” My eyes lock on the lewd way I’m sitting.

“Yeah, I see you want it. I won’t start something we can’t finish, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to kiss the fuck out of you to tide me over.” True to his word, he does exactly what he promises until we’re both breathless. The pitter-patter of feet clues us in that we’re about to have company. Everything is right in our little world right now, like it was always meant to be.



“I’m going to fucking kill my own brother,” I grouse under my breath. Tanner and Deke are standing next to me. I’m watching Asa attempt to flirt with my woman. My hands are getting the urge to hit someone, namely my brother, in the mouth.

“He’s doing it on purpose. You know Asa, always out to see what buttons he can push,” Deke replies.

“Doesn’t mean I’d let him do that to Marlie. Fucking knuckle head.” This comes from Tanner.

“Yeah, well, something tells me Gramps is about to hit him upside the head. Alana tells me there’s a look he has when he’s done dealing with someone being annoying, and it looks like Asa is striking a nerve.” I take a sip of my beer, watching as Alana disengages from my brother, who had his arm wrapped around her shoulder.

“Looks like he dodged a bullet.” Deke’s eyes are moving back between me and Asa.

“Who are you all conspiring against?” Mom comes up beside us three. Leena is talking to Grams, and yes, that’s how I was introduced, and they weren’t allowing Jace or me to use Mr. Bernie or Mrs. Winnie, so Grams and Gramps it is.

“Well, I’m about to take bets on when Keller or Tanner is going to beat Asa’s face in,” Deke states, a sly smile on his face right before he takes a sip of his drink. He’ll be lucky if he’s not wearing it, goading Asa like he is.

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