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“Is Uncle Asa picking me up today?” For fuck’s sake, my brother is going to be the death of me. I swear to Christ if he teaches Jace something else, I’m going to kick his ass. A couple of weeks ago, my son was telling me pickup lines. The little coward that is my brother was cowering in the corner, laughing, until I charged after him and he ran like a little girl to hide behind my mother’s apron like a scared little boy.

“He is. Try not to let him talk you into something, okay?” I lift his body into my arms, sneaking in as many hugs as I can get, knowing it won’t be long until he thinks he’s too grown for them.

“What if I talk him into ice cream and the toy store?”

“You do that, but I’m thinking you don’t need any new toys, Jace.” I set him on his feet. Jace’s hand wraps around mine as he leads me into his school. The main reason he’s at this school and not the one closer to our house is because of the curriculum and the way Jace is treated like a person and not just a number. The other plus is that you get to walk them to class and pick them up the same way.

“I don’t, but I’m thinking about a telescope. We’ve been learning about the constellations with Miss. M., and it’s very fascinating.” Well, when Jace goes big, he goes big, not that Asa will ask for money back for what Jace wants, but usually, payback will come in a different form.

“Alright, but if Uncle Asa says no, don’t push. We’ll work out you helping me with a few chores around the house to pay for it, okay?”

“You got it.” We walk inside the school. Other kids are being walked in with their parents; some are older and don’t want to be walked in, and damn if that’s not another thing that’ll slice me wide open when it happens with Jace.

“Good morning, Jace, Mr. Hart,” Alana greets us at the door with her usual smile in place, looking pretty as ever. Knowing that it’s soul fucking deep doesn’t help matters. Even though I wish it did, I know there’s not a chance in hell I’m going to bring someone into Jace’s life, not ever.

“Good morning. Bye, Dad, love you.” He squeezes my hand and is off to start his day.

“Love you, bud.” My eyes don’t leave Alana’s. Her long reddish-brown hair is up in a ponytail. She’s got high cheekbones, crystal blue eyes, and full lips that I know what they taste like.

“If you’ll excuse me,” Alana says. My hand moves to hers, holding it for the barest of seconds only to release it once she looks down at where we’re touching.

“Alana, hold on a second.” I swallow and then add, “Please. I’d like a chance to talk.”

“This isn’t the time nor the place. I think you’ve said enough already.” She walks away, leaving me standing in the doorway with only myself to blame.



One could say I didn’t handle this morning all that well. It’s probably why I slammed into the construction trailer, grabbed what I needed, and stormed off. There was no damn way I’d be any use attending construction meetings. Manual labor was on my list, especially since I wasn’t fit for company.

Which is what I’ve been doing since I arrived at the job site. The guys took one look at me, and I don’t know if it was on my face or in the way I walked, but they kept a wide berth. I grabbed a few two-by-fours and my hammer, and started framing up the wall that needed to be done. Of course, it didn’t help me that my mind kept wandering back to Alana, to the sleepless nights we’d tousle in the sheets, remembering the way she’d moan out my name, soft and breathless. I could practically feel her pussy clenching on my cock like it was yesterday. It didn’t matter how hard I swung the hammer, how lost in my own head I’d try to get, something would remind me of Alana, and my thoughts would swing right back around. I’d been fighting the urge to track her pretty ass down and have her underneath time and time again. I was an idiot and read her text again and again, how she admitted to wanting more, needing more, and deserving more. It wasn’t more than a couple of sentences, not paragraph after paragraph, straight and to the point. I guess me giving her a one-word answer was enough, and her dismissal this morning proves I fucked up, big time.

“Keller!” I have a header on my shoulder after finishing with the framing of the wall. The other side is held up by a ladder. When the guys walked up to me, I just shook my head no, and they took off again. I don’t answer them now, my worry is on the weight on my shoulder instead of them calling my name.