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“You didn’t call me,” he greets, giving me a quick hug.

I hold back the urge to roll my eyes.

“You’re working, and there is nothing you can do.”

“I might be working but you know you can always call,” he says as I lift my purse higher on my shoulder. “Dad’s flipping the fuck out.”

“Should we go in and put our names down for a table?” I ignore his comment and start toward the door to the restaurant. “It’s probably packed.”

“He mentioned a guy you’re seeing.”


“He doesn’t like him.”

“What guy have I dated does Dad like?” I step inside and like I assumed it would be, there is already a line from the podium to the door of people waiting to be seated.

“True,” he mutters.

“It must be nice having a penis and having every single choice you make just accepted without even so much as the raise of a brow.”

“You think Dad doesn’t give me shit for the things I do?”

“When has Dad ever given a crap about who you date?”


“Exactly. The power of the penis is a magical thing.” I step up to the podium when it’s our turn and then give the girl there our name, then walk back to stand next to the door to wait.

“Who is this guy? I mean Dad was worried about your friend, but he wouldn’t stop talking about the guy you went home with.”

“His name is Clay,” I sigh, looking up at my little brother who is not so little anymore. “He’s a good guy and if Dad gave him a chance, he’d probably like him.”

“You’ve said that about every man you’ve gone out with.”

“Yeah, because I have great taste.”

“Obviously not, since none of them have stuck.”

“Really? And how many of your female friends have had what it takes to stick around?” I raise a brow and dare him to lie. I know he’s broken more hearts than he probably even knows. Heck, even when I was in school the girls in my class would talk about how cute he was. And now his cuteness has turned into heartbreaking handsomeness.

“Whatever,” he grumbles.

I bite back a smile.

“Did you put in for a table?” At that question coming from behind me I turn and find my dad in all his badass glory.

“We did.” I say as I step forward and give him a hug, then I watch as he and my brother share a chin lift. Men. “Is Mom and everyone on their way back?”

“They get in tonight late,” he says, looking me over. “You okay?”

“I’m good.” I let out a breath. “But I might need some help though,” I say, and both my dad and brother instantly go on alert. “It’s not for me, I talked to Carly’s best friend from Florida, she’s Carly’s only contact, and she can’t afford to have her cremated. I need to figure out how to go about getting that done.”

“I’m sure I can make a few calls,” Dad says softly and as I lean into him, he wraps his arm around my shoulders.

“Has Miles or Tucker told you anything?” I look up at him and he shakes his head in the negative but I don’t honestly know that he’d tell me if they did.

“Mayson.” The girl at the podium calls and I walk with my dad and brother to her, then we all follow her through the maze of tables in the center of the room to one that is clean near the window. After we’re seated with me next to Bax and our dad across from us, I pick up the menu she left us with and begin to look it over.

“Now, let’s talk about Clay,” Dad says.

I slowly draw in a deep breath, I knew this was coming. I knew that he would want to talk about Clay, but I don’t want to have this conversation. I have no desire to try and convince my father that he should give Clay a chance. Even if I told him how good Clay is to me, how he makes me feel important, validated, and safe, my dad would brush that all off as infatuation. He would point out all the times I’ve given those same qualities to other men I’ve been with in the past. The thing is none of those guys had all of the qualities I was looking for in a partner. They were all lacking in one way or another.

“No.” I shake my head. “I don’t want to talk about him.”


“He means something to me.” I shake my head again. “Actually, he means a lot to me and right now what he and I are or what we might be is just for us.”

“I don’t like him,” he rumbles, and I feel my face soften.

“You don’t know him.”

“I know guys like him.”

“Mom told me that falling in love with you was the scariest thing she ever did in her life.” I lower my voice. “But she never regretted taking a chance on you.”

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