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“Is there anything else?” I ask him, needing to be alone.

“No. Nothing else.” He sits in his chair defeated and a bit tired. I want to apologize, but then I think, why am I apologizing to him? This is my life. So, instead, I walk out hellbent on not responding to Nick.

“I definitely don’t need the kind of attention he brings.”

But it doesn’t stop me from wanting him and wishing it could all be different. Maybe it can be if I tell him?

CHAPTER 2

It’s been two months since I last saw her. I have showered her with gifts and flowers and I’m still getting nothing but radio silence. I tried to be patient. I tried waiting for her to get on board with us being a thing, but that wait was in vain. I’m done waiting. Claiming her for always is all that’s been on mind and enough is enough.

“How do I win her over, Cheryl?” I ask my new sister-in-law.

“Well… I hate to be the one to tell you this, bro,” she begins.

“Just tell me,” I say impatiently.

“I don’t actually know if you can. From what I’ve heard about your reputation, she’ll never be okay with that.”

I was okay to fuck, but not to be with? That’s the fucking story of my life, only I never gave a flying fuck about that. Not until I met her.

“That doesn’t work for me, Cheryl. There has to be something.” Anything that could work, I’m willing to try.

“Grand gestures usually work. She’ll at least talk to you if you do that.” My sister-in-law goes on to tell me what kind of things will work as far as grand gestures go. I hang up the phone feeling a modicum of hope and more than a little overwhelmed. I never once thought about tomorrow before I met Rose. Grand gesture? I’ll fucking show her the grandest gesture she’s ever seen. I wonder if she likes horses as my doorbell rings. It’s barely eight in the morning. Who rings a doorbell that early? I walk from my living room where I’ve been pacing, to the front door.

“Nicholas Edward Pike?” a man with an official looking clipboard asks as soon as I open the door. Despite his official looking clipboard, he’s dressed like a fucking slob. Coffee stains litter his short sleeve white button down and khaki pants. My eyes travel farther down and realize he’s wearing flip flops. Ladies flip flops if the hot pink flowers on them indicate anything.

“Yeah, who wants to know?” I ask, vaguely wondering how the hell he got up here. This is a secure building. You need a key card or to be buzzed up directly.

“You’ve been served,” he says, handing me a thick manilla envelope all the while grinning like a smug dick douche. I, on the other hand, am too stunned to say anything. I frown when he holds up his cellphone and takes my picture.

“Fuck off,” I growl, closing the door in his face before ripping the envelope open. I can actually feel the color drain from my face as I read the document.

Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois

HFS/Division of Child Support Services

RE: Unborn child of Honey Marie Barnes and Nicholas Edward Pike.

Due date: August 2023

Ms. Barnes is seeking child support in the amount of $20,000 per month. Contact our offices within 24 hours to make arrangements to either pay or contest this claim…

The letter goes on and on and I can’t help thinking this is some kind of fucking joke. Honey Barnes was a mistake of the highest caliber. She is the owner of the Calfs spoiled little sister. She fancies herself a socialite and model but what she really is a thirsty bitch. She hangs around the locker room, looking for any swinging dick to fill her gross holes. There’s no way in hell that her baby, if there even is one, is mine. She’s media hungry and I wouldn’t put it past her to do something outlandish like this. She had been harassing me for months. In the end I relented out of ???? when she threatened to tell her brother some bullshit story that I fucked her and left in the street. Ben would never believe it, but it would make it’s rounds on the news and SportsZone would have a fucking field day with it. I didn’t kiss her or care about her pleasure in the least. I wasn’t even hard, I had a condom on, and I know for a fact that I didn’t even come.

Doing some fast math, I realize that her due date puts us together over five months ago. It was exactly five months ago. The baby can’t be mine based off that alone, but this is going to be a fucking hassle. My first call is to my agent, Bolton Norris. He’s a big motherfucker out of Philly, but he reps the greats and I’m lucky to count myself among them.

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