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She interrupts with a huffy voice, “I’m twenty, Rob. I’m a grown ass woman and I don’t need you lurking around judging who I talk to.”

Twenty? I thought I was grown up as fuck when I was twenty. I was on top of the fucking world and met my best friend, a thirty-year-old retired police detective and proud father to a twelve-year-old he brought into the world when he was eighteen-years-old. I didn’t know shit back then and Brittany doesn’t know shit now. Rob is bad fucking news.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a grown ass woman. You’re at church right where I can see you. I have a right to make my opinion known.”

Brittany rolls her eyes. “Opinion? Get a life, Fletcher.”

“Rob has a reputation. He’s not good enough to talk to you.”

“That is so cringe.”


“He’s not good enough to talk to me? That sounds very discriminatory.”

“Just my opinion.”

I stand my ground, which only infuriates Brittany more. She doesn’t want to start a fight at church, although she would probably be perfectly comfortable starting a fight if we were at her dad’s place.

“What reputation?”

In my line of work, you hear a lot. You hear if a guy is a loser, a liar, a cheater, a womanizer, or some deadly combination of those four traits. I’ve heard plenty of shit about Rob and I’ve seen enough to confirm the rumors. I’d rather not get into it. I shrug.

“Trust me, I’m a cop.”

Brittany wrinkles her nose in disgust, which I worry is about the cop thing. Cops ain’t exactly popular these days and even in a place like this where nothing happens, more and more people look at us funny, like we’re criminals too.

“Since when do you gossip, Officer Sweeney?” Brittany grumbles.

“It’s not gossip. I’m looking out for you.”

Brittany rolls her eyes and folds her arms. Christ. These modern women of these different ethnicities and cultures and ways of getting along come prepared with a fucking attitude and Brittany gets her attitude straight from my best friend.

She gets all riled up over nothing and sure, she gets me pissed off, but there’s a part of me that likes how easy it is to light her emotions on fire. An idiot like Rob Wheeler could never handle her or her attitude. It’s strange what her attitude does to me.

She makes me question my fucking sanity. She makes me question my morals. She makes me want to quit the bullshit and…

Brittany’s not done telling me off. “I don’t need you looking out for me. You’re my dad’s friend, not my bodyguard.”

“I’m everyone’s bodyguard. I’m a cop.”

I think I sound cool but the wrinkled expression on Brittany’s face tells me she’s probably going to call me “cringe” in one of her group chats.

“That’s weird, Fletcher. I need to find Rob,” she snaps.

She tries to dart around me, but I grab her forearm. The contact sends an outraged expression across her face.

“Go home and watch the game with Harry. Do something else. Leave Rob alone. He’s not good for you.”

“I don’t need your advice on dealing with my dad, Fletcher,” she says, raising her voice a little like she does when her attitude gets all outta control. “And I don’t need you butting into my damn business with Rob Wheeler.”

She pisses me off so fucking badly. I don’t want to let go of her, but Brittany pulls herself away. I have to let go of her forearm and it’s probably for the best. I get the strangest urge when I touch her arm to pull her against me and do things I absolutely shouldn’t.

“Tell your dad I’ll stop by later,” I mutter, allowing her to put distance between us. “Go find your guy.”

He doesn’t deserve her.

“Whatever,” Brittany says, slipping away from me and disappearing in the crowd of our town’s congregants. Fuck, I feel like an idiot. There’s no protecting her from being a young woman with a big heart, giving everything to the wrong fucking guy. Brittany’s right. Telling her dad won’t do anything. That girl is his everything, and it’s been a long time since Harry could control his tall, too-pretty-for-her-own-good daughter. Hm. She’s too pretty for her own good.

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