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ROB:Hey, Britt. You were coming on a little strong today. It’s making Roxy uncomfortable so I’m going to block you and we probably shouldn’t talk anymore. Cool.

Cool.I can’t even reply to the stupid message because just like he said — he blocked me. My neck clenches like someone jammed a fist down my throat and if my dad didn’t have to eat the tomato soup I’m cooking, I probably would have dropped my phone in the bubbly red stew just to get rid of it. Instead, I set my phone facedown on the counter and turn off the stove.

I wipe the tears out of my eyes before I bring the soup to my dad. This is way too stupid for him to worry about and I know if he sees me cry, he’ll want to leap out of bed and end the life of whoever brought those tears to my eyes.

He takes the soup from me despite his initial protest and I refuse to leave him to his football game replay until he eats several spoonfuls. Once I make sure he’s eating, I head to my room to change out of my church clothes and take a shower. There’s a lot of crying over Rob in the shower, but by the time I’m done, I feel slightly hopeful.

If his girlfriend feels threatened enough to want him to block me… maybe there’s something there. Maybe there’s something between us…

I open up my laptop upstairs and start searching for “cute bowling outfits”. I’m way too old to be pulling a stunt like this, but maybe talking in person will make things different between us. Maybe. Everything about Rob is a big fucking maybe. That’s love, isn’t it? Total confusion?

I don’t fucking know. I just know that sunbeams shine out of Rob Wheeler’s eyes. He’s gorgeous. And he flirts. He flirts a lot. He told me Roxy isn’t even his real girlfriend, just someone he has a past with. There’s a chance for us. I know it.

I stalk Roxy on social media until I feel gross. I need to get it together and stop trying to become someone else. I’ll never be like the girls in this town and I’ll never get the guys who want them. I need a guy who… cares about what’s on the inside. I’ve only met one guy like that, but there have to be more guys like my dad’s best friend.

The doorbell rings, and my gross feeling melts away. Fletcher always stops by a few hours after church these days to check on daddy since he can’t keep up with their gym sessions anymore. I tell myself once they figure out what’s wrong with him, daddy will be back to his old self but… he’s not the same and even if I don’t want to see Fletcher, I accept that his presence will probably cheer daddy up.

I race downstairs and answer the door, getting there before my dad can strain himself running to prove he’s healthy to Fletcher.

In the streets, it’s fuck cops. But in my living room it’s fuck that cop is hot. I think that’s the worst thing about Fletcher. He acts like an annoying and nosy older brother, but it’s super weird to have a guy that hot invested in who you’re dating and acting all protective over you. I’m not an idiot. I’m not dumb enough to think Fletcher’s into me.

His smile brightens once I pull the door open and invite him inside. My dad finally catches up with a big smile on his face. He puts his hands on his hips which makes him look very “small town cop”.

Pistol wanders into the door and heads straight toward my dad with a big fluffy wagging tail and his tongue hanging out of his mouth.

“Good boy,” Fletcher mutters in areallysexy voice. I hate this.

Fletcher’s well over six feet with a mop of intensely blond hair that shimmers like golden ears of corn. He has a slightly tanned face from all his time on street parking duty and his ears are always a little red from too much sun.

His annoyingly blue eyes make him downright famous in our town.Seriously. I’ve heard old women talk about purposefully getting parking tickets just to see his brilliant eyes up close.

His smile only draws more attention to his eyes because he has teeth that make him look like an actor playing a cop. He’s genetically fucking blessed which is more than I can say.

He and my dad always let me tag along to their YMCA basketball games or their lifting sessions at the gym, but outside of their company, I was never under any illusion that I was special or cool to anyone else.

If you don’t have money like the Millers, a family of soldiers like the Callahans, or a big Irish Catholic family like the Sweeneys, you’re nobody in a town like this. I’m certainly nothing for Fletcher Sweeney to look at.

“Hey Britt, long time no see,” Fletcher says coolly once I open the door. I try to suppress a smile. I cannot encourage Fletcher in dad jokes. Absolutely not.

“Ha-ha Fletcher.”

“Your dad was just texting me you haven’t done anything fun in a while. Do you want to go bowling tonight?” he asks.

My dad nods and stifles a cough. “Stop fussing about soup and all that mess. Let Fletcher buy you dinner and take you off my hands.”

Bowling. My eyes flash nervously between my dad and Fletcher. Of course they can’t read my mind. They’re men.

Bowling.Could I really get that lucky?

* * *


The Real Fucking Thing


It’s not a date, Fletcher. Get it out of your head that this means anything more than you doing her dad a favor and taking some of the stress off her shoulders. You know how Harry worries about her. It’s not time for you to think about how lucky it is you get to keep a close watch on her tonight and make. Some shit is going down and Britt has a way of landing smack in the middle of trouble.

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