Main Broken Pieces

Broken Pieces

Mia is a single mom from Arizona who has been stuck in an on again off again relationship for the past fourteen years. Knowing she has to get away from her ex Andreas(Dre) to fully be free of him, she packs up their thirteen-year-old son and moves states away to Sammamish, Washington. Her intent to start a new life and better things for her and her son Miklo are the first things on her mind. But when they arrive at their new home to be greeted by four hot new neighbors? She can only hope for it to be a good sign she is on the right track. Or it will at least make things a lot more fun! Can Mia mend the broken pieces of her heart, or will Dre continue to hold onto it? And what role will her new neighbors Jayson, Roman, Jesse, and Cade play in her new start?
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Contents



Copyright

Dedications

Acknowledgements

Description

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Epilogue

Tammi Lynn





Copyright



Copyright © Tammi Lynn, 2019. All rights reserved.

No portion of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except as permitted by U.S. copyright law. This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are products of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.





Dedications

To my baby boy Evan Anthony, you are my world, my heart, my whole entire life. Having you saved me from going down a long and dangerous road.

You will always come first. I love you Bubbs.





Acknowledgements





To my mom Marilyn. For listening to me a few months ago telling you about a story I wanted to write. Even all the down and dirties, and being the amazing mom you are you went and grabbed me a huge thick notebook and said, “Here, write it all down.” Three months later and I have my first ever book. Thank you for believing in me and loving me, and for never judging me even with all I have put you through. You are an amazing woman, with so much love in your heart.





To Evangelina and Sonya. First off…”What!” and “Taaaammmmi!” I love you guys! You are the best friends and chosen sisters I could ever have and your the best Tia’s to Evan. Thank you by helping to make this book possible. For keeping me excited and wanting to read more. For believing in me.





To Nichoal Snively-Dickey. My BBFF (Best Book Friend Forever) I’m so glad we became friends through our favorite facebook groups and have a love for the same books. This book literally would not have been finished without you. Thank you for being my book taste tester and letting me feed you chapter at a time. Your reviews and enthusiasm kept me going and inspired so much of the story, I could literally stare at a title chapter for an hour. Talk with you for five minutes and have to get back to the computer. Thank You.





To M. Sinclair. I can’t even begin to know how to tell you thank you enough for taking me under your wing. I was excited but lost and you did what a lot of other people wouldn’t have done, in guiding the way. To staying up late with me to get it finished and become a reality to the publishing world, to reading my damn mind. Seriously though you also helped in bringing these characters to life. You are an amazing author and I look up to you and everything you can teach me.





I can’t forget to thank some of my other favorite authors. You helped me become comfortable in a world I had felt alone in. Getting to live through the worlds you weaved were inspirational and made me okay with what I felt inspired to write. C.M. Stunich, Tate James, Meagan Brandy, Raven Kennedy, Coralee June, Jaymin Eve, and lots, lots more, Thank You!





Description





Contemporary RH

Mia is a single mom from Arizona who has been stuck in an on again off again relationship for the past fourteen years. Knowing she has to get away from her ex Andreas(Dre) to fully be free of him, she packs up their thirteen year old son and moves states away to Sammamish, Washington.

Her intent to start a new life and better things for her and her son Miklo are the first things on her mind. But when they arrive at their new home to be greeted by four hot new neighbors? She can only hope for it to be a good sign that she is on the right track. Or it will at least make things a lot more fun!

Can Mia mend the broken pieces of her heart, or will Dre continue to hold onto it? And what role will her new neighbors Jayson, Roman, Jesse, and Cade play in her new start?

Broken Pieces is book one in the Leaving You, Finding Them series. It’s a fast burn contemporary RH with possible triggers of emotional abuse, swearing, and adult content 18+ appropriate. Book one will have a small cliffhanger to bring on the progression of the story.





Chapter One


Leaving You





“Come on, Miklo, sing with me. This is one of your favorite songs!” I look over at my thirteen-year-old son in the passenger seat next to me, He looks at me and rolls his eyes, turning to stare out the window. I didn’t think my rendition of Bruno Mars, Treasure was that bad, and I’ve done just about everything I can in the confined space of the truck to get him to smile. He’s mad at me, and I understand. Uprooting him from Phoenix, Arizona to move states away to Sammamish, Washington was not in his list of things he wanted to do.

We had to leave, though, I needed a chance to start new. A chance to change my life for the first time in fourteen years. At nineteen, I’d met Andreas Davila, and I would have never guessed that a single party, a chance meeting, would have led to him being such a massive part of my life. I couldn’t regret it even if I wanted to. Nine months after that night, we were gifted Miklo, my world, and reason for living. The problem? I fell hard, and he did not. We barely saw him for the first three years of Miklo’s life. Some point after that, he started coming around more, wanting to see the baby… and me. Falling in love with a man, you barely saw or talked to, who is by definition a player, is one of the hardest things my traitorous heart has ever put me through. Dre didn’t have time or a place for me in his life, but it took time to realize that. It took time to realize that amongst his multiple girlfriends and three other children, that I wasn’t a priority.

Every time we were together, it seemed perfect, hugs and kisses while telling me I’m beautiful no matter how I was looking at the time. That beautiful smile on his stunning Puerto Rican face had me melting and forgetting about everything else that was keeping us apart. It got to a point after about five years that I finally told him I loved him. A big step for me. He didn’t say it back at the time but did soon after when we started drifting away again, pulling me back in, keeping me close.

This cycle seemed to be never-ending.

Fourteen years of heartbreak, and I knew I had to leave. I had to get far away. I couldn’t keep watching the man I knew and loved, move on to marry someone else while trying to keep me tied to him. In all those years, even with multiple moves, I was never more than three hours away from him. A days drive at most to and from. Too close to stay away and not close enough for him to always be around. Yet every time we would be on the outs, and I’d take Miklo to see him, he’d somehow pull me back in. His actions brought me to lows that I couldn’t have imagined were possible. Depression and anxiety led to disastrous effects all because of the connection and love I developed for him. He gave me whiplash and the consequences of his treatment weren’t going away anytime soon. Do you know what it’s like to have a man tell you he loves you and wants you... only to accuse you of shit you never did? Ignoring you because he could? Making you feel as though you’d never be enough? It wreaked havoc on a person.

I decided to give up on making my baby boy smile for now. I hear a text come through and decide to pull into the closest gas station since we need to fill up anyway so that I can check it.

Baby Daddy: Shawn Mendez, Stitches.

It’s a YouTube video link, and that doesn’t surprise me, we’ve always loved and fought through music. We would send each other music videos or clips to express how we’re feeling.

Miklo gets out of the truck with me and looks at me, “Mom, money please to get a drink?”

“Yeah, Bubbs.” I take ten outta my wallet and hand it to him. “Get me something too please.”

Watching him walk into the station, I try to keep the tears from falling. This has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Leaving when my heart wanted to stay. But I needed to be strong for not only myself but for my son as well. He’s had to watch me go through those emotional ups and downs, loving and hating his semi-absent father. He watched me reach rock bottom. I’m determined to never reach that point again, and this was the only way I feel I could completely take myself out of Dre’s clutches. To go on with my life and hopefully find someone who loves me without caution and with their full selves, someone who makes me feel as if I’m enough. Who makes me feel as though I deserve the love I logically know I do.

Grabbing my phone while the gas is pumping, I send him a text back.

Me: Jussie Smollett, Good Enough.

An unbidden tear decides to fall, and I start thinking back to one of the good times with him. The times when he made my heart feel full, and like we might actually be able to be together.





Two years, three months ago…

I’m in my bedroom watching Netflix when I hear a knock on the door, and Miklo goes to answer it. “Mom! Dad is here!” I head out to the living room and see Dre there with one of his big panty-melting smiles. His long curly hair is down, and I love it when he wears it so messy. Half running to him, he grabs me up in a hug my legs coming up to wrap around his waist, and he spins me.

“Happy Birthday Baby!” he says, giving me a quick kiss on the lips. I didn’t even think he remembered. I hadn’t gotten a call or text from him in over a month, so this sudden appearance had my heart wanting to burst.

“Thank you.” I kiss him back as he lets me down, his arm staying around my waist, keeping me close.

“What are you doing here? Not that I’m not glad you are.” I can feel my smile reaching from ear to ear. My love is here.

“I came to celebrate my girl’s birthday with her.” Not wanting to ruin the moment, I decide not to mention the fact that he calls more than one woman, his girl. Instead, I hug him.

Bringing up the hand that isn’t wrapped around me, he hands me a cupcake I hadn’t noticed him holding before. “Time to make a wish beautiful.” I take it from him, and he pulls a lighter out of his pocket to light the single purple candle sticking out of the top. I close my eyes and wish for the one thing I would love at this moment. I wished Dre was mine... that we could always be together.

After spending some time in the living room with Miklo, we headed into my bedroom and lay on the bed. Dre grabs the tv remote and puts on one of our favorite movies, Bonnie and Clyde. We once watched it together over the phone, him at his house and me at mine. It had made me feel close even though we had been an hour apart at the time.

Grabbing my waist and pulling me closer to him, I snuggle into his chest, wanting him to never let me go. I wanted to savor it while I could because I was waiting for him to tell me he has to go. He never stays long.

“I love you, Babygirl.” He whispers into my hair, and my heart starts to pound with all the extra attention and affection.

“I love you too. Do you have to leave soon?”

“Nope, I’m here to stay the night with you.” He never stays the night, and I try to contain myself and not act too insanely excited about it. I lose to the excitement and with a very girly squeal, jump up and on him to straddle his waist. Leaning down, I smother his face in kisses, till with a laugh he grabs me and flips us over, my back now to the bed and him above me. “Your mine, always.”

“What about Lisa?” Not wanting to bring her name into the conversation I still need to know.

“What about her? I don’t even want to be with her and plan on letting her know this week. You’re all I want Baby.” I can’t believe he’s saying this, but I want to believe that his words are true and I want to forget the past of broken promises threatening to take this moment away. I decide not to let them and just stay in the here and now in the love of my life’s arms.

We had a fantastic night, one I will never forget ending with kisses, and I love you’s. After he had left, I walked back into my room, lying on the bed and kept replaying the events from the night before in my head. After he’d been gone for about half an hour, I had received a text.

Baby Daddy: Lips Of An Angel, Hinder.

I try not to pull all of the meanings out of the song he chose. The lyrics about it being hard to stay faithful, trying to worm their way in my head. I shake my head. I was not going to think like that. I sent him a text back.

Me: Meghan Trainor and John Legend, Like I’m Gonna Lose You.

I shake the memory as Miklo starts walking out of the gas station back to the vehicle. I wipe at the tears that escaped not wanting him to see them, and pull the pump out of the truck to place it back where it goes and get in the car.

Miklo hands me a polar pop cup, before buckling in. “Thank you, Bubbs.”

“Yup.” Putting his earbuds in his ears he starts up some music and begins texting someone on his phone.

It hurts that he’s hurting so much right now. I wish there would have been an easier way to do this without having to uproot him from everyone and everything he knows. This was a last resort, I’ve failed too many times before, and need to be able to let Dre go. To find a new life, a new love, someone who thinks I’m enough. I need to be able to find myself again, retrieve the pieces of myself I lost in the years I gave them to someone who didn’t care to keep them.

Pulling out of the gas station, I head back to the highway and our journey. We have about six hours left to drive before we reach our new house and a fresh start. My mind begins to wander as I drive, and I’m taken back to the day that brought me to my rock bottom.





Two years ago...

I’m on the phone with Dre, and we have been talking about Miklo going and staying the weekend with him when he all of a sudden gets quiet on the other side of the line. “What’s up? You got quiet on me.” I start to get a sinking feeling in my stomach.

He sighs. “Baby, I asked Lisa to marry me, we’re going to get married in four months.” My heart feels like it’s dropped out of my chest. What did he just say? And how can he say it while calling me Baby in the same sentence?

“Wait. What? But you just told me a few months ago that you were going to leave her? That all you wanted was me, that I was yours.” Tears immediately start pouring down my face. Miklo looks over at me with concern on his face from the other end of the couch we’re sitting on. Not wanting him to see me cry, I get up and head to my room, close the door and sit on the edge of the bed.

“You are mine Baby, but I need to marry one of my kids’ moms, and she has my two youngest. We already put down a deposit on a new house, we move in a month before the wedding.”

I slip from the edge of the bed down to the floor, my back resting against it, my body feeling as if it’s starting to go numb. “I can’t believe you’re saying any of this Andreas. I would have married you. I love you. I want to be with you.”

“Nothings going to change, we can still keep being as we’ve always been. I love you too, but I’m sorry I’m going to marry her.”

I try not to choke on my sobs, the tears now dripping in earnest down my chin. “Like we’ve always been? You mean with us never getting to see you, and when we do it’s for a short amount of time, with you usually having to sneak over? That’s not enough Dre. I need you, I want you, and I don’t want to be the other girl. Why can’t I be enough for you?”

“Baby, don’t cry. I do love you.”

“But not enough, never enough to actually want to keep me.”

“Stop saying that. You always say that.”

“And your actions always make it true.”

I can almost hear the shift in his demeanor over the phone, and I just know the situation is about to be turned and he doesn’t fail to disappoint. “Whatever Mia, you probably have another guy over there right now. Whose voice did I hear earlier huh? Who’s over there?”

“No ones over here, I never have anyone over. You heard the tv, me and Miklo were watching a movie.

“Yeah, right. Watching a movie with Miklo. You’ve probably been holed up in your room screwing this other guy while our son is in the other room.”

“Stop it, Dre! That’s not true. No one is over here.”

“You probably always have guys over when I’m not around, drinking and hanging out, fucking them.” He always does this, always starts accusing me of things I don’t do. Turning the situation around and making it as if I’m the one creating the problems between us.

“Dre, you know that’s not true, why would you even say that? You know you’re the only one I want.”

“What about that guy last year, huh? The one you had told me about.”

“That was a long time ago, a one night stand, and we hadn’t talked in six months. You had just had the new baby with Lisa.”

“Doesn’t mean there haven’t been more guys since him. I’ve seen guys flirt with you Ma, I bet you’re all over them right back when I’m not around to see. So who’s over there now? What’s his name?”

“There’s no one here, stop it, please.” I can feel anxiety, making my chest feel as though it is going to collapse.

“What’s his name? Is he right beside you now with his hands all over you?”

“Please stop.” I let the phone fall to the floor no longer able to listen to him accuse me of things I’m not doing. What right does he even have to blame when he is the one who always has someone else, who just told me he was going to marry someone else? I curl into a ball on the floor, continuing to cry and am barely able to hear his continued rants through the phone from where it fell. After a while the phone goes quiet, he must have realized I was no longer on it, and a text comes through.

Baby Daddy: I’m sorry.

Sorry? He’s sorry? He’s sorry that he just ripped my heart out and stomped on it? Or sorry that he was just an ass and accused me of all that. He’s sorry. He’s always sorry, and it gets to a time when the word starts to mean nothing at all. And at the same time, I wish he was here to hold me, to tell me sorry in person, to take all of what he said back and be with me. I send him two texts before crying myself to sleep on my bedroom floor.

Me: Ludacris and JoJo, Fuck Apologies.

Me: Jessie Reyez, Figures.

The bottom was a very low and bad place for me. I began drinking a lot, almost every day. I didn’t take good care of myself, barely ate anything, and lost a lot of weight. I was lost in my depression and slept a lot of the time in the beginning. After the first wave of depression, I hit another and decided to lose myself, even more, having one night stands and staying out at all times of the night.

Looking back now and seeing all I put Miklo through, having him watch me go through a downward spiral that he shouldn’t have, hurts so much to think about. He had to see more than he ever should, and I resented Dre for it despite it being my actions. I hated that he had and has that much control over me.

It took having to leave our apartment in the west valley to stay with my mom on the east side in Queen Creek to pull me out of it. She helped me stand back on my feet, bringing me up when I felt down. Reminding me what’s important, and instating a no drinking rule in the house, even at my then thirty-one years of age. I’ll never forget her love and strength for me, she never judged me, never tried to hold any of it over me. Leaving her behind was really hard, but I need to be able to hold myself up. To hold myself up with no one else’s strength but my own, and I know I’m not strong enough yet to do that within reach of Dre. The man was toxic, and I knew no one was coming to save me. I had to save myself.

Over the past two years, after my low, I began to slowly feel better, so of course, he came back with a vengeance and started to get in my head again. Pulling me in for hugs when I’d drop Miklo off with him, swift kisses, whispered I love you’s in my ear, and late-night phone calls to talk about anything and everything. It was when I started to feel down again in-between times of talking to and seeing him that I told myself enough was enough and made the drastic decision to move.

I had mentioned it to my mom, and within the hour, she had my Aunt Cathy on the phone helping to plan my escape. By the end of that week, my Aunt Cathy had secured me a job as a receptionist/bookkeeper at her friend’s tax business, and a furnished house rented from the same friend, the rent to be paid out of some of my wages earned. I started wondering what kind of friend this was to my Aunt and told myself I’d have to ask her when I saw her. And now two months later, a week before the school season starts, we’re on our way to our new life in Washington.

It all happened so fast. Working as much as I could to save up for our new start, our new adventure. Un-enrolling Miklo from his Junior High and faxing paperwork to get him enrolled in the local Sammamish Junior High. Saying our goodbyes and sending love to our family and friends. Then having to pack everything we could up, placing a lot in storage, and only taking with us what we could pack into our little Nissan Frontier truck. In a way, it was cleansing because everything and everyone that we're at the very center of my heart was packed in our small truck driving north.

Those last goodbyes were the hardest though. I held my mom so tight and didn’t let go until she promised she would visit soon. If there was one thing, I wished to change about the move? It was her not coming with. But our final goodbye? That was the worst. We stopped by Dre’s house on our way out.





Yesterday...

Pulling into Dre’s neighborhood, my anxiety starts to bubble like it is going to take control, and I nearly turn the vehicle back around in the other direction. I can’t do this, I can’t see him and let him change my mind. But I have to so Miklo can say goodbye to his dad, and I have to be strong for him. That’s what this is all about, me getting stronger. Me getting better so that I can show my son, the boy who looks up at me every day, how to be the best person you can be.

When I pull up alongside his lawn and park, he comes out of the house, obviously having been waiting for us, and I take a deep breath before unbuckling my seatbelt and opening the truck door to get out. Miklo passes by his dad without a word and heads inside to hug and say goodbye to his three siblings, so Dre turns and heads toward me.

Grabbing me and pulling me in for a hug he buries his head in my neck. Speaking against my neck and sending unwanted tingles through my body he says, “Please don’t do this, Ma, please don’t go, it’s not too late to change your mind.”

Choking on a sob, trying to keep it together, I manage to whisper out, “I have to. I have to do this, you’re tearing me apart, and I have to be stronger for Miklo. He deserves that. I deserve that.”

“Come on, we can work this out. I’ll try to be around more.”

“I don’t want you sometimes, Dre. I want you all the time. I don’t want to share you and always be the one home alone. The other woman. You’re never gonna leave her.”

“Baby…”

“Don’t. Don’t call me baby anymore. I’m not yours, and you have Lisa. Where is she anyway? I figured she’d come outside for this too.”

“She went to her mom’s, I didn’t want her around to start drama, and I wanted to see you without her here.”

“Well, thanks for that, I guess.” My tone is half sarcastic and half frustrated. He’s worried about his other baby momma starting drama? He wanted to see me without her here? I nearly got back in the truck. This was so messed up.

He still had his arms around me, and I’m keeping myself tense, trying not to feel anything by being in his arms. Bringing his head up, he looks down at me, and I can’t help but stare into his chocolate brown eyes. He smiles, that smile I love so much that I’m going to miss so much, and I start to cry.

“Please don’t cry Baby, just stay. Lisa and I aren’t even getting along. I’m going to leave her.”

Liar. He’s lying, and I know he is, those lies no longer sounding beautiful from his lips. I start to shake my head and he grabs the back of my head with one hand and crushes his lips to mine. My body slackens and he has to hold me up with his other hand to keep me from falling and breaking apart in his bruising kiss. My tears are now wet on his cheeks as well and I can taste their saltiness on my lips. To him, this probably tastes like hope, to me? A much-needed goodbye.

When he finally releases me, I’m able to sob out. “Then prove it. Goodbye, Dre, I love you so much, but I can’t do this anymore.” Turning away from him so I don’t rush back into his arms. I get back into the truck, shut the door, and buckle in. I don’t look up at Dre until I see Miklo come out of the house. He heads over to him and gives him a big hug that is hard for me to watch, they say a few words, and then Miklo comes and gets into the truck with me. He buckles in and turns his head to stare out the window and away from me. Not looking towards where Dre is standing, I drive away.

We aren’t gone but five minutes when I hear my text notification go off. I read it while at a stoplight.

Baby Daddy: Sam Smith, Stay With Me.

I pull over to the side of the road and park in front of someone’s house because we haven’t entirely left the neighborhood yet. I decide to send him a Sam Smith song back along with another.

Me: Sam Smith, I’m Not The Only One.

Me: Bebe Rexha, Meant To Be.

We had driven off and didn’t stop till we reached almost halfway, stopping in Beaver, Utah for the night to get some rest. Miklo had refused to talk during yesterday’s drive, our night at the hotel, and today except for when he asked about getting a drink at the gas station. It hurts that he’s so mad at me, I know he’ll get over it, but it’s always just been him, and I. He’s my Lil buddy, my son and a friend.

Looking up I’m shocked to find that we are now just outside of Sammamish. I had gotten so lost in my thoughts the drive seemed to take no time at all, and I don’t remember much of the actual driving if I can be honest about it. Scanning my eyes around I take it all in. It’s so different from the desert in Arizona to all the trees and green I see here.

I pull out my phone and enter our new address into Google maps to help guide me through all the streets. In no time I’m turning down our new road, and I take a deep breath and say to myself.

“Okay Mia, this is it, your brand new start.”





Chapter Two


Home Sweet Home





As I pull up to the house, I look around, and my eyes go wide. “Whoa!” The house is nice. A cute white, two-bedroom home with navy blue awnings and shutters. But that’s not what I’m looking at. Next door is a larger two-story house, also white but with red trimming, with probably four of the hottest guys I’ve ever seen.

Yup, not just one, but four. They are playing basketball with a hoop on the garage in the driveway. You’ve gotta be kidding me? I’m never lucky, and, this feels lucky. My cheeks heat with a blush, and I quickly drop my gaze down, not wanting to get caught staring. I’ve always been shy. At least almost always at first, it’s when I really get to know you or I’ve had liquid courage in my belly that you find out I can be hard to shut up.

I grab my purse and look over at Miklo, his head leaning back against the seat, eyes closed, and earbuds in. I can faintly hear A.J.R’s I’m Ready playing. I nudge him and get him to open his eyes.

“Hey Bubbs, we’re here.” He looks at me, doesn’t say anything, and then looks out the window at our new home. Still silent, he gets out, grabs his backpack and heads for the front door. A small sigh comes out of me, and I slowly unbuckle my seatbelt, telling the yowling cats in the kennel in the back seat, that ‘we’ll be right back for them.’ I grab my purse, and the manila folder with the keys to the house, that Aunt Cathy had sent with the rental papers to us in Phoenix before we left. Knowing she would be out of town when we arrived.

Heading towards the door, I walk head down, repeating over and over in my head, don’t look over at the hotties, don’t you dare look over at them. I start feeling all of their eyes suddenly turn towards me as they all of a sudden stop playing, their laughter and banter going quiet. My pace picks up almost there. I was talking about my non-luck before… the crack in the walkway a few feet before the door rears up and reminds me of it when I trip and fly into the door. Barely stopping myself from kissing wood, when I raise my hands up last minute to stop my momentum and brace them on the door. Fuuuck! Shoot me now! Miklo looks up at me, waiting to be let in, a smirk on his face. Sure he smiles now, the Lil shit. I hurriedly grab the keys out of the envelope, fingers fumbling, and unlock the door, pushing my way in and trying to steady my breathing.

Leaving the door open, we take a quick look around at our new place. It’s small but cute and has a very homey feeling to it. It has an open concept, and when you first walk in, you enter the kitchen area which has black appliances, and dark marble countertops, with a matching island that has three barstools on one side. Where the tile of the kitchen ends the plush carpet of the living room begins. It has a dark grey suede sectional sofa with a black coffee table against one wall and a large flat screen tv on an entertainment center against the opposite wall. I can see a patio with a small table and chair set on it in the backyard through a pair of sliding glass arcadia doors. Wow when my Aunt said the house would be furnished, I didn’t expect it to be this nice.

Turning to the left is a long hallway with a bathroom at the end. Two doors on each side of the hall, one for Miklos bedroom that faces the backyard, and one for my master bedroom that faces the front. Miklo immediately heads into his new room to check it out and drop off his backpack, while I head into mine. I love my new room, a queen-sized bed, and the walk-in closet enough to get me excited, with its extra shelves and floor to ceiling mirror on its door. I have a bit of a clothing addiction, and I can’t wait to fill the sucker up with new clothes and shoes. Then there’s the bathroom, a long counter and mirror, a standing shower with glass doors and an attached seat and a separate tub extra deep and jacuzzi style. I can’t wait to take advantage of the tub.

Placing my purse on the bed, I leave the room to grab Miklo, and we head back outside to start unpacking the truck. When we get outside, I stop short at what I see in front of me. Three out of the four guys from next door are leaning against the truck waiting for us to come out.

As we get closer to the truck, the tallest of the three straightens up and holds out his hand for me to shake. “Hi. We thought you might like some help unloading your truck?”

Grabbing his hand to shake, it completely engulfs mine, and I have to look up to see his face, he is so much taller than my small size. He has brown hair that falls into his blue eyes and is dressed in a black wifebeater that hugs his chest and abs tight, and navy blue basketball shorts that hang dangerously low on his hips, I run my eyes up and down taking him in. It’s when I raise them back up and see the knowing smirk on his face that I remember he had asked me a question.

“Um, thank you. That would actually be really great. I’m Mia, and this is my son, Miklo.” He continues to hold onto my hand, so I gesture towards Miklo with a nod.

“Well, welcome to the neighborhood. I’m Jayson Jackson.”

Another of the guys steps forward to grab my hand, having to take it out of Jayson’s gentle grip. He’s tall as well, maybe an inch shorter than Jayson. He has dark brown hair a few inches long in tight ringlet curls on the top of his head, and the most startling blue/grey eyes against his beautiful mocha colored complexion. He’s not wearing a shirt just a pair of red basketball shorts and his arms, chest, and abs are on full mouth-watering display. A tattoo covers his right shoulder and chest, trailing all the way to his right wrist.

“Names Roman Briggs and the knucklehead behind me is my brother Jesse Briggs. It’s a pleasure to meet you two.” He gives me a big smile, and I can’t help but give him one back.

Turning towards Jesse, who has also started coming toward me, I have to do a double-take between him and Roman. Did he say, brothers? Jesse has medium length blonde hair in one of those messy, sexy styles, bright blue eyes, and skin tanned from the sun. Like Roman, he is also not wearing a shirt, and he has full sleeves of colorful tattoos up and down both muscular arms. His black, you guessed it, basketball shorts hang low on his hips like his brothers and Jayson’s.

He reaches me and grabs my hand, lifting it to his lips and pressed a kiss to my knuckles before saying. “His better-looking brother is what he meant to say.” Seeing the confusion on my face, he explains. “Mom married his dad when we were four, and then his dad adopted me. The best thing that ever happened to Roman was getting to be my brother.” The last comment earned him a slap to the back of the head from Roman, and we all laugh.

Hearing the roar of a motorcycle rev up, I look over to their driveway where the noise is coming from and see the fourth neighbor lowering the visor on his helmet. He takes off down the street past my lawn on a gorgeous chrome and black Harley without even a glance our way.

Once he is no longer in sight, Jayson says. “That’s Cade, he lives with us too, I’m sure you’ll get to meet him later. He can... um, he can be a little quiet sometimes.”

A loud yowl from the truck reminds me I need to unload the cats from their kennel first. My poor fur babies hate being in the car and have already spent so much time in the vehicle today, as well as the drive yesterday and unfamiliar hotel room last night. Jayson turns and reaches into the backseat of the truck and pulls them out. “Where should I put these two?”

“Oh, you guys really don’t mind helping?”

“Of course not, what are neighbors for right?” Ooh trust me, I can find a lot of things.

“Ok, well If you guys wouldn’t mind just putting everything in the living room, I can slowly start unpacking things from there later.”

The three guys, Miklo, and I all start to unload the truck. They all keep handing me lighter boxes, and I usually would be offended by that, but as it stood, I may become a hazard with too heavy of a box. I have to keep trying not to stare at their bodies, muscles rippling under the weight of all the heavy ones, and I’ve found myself nearly tripping because of my distraction several times.

I’m walking behind Roman, enjoying the view when I see a quick flash of black streak out of the house.

“Mom! Ghera got out!” So that’s what the black streak was. My fat, black, pain in the ass cat Ghera. He loves to be outside and will escape any chance he gets, unlike his sister Stella, a petite calico, who prefers to stay indoors.

“Miklo will you please catch him? You know if I try he’s going to think I’m playing a game of hide and go seek, and I’ll never catch him.”

“I’ll get him.”

“I’ll get him.”

Roman and Jesse say at the same time sounding eerily twinlike, and putting the boxes in their hands down and taking off after my darn cat before I can warn them not to. Ghera loves games and loves to run off. I’m about to still warn them to stop, that they’ll never catch him when I see them both slip and fall in the grass, Ghera darting back and forth between them but just out of reach. I can’t help but bust out laughing. Seeing these two big, muscular guys, chasing my cat around and falling on their asses. I’ve gotta say it's adorable. Miklo finally comes back out of the house, walks right up to Ghera, picks him up, and takes him into the house.

“Lock him in the bathroom for now if you could please Bubbs?” I call out to him. Turning back to the brothers, I try to stifle my laughs and explain. “I’m so sorry guys, I was going to warn you that he’d never let you catch him. Miklo is like the cat whisperer or something and is usually the only one who can get him. I don’t even try anymore.”

Jayson who I hadn’t realized had come up to stand next to me and watch the show starts laughing. “Try not to bruise their pride Sweetheart, those two love any reason to get to show off.” He goes to the truck and grabs the last box out of the back and takes it inside.

Brushing themselves off and picking up the boxes they had set down, the brothers also take them inside. I’m not sure which one of them says it, but I hear a mumbled, “I almost had him.” Not being able to keep the giggles in I follow them in. A lightness I haven’t felt in years invades my chest as I try to keep my smile small.

The living room is now covered in boxes, and I sigh. I hate moving, packing and unpacking are the worst. I’m not looking forward to it, and I’m feeling extra grateful that we have a whole week to settle in before Miklo starts school and I start work.

Facing the guys, I get a sudden urge to hug all three. But not just hug. I have plenty of ideas on how to be a friendly neighbor. Whoa, down girl. Setting my arms on the kitchen island to keep them from trying to embrace three hot bodies, I get super nervous with them all standing in my new home. The feeling is kinda new. For so long I haven’t even really gotten so much as a crush on anyone. I’ve been too lost in Dre. Even the few one night stands I’ve had over the past fourteen years, I never liked them enough to want to pursue more. Then come along these three strangers, and I feel like I’m a teen in High School again, wanting to pass them notes in class or have one of my BFF’s ask them if they like me because I’m too shy.

The sound of a throat clearing in the awkward silence brings me out of it, and I smile at them. “Thank you guys so much for your help, Miklo, and I really appreciate it.” Looking around, I don’t see Miklo anywhere. He must have already grabbed most of his stuff and holed himself up in his room. “Seriously, thank you. I’m already so beat from the drive today, and you guys just took off about an hour of unloading time for me in only like, twenty minutes.”

“Anytime, Mia. If you need any more help, tonight don’t hesitate to come and get one of us from next door.” Jayson says with a smile before turning and heading out the door.

“It was really nice meeting you Mia, I hope you like it here, and if you ever need a guide, I’d be more than willing to show you around,” Roman says, before he too, heads out the front door.

Jesse is the last to start heading out the door and before he does he grabs my hand, once again bringing it up to place a kiss on my knuckles. “I can’t wait to get to know you better.” and with a wink, he too is gone.

I shut the door and lock it behind them, leaning against it for a moment before making myself go into the living room. Ugh, I so don’t want to have to unpack. My belly starts grumbling, and I remember we haven’t eaten since we stopped this morning for an early lunch, and have only snacked a little since then.

It’s now seven at night, and there is no way I want to go navigating an unfamiliar town to find a grocery store tonight. Going to my room to get my phone out of my purse, I decide pizza and soda it is, and start googling for the closest delivery.

I’ve managed to unpack most of the kitchen, including my For Fox Sake wine glasses and three bottles of wine given to me by coworkers at my last day send-off party, when I hear my phone ring. Picking it up from where I left it on the kitchen island, I see Baby Daddy lit up on the screen. Hesitating for a second, I finally decide to answer it. “Hello?”

“Hey Ma, you make it okay?”

Holding the phone between my ear and shoulder, I open up one of the bottles of wine and pour a full glass. Hey, I need it after the day I’ve had. Scratch that. After the year I’ve had. Maybe even year(s), plural. You get my point. “Yeah, we got here a little over an hour ago. Everything has been unloaded from the truck and into the living room. Miklo’s already holed up in his new room. Did you want to talk to him? Did he not answer his phone?”

“No, no, I wanted to talk to you, make sure you got there okay and everything.”

“Oh, ok. Yeah, everything’s good. I love this house, it’s perfect.”

“I miss you already.”

I take a huge swig of my wine. I don’t know what to say back to him. I need to get over him, and he’s not playing fair with us only having been here two hours. Struggling to find something to say in response I’m saved by the doorbell ringing. Pizza’s here. “Hold on a sec, Dre, I’ll be right back.”

Grabbing my wallet, I go to answer the door. Standing on the other side of the door is a pimply teen, who looks as if he’s just barely old enough to have his license, holding a pizza and a twenty-two-ounce bottle of Coke. “Afternoon Ma’am, it’ll be $18.97 for the pizza and Coke.”

I take a twenty and a five out of my wallet and hand it to him while he hands over my order. “Thank you, and keep the change.”

He nods and turns to leave as I shut and lock the door. Placing the pizza box and soda on the island, I grab my phone back up to talk to Dre. “Sorry about that, I’m back. What were you saying?”

“Who was that?” He says accusingly, and I can almost feel the growl in his tone.

“It was the pizza guy, well kid rather. There isn’t any food in the house yet, and the two of us barely ate on the road.” I drink what’s left in my glass and fill it back up, already knowing how this conversation is going to turn out.

“Don’t lie to me Mia, who was that guy you were talking to? Is he still there, standing next to you?”

“Andreas, don’t start, It was the fucking pizza delivery guy.” I’m going to lose it one of these days. Just snap on him.

“You went there to move in with a guy, didn’t you? I knew it, I knew you already had a guy waiting for you.”

Can we say paranoid?

I down my second glass of wine, and I can start to feel it go through me, warming me from my belly up, and numbing my head comfortably. Miklo comes out of his room, grabs a plate and glass, gets some pizza out of the box and fills his glass with soda, before going right back into his room and shutting the door. I stay quiet until I hear the click of the door closing, not wanting him to have to listen to us fighting. Again.

“Ma? Hellllooooo? Mia answer me!”

“There’s no guy and you know it. Well at least there isn’t one yet. I’m done, Dre. I’m no longer going to hang on by the small threads you throw me. I made this move for me, and even though there is no guy, that doesn’t mean there won’t be.” The tears are flowing now in small rivers down my face, and I just can’t stop them, I’m drained emotionally and physically. “I love you Dre, a small part of me always will, but I no longer want to be in love with you, you’re tearing me apart, you don’t even want me. And I owe it to myself to find someone who loves me, who treats me right, and wants me enough to keep me.”

“I knew there was a guy. Your such a slut, Mia, you…”

I can’t listen to anymore, and I cut him off. “Goodbye, Dre, I’m done.”

Giving up on my glass, I grab the open bottle of wine and fall into the couch. Drinking in earnest out of the bottle now, the tears don’t stop. Full-on ugly crying, I just stay there on the couch and let it all out. I want to be surprised by the things he says to me. The stuff he comes up with, but I can’t. I knew this man like the back of my hand, and this was expected. Still hurt like a bitch but expected. I rubbed my eyes as black mascara smeared against my skin.

I’m just about to get up and open another bottle of wine when I hear the doorbell. Who could it be now? I did give the pizza kid enough money, right? While trying to wipe my eyes and face as best I can, I open the door, and my jaw drops.

Hello, Hottie number four!

Well come on now, that is a bit unfair, isn’t it? Even for me? Standing at my door is a man that could only be the mysterious Cade, with his fit black jeans hugging muscular thighs, navy shirt with a leather jacket over his broad shoulders. He has dark wavy hair that is just short of hanging in his beautiful, emerald green eyes. I take in his gorgeous face, and my eyes immediately draw into his full lips which are unfortunately turned into a scowl.

“H-hi.” I manage to squeak out, and I blush probably making my already alcohol flushed cheeks redder. I know you wish you were this fantastic at first impressions.

He doesn’t say anything back, not even a quick hello. Instead, he lifts his arms out to hand me my fat cat Ghera who I hadn’t even noticed he’d been holding.

“Oh, thank you. I didn’t even know he had gotten out… Wait, how did you even catch him?” I ask as I get a good hold on the escape artist, who must have run out without me noticing when the pizza arrived.

Still not saying a word, Cade looks me over and then turns to start walking across the lawn to their house. What the heck just happened? Is there something besides tears on my face? Gah! I can’t even imagine what he thinks of me, answering the door mid emotional breakdown. I shut the door, locking up as Ghera tears out of my arms like a banshee and runs down the hall. Freakin’ lunatic.

Starting back where I left off, I grab another bottle of wine. Deciding to leave the rest of the unpacking of the boxes for tomorrow, I take the bottle and a piece of pizza and go to lay on my new bed. Both bedrooms came with thirty-two-inch smart tv’s in them, and I turn Netflix on. I’m perusing the movies and shows when I hear a text notification alert on my phone. I pick it up, not really wanting to see the message, knowing who it’ll be from.

Baby Daddy: Eamon, I Don’t Want You Back.

He's being such an asshole, and I can’t take it anymore. I am so done. I send him one text back before falling asleep in my tears and wine.

Me: Joey Djia, I’m Done.





∞∞∞

Cade

“What the fuck?” I can’t help but say out loud. I had just gotten home from working a few hours at my bike shop. When I pulled up, Roman was throwing free throws in the dim light coming from the single bulb above the garage door.

Turning my bike off, I walked up to him, blocked his next shot, stole the ball, and threw one in. As he went to retrieve the ball, I stepped to the side, hands in my pockets, and waited for him to shoot again. Holding the ball, he stopped in front of me. “So, how was work?”

“Good, I should have that rebuild done by Thursday.” I want to ask him about the new neighbor, but don’t want him to know that I’m curious. And I don’t want to be curious, women always lead to drama, and I’m not looking for any. But unfortunately my body doesn’t agree and I didn’t even get to see her face. Her long wavy brown hair reaching all the way down her curvy body to a plump ass, that her jeans hugged, and had made my dick twitch. Then she went tripping into her front door and a feeling that wasn’t normal for me to have jumped up through my chest. I had no right feeling protective over someone whose name I didn’t even know. “So what did you guys do?”

Roman gives me a big shit-eating grin, he knows what I’m asking. My friends, my brothers by choice, are so close that we probably no one another better than we know ourselves. “Well, we helped Mia and her son Miklo unload their truck.”

Her name is Mia? It fits her short and curvy frame. I nearly groaned at the thought of her body. I needed a fucking drink, this was ridiculous.

I’m about to ask him more, see if I can find out what she’s like when a fat black cat starts rubbing a figure eight around my legs. It starts purring loudly, and I look up at Roman in confusion.

Laughing, he says, “That’s their cat Ghera, don’t even try to pick him…” I lean down and pick up the massive cat, bringing it up to my chest.

“Up. Well, fuck me. She said that the cat doesn’t let anyone but Miklo pick him up. I wonder how he got out again?”

“I’ll take him home,” I turned and headed over to her house, leaving Roman snickering behind me.

Ringing the doorbell when I get to her door, I heard a bit of noise on the other side before it opened. Beautiful, a beautiful mess, but undeniably beautiful. She stood before me not even coming up to my neck in height, her brown wavy hair hanging loose over her shoulders, and tears were coming down her face out of the lightest hazel eyes I’ve ever seen. Black smudges were circling her eyes, and her lips were stained just slightly from wine. I had no idea why that was attractive. I think it was just her. Everything was fucking attractive about her.

I wanted to grab her and hold her, she looked so broken, and I felt like I could feel her pain, that it was a pain we both might share. I wanted to hold her tight and help her put all her broken pieces together. I stop myself. No, that is not what I want. I don’t need anyone right now, I still haven’t gotten over… Besides, I definitely don’t need to be trying to put some broken girl back together, especially one that I don’t even know.

But you want to know her.

Holding the cat out to her I didn’t even hear a word she was saying, I just listened to the sweet low tone in her voice, and then walked away. Which brings us back to my internal what the fuck I was experiencing.





Chapter Three


Murder My Neighbor





“Ugh.” I grab my pillow and press it over my head, temples pounding, eyes only able to open partly.

Six minutes ago, I was deep asleep dreaming about my new neighbors next door. A little drool may or may not have been pooling under my mouth, leaving a small wet spot on my pillow, Gross! Especially since it was the one currently pressed against my face. Five minutes ago, I was rudely awakened by what sounds like someone mowing outside. Four minutes ago I looked over at my clock, the red numbers reading 6:12 a.m. and I vowed to murder the fucker who woke me. I’m new here. No one would ever suspect it was me, right?

“Nope that’s it!” I throw the pillow from my face, down to the floor of the bedroom and toss my blanket off. I stand to go greet my victim so that damn noise can stop. My head pounds and the room spins a little. Damn it, I’m never drinking again. Okay so I’ve promised myself this hundreds of times, but who hasn’t? Hmm, I wonder if I take a shot the pounding will dull a little, wait no, not ever drinking again. Promise.

After steadying myself, I straighten my black cami, pull my short panda PJ bottoms down, so they actually cover my red lacy boyshorts, and stalk out of my room like I’m on a mission. The noise sounds like it’s coming from the back, so I head in that direction. Sliding the back arcadia door open, that leads to the back patio, opening it with a little more force than necessary, it slams to the side. Maybe a tad dramatic but warranted in this case. I stomp outside, my hands on my hips, sass in my step, and then stop in my tracks.

Drool, I’m probably drooling again.

Out in the backyard, mowing my lawn is Jayson. His brown hair is wet with sweat and hanging over his blue eyes. He isn’t wearing a shirt and has worn blue jeans on, that are just a little loose, wrapping around his lower waist. Giving me a view of his muscular tan abs, going down into that lust-worthy V.

He hadn’t seen me yet, but his eyes drift up to catch mine the same second I manage to close my dropped jaw. Giving me a smile, it slowly starts to turn into an uneasy frown. That’s when I realize I’m still standing in my aggressive, the neighbors going to die stance. I quickly relax my pose, drawing my arms around my middle and manage to smile, my cheeks getting hot. Once he sees the smile, his grin gets big again, and he turns off the mower and starts walking toward me. He doesn’t go around the patio railing but launches himself over it and plants himself about a foot in front of me, leaning back into it. Damn! Boy’s got hops!

“Good morning, Mia.”

“Goo-good morning.” I tighten my arms around me more, and his gaze drops down. I look down to see what he’s looking at, my nerves already causing my heart to pound and my knees to shake. Okay, okay, my nerves are crazy right now, but we all know it’s the 6’3” hunk of hotness, making my heart pound and knees to wobble. I see my arms clenched so tightly against my abdomen, that they’ve pushed up the girls, leaving a generous amount of cleavage. Well, could be worse but really?! My cami is tight, and my nipples are as hard as diamonds. That’s when I notice it’s actually pretty chilly out here. A tidbit nipply to be exact. My Arizona raised body starting to get goosebumps with the crisp Washington morning air. Sure my bodies cold but my damn cheeks are burning.

Raising his eyes back up, his smile never wavering, he puts his hand gently on my shoulder and drops it back to his side. Two seconds, one light touch, and I’m clenching my thighs and practically melting.

Remembering why I came outside, Ooh that sounds dirty after the clenching and melting. I definitely no longer wanting to bury the noisy neighbor, hmm torturing him a little sounds fun though. I get my voice to finally work. I get the courage to say, ‘So ...um… what exactly are you doing in my yard...mowing...at 6 a.m.?”

Chuckling, he responds. “Without a fence in between, our lawns run together. No one’s lived here for a while, and I just do both when ours needs to be done.”

“Okaaaay, and 6 a.m.?”

Chuckling again. “Not a morning person are we, Mia?”

Not without pressing the snooze button a minimum of three times, but usually more, and getting a cup of caffeine in my veins. “Um, I guess not.” I sheepishly mutter as I sneak a quick glance at the man before me, following his strong shoulders down to his lean biceps and tattoo-covered forearms.

“Well, I’ll get back to mowing if you need anything, don’t hesitate to ask.” He says with a wink. Oh man, I can already tell that Jayson’s the sweet one, the one willing to do anything for the one he loves, he’s the nurturer. Well, he can sweeten me up anytime. Please sweeten me up; I could fucking use it considering my life recently.

“Thanks, yeah I better get back inside, lots of unpacking to do.”

After giving me another one of his beaming grins, he turns and launches himself back over the railing, and into the yard to continue mowing. It gives me a beautiful view of his bareback and the tattoo I couldn’t figure out yesterday because of the black tank he was hiding the goodies with. Now with his shirt off, I can see tribal images caressing his shoulder blades and going down the small of his back, stopping about an inch before it would reach where his pants hit low.

Turning back to the house, I hurriedly get inside, and rush to the bathroom attached to my bedroom. Placing my hands on the sink and turning on the faucet in preparation to splash cold water on my now hot cheeks. Lifting my head up to look in the mirror, I don’t know whether to laugh or scream. Fuuuuck! My hair is everywhere, my dark brown naturally wavy locks giving their all into receiving the best bed head hair ever award. In my rush to stop the noise, I didn’t even think about my unruly hair. Well then, no wonder the fucker was grinning and laughing. Any takers on someone burying ME now?

After going back to sleep for a few hours, I take a long shower and get dressed in a blue tank and black leggings, deciding to head over to the closest grocery store I could find. Miklo would be getting up soon and would want something for lunch since it was now close to noon. Leaving, I can’t help but look over at the neighbors' house next door.

I finally find a Safeway on 228th and 8th and rush in to get just the necessities. Have you ever been alone in a store with no kids or anything, and your pace just slows down, and you decide to look at everything? Then pretty soon you’re looking around, you have an overflowing cart, and what you thought has been like twenty minutes has turned into an hour? Yup happens to me every time. Wanting to hurry and get back to Miklo, who miraculously hasn’t called me yet about food, I rush to the checkout and buy what feels like the whole store, load everything into the truck, and leave.

When I pull into the carport, I open the door to the house and then go back to the truck. I load up as many bags I can get onto each arm, too many years of living in apartments and having to lug groceries upstairs, to lose the habit. I manage to get half of all I bought and take them inside to place on the kitchen island.

Heading back outside for the rest, I stop up short. Jayson is at my truck and grabbing groceries out of the back. Damn this guy is like a Jayson In The Box. He keeps popping up everywhere. Although unlike Jack, this guy hasn’t scared me yet and I wouldn’t mind jumping right back into that box with him.

When he turns, he sees me. “Oh hey Mia, I was on my way out and saw you taking in some groceries and thought I’d lend a hand.”

“Well, thank you, I appreciate it.” I would also appreciate it if we just took a quick, or long would be even better, trip to my bedroom…

I go and grab the remaining bags and follow him back into the house. We place the bags on the island, and he turns to me. “So how are you guys settling in? Everything going okay?” Gah! This guy is so sweet. Where do men like this come from? Was there a secret ‘perfect man’ machine, I was unaware of? If so I’d like a subscription, please.

“Yeah, everything's perfect. Jim, my new employer, really set us up, I can’t believe he is letting me rent this place so cheap.”

“Oh yeah, we met Jim a couple weeks ago, him and this little brunette he seemed cozy with had come over to deliver the couches and we helped out.”

Wait. What? Cozy with a little brunette? “Was this woman’s hair about shoulder length, and was she wearing a pair of sixties style glasses?”

“Yeah, do you know her?”

Ooh, I am definitely calling my aunt as soon as I can. “Yeah, that’s my Aunt Cathy, she helped me get the job and house from Jim. She said he was a good friend.”

“I’ll say.” See he thinks their together too. “Well I better get going, I only came home for lunch real quick. I’ve gotta head back to the courthouse, have two cases to get to.”

It was only then I decided to really take in what he was wearing. I had been so into his face as he had been talking to me his clothing hadn’t registered. And oh man I’m not sure how I hadn’t noticed. He was wearing dark grey slacks with a matching coat over a white button-up and maroon tie and did he ever look good in it. I wonder what he does for a living? Lawyer maybe?

“I’m a family court lawyer. I work for the state and help make sure kids are in the best homes for them.” Knew it! And awe could he get any better? I’m thinking no.

“Okay, well I’m sure I’ll see you around.”

“Yeah, If you wouldn’t mind I’d like to pop over some time, get to know you a little better, you know since we’re neighbors now and all.”

Oh fuck, he just added to my inner Jayson In The Box joke and he doesn’t even know it. Do not laugh out loud; you’ll look crazy. Yeah, he can POP on over anytime.

Giving him a big smile, and containing my laugh, I manage to say. “Yeah, I’d like that.”

“I’ll see you later, Mia, have a great day.”

After he leaves and I shut the door behind him I go to unpack and put away the groceries. When I’m almost done, Miklo comes out of his room, curly hair a mess on his head and eyes looking like he just woke up. He sits on the barstool, and grabs a bag of potato chips out of a grocery bag, opens them up and takes a few out. I start to make him a sandwich knowing he’s probably starving.

“I bought soda, but it’s still warm. I got ice too though if you’d like a glass,” I say as I hand him the ham and mustard sandwich, just the way he likes it. No lettuce and no tomato. I know crazy.

“Yes, please.” He speaks! Yes! I knew he’d come around, and it’s only been two days, my little Momma's boy. I fill up a glass of soda and hand it to him. He continues, “So dad keeps calling and texting. He says he wants to talk to you, but you're not answering, calls go straight to voicemail.”

I had forgotten I turned my phone off last night after having text Dre, and calling my mom to let her know we had arrived safely. “Oops forgot I turned my phone off last night. I’ll turn it on and call him after I finish with the groceries.”

He finishes his sandwich, grabs his soda, and stands to go back to his room. When he’s just in the hallway, he turns back to me. “Hey, mom?”

“Ya Bubbs?”

“Maybe don’t call him back right away. Make him wait a few days, we just got here.”

“I think your right baby boy. I will make him wait.”

∞∞∞

Jayson

I can’t help but smiling and laughing to myself. I went out back to mow early this morning for a reason. I needed to find a way to talk to Mia. The new girl next door. When she pulled up yesterday, she had all of us turning our heads. She’s gorgeous. I can tell she’s shy and while I probably wouldn’t usually, I find it fucking adorable with her. She was trying so hard not to look over at us when she went to first walk in her new home, making herself trip and fall into the door. It was adorable. I would probably keep using that word about her.

So I figured I’d have to do something to get her attention. Making noise at the crack of dawn ended up being perfect. She had stormed out of the house one hot mess! But really, she looked really hot. A mess. But like the type, I wanted to wake up next to every morning. Her hair was everywhere, and she was wearing a little tank-top, and a tiny pair of shorts that I had caught a glimpse of some red lace panties peeking underneath, where they were struggling to cover her nice round ass.

Our conversation was short but entertaining, her having trouble speaking to me, and the way she was holding herself around her waist, pushing her tits almost out of her cami? I wanted to grab her and pull her to me right then, run my hands over her curvy body. I wanted to rush home right now because I had a feeling there was a lot of ‘getting to know’ Mia that could be done instead of legal shit.

I couldn’t get her out of my head all day. My morning cases were rescheduled, so I had been sitting in my office, daydreaming of different ways to get to talk to her again.

When lunchtime came around, I decided to go home, where I usually would just get something quick from one of the food trucks always around at that time. But I was hoping to catch another sight of Mia.

I was disappointed when I had first pulled up and saw that her truck was gone. But when I came out to leave, I saw her grabbing grocery bags from her car wearing the tightest leggings that I couldn’t help but love on her. She just kept loading more and more bags to her arms. I couldn’t believe she didn’t topple over with the amount she grabbed. So when she went inside, I ran over and started to grab some myself. I figured if I already had them in my hands, she couldn’t tell me no. She seems the stubborn type.

Talking with her for a few minutes in her kitchen just made me want to talk to her more and more, but I knew I had to get back to the courthouse. She seemed like she was about to start laughing before I left. I would have loved to of known what was going through her head that was so funny. I really liked this girl, and I haven’t felt that way in a long time.

When I get to the courthouse, I shoot a quick group text to the guys. I know Jesse and Roman seem interested in her, but I wanted to make sure I let them know I was interested too. I mean we’ve shared girls a few times before, and I’m not opposed to sharing Mia with them. Their good guys, I wouldn’t be okay with it with anyone but them, but this girl seems different, this one I might want for keeps, even if they don’t.

Me: Just got done talking to Mia on my lunch break. I like this girl. I think I’m going to try to spend some more time with her.

The texts came back quick from Roman and Jesse.

Roman: Right there with ya brother.

Jesse: Me too!

I wasn’t really expecting a reply from Cade, but I got one just before I entered the courtroom.

Cade: She’s a mess.





Chapter Four


Hidy Ho Neighbor





It’s been a week and Miklo, and I have been settling in nicely. We’ve pretty much-gotten everything unpacked except the pictures and decorations. The week seems to have gone by so fast, unpacking and setting up the house by day, and dreaming of Jayson In The Boxes and angry hotties handing me cats by night. I’ve really gained a new appreciation for the night time if you know what I mean.

Tomorrow will be my first day of work, and Miklo’s first day of school, on Thursday we had gone and took a tour of the Junior High he will be going to, so he would know where all his classes were and not get lost. He says he isn’t nervous, but I’m worried for him. With a mixture of ADHD and social anxiety making new friends hasn’t always been the easiest for him. It wasn’t until a little over a year ago that he really started coming out of his shell. When we left Phoenix, he had to leave a lot of friends he had made over the past year. It had made it harder for me to make the decision to leave.

Since today is Sunday, we decided to just relax, veg out, and watch movies on the couch. We’re about halfway through some scary movie I can’t remember the name of when there is a knock on the door. I hate scary movies, and Miklo loves them. He also loves to laugh at me when I scream or jump, much the same as he just started laughing at me when I jumped at the sound of the knock.

“Door’s for you Miklo, better go answer it,” I say as I glare at him with a smile.

“Nope, they’ll be strangers, and I’m not supposed to talk to strangers remember? You’re gonna have to get it, mom.” He replies with a smirk. Smart kid. Way too bright.

“Nice one.” Dropping the blanket I was snuggled in and using for protection against the on-screen slayer, I get up to go answer the door. I quickly look down to make sure I’m dressed presentable. My Black and white panda “Mama Bear” t-shirt and a pair of Dre’s old basketball shorts will have to do. I have no idea who’s at the door, but I’m not changing.

Looking through the peephole, I immediately run my hands through my hair and wish I did have time to change. That blue-eyed blonde-haired, sexy and tatted neighbor, who if I remember right’s name is Jesse, is outside the door. I see him give a big smile as I take one more look through the peephole, and I jump back. It’s not like he can actually see you, dork.

Opening the door, I take a deep breath. Just act cool, you’ve got this. “Hidy ho neighbor.” Oh. My. God. I did not just say that! Ok, I am now silently cursing myself for all of those Home Improvement shows I watched when I was younger, but hey I thought JTT was so hot back when I was around Miklo’s age. He’s trying so hard not to laugh at me, I can tell, and I can feel my cheeks getting redder and redder.

“Well, hidy ho to you too, Wilson.” Okay, now I laugh, which makes him go ahead and laugh too. At least he knew where the saying came from. Giving me a wink, he continues, “I was wondering if I could bother you for a sec?” Anytime baby, anytime. The middle of the nights are especially free for me.

“Of course, what’s up?”

“Well, I…” I see a brief flicker in his expression. “I was wondering if I could borrow a cup of sugar?” He seemed unsure of his question as if he was asking me if that is what he needed. “I know cliche neighbor thing to ask right?” That time it sounded as if he was asking himself the question and I’m trying really hard not to laugh again because he is totally bullshitting.

“Of course, what are you making?” I wanted to catch him up, and his eyes widened a little when I asked the question.

“Um… Cookies. Roman’s baking cookies, He loves to bake, always making something that one. Has his own apron and everything.” He’s so lying, but it’s hilarious, and now I can’t get the picture of Roman in an apron… and nothing else, out of my head. It’s quite a sexy image.

“Come inside.” Quit thinking dirty. Turning to cover my grin and to keep myself from laughing, I head to the kitchen cupboards to get the bag of sugar out and decide to keep playing along. “So how many cups does he need?”

“Oh… Three.” I almost snorted. Now those cookies would have to be the sweetest ones I’ve ever come across if they actually were going to make them.

I grab a quart Ziploc bag, a measuring cup, and start, scooping sugar into the bag. I can feel his eyes on me, and it’s making me nervous, I know I look a mess. I take a quick look over at Miklo and see him quickly turn his head back toward the movie, from our direction. Zipping the bag and turning to Jesse, he’s leaning against the island, one arm propped on top, which is making his muscle bulge in his colorful bicep. Not wanting to get caught staring, I quickly look up. He’s smirking, I got caught.

“Here’s your sugar.” I hand it over to him, and he grabs it, running his fingers softly over mine as he does. It sends tingles up my arms, and I shiver. Looking into his bright blue eyes, I want to melt while I’m at it too.

“Thank you, I’ll make sure we replace it as soon as we get a chance to hit up the store.” I have a very good feeling I’ll be getting back the very same three cups of sugar. Maybe I should charge interest, and he can give me some of his sugar. Ugh! I needed to stop.

“Your welcome.” I give him a big smile. “Save one for me, will you?”

He gets a confused look on his face. “Save you what?”

“A cookie, of course.”

“Oh! Oh yeah, no problem, I’ll tell Roman for you.”

He turns to head out, and I follow him to the door. “Later, Jesse.”

As he starts to leave, he gives me a wink and then says with a chuckle. “Later Wilson”

I shut the door and head back to the couch. Plopping back down into my spot and wrapping myself back up in my blanket, I notice Miklo looking at me. “What?”

“Oh, nothing.” He starts laughing and turns back to finish watching the movie. Little brat.





∞∞∞

About an hour later, we are now watching the latest Kevin Hart comedy and waiting on pizza. I know, I know, twice in a week but I just didn’t feel like cooking when we’ve been having such an amazingly lazy day. There’s a knock at the door, and I jump up to answer, grabbing my wallet on the way to get it. I grab a twenty out and open the door. POP! I hear the pop go off in my imagination, my Jayson In The Box is back. A smile instantly comes to my face.

“Hey.”

“Hey.” I don’t really know what to say back. These guys have me speechless.

“I just thought I’d come over and see how everything is going? Did you get everything set up okay? Do you need help with anything?” Gah, this guy! He’s just the sweetest.

“Yeah, we got everything set okay. I really love this house. Thank you for asking, I’ve moved so many times and used to doing everything on my own, so I’ve got it.” I give him a big smile, and he smiles back after a brief frown when I said I’m used to doing everything on my own.

“Well, that’s good to hear. So what are your plans for the next week?”

“I start work tomorrow, and Miklo also has his first day of school. I feel like it’s going to be a hectic week.”

He looks like he wants to ask me something but is hesitating about it. “Well, that’s good. I’m sure you’ll do great, and Miklo will like the school. Cade and I actually went to the same junior high when we were younger, it’s where we met. And then we met Jesse and Roman when we got into high school. Our parents have now all moved to Seattle, but us guys all decided to make Sammamish home.”

“That’s so cool, I love how close you guys all are. I have a few friends from high school that I’m close with, but it’s the friends I met when I went to college and moved out of my small home town of Bagdad, Arizona who I really stay in contact with the most. I think one of the hardest parts of this move was how much I knew I’d miss them.”

He’s leaning against the door jam, and I’m standing in front of him. He reaches over and pushes a stray hair out of my face and behind my ear, caressing my cheek as he pulls his hand away. My eyes close in pleasure from the way his hands feel on my skin. I want to reach out and caress his face too. Run my thumb over his full lower lip and feel the stubble on his chin. Down girl! Christ. I was acting like some attention-starved kitten over here. Purr. Come on, Mia! You’re an adult. A grown fucking woman. Act like it. Even if he is so fucking sweet, you can’t handle it.

Straightening up from his relaxed position, he says. “You’ll miss them, but there are a lot of friends to be made here.” His tone sounds suggestive, and yes, I want these guys to be my friends, but maybe I’m going to want a little bit more than friendship. I don’t know what’s gotten over me, I’ve never had a crush on so many guys at one time before. Dre has consumed my mind for so long that I don’t know what my normal is. Is it wrong to want all of them?

“I better go, but as I told you before if you ever need anything, don’t hesitate to ask.” Yeah, I need you to grab me up, kiss me passionately, rip my clothes off and soothe the two-year itch I’ve been carrying around. I didn’t really ask him that, but now my imagination is running wild.

“Of course, I know where you live if I need you,” I say with a grin and a wink, a wink that probably looked awkward as hell, why did I do that? These guys have me too nervous, and I keep making a fool of myself. “I’ll see you later.”

“See you later.” He turns to leave, looking like he still didn’t get to say what he really wanted to, as I shut the door.

“Mom! Just leave the door open, there are still two more that haven’t come over.” Miklo yells to me, the little smartass.

“Haha! Funny!” I’m still leaning against the door when there is another knock on it.

“Told you!”

Looking through the peephole and seeing the same pimply kid from before, I yell back. “It’s just the pizza guy this time.”

I open the door and reach out to hand the kid the twenty that is still in my hands from when I opened the door for Jayson.

“Oh no, ma’am. Your neighbor caught me as I got out of my car and paid for the pizza for you.” Taking the pizza box from him, I look over towards the guys' house. I don’t see anyone, but I’m betting it was Jayson. My heart swells, he’s too much.

“Thank you.”

“No problem, have a good night!”

As he leaves, I once again close the door. Heading back into the living room, I place the pizza box on the coffee table, open it up and grab a slice. Miklo grabs one as well. As I’m mulling over the guys in my head, he looks over at me with a smile, like he wants to say something.

“What?” I say when I can’t handle his curious look anymore.

“So… Which one do you like?”

“Which one of the neighbors?”

“Yeah, It’s obvious they like you, and you do this weird stuttering thing whenever they talk to you.” Dang, I didn’t think I was that bad, I need to up my game if my kid is noticing shit like that.

I think it over. I actually like all of them. How could I not? They are all drop-dead-gorgeous and seem to all be super nice. Well except maybe Cade. That one I’ve only talked to once and he never even said a word back to me or smiled.

“Well, I don’t know Bubbs I kinda like all of them, Except maybe Cade, I don’t think he likes me. Is it weird I like all of them?”

“No, that’s not weird. You should try talking to them more.”

“What is this all about? Do you want me to find a boyfriend?”

“I just want you to be happy, mom, and you deserve someone who will treat you right.”

I choke up a little, my kid is the sweetest. I clearly did something right. “Thank you Bubbs, we’ll see.”

The movie has ended, and Miklo has finished eating. He stands up to head to his room. “Well I’m gonna head to bed, Love you see you in the morning.”

“Love you, see you in the morning.”

As he closes his door, I grab the remote and put on a romance that I’ve wanted to check out for a bit. I wrap the blanket around me and snuggle into the couch. I’ve barely made it through the credits when my phone starts ringing, Dre’s ringtone bringing me love and loathing at the same moment. I’ve had too good of a day to deal with him though. For the whole week actually, I’ve been avoiding his calls and text. They are all loving and begging me to come back one minute to sending hate and blame in the next ones. I let the ringtone fade away, and a minute later, a voicemail comes through. I’m just about to listen to it when I hear a knock at the door.

Setting my phone back down, I get up to answer the door. It’s now eight at night, and I’m not sure who it could be. Maybe, my aunt, she’s supposed to be back in town now. I hadn’t heard from her yet except when I called to grill her about Jim. My aunt and my new employer are definitely together. She got all giddy and lovestruck when she went into detail about their relationship and how she was actually just on a short vacation with him to Yellowstone. I’m so happy for her, everyone deserves love.

I look through the peephole, but my light for the front must be out because I can’t see who is on the other side. I decide to go ahead and open it, and I am not disappointed. Dressed in a pair of dark jeans that are stylishly faded and a long sleeve black henley, that’s pushed up to his elbows and showing off his fit body is Roman.

“Hey. Did you bring me some cookies?”

“Hi, wait-what?”

I can’t help but to laugh, Jesse must not have told him about his Roman’s baking cookies ruse. “Jesse came over earlier for three cups of sugar, said you were baking cookies… In an apron and everything.”

Looking at him now that image of him in nothing but an apron assault my mind again, and I try desperately not to start drooling, the view of him from behind is especially delicious. Better than any cookies that’s for sure.

His jaw ticks and I can tell he’s thinking about hurting Jesse later. “Sorry, no cookies. My brothers an ass, he just wanted to come over and see you.”

“And you? How can I help you?” Anything, I’d do almost anything.

“I… Well I just wanted to come and see you too. Can I come in?”

You can come anywhere you want. Honestly.

“Oh, yes, of course.”

He comes inside and shuts the door behind him. Following me to the living room, he sits next to me on the couch, my movie still playing in the background. I turn with one leg up on the couch to face him. I drink him all in, he seems so big next to me. All four of these guys are six feet plus and packing muscular bodies.

“So it looks like you’ve gotten all settled in. How do you like Sammamish so far?”

“Well I haven’t seen a whole lot of it yet, but loving it so far. Especially the weather, back in Arizona, it is still in the hundred degrees.”

I hear Miklo’s door open and a second later see him peek around the corner. Roman’s back is to him, and Miklo gives me a huge grin and shakes his head, turning back around to go to the bathroom.

“I noticed the Arizona plates on your truck, what brings you to Washington?”

I’m running from a corrupted love, I’m trying to find myself again, to find real love, someone who will love me back and make me feel like I’m enough. Someone who makes me feel like I’m worth loving.

“It’s a little personal, but I just needed a change in scenery. ” I can feel myself unconsciously scooting closer to him on the couch, my knee is brushing lightly against his leg, and I can feel the heat from his body. We don’t know each other at all, but it is super comfortable between us, and I find myself relaxing into the atmosphere.

“Oh sorry, I didn’t mean to pry. Just trying to figure out all things, Mia” He gives me a smile while teasing and my eyes zero in on his sculpted sexy lips. I have the sudden urge to just lean in a little closer and kiss him, to pull his bottom lip in between my teeth and bite it. I slowly lick my lips with the thought, and his eyes watch the motion, his legs shifting to adjust himself.

“It’s okay, just not quite ready to talk about it yet” A sex scene in the movie starts on the screen, and I feel like the temperature in the room has risen twenty degrees. My whole body starts buzzing, and I can feel the tension and desire between the gorgeous man on the couch with me. “I feel like we made a good move, though, and this place will be just what Miklo and I need.” Oh my God, I feel like I’m panting and my heart is drumming a rock song in my chest. Have the moans in romance scenes always been this loud? Really though, are we positive this isn’t a porno?

He places his hand on my knee, and I feel a shock go through me. If he would just trail his hand up further… “I really hope it is, and the guys and I are glad to have a new neighbor. Especially one like you.” Like me? He chuckled and ran a hand over his jaw, “I actually wanted to ask you something…”

He stops saying what he was going to say as my text notification goes off. I pick up my phone and read the text, It’s from Dre, and I feel my smile drop when I read it. He just won’t give me any time.

Baby Daddy: Answer the phone Ma, I want to talk to you, I miss you.

I quickly put a smile back on my face and turn back to Roman. “Sorry about that, what were you going to say?”

Indecision crosses his face, and I know something’s changed. “Oh, you know what I completely forgot what I was going to say. I’ll have to ask you another time.” What did he want to ask me? I know he didn’t forget, I can see it on his face. “Well, I better get going. It’s getting late, and I hear you have your first day of work tomorrow.” Hmm, what else do they say about me to each other?

Standing from the couch, he gets up as well, and we head to the door. When he opens it, he turns and grabs my hand, doesn’t shake it or anything just holds it for a second before letting it drop back down. I love the feeling of his hands touching me, I want him to touch me more. “I’ll see you around?”

“Yup, probably more than you’ll want to since we live so close,” I say with a chuckle.

“I doubt that. Goodnight Mia.”

“Night, Love you, see you in the morning.” Fuck me, what did I just say? “I mean goodnight Roman, sorry, just used to saying that to everyone.” The blush creeping up my neck and cheeks has got to be fire engine red.

“It’s more than okay. Goodnight.” He turns, his eyes dancing with amusement and something I don’t understand, and leaves. I can’t help but watch his ass in those jeans until he gets to where it’s too dark to see him anymore from the light spilling out of the front door.

Grabbing my phone from the couch and turning off the movie, I decide to head into my bedroom and turn it back on in there to fall asleep to. When I get snuggled in my fabulous new bed, I play the voicemail that Dre left me.

“Ma, Baby, please answer the phone for me? I want to talk to you, I love you, and I miss you. I don’t know what I’m going to do with you and Miklo gone. Please, Baby, talk to me. Lisa’s out shopping, just call me back, okay? I love you.”

I’m not going to cry, I’m not going to cry. Dre sounds so honest, and I want to believe him so bad, my heart hurts for him. I miss him too. But I can’t let him get to me, our relationship was toxic. More than that, didn’t he just state the fucking problem right there? ‘Lisa is out.’ He wants to talk to me in secret because no matter what the two of us would never be together.

I quickly fall asleep after that, the visits from the day, giving me good thoughts to fall asleep to.





∞∞∞

Roman

I’m gonna kill my brother. Okay, I won’t kill him. I love the asshole, but I am going to hurt him. He would play something like that. Always joking around from the time we entered kindergarten. This morning he, Jayson, and I had a little bet going on regarding who could ask Mia out first. She’s all we’ve been able to talk about for the last week. I can’t stop thinking about her, and it’s been a long time since I’ve actually wanted to get to know a girl, and I want to know everything about her.

I’ll admit my brother, and I have been considered players for some time now, but we’re thirty-four and Mia makes me want to settle down. She has that calm and warm energy that makes you want to stay by her side for every moment of every day. Out of the four of us, Jesse and I are the only ones that haven’t been in a serious relationship. Jayson was with Emma’s mom, Lilith, for four years. He even moved out of the house for two of them. Cade was with Nichoal for five years before she… well, no one wanted to think about that if they didn’t have to.

More to point? We had that bet going all day. Jesse went first, and upon return announced that he had failed, that he tried but just couldn’t do it. I did notice the bag of sugar on the counter, shithead. Then Jayson went and failed as well, although I’m sure he scored some points grabbing the pizza kid, Tony before he could get to her door. I had watched amused as he paid for her pizza and sent him on his way.

Then it was my turn since they failed. I was so confident I knew I was going to ask Mia out... but when she opened her door, somehow making an oversized shirt and too big for her basketball shorts look sexy? I lost some of my confidence. I’m not cocky… Well, I can be, I mean I’ve never had a hard time with girls before. But with Mia, I just couldn’t even really think of what to say. We sat on her couch, and when she brought her knee up to turn towards me, and it brushed my leg, my dick twitched. What was I? A teenager? I mean shit. What was this girl doing to me?

I was getting her to tell me a little about herself and a scene in the movie she was watching turned practically porn-ish. Looking over at her, she slowly licked her bottom lip, and my dick didn’t just twitch but started to harden in my jeans. I had to shift a little to hide it. I just had to touch her and placed my hand on her thigh where the basketball shorts had ridden up. I wanted to trace my hand further up and under those shorts.

When I finally got the nerve to ask, her phone notified a text, and she picked it up to check it. When she looked at it, her face fell, and I could see the pain in her eyes. Who the hell made her hurt like that? Hopefully, I never meet the asshole, or instead, he should hope I never meet him. I couldn’t ask her after that, she needed more time, I’m going to have to tell my brothers to lay off for a while.

I decided to leave after that, and she followed me to the door. I wanted to grab her and put her against the wall, to kiss her till she couldn’t breathe. But all I could manage was to grab her hand and hold it for a second. Her hand was so small against my own large one. I felt the sudden need to protect this girl in any way I could.

Reaching our front door, I stroll in and go up behind the couch that Jesse’s sitting on and slap him upside the head.

“What the fuck was that for?”

“Really? Cookies?”

He starts busting out laughing, and it takes a while before he can say anything. “Oh fuck, that was hilarious! I even told her you had your very own apron.” That’s all he can get out before he starts busting out, laughing again. Jayson is on the other couch that’s against the wall, and he starts laughing too, apparently clued into what Jesse said to Mia. Cades just watching us all with a confused look on his face.

“You guys fucking suck.” I start heading up the stairs when Jayson yells up at me.

“So did you ask her?”

“No.” I explain more seriously looking at the three of them, “And I think we need to leave her alone for a bit, give her more time. Something she said makes me think she’s running from something, and… I don’t know, she just seems so broken.”

I want to be one of the ones that help her put those pieces back together. You could say I had issues with trying to help the broken ones after my mom passed. I continue up the stairs and head to my bedroom.





Chapter Five


Oh, Pickle





It’s the next morning, and I woke up early, not wanting to be late for my first day of work. I dress in a black pantsuit, black pants, and jacket with a teal button-up underneath. I bought this outfit specifically for today, wanting to look my most professional. My hair decides to be crazy today so except for a few wispy curls in the front, I throw it into a tight bun.

“Mom.” I hear through my bedroom door. “I’ve gotta leave now.”

I go and open the door. I know I’m biased, but I’ve got a cute kid. He’s wearing a red shirt and black Dickies shorts, and a pair of black and red shoes. The red looks nice against his naturally tan-colored skin. He has big brown eyes and a head full of dark extra curly hair, falling in large curly ringlets on his head.

I smile at him and snap a quick pic before he can object, I wrap him in a hug. “I love you, Bubbs. Have a good day at school, and be careful on that bike.” Since school isn’t far from us, he decided to ride his bike to school every day until it gets colder.

“I will, mom. Later, Love you.”

“Love you. Laters.”

He turns and heads down the hallway, I hear the front door open and close as he leaves. I go back into my bathroom to finish up my make-up, before grabbing my purse and heading out the door. Earlier in the week when we checked out Miklo’s school, I had also gone and found the location of my new job, so I wouldn’t get lost today.

It’s only about a ten-minute drive from the house to my new job at Empty Pockets, taxes, and accounting business. Parking the truck I head into the front doors, and I’m super nervous and excited at the same time. I always feel this way when I start a new job. It's ridiculous because I've started so many new jobs with moving around Arizona, I should be a pro.

When I get inside there is a long counter spanning the front of the room, and there are three desks behind it, two of them occupied, and I can see a hallway going back to the right. One of the ladies behind one of the front desks gets up and approaches the long counter. She seems to be about my age, has short blonde hair, and blue eyes. She has a smile on her face as she says, “How can I help you today?”

“My names Mia, I’m supposed to start work here today.”

“Oh! Yes, of course. Jim told us you would be coming in today. He isn’t here quite yet, usually gets here about eight-thirty. I’m Cassie, and that’s Felicia over there.” The other girl gives a wave and a smile as she’s been introduced, she looks to be a little bit younger than I am with long brown hair and brown eyes.

“Come on around behind the counter, and we can get you settled in and show you around.”

She points me to a section of the counter that lifts up, and I go through it to where the desks are. I follow her as she leads me to a desk bare except for a computer, phone, and the necessary office supplies. “This will be your desk. The computer is all set up for you, there’s a sticky note with log-in and password, that you can change as soon as you get in.”

“Thank you.” I place my purse on the desk and continue to follow her. She continues her tour through a conference room, a breakroom with a tv and fridge, and Jim’s office.

When the tours over I get situated at my new desk and log into the computer, and after a quick summary of what needs to be done, I get to work. I’ve done this type of job before, for my mom, and it all comes back to me. I’ve worked through two accounts payrolls by the time lunch rolls around, and I’m feeling pretty good about the job.

Jim, who did, in fact, show up at eight-thirty and is a silver fox if I do say so myself, ordered us all Chinese for a sort of welcome to the team. He stands just under six feet with a trim figure, blue eyes, and a full head of silver hair that doesn’t take anything away from his handsome face. My aunt definitely has good taste.

We all sit around an oval table in the conference room to eat, and I forget any nerves or anxiety I assumed I would have. With the way the girls are gossiping, I barely have room to say anything. Jim watches them with amusement, and I can tell they’ve all worked with each other for a while now.

By the end of lunch, I could tell you: where the best places to eat are, important events coming up, and of course who’s seeing who. Not that I knew anyone they were talking about. I did listen for names though, just to see if any of my guys were among the taken. My guys? Gah, I wish! Luckily, I didn’t hear any of their names.

I get straight back to work after lunch, continuing on with the short stack of account payrolls, I need to finish today. When I get to the last one, I have to do a double-take at the name of the business. It says, Cade’s Custom Motorcycles. It can’t be a coincidence, can it? I mean he even rides a motorcycle. I look at the home address on file, I know I feel super stalkerish, and confirm its the house next door. I look at the business owner’s name... Cade Dominic Valentino. Ugh! Even his name is sexy!

I just manage to finish his books in time for five, o’clock to roll around. I would have been able to get them done sooner, but the forgotten teenager in me kept running my name together with his. Mrs. Cade Valentino, Mrs. Valentino, Mrs. Mia Valentino, and Mia Marie Valentino. Call me silly, but I like how they sound. Don’t judge! You’ve done it too.

After saying goodbye to Jim and the girls, I grab my purse and head out to the truck. Getting in I take off for home but have to double back to the store. I had forgotten I needed to pick up some hamburgers and other groceries for dinner tonight. This time I’m able to keep it a short trip, and only get what I really need.

When I finally get home, I pull into the driveway and see Miklo’s bike out front. It’s turned upside down, and I can see a few tools lying around it. I wonder what happened and hope that whatever it was Miklo was already almost home when it did. Plus, whose tools are those? The only tools we have are still in the back of the truck.

I grab the few bags that I have in the passenger seat and head inside. As I’m opening the door, I can hear more than one voice inside. One a lot deeper than the other. Who in the heck… Oh.

It doesn’t take me long to figure out who, and I stop in my tracks for a second. Cade is sitting on the couch with Miklo. Each of them is holding a controller, and it looks like they are playing a new version of Mortal Kombat.

I force myself across the room and place my bags on top of the island, that’s between us. They don’t seem to have heard me come in and I take advantage of that to listen in. I drink my fill of the Adonis sitting next to my son, my eyes traveling across his muscular arms, while I unpack the bags silently.

Other than grunts and shouts, they don’t say much until my son shouts out, “Yes! I won! I beat you again, Cade!”

“You got lucky, I almost had you.” His voice was amused and caused shivers to roll over my skin.

“Ya, sure.” My son offers the biggest cheeser on his face, and it makes me smile too. It makes me feel better about the move, seeing him already happy.

“Well I gotta go, but rematch another day, you’re going down Lil Man.” Oh man… his voice, deep rough and manly. I couldn’t handle his voice. Literally. Could not. The sound goes through my body, igniting points of pleasure in me the same way the roar of his bike does whenever he drives it by. This is the first time I think I’ve ever actually heard his voice.

He stands up and reaches down to fist, bump my smiling, teenage son, and he smiles back at him. WTF!? How do I get him to smile like that? But hey, I did get Miklo to talk to me again, so maybe there’s hope yet for Mr. Grump Ass.

I quickly turn my gaze and try not to be caught staring at them. I focus myself on trying to open the pickle jar I just took out of the last grocery bag.

Damn thing won’t open! Come on, Mia, you can do it. You're tough… Fuck! Pickle jars tougher. Oh sure, this isn’t embarrassing at all. Big manly Cade is probably watching you struggle with a pickle jar and laughing…

A hand appears out of nowhere and takes the jar from me. Cade twists the lid off like nothing with a pop and hands it back to me. I look up into his emerald green eyes, and he just looks away, then turns and walks out the door. Never saying one word to me, although I think I heard him growl, I just stand there and watch him walkout.

“Mom… mom… Earth to mom!” I turn back to my son, who is now off the couch and is standing right beside me. I wasn’t expecting him to be so close and I jump. While reaching to get a pickle out of the jar in my hands, he laughs. Little shit just about gave me a heart attack. “Need me to turn the AC on? You’re looking a little sweaty. Why is your face all red? Huh?”

“Ha. Ha. Ha. Bubbs” He just loves picking on me. I grab a pickle out for him and hand him a paper towel. “So what was Cade doing over here?”

“My bike got a flat on my way home. I was almost here when it went flat and had to walk it the rest of the way. Then just as I reached the house, he got home too, and came over to see if I needed any help.” Well, that solves the tool mystery.

“Well, that was nice of him.”

“Yeah, he helped patch the hole, and while he was working on it, we started talking about video games. It was super cool because he said he had played some of the same ones as me. So I invited him in so I could beat him..”

Boys.

“Bubbs, he’s basically a stranger, why are you inviting him in when I’m not here?”

“All the neighbors are super nice mom, and I didn’t think you’d mind coming home to him here,” He said while wagging his eyebrows as I roll my eyes. How is it that my son has my number? I needed to check out who he is crushing on at school and then tease him without mercy.

“You’re not wrong on that part, although I don’t think he likes me. Still, nobody over while I’m not here until I know them better.”

“Deal.”

“So how was your first day of school today?”

“It went great. I like all my classes, and I made two new friends, Killian and Shane. Killian is new to the school too.”

“That’s great, Bubbs! You have my permission to give my number to them, so their parents have it. That way if you guys ever want to hang out, this will make it easier for their parents and myself. ”

“I don’t even have their phone numbers yet. Let’s wait for a few weeks. It is just the first day of school mom.”

“Alright, alright, I’m just so proud and happy for you.” I ruffle his curls, and he gives me a playful glare.

He finishes his pickle and throws his napkin away before heading back to the couch. Picking up his controller, he starts to play another game. “Oh yeah, Dad called again, told me to tell you to please call him.”

Ugh, I really don’t want to, but I think I gave him enough of the silent treatment for now. “Okay, thanks. I’ll call him real quick before dinner.”

Taking my phone out of my purse, I dial Dre’s number and wait for him to answer. It just rings and rings till the voicemail comes on, and I hang up not wanting to leave one. He’ll either call me back or not when he sees my missed call.

Just as I’m pulling a beef enchilada casserole out of the oven, he decides to call back. “Hello?”

“Hey Ma, I’m glad you called back. Why have you been so mean to me?”

“Hey, Dre. I haven’t been mean to you, I just needed time to adjust to everything here. I had my first day of work today, and I loved it.”

“Yeah, you have been. You’ve been ignoring me.”

He didn’t even care for a second about how my day actually went. Honestly, this man makes my point on why I needed to leave for me. “What’s up? What do you need?”

“Ouch Baby, you know all I need is you. I love you. I miss you.”

“Dre…” I mumble, shaking my head.

“So when are you going to move back? I can’t wait till I see you again.” When he gets so sweet with me, it’s hard to keep my resolve, but I can. I can feel myself getting stronger already. It’s so much easier to let him down over the phone than it ever was in person. Usually, in person, he wo