I was a single dad. I didn’t have time for love.
When I found out I had a son, my life changed for the better. My kid was great. My heart, though, was not. It had been trampled, kicked around, and shredded just for good measure. Obviously, after all that, I wasn’t looking for love.
But then…came Maddie.
She was an integral part of my brother’s company—it would be bad business to start something with her.
Only, she was smart and funny and capable and…my heart didn’t feel like it was in pieces when I was with her.
It felt whole. It felt like it had always been hers. It felt like…I needed to keep her forever.
Age Rating: 18+
“I hate you!”
Before I could finish the sentence, the door slammed in my face, missing my fingers by an inch, my forehead by less.
I’d had experience in getting doors slammed on me.
A lot of experience in the last year.
Hence, I knew exactly where to keep my hands and head so they were out of harm’s way.
Sighing, I turned away, walking down the hall, down the stairs, and heading straight for the fridge.
And the beer.
I needed a fucking beer considering my brain had started throbbing about midway through the argument. I knew it wouldn’t stop. Not so long as my life was this fucked up.
It had taken three long years to get Jack here.
And in the three hundred and forty-seven days since my son had moved into my house, I’d made zero progress in breaching the gulf between us.
And…I was starting to think it was hopeless.
Hence the throbbing in my fucking temples.
Hence the need for a fucking beer.
Unfortunately, I had just reached the landing and turned for the kitchen, for the fridge, for that beer when someone knocked at the door.
“Fuck,” I muttered, debating the likelihood of successfully ignoring the intrusion.
The problem was that it was likely one of my brothers or one of my brothers’ wives, or my mother, and ignoring wouldn’t do shit.
They’d just barge their way in and make themselves at home.
Jack would sure as shit prefer that.
He couldn’t stand me, couldn’t fucking stand me.
I understood why.
I’d ruined his life.
But…he loved my family.
The knock came again, and I ground my teeth together, preparing to swallow my pride in the hope that whichever Hutchins had come knocking would be able to smooth things over with Jack.
I was getting really tired of hearing my son tell me that he hated me.
Lamenting that my beer consumption—and look, I may be fixated on the beer in this moment, but it would only be one, I wouldn’t fuck with my kid’s life that way—would be delayed, I stifled a sigh and moved to answer the door, my hand barely reaching the knob before the knock came a third time.
Softer now, as though the person on the other side wanted to make their presence known, but without disturbing me.
Jack loved my brother’s soft-spoken wife.
Probably because she was one of the nicest people on the planet.
I turned the knob, tugged open the door…
And standing on the other side of it, waiting there on my porch, was a woman I hadn’t seen in four years.
“Maddie,” I whispered.
Her mouth turned up. “Hey, Ro.”