Unconventional - Book cover

Unconventional

Aimee Dierking

2: Chapter 2

“Um... Can I help you?” Scott asked, finally finding his voice. He watched the young woman bite her lip as she looked at him.

“Yeah, sorry! I’m looking for Diana Brown,” she answered after clearing her voice.

“She’s not here right now. She’s at work. Can I take a message?” the hot man answered in his deep voice.

“Um, well, um,” Ashley stumbled. She stopped when a car came squealing into the driveway, and a woman with brown hair jumped out.

“Ashley?! Is that you?” Diana yelled, running up to the sidewalk.

Ashley stared at her in silence, trying to absorb the sight of the woman in front of her, and just nodded.

“I can’t believe it! You definitely aren’t the chubby teenager hiding behind a camera who I remember!” Diana laughed, then hugged her.

“Scott, this is Ashley. I said she could stay here while she works on her little picture book thing.”

Ashley flinched when she heard Diana refer to her work as a “picture book thing.”

“What the actual hell, Diana?” Scott growled, hearing what she said and how the young woman took it.

“Oh, stop it, Scott. Don’t be such a stick in the mud!” Diana scoffed, totally missing why he questioned her. “Let’s go inside, Ashley. I’m on my lunch break, then I have to be back at work.”

Diana grabbed Ashley by the coat sleeve and pushed past the sexy man and into the kitchen, babbling, “I was so happy when you contacted me! It took FOREVER for your dad to get back to me! Shit! Puberty was good to you!”

Scott could do nothing but follow them into the kitchen and watch as Diana talked a mile a minute, not letting anyone else get in a word edgewise.

“Ok, so you can have the guest room on the right. Scott will show you where the extra towels are,” Diana started.

“And how do you know Scott?” Ashley asked, confused.

“Oh, we are engaged.” Diana started, making Ashley gasp and Scott visibly flinch, as she plowed ahead talking.

“I have to get back to work. I’m working until the bar closes, so I won’t be up until noon. Maybe you can show me your little pictures over lunch. Gotta run, bye!” Diana yelled as she breezed out of the house, slamming the door behind her.

Ashley felt like she had been in a whirlwind. She stood in the cozy kitchen, trying to figure out what had happened, and shyly looked at the man simultaneously intimidating her and turning her on in the kitchen.

“Wow... ok.... So, I guess that just happened…”

“Yeah.” Scott snorted, rubbing the back of his neck. “That happens a lot…”

Ashley felt a kind of pain in her chest, looking at the man in front of her and feeling an attraction to him, but knowing that he was off limits.

She had never been so attracted to a man before just by seeing him! What was wrong with her?!

“So, you are engaged to Diana?” Ashley asked cautiously.

“It’s not really what you think…,” he replied heavily.

“Then, how is it?” she asked, feeling slightly hopeful, but with no idea why.

“That’s a much longer conversation. How do you know Diana again?” Scott asked, desperately wanting a drink.

“Not that she admits it to anyone, but I am her daughter.”

Scott stopped dead in his tracks. He looked closer at the woman before him. She was beautiful in a soft, sensual, and demure way—completely different from the cold and calculating Diana.

And with the way Diana was treating herself, her looks had started deteriorating despite her only being in her forties.

Scott’s eyes enlarged in surprise as he asked incredulously, “Her daughter?!”

Ashley knew not to be hurt by her lack of acknowledgment from Diana; it had been happening for so long. But this felt so different, somehow. This time it hurt, and she had no idea why.

She nodded. “Yeah. Her only child, as far as I know…”

Scott felt like he had been punched yet again. He slumped into one of the kitchen chairs and looked at the guest in his house, seeing the pain in her eyes.

“When was the last time you saw her? Or talked to her?”

“She and my dad divorced when I was twelve. They had a rocky relationship for years, but my dad found a way to shield me from it pretty well. I was always closer to him.

“Anyway, she left town when I was fifteen to ‘find herself,’ and I didn’t see her since. She asked me to not call her mom when I was eight. Said it made her feel old. So I have called her Diana since.

“She contacted my dad about a year ago, and they talked some. He gave her my number, and she reached out. When I mentioned that I would be out this way, she offered me a place to stay, and here I am,” Ashley explained with a shrug.

Scott was in disbelief. “And how old are you now?”

“Twenty-five.”

“She hadn’t spoken to you in ten years?” he asked in a whisper.

“Yeah…”

“I don’t know what to say, Ashley…”

“There is nothing you can say. I’m used to it.... Pretty sad thing to say about your mother, isn’t it…”

Scott just looked at her, not knowing what to say. He was amazed by her acceptance of the situation.

Ashley watched him and the variety of emotions moving across his face as he took in her form. He had the most incredible bone structure, with high cheekbones and heavily-lidded eyes.

He had deep caramel eyes hiding behind those lids, and she knew she could get totally lost in them. His lips were full, and she bet a million dollars that they were soft.

His light-brown hair was cut close to his scalp on the sides, but longer on the top, and fell casually after he pulled his knit hat off. He had a full beard that called out to her to run her fingers through it.

Wait, what the hell is wrong with me?! I am thinking about my mother’s fiancé!! Lusting after him!! God, I’m going to hell!

“Listen Mr.—” She started.

“Scott, please,” he insisted.

“Ok, Scott, can you point me to a decent hotel? I think it’s unfair of her to spring this on you, in your own house. I’ll figure out my next steps from the hotel.”

She was feeling the guilt run through her, as she tried to ignore the tingling in her belly.

“No!” he all but shouted, then blushed and adjusted his volume. “Sorry, I mean just stay. I have the space. There is no reason for you to spend the money if you don’t have to.”

Ashley didn’t know if she was relieved or upset, but she gave in. “Ok. Thanks. I’ll just get my bags out of the car. I don’t like letting my equipment sit in the car in the cold.”

“I’ll help you,” Scott said. He followed her to her car, limping lightly.

He carried the duffle bag and the large suitcase in, while she carried her purse, camera bag, laptop bag, and her monitor bag. Ashley followed him to the guest room, which was across from the master bedroom.

“This bedroom has a door to the bathroom, so it will be more comfortable for you. Use the closet or dresser if you need. Stay as long as you like,” he added.

“Thanks, Scott. Is there a laundromat close by? I’ve been traveling for a while and really need to do laundry…”

“Don’t do that! The laundry room is at the end of the hall. Use as needed.”

“I’m gonna let you get settled. You look dead on your feet. Please, make yourself at home and use anything you need. Tomorr—”

Ashley’s phone started ringing, interrupting Scott.

“Shit, it’s my dad. I was supposed to call him when I got here,” she said, looking for her phone in her purse.

“I’ll leave you to get that. Good night, Ashley…,” he said gently in his deep, gravelly voice.

Ashley was frozen in her spot as he closed the door behind him. The click of the door woke her to the ringing phone, and she answered.

“Hi, Dad, sorry…” She listened to her father talk and answered his questions. Sitting on the queen-sized bed, she looked around while they conversed.

She was totally preoccupied, and finally, Bryan realized she was tired and let her off the phone.

Ashley found her charger cord and plugged in the phone. She then sifted through the suitcase until she found her pajamas and toothbrush. After a visit to the bathroom, she got ready for bed.

She heard a noise in the hallway and peeked to see Scott walking down, still limping and carrying what looked like a heating pad.

She wondered why he was limping, but bit her lip as she watched his thick, muscular body move and felt the tingling in her belly again.

She climbed into bed, falling asleep and trying not to think about the man her mother would marry.

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