Brotherhood of Six

Brotherhood of Six

Riki Leigh Bishop

Nicole has it all under control—until she comes home with her children to see her husband, Eric, and best friend, London, together on the couch. Nicole and Eric try to work it out—until they find out London is pregnant with Eric’s child. Nicole decides to pack up and move back to her hometown with her children. As luck would have it, her eldest child, Bellamine, won’t miss out on pitching his senior year of baseball—the school’s baseball team needs a new pitcher. When Jaxton, the high school’s baseball coach, finds out that his high school crush, Nicole, is moving back home—to a house on the same street as him, no less—he vows to win her heart. Will Jaxton hit a home run with Nicole, or will Nicole’s ex cause him to strike out?

Age Rating: 18+ (Cheating)

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Brotherhood of Six - Book cover

Brotherhood of Six

Riki Leigh Bishop

Nicole has it all under control—until she comes home with her children to see her husband, Eric, and best friend, London, together on the couch. Nicole and Eric try to work it out—until they find out London is pregnant with Eric’s child. Nicole decides to pack up and move back to her hometown with her children. As luck would have it, her eldest child, Bellamine, won’t miss out on pitching his senior year of baseball—the school’s baseball team needs a new pitcher. When Jaxton, the high school’s baseball coach, finds out that his high school crush, Nicole, is moving back home—to a house on the same street as him, no less—he vows to win her heart. Will Jaxton hit a home run with Nicole, or will Nicole’s ex cause him to strike out?

Age Rating: 18+ (Cheating)

CHAPTER one

Book One: Jaxton

NICOLE

Curveball: a pitch with a strong downward spin, causing the ball to drop suddenly and veer to the side as it approaches home plate.

Life has a good way of throwing you a curveball. You just have to figure out how to get around it without striking out.

The thing with a curveball being thrown at you is you don’t know it’s coming until the last possible second.

That’s what seemed to be the story of my life as of late. Six months ago, life decided to throw me a huge curveball.

I had just gotten off work and picked up my children from school. I had made a sale on a house that the clients had been going back and forth on for months, and I was ready to get home and celebrate with my family.

However, I wasn’t ready for what my kids and I walked into.

There they were—my husband and my best friend, on my couch, doing the horizontal salsa. They couldn’t even make it to the bedroom.

If they had, at least then my children wouldn’t have had to see their father’s indiscretion.

I still remember that day like it was yesterday. At least he didn’t try to explain it with the typical “It’s not what it looks like” excuse. He owned up to his actions.

I mean, he was caught red-handed—but that doesn’t mean he would have fessed up to his infidelity.

We tried to work it out. Counseling and all that jazz, and it was going great until she showed up one day claiming to be pregnant.

That was the last straw.

I could get passed the cheating, but a baby? No. I couldn’t—and wouldn’t—get passed that.

I wouldn’t allow my children to go through that.

As always, my children are my first priority, and they always will be.

So, here I am, six months later, finalizing my divorce before moving back to my hometown with my children.

I waited so my children could finish their school year and come to terms with moving away. I didn’t want them to start a new school in the middle of the year.

So I sucked it up and tried to avoid Eric as much as possible.

I had some things to finalize anyway, like selling the house we lived in as a family, finding a new house in a school district with all the sports and programs my children are involved in, and moving my real estate company.

Now that the school year is finished after today and everything is finalized, packed, and ready to go, there’s one thing that’s left to do.

Sign the damn divorce papers and get the hell out of Dodge. Of course, Eric would have to prolong the inevitable.

“I’m not signing these papers if you are moving with my children.”

I let out a long sigh. We’d been over this countless times, but he doesn’t want to let it go.

He’s the one that made it hard to live in this town without hearing whispers wherever I go.

I’ve had the kids come home many times, telling me about what their friends were saying. They had to deal with the stares and whispers as well.

I never wanted that for them. I can handle it, but when my children have to endure it, it’s time to do something about it.

“One, they are my children as well. Two, I am their mother and have custody. Three, you didn’t seem to mind when you were knocking up my best friend.

“So, yes, Eric, I am moving with our children. You get them every other weekend and during the summer when you come down, so they don’t miss their games and other electives for school.

“I am not having this argument again. Sign the damn papers so you can get back to your new family,” I stated firmly.

I wasn’t expecting what he said next.

“If that’s the case, then I’ll be moving as well. I will not be hours away from them.”

The whole reason I decided to move was so I could put some distance between him and me.

“I’ll sign these papers, and I’ll see you when London and I get settled.”

He did sign the papers, but I wasn’t happy with this new revelation. I wasn’t going to fight him on it, though. I simply didn’t have the energy or the time.

“Are we done here? I need to get my children from school and get on the road. My family is expecting us tonight,” I asked my lawyer. He nodded and said he’d get the papers filed right away.

I was a newly divorced mother of three with an ex-husband following me like a lost puppy.

I left the office and walked toward my car, Eric not far behind me. I really don’t want to speak to him anymore, let alone see him right now.

I’m pissed. I wanted to get away from the constant reminder of how he broke my heart, how he ruined my outlook on relationships.

He made the same vows as I did, and he was the one that broke them.

I kept walking, ignoring him as he yelled my name.

I dug my keys out of my purse and hit the unlock button to my car. I was just about to reach to open my door when he caught up to me.

“Nicole, listen to me, please.”

I rolled my eyes and took a deep breath before turning to face him.

“I don’t have time for this. I need to get the girls from school, and Bell is meeting me at the house so we can leave,” I told him, trying to keep calm.

“Bellamine can pick up the girls. I’m sorry, I really am. I know this is all on me, but I want us to be civil for our children.

“Yes, I fucked up, but that doesn’t mean you can take my kids away from me. I know you’re not happy with me moving to Indiana, but if you’re going to move my kids away, then I will be there.”

“You’re damn right I’m not happy about you moving.

“I decided to move so I wouldn’t have to be constantly reminded of how you ruined our family. I decided to move back home so I wouldn’t have to see you with her every time I turned around.

“We made vows, and you broke them. This is on you, not me.

“I’m taking the kids, and we’re moving closer to my family. You decided on a whim that you were going to be moving too.

“Did you ever stop to think how that would affect me? Did you ever stop to use your fucking brain as to why I was moving? No! You just did things without thinking, once again.”

I pause to let that sink in while I take a deep breath to calm myself down.

“Tell me, how does your new fiancée feel about this move?” I ask. “You broke me, Eric, and you don’t understand how much this kills me. I loved you so fucking much!

I was the one that was worried about you while you were deployed. ~I~ was the one that raised our son at sixteen while you were off at basic training.

I was the one that raised our children every single time you were deployed! ~I~ was the one that was by your side through your PTSD.

“Not London. Me! It was supposed to be forever, and yet that seemed too much for you.

“I have to go. The kids will be out of school soon.”

It felt good to get that off my chest. However, I was a blubbering mess by the time I finished my rant. I couldn’t hold it in anymore. I just couldn’t. He ruined me.

“Nic, I’m so fucking sorry. It just happened! You’re right. I didn’t stop to think about how this would affect you or the kids. I thought with my dick, and look where that got me.

“I lost the one woman who will always hold my heart.

“No, I didn’t talk to London about this. I decided while we were in there. I want to be close to the kids. I understand why you’re moving, but I’m not going to budge on this.

“If she doesn’t want to come with me, then we’ll figure something out with the new baby.

“I’m going where my children go, and that’s final. You can hate it all you want, but quite frankly, you have no right to care. They are mine just as much as they are yours. I have every right to be close to them.”

“I have to go, Eric,” I say. “You do what you feel is best. Maybe one day I can forgive you, but until then, I will be civil for my children. You are their father, and that doesn’t change just because I move.

“You do whatever it is you feel you need to, and I’ll do the same. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get the twins.” I opened my door and climbed into my car, taking off toward the school.

The nerve of that man. It just happened! How in the hell does it ~just~ happen?

Fucking asshole.

Might as well get it out now because I will not be the parent who talks bad about the other parent.

I was there for him through his hard times. He was off at basic training when I went into labor with Bellamine. He barely made it for the birth of Nora and Elena. After the girls were born, he didn’t reenlist.

I was there during the time his PTSD was so strong he couldn’t eat or sleep or be around our children because he was afraid he would lash out and hurt them.

I was there raising two newborns and a two-year-old, all while he was working on his issues.

What do I get in return? The sight of my best friend and husband banging on my couch with my children beside me.

It hit Bell the hardest. He was close to his father—him seeing that, it ended up doing damage to their relationship.

I’ve talked to him and explained that the actions of his father didn’t need to ruin their relationship. He says that he’s just mad because of it hurting me and tearing our family apart.

That’s one of the reasons I tried to work it out with Eric. I wanted our family to stay together—for our children. I know that it doesn’t always work that way, but I still tried.

I tried everything in order to get my family to stay together. It just wasn’t enough in the end.

I couldn’t be with him knowing he fathered another child by cheating with another woman. It was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

Once I get to the school, the girls are waiting for me with their friends. I pull into a parking spot and wait for them to say their goodbyes to their friends.

The girls are close, but they run in different circles. Nora is the girly-girl. She’s a cheerleader, in the drama club, and a volleyball player. She’s the popular one.

All of my children are popular but in different ways. I’ve never had to worry about them being bullied or bullying anyone.

Elena is the tomboy with a bit of girly-girl inside. She is our softball player. She plays basketball and runs track and field as well, but her passion is softball.

Bellamine is our football, basketball, and baseball player. All my children are athletic. They always have been. I’m pretty sure they got it from their father, but I’ll never tell him that.

I’m brought out of my thoughts to the sound of the doors opening. “Hey, Mom,” Nora and Elena say at the same time.

“Hello, my loves. How was your last day of school?” I ask as I pull out of the parking lot.

“It wasn’t bad. Same as usual, although there was a lot of crying since we won’t be back for junior year. It sucks that we have to move. Making new friends and practically starting at the bottom just sucks,” Nora said.

“My day wasn’t super bad. Winston broke up with me because he couldn’t do the ‘long distance’ thing. I knew it was going to happen, but it still hurts. Dad ruined everything,” Elena said.

“Oh, honey, I’m so sorry that happened. I know it’s hard on all of you, but it’s for the best.

“It won’t be so bad starting over anew. This school isn’t as big as the one you’ve known. It’ll all work out. I promise.

“I know how heartbreaking it is leaving friends and losing someone you care about, and I’m sorry that this is happening.

“Your dad just did something that wasn’t right, and it turned things in a different direction. But just think of it as a new adventure.”

I hate that my daughter is going through this heartache. I wish I could change everything, but I can’t. “Let’s head to the house and meet your brother and aunt so we can head out.”

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