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You know well get married one day, right? Dustin Falco said as he helped straighten my skirt,
then handed me my panties.
Although d ne!er told him how unsure was a"out us ha!ing se# all the time, he knew me
too well. $e had "een my "est %riend all my li%e. &hen our relationship progressed into
something more, it had "een e#pected "y e!eryone. had lo!ed Dustin Falco since we were kids.
t only made sense that he and would e!ol!e into this. '!en i% wasnt sure this was what
wanted. (ur relationship had changed so much o!er the past two years.
)ay"e it was *ust that Dustin had changed so much o!er the past two years. +ometimes
didnt recogni,e him. -he "oy across the street wasnt the easygoing, trustworthy %riend
adored. $e was the record."reaking "asket"all star who already had college scouts checking him
out his sophomore year o% high school. /irls wanted him, and "oys wanted to "e him. $e "asked
in the attention. $e knew he was special and he wasnt hum"le a"out it.
0ut lo!ed him. +o accepted this change. At least, was doing my "est to. '!en i% it meant
he only had time %or me when he wanted to ha!e se#. -he rest o% the time he was "usy playing
"asket"all1and drinking with his %riends, which was something wouldnt do. drew the line at
going to the parties he attended. had gone to two o% them with him, and "oth times he had
gotten so trashed had "een %orced to walk home. % didnt come home on time, my parents
would ground me until turned thirty.
-hey trusted Dustin, "ut they had no idea who he really was. 2ot anymore. )y parents
would ne!er "e okay with me going to parties. )y cur%ew was earlier than e!eryone elses. t
%rustrated Dustin, "ut he always assured me it was okay. $ed work around it.
Youre not talking again, "a"e. -hat means youre upset. &hatd do this time? Dustin
asked as tugged my panties "ack into place.
2othing. was *ust lost in thought. m not upset, assured him. -his was what always
did4 made sure he was happy and worry %ree.
$e leaned o!er and touched the side o% my %ace. -he gentle look in his eyes reminded me o%
the "oy d %allen in lo!e with years ago. Youre my one, +ienna 5oy. )y one and only. You
know that, right?
nodded. $e had "een telling me that since our %irst kiss. still wondered i% that %irst kiss
would ha!e happened i% Dustins older "rother, Dewayne, hadnt "een showing me attention. t
wasnt that kind o% attention. 2ot the kind he showed the girls his age. Dewayne was a senior our
%reshman year o% high school. $e and his pack o% %riends ran the school. -hey owned it.
(n our %irst day o% high school Dustin had le%t me "ehind while he went to sit and hang out
with the "asket"all team. didnt know many people and was e#tremely intimidated "y the
older kids, so %ound a spot "y a tree outside to eat my lunch. Alone. 6ntil Dewayne Falco %ound
me and sat down "eside me. -hat was all it took. Dustin ne!er ignored me again.
lo!e you, "a"y. Youre my girl. hate that we ha!e to rush and cant take you to a "ed
and surround you with candlelight. -hats what you deser!e. ts what want %or you. 0ut right
now we ha!e to sneak around your parents. (ne day youll "e %ree. &e wont ha!e them
watching your e!ery mo!e.
nodded. $e was right. (ne day would go to college and my %athers o!erprotecti!e eyes
wouldnt "e trained on me. $e would ha!e to let me make my own choices.
lo!e you, too, told him.
$e grinned, then leaned in to kiss me. t was a so%t peck. Dustin liked to treat me as i% were
a treasure a%ter se#. $e ne!er wanted me to dou"t that he cherished me. t was these %ew
moments that made the rest o% it worth it. 0ecause the truth was, didnt like se#. t was
uncom%orta"le, and didnt understand why girls like it so much. could see %rom the look on
Dustins %ace when he got o%% that it was %antastic %or him. 0ut ne!er had that %eeling. Aside
%rom en*oying seeing him %eel pleasure, dreaded ha!ing to do this with him.
&e ha!e %i%teen minutes to get you home, Dustin said, then turned to pull o%% his condom.
-his was a nightly ritual with us. $e would take me home, then run o%% to either play "asket"all
or go to a party. t was hard to know he was going to "e around other girls, drinking and %ree to
stay out late. had told him once that it worried me that he would get tired o% my parents rules
and "reak up with me. $ed assured me he lo!ed me and only me. Always.
*erked my head around, startled "y his out"urst, to see him pulling o%% his condom. -he
come that was supposed to "e neatly inside was coating the outside o% the late#.
)other%ucking condom "roke, he swore, "e%ore slinging it out the window. -hat is the
second time thats happened with that "o# "ought last week. m getting a di%%erent "rand, he
didnt know another one had "roken, said, trying to remem"er the time spent in the "ack
o% Dustins car the past week.
$is %ace paled a moment, and then he shrugged. didnt want to worry you. 0ut twice now
1it pissed me o%% and %orgot. ll get us new ones. Dont worry, he said with a wink, then
tugged his *eans up and %astened them. 9ets get you home.
$e opened the door and clim"ed out, then reached in and took my hand to pull me out. &hen
we were "oth standing outside, he wrapped his arms around me and inhaled deeply. dont
know what d do without you, +ienna. lo!e you so goddamn much. Youre my center. You
keep me %ocused and grounded. can trust you with anything.
-his was the Dustin knew. )y "est %riend. -he guy across the street had known all my
li%e. 2ot the popular *ock who drank too much at parties.
stood on my tiptoes to kiss him, and he still had to lean down so could reach his lips.
Dustin was already two inches taller than his older "rother. -he Falco "oys were tall. 0ut
Dewayne had wider shoulders and the kind o% muscles that only men had. Dustin was still a "oy.
0ut he was my "oy.
-hat didnt keep me %rom looking at Dewayne when could get away with it. &hen
Dewayne was outside washing his car, was up in my room watching sa%ely %rom "ehind my
curtains. &hen Dewayne had sat down "eside me at lunch that day, he had "een my hero. $e had
come to rescue me. And since then he had stepped in and sa!ed me more than once.
was in lo!e with Dustin Falco, "ut could admit only to mysel% that was in complete idol
worship o!er his older "rother. $e was the kind o% "eauti%ul that a girl couldnt ignore.
-hat night, a%ter was tucked into "ed and my thoughts went to my %antasies a"out Dewayne
1"ecause this was the only time allowed mysel% to mentally cheat on my "oy%riend with his
older "rother1 heard the sirens. You didnt hear sirens a lot in +ea 0ree,e. t was a small town,
and rarely did the am"ulances, police cars, and %ire trucks all ha!e cause to run o%% to the same
location. 0ut the louder they got, the more serious reali,ed it was. +itting up in "ed, went to
my window and looked down the road. could hear them, "ut couldnt see them. All knew
was it was close.
-he noise didnt %ade, "ut grew louder as more emergency !ehicles *oined in. wrapped my
"lanket around me and sat down in my window seat to wait. couldnt sleep with all the noise,
and decided saying a prayer %or whoe!er was the cause o% this was important. )y parents had
raised me in church, and completely "elie!ed in prayer.
<ust as closed my eyes my "edroom door opened, and turned to see my mother standing
there with a look o% horror on her %ace. &as my dad home? stood up as %ear gripped me, and
met her ga,e. &hats wrong, )omma? asked. s Daddy here? $e is, isnt he?
+he nodded. &ere all here, she said, then put her hand on her heart and took a deep
"reath. -hats not . . . +he stopped and closed her eyes. let the "lanket %all to the ground and
started to go to her. +he was scaring me.
)omma, tell me whats wrong, "egged.
+he li%ted her eyes, and saw the unshed tears shining in them. ts Dustin, sweetheart.
Dustin? asked, stopping and gra""ing the %irst thing could %ind to steady mysel%.
+he nodded. Your daddy *ust got o%% the phone with the pastor. $es on his way to the
Falcos now. Dustin wrapped his car around a tree, she said, her !oice trailing o%%.
He wrapped his car around a tree? How did he do that? had *ust "een with him two hours
ago. 0ut is he okay? asked as the sirens continued to mock me. $ow could he "e okay, with
all those !ehicles out there?
)omma shook her head. 2o, +ienna. $es not okay. $es . . . hes gone, honey.
>hapter (ne
Six years later . . .
ne!er e#pected to step %oot in +ea 0ree,e, Ala"ama, again. &hen my parents had packed my
"ags and shipped me o%% to li!e in Fort &orth, -e#as, with an aunt hardly knew, had "een told
would return to +ea 0ree,e a%ter the "a"y was "orn. &hat hadnt "een told was that they
werent planning on my "a"y returning with me.
glanced "ack at )icah, asleep in his car seat with his Darth ?ader action %igure clenched
tightly in his hand. (ur li%e hadnt "een easy, "ut we had each other. wouldnt go "ack and do it
any other way. )icah was my li%e. $e had healed me when was sure nothing e!er could.
@eeping )icah meant "eing disowned "y my strict, religious parents. )y aunt wasnt the
most a%%ectionate person in the world, "ut shed disagreed with my parents decision. had "een
e#pected to work and pay my own way, "ut at least she ga!e us a roo% o!er our heads.
/i!ing up on high school and getting my /'D was my only option. )y aunt >athy was the
principal at the local high school, and she helped me get a trade school grant. &hen )icah was
eighteen months old, enrolled in "eauty school. 0e%ore his third "irthday had a degree in
owed my aunt more than could e!er repay her.
)icah and mo!ed out *ust last year and %inally got an apartment o% our own. didnt date
"ecause didnt trust anyone around my son. also %elt guilty paying %or a sitter when we needed
that money %or more important things, like rent, day care, and %ood. t didnt keep men %rom
%lirting and trying to get me to agree to go out with them. <anell, the owner at the salon worked
at, said that the men all thought was playing hard to get. t *ust made them more persistent.
-he truth was was lonely sometimes, "ut then )icah would smile and d see his %ather in
him and d remem"er that %or ten years o% my li%e d had someone. A !ery special someone.
2ow had )icah. didnt need anything more.
&hen the call had come %rom my mother to tell me a"out my %athers heart attack, hadnt
known what to %eel. $e had ne!er e!en met )icah, and now he ne!er would. )y mother had
used Dads li%e insurance money to mo!e to a retirement community in central Florida. +hed
gi!en her house to me and )icah.
2ot one time did she apologi,e %or deserting me when d needed her most, or %or turning her
"ack on her only grandchild. 0ut the %act that she had gi!en the house to us meant something.
only hoped one day she would reali,e what she was missing, not knowing him.
<anell had helped me "y gi!ing me a glowing re%erence, and had managed to get a *o" in
+ea 0ree,e working at one o% the most elite salons in town. would "e making more money, and
wouldnt "e paying rent any longer. (ur li%e would "e "etter in +ea 0ree,e. )icah would get to
grow up in the small coastal town that had lo!ed.
)y only %ear and the one reason almost didnt come "ack home was the idea o% the Falcos
seeing )icah. -heyd ne!er returned any o% the letters d sent them a%ter )icah was "orn. (nce
d reali,ed that my parents hadnt "een planning on me keeping my son, sent a letter to )aria
Falco, Dustins mother.
+he ne!er replied.
-he %irst year o% his li%e wrote them countless letters and sent pictures o% )icah. $e looked
so much like his %ather. wanted them to see that Dustin wasnt completely lost to us. $e had le%t
a part o% himsel% "ehind.
2ot once did she respond.
A %ew times d almost worked up the ner!e to call them, "ut i% they werent replying to my
letters, then they didnt want to talk to me. -hey didnt want )icah. t had hurt e!en worse than
my parents not wanting him. had hated the Falcos %or their desertion. 0ut then d learned to let
go. )o!e on. 0e happy with my li%e. &ith my "eauti%ul little "oy.
)omma? &here are we? a sleepy little !oice asked %rom the "ackseat o% my twel!e.year.
old $onda >i!ic.
&ere home. (ur new home, replied, pulling into the dri!eway o% the house that had once
"een my home and would soon "e again.
(ur new house? he asked with e#citement in his !oice as he wiggled in his seat to see
Yep, "a"y. (ur new house. 5eady to go inside and see it? asked him, opening my car
door and getting out. t was a two.door, so had to lean my seat %orward to reach him in the
"ackseat. $e un"uckled himsel%, then scram"led out o% his seat and *umped out o% the car.
Do other people li!e in there too? he asked, staring up at the two."edroom wood %rame
house with wide eyes.
<ust us, kiddo. Youll ha!e your own "edroom here. )ine is right across the hall %rom
&hoa, he said, his eyes shining with ama,ement. '!en when we had li!ed with my aunt
>athy, )icah and had shared a room. (nce we mo!ed into an apartment, a studio was all
could a%%ord with day care costs. -he house was only twel!e hundred sCuare %eet, "ut it was the
"iggest li!ing space he and had e!er had all to oursel!es. -he studio apartment had "een a third
o% this si,e.
9ets go see your new room. &e might need to paint it. 2ot sure what color the walls are,
told him. -he last time d "een in my old "edroom, it had "een pink. )icah was determined that
pink was %or girls and wanted nothing to do with it.
pulled out the key that mother had mailed me with the letter and the deed to the house, and
took a deep "reath "e%ore unlocking the door. +tepping "ack, motioned %or )icah to go inside.
>heck it out.
$is grin spread across his %ace as he took o%% running into the house, whooping as he saw the
si,e o% the li!ing room. -hen he turned and headed down the short hallway. paused at the door,
una"le to ignore the house across the street any longer, and turned around to look at it. didnt
recogni,e the truck in the dri!eway, "ut then, it had "een si# years. was sure the Falcos were
still there. )other hadnt mentioned that theyd mo!ed.
wondered i% they would speak to )icah when he played in the yard. (r would they ignore
him like they had since his "irth? wouldnt tell him who they were. hadnt told him a"out my
parents. $e didnt know this had once "een my home. $e didnt know he had grandparents. n
preschool he had "een asked to tell a"out his grandparents, and hed told them a"out Aunt >athy
and had called her Aunt >athy. -he kids in his class had teased him, telling him that his aunt
wasnt his grandparent. $ed come home con%used and upset that he didnt know who his
grandparents were.
had *ust told him he didnt ha!e any.
&hen hed asked a"out his %ather, had e#plained that /od wanted his %ather "ecause he was
such an awesome man and he had taken him on to hea!en to li!e there with him "e%ore )icah
was "orn.
-hat had "een enough %or him. )icah hadnt asked any more Cuestions. $e was happy with
the knowledge that his mother lo!ed him without Cuestion and that we were a %amily. t had "een
hard %or him when he saw that other kids had such large %amilies, "ut once hed understood that
each %amily was di%%erent, he was okay with that.
)omma8 )omma8 )icah called out with e#citement. -heres a "lue room. ts a really
cool "lue room too8 ts e!en got toys in it already.
Toys? closed the %ront door "ehind me and headed down the hall. +tepping into the
"edroom that had once "een mine, stopped and looked around me in awe. t was "lue. A "right,
happy "lue. t had a,e "ed and a matching wooden dresser. -here was a "lue Cuilt on the
"ed with orange "asket"alls all o!er it, and in the center there sat a "asket"all.shaped pillow. A
toy "o# under the window was open, with pirate swords, a "ase"all "at and glo!e, a large red %ire
truck, and what looked like a "ig "ag o% 9egos sticking out o% it. An indoor "asket"all hoop sat in
the opposite corner, with a "all lying on the %loor "eside it.
A"o!e his "ed was painted Micah.
Do you think the people who used to li!e here le%t it %or me? (r do we gotta gi!e it "ack?
he asked, a hope%ul e#pression on his %ace. And look, )omma, my name is already on the
-ears stung my eyes, and had to swallow hard as stood there taking in the room. didnt
know what to think. -his was not what d e#pected, "ut then, also hadnt e#pected to "e gi!en
this house. A white en!elope caught my attention. t was leaning against the wall on top o% the
dresser, with my name and )icahs name written on it.
&alking o!er to it, wiped at the tear that had escaped, and tried to hide my %ace %rom my
!ery o"ser!ant %i!e.year.old. -he en!elope was sealed, so slid my %inger underneath and
opened it up.
Sienna and Micah,
This is your home now. It doesnt make up for the past or for the years I wasnt there when
you needed me. But it is all I have to ive you. I dont e!pect to "uy your foriveness. This room
is as much for me as it is for Micah. Ive always wanted to "uy him thins. #hristmas presents
and "irthday presents and ifts $ust "ecause he is my randson. I couldnt do that, thouh. %ot
and live with your father.
I wont speak ill of your father&that is not what this is a"out. I loved him. He was a ood
man, "ut he was a proud man and I had to respect that. I "elieve in my heart that if he had it to
do over, he would have done thins differently. I hate that he never ot to meet our randson.
'lease tell Micah that the room is his with love from someone who hopes she can meet him
one day. (hen you are ready, of course. If you are ready. I $ust ask that you can find it in your
heart to forive me. I want to "e a part of your lives.
My address and phone num"er are listed "elow. If you ever want to send me a letter or ive
me a call, I would love that. )r may"e send me some photos of Micah. I have a photo al"um full
thanks to your aunt #athy. Hes a "eautiful "oy, "ut then, so is his mother.
*ove always,
)omma, whyre you crying? )icah asked as he tugged on the "ottom o% my shorts.
%olded the letter and tucked it in my "ack pocket "e%ore "ending down and looking at him.
$e reached out and wiped my %ace with his little hands. ts okay i% we cant stay here. <ust so
m with you, he said. -he sadness in his eyes hurt my heart.
-his house was too good %or him to "elie!e. gra""ed his hands and sCuee,ed them tightly.
-his is our home. -he person who ga!e it to us did all this in here *ust %or you. -hese are happy
tears, not sad ones, told him. wasnt ready to e#plain a"out his grandmother. didnt know
how %elt a"out introducing him to her. -oo much pain was there %or me to deal with right now.
0ut her words and this room meant a lot. t didnt make up %or her a"andonment, "ut knowing
she lo!ed )icah enough to do this could help me %orgi!e anything.
+o get to keep this? All o% it? he asked, looking around at the room again, his eyes wide
with wonder. &e had e!en shared a "ed up until now.
Yes. All o% this is yours. <ust yours. You ha!e your own space now. Your own "ed. '!en
your own closet.
)icah walked o!er to his "ed and ran his little hand o!er the Cuilt. $e knew what a
"asket"all was. had "ought him his %irst one with my %irst paycheck. t was a part o% his %ather
wanted him to ha!e. Did the person who did this %or me know my daddy was the "est "asket"all
player in the world? he asked, glancing "ack at me.
nodded, "iting "ack a smile.
&ere gonna "e happy here, )omma, he said, then turned to go "ack to his toy "o#. For a
%ew minutes watched him as he dug through the things my mother had le%t him. -hen slipped
"ack out o% the room to check out the rest o% the house.
+he had told me in the letter shed sent with the key and the deed that she was lea!ing the
%urniture "ehind. -he place she was li!ing at now was %urnished. wasnt sure how %elt a"out
sleeping on my parents "ed, "ut all had was a mattress, and wed le%t that "ehind in -e#as.
(pening the door to the master "edroom, %ro,e "e%ore relie% washed o!er me. t was my old
"ed, dresser, and !anity. '!en my old desk. +he had mo!ed them into here, knowing wouldnt
want their things. -he Cuilt on the "ed was the same one that had "een on my "ed when d le%t
si# years ago. t was pale pink with "ig daisies all o!er it.
was home.
pulled my truck into my parents dri!eway and parked "eside my dads truck. 2ormally, tried
to come o!er and !isit once a week. -he past two weeks, howe!er, *ust hadnt "een in the
mood. )om had "roken down and cried the last time was here, reminding us all that it was the
si#.year anni!ersary o% my little "rothers death.
-he only way knew how to deal with that was to get my ass drunk e!ery damn night until
was num" again. 6ntil was past the pain, and the empty space in my chest didnt ache so damn
"ad. A%ter managing to stay so"er %or the past two nights, decided had "etter get "ack o!er
here to see my momma "e%ore she came looking %or me.
-he woman had a temper on her, and didnt need her coming a%ter me. wasnt scared o%
much, "ut )aria Falco was someone %eared. 9o!ed all %i!e %eet three inches o% her, "ut was
terri%ied o% her.
/lancing across the street, noticed a "eat.up white $onda >i!ic. t had seen "etter days.
2ina 5oy had mo!ed out shortly a%ter her hus"ands death. )omma said shed gone to Florida.
-he place had sat empty %or the past month. &as someone mo!ing in? And i% so, that car didnt
look like it was the good kind o% neigh"ors. might ha!e to go stop "y and make sure my parents
were sa%e.
-hey didnt need to "e dealing with wild parties or a meth house %rom some trashy new
neigh"ors. took a step closer and checked out the license plate. -e#as. 2ow was as curious as
was concerned. &ho the hell did 2ina 5oy sell her house to? ne!er e!en saw a For +ale sign
in the yard. % shed rented it, we might really ha!e a pro"lem.
&hat you gawking at our new neigh"ors car %or? /et in here and see your momma8
turned to see my dad standing at the door, with it wide open and an annoyed look on his %ace.
(nce upon a time wouldnt ha!e %elt the need to protect the man. wouldnt ha!e thought
anything could touch him. 0ut then hed had the stroke. -hings changed. had o%%icially taken
o!er my dads construction company, Falco >onstruction. Dad *ust couldnt handle it anymore.
$e had always seemed larger than li%e, "ut nothing had "een the same since Dustins death.
You met them? asked him, nodding toward the house across the street.
$e shook his head. >ar showed up. $a!ent seen who was in it. 2o mo!ing !an or 6.$aul.
<ust the car. +ometime around noon yesterday. >ar was gone at two today when glanced
outside, "ut then it was "ack when went outside at %our to water the %lowers.
-his was *ust getting worse. +omeone had mo!ed in without stu%%. -his wasnt the "est
su"di!ision in +ea 0ree,e, "ut so %ar it had "een sa%e %rom things like meth houses. wasnt
a"out to let that shit %ind its way into my parents neigh"orhood.
ll "e right "ack, told him, and started across the street "e%ore he could stop me. 2ot that
he could stop me.
/et "ack o!er here, "oy, he called out, and held a hand up.
<ust a sec, replied, and kept my eyes %ocused on the door and the windows. didnt want
to spook whoe!er was inside and end up getting shot at i% they were in here setting up shop.
2ina 5oy should!e thought a"out who she was letting mo!e into this place. 0ut then,
wasnt sure that woman had much o% a heart, anyway. $er daughter had "een shipped o%% shortly
a%ter my "rothers death, ne!er to return. -heyd "een "est %riends %or most o% their li!es, and it
had progressed to the relationship stage. &ord was, sweet little +ienna had su%%ered a mental
"reakdown and they had sent her o%% to a %acility. 2o one had e!er seen her again. t was *ust
another %inality to Dustins "eing gone.
knocked on the door and waited. kept my eyes on the doorkno" in case it slowly turned. %
the %ucker had a gun, was ready to disarm him. 0e%ore could think a"out *ust how would do
that, the door swung open and a pair o% "rown eyes were looking up at me with keen interest.
$i, the little "oy said, staring at me as i% he wasnt sure he had done the right thing "y
opening the door.
-his was not what had "een e#pecting. hadnt imagined a %amily had mo!ed in across the
street. 2ot %rom the looks o% that !ehicle. t didnt look like a %amily car. t wasnt sa%e %or adults,
much less kids.
$i, your %olks home? asked him, and he stared at me a moment longer, then %rowned.
dont ha!e %olks. ha!e a momma, "ut shes in the "athroom. +he had to go pee.
pro"a"ly shouldnt ha!e answered the door.
-he kid was cute. And he was right. $e didnt need to "e opening the door. And gi!ing a
complete stranger that kind o% in%ormation. % he had *ust a mother, then the car in the dri!eway
concerned me, "ut %or other reasons. % that was all she had, then how the hell had she a%%orded
this house? t wasnt an e#pensi!e house or anything, "ut d think a used rental trailer would
ha!e "een more in her price range.
)ay"e in the %uture you should wait %or her to open the door. You got lucky this time.
pointed at my parents house. )y dad was standing on the %ront porch, watching us. -hats my
parents house. was coming to meet the new neigh"ors.
-he kid peeked around my legs and looked at the house and my dad, then turned his attention
"ack to me. You li!e with your parents? )y momma aint got no parents.
)ore in%o than he needed to "e sharing again. $ell, did this woman not teach her kid not to
talk to strangers and spill her li%e story? t wasnt sa%e.
Pro"a"ly shouldnt tell strangers that, either, little man, told him.
$e %rowned and held out his hand as i% to shake mine. )y name is )icah. &hats yours?
Although he shouldnt "e telling me his name, couldnt help "ut grin. -he kid was a
charmer. clasped his hand in mine and ga!e it a shake. 2ice to meet you, )icah. )y names
$is grin got huge. 9ike Dwyane &ade? You know, %rom the )iami $eat?
didnt keep up with "asket"all much, "ut knew who Dwyane &ade was. nodded.
wish had a name that cool. 0ut would want to "e named 9e0ron, he said.
take it youre a $eat %an, said.
$e nodded !igorously. (h yeah. ll "e the "est one day. )y dad was the worlds "est
"asket"all player. will "e too.
had thought hed said he didnt ha!e a dad. <ust a mom.
)icah? a so%t, %eminine !oice called.
-he kids eyes got "ig and he spun around. Yeah, )omma. m at the door with our
neigh"or. $e came to !isit.
li%ted my eyes %rom the kid *ust in time to see legs. 9ots o% %ucking legs all smooth and
creamy, encased in tiny little cuto%% "lue *ean shorts. $oly hell. )y eyes continued their upward
track, taking in the tiny waist and the generous "reasts "arely co!ered up "y a tank top, "e%ore
reaching her %ace.
)ary, )other o% <esus. 2o. Fucking. &ay.
knew that %ace. t was older. +he was a woman now, "ut knew that %ace. -hose "right "lue
eyes, all that long, silky red hair, and those pink lips that made men, young and old, %antasi,e.
0ut this . . . +he couldnt. stopped and stepped "ack, and then my eyes went "ack to the "oy in
%ront o% me.
)icah, go to your room, she said in a calm, e!en !oice. 2ow. /o.
0ut hes nice1 the little "oy started, "ut she cut him o%%.
)icah, go.
watched the "ack o% his head as he walked away %rom me. wanted to see his %ace again.
wanted to study it. -his was not . . . -his couldnt . . . 2o. $e was too young. $e wasnt
Dustins. -here was no way shed had my "rothers kid and hid him %rom me . . . %rom us. 0ut
the kid had said his dad was a "asket"all player. $ed ne!er known Dustin. $e o"!iously knew
his dad.
$ello, Dewayne, +ienna said, with a tone o% warning didnt miss. )y head was still
reeling. $ow did she ha!e a kid? thought shed lost her mind when my "rother had died. 2ot
gone o%% and started a %amily.
stared at her. didnt understand. was trying to wrap my "rain around it. $ow old was that
kid? &here the hell was his %ather? )en didnt let women like this one walk away. 'specially
with a kid that damn cute.
+ienna, %inally said. ts "een a long time.