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Story a Day September: Day 24 – “House Hunting”

Today I used the “a character is trying to sell something to another character” prompt. Since in High on Loving You, Morgan is a real estate agent, this set things up pretty well. Terrall was one of the main characters in an earlier story in the series, Stay a Little Longer. This takes place probably a couple months after High On Loving You.

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Morgan stepped out of his car and waited for the man to join him on the sidewalk. “This is the other house I was telling you about,” he said. “I think it checked off nearly everything on your list. It is near the higher end of your price range, but there’s a nice-sized yard out back.”
“That all sounds a little too perfect,” Terrall said. “There has to be something wrong with it.”
Morgan smiled. He’d been all prepared to hold a grudge against this man. Especially since he’d been behind the damage to a good man. But, seeing that man begin to forgive, had helped ease Terrall’s way to becoming a part of the town.
And he’d seen how he was with Jess’ kids. Morgan could appreciate someone who took to kids not their own and acted as more of a parent than that kid’s own. He’d found that in Anna for his own daughter. And Terrall had done that times three with Jess, plus he’d seen the way Terrall fawned over his heavily pregnant girlfriend. And that baby wasn’t his, either.
Yeah, he thought Terrall was a good man, despite the mistakes he’d made as a younger man.
“It may need a little work inside,” he admitted. “Nothing major. I’ll let you see it for yourself, though.”
He stepped up onto the porch and used his key to unlock the door. The dark wooden paneling in the entryway made it seem darker in here than it should be. But, he flipped on a light and led the way into the kitchen. He glanced back at Terrall and saw his eyes taking in everything. If Morgan wasn’t mistaken, he was already making a list of things in his head. “You can remodel, of course. A lighter wood or even stripping it down and painting would brighten this up. The kitchen was just redone a couple years ago, though. There’s a dining room right through there,” he said, pointing across the kitchen. It would easily accommodate a table for six people.
Terrall didn’t have much to say to that, so Morgan led him in the other direction. He pointed out the other rooms, a bathroom in the hallway, stairs leading down to a finished basement. “That could be a family room, or possibly make it into another bedroom.”
“How many bedrooms are there?” Terrall asked. “We’d like the kids to each have their own if we can. That’s one of the problems with Jess’ current place. I know you rented it to her, but that was before Clay was born. Him and Paul have been sharing a room, but with almost six years between them, that’s getting hard.”
Morgan could understand that. Paul was nearly nine. He’d be on a different schedule than his three-year-old brother. “The master bedroom is this way, and there’s a smaller bedroom on this floor. And two upstairs.” He could see Terrall doing the math there and frowning. “And as I said, the downstairs could be arranged into a bedroom. The living room up here is decently-sized if you didn’t want a separate family room.”
Morgan showed him the two bedrooms on the first floor. “This smaller one would make a nice nursery and it’s not far from the master.” He let Terrall explore for a few minutes then led him up the stairs. The rooms were currently empty, but there was plenty of room for beds, dressers, desks and more besides that.”
“Can I see the basement?” Terrall asked when they were back in the living room.
Morgan led him down those stairs and waited while he prowled around the large space. It was carpeted down here and rather wide open. But, Morgan could see it as a bedroom, too. “This would be nice for Paul,” Terrall finally said. He faced Morgan again and flashed a wide grin. “I like it. I’ll have to talk to Jess and bring her to see it. But, it’s definitely a strong possibility.”
Morgan reached out to shake his hand. “Just let me know when she’s available to take the tour, and I’ll set it up. Hopefully we’ll get you into it soon.”
Terrall nodded. “Yeah. Let’s hope so.”

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Story a Day September: Day 22 – “Discrepancy”

I used the “a character’s boss is doing something illegal” again for today’s prompt. This one is with Anna, from High on Loving You, one of my current WiPs, who comes on her boss acting rather suspicious.

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Anna couldn’t believe she’d left her gloves in the office. She’d thought she left them in her coat pockets, like she usually did. But, had been halfway down the street before she realized they weren’t there. She could have just finished walking home. She had another pair of gloves there. But, these were new, and her favorite pair.
Morgan had gotten them for her for Christmas.
She stepped through the back door and into the kitchen. Their evening cook whipped his head up and around to look at her. “Anna,” he greeted. “You know you are allowed to stay away for more than ten minutes.”
She flashed him a grin. “But, whatever would you do without me?” He laughed, and she said, “I just realized I left something in the office. I’ll be out of your hair in just a minute.”
He rubbed a hand over his gleaming head. “Not much room to hide up there.”
She laughed again then headed out of the kitchen. There was a light on under the office door. That wasn’t right. She knew she’d turned it off before she’d left. And she could have sworn she’d locked the office door as well. Only one other person should have the key to that door.
She turned the knob. Unlocked. But, she clearly remembered locking it. And Nora hadn’t had plans to come in as far as Anna knew.
She pushed the door open and sure enough, Nora sat there at the desk. She glanced up, her eyes wide. “What are you doing here, Anna?” Nora asked. “Your shift was over like fifteen minutes ago.”
She didn’t need her boss to tell her that. Anna was the one who made up the schedule. “Left my gloves here, I think. Was just coming back for them.”
“Okay then,” her boss said, relaxing a little. “Why don’t you just get them and go. You already spend more than enough time here.”
Someone had to be around to manage the place. And Nora had put most of the responsibility for that on Anna’s shoulders. Not that her pay had been adjusted to reflect that. But, that was fine. She liked the work anyway.
Anna cast another look at her boss as she bent to pick up the gloves laying on the floor. They must have fallen from her coat at some point. She could see Nora’s foot tapping under the desk. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d seen the woman so agitated.
“Something wrong?” she asked when she’d straightened again. “I didn’t even think you were coming in today.”
“I can come in to check on my own business without being questioned, can’t I?” Nora snapped.
“Of course,” Anna said. “I was just surprised to see you.”
“Well, you shouldn’t be. I don’t completely ignore this place.”
“Of course not,” Anna said. Except most of the time, it seemed that was exactly what she did. “I didn’t mean anything by it. I’ll just get going.”
***
Something wasn’t right. Anna looked over each of the columns again. This definitely wasn’t right. She knew she’d put these numbers in correctly. She always wrote down how much was in the bank bag before she locked it in the safe for the night.
But, their deposits for the last month were off. Totaling a couple hundred dollars in discrepancy.
She was the only one who handled that money. And she knew she couldn’t have screwed up this badly. She must have made a mistake somewhere with the numbers.
She pulled out her calculator and ran the numbers again. Everything came up the same. So, it wasn’t her calculations that were off. And she was always so careful about writing the numbers down right.
But, obviously she hadn’t. She just couldn’t come up with another reason for this money to be missing. She and Nora were the only ones with the key to the office or the combination to the safe. There was no other explanation.
She’d just have to figure out where that money had gone.

Story a Day: Day 23 – “The List”

“I don’t know what your problem is.”

Morgan glanced at the woman he’d once thought he could have made a life with. For about five seconds after she told him she was pregnant. She didn’t care. She had never cared. “Do I really need to make a list?”

“You don’t have to be so cruel about it.”

“Cruel? How am I the one being cruel? You left our six-year-old daughter home by herself so you could go on a date. You don’t call me when the babysitter cancels when you know I’d be willing to have extra time with Raina. You conveniently forget when it’s my weekend to have her, yet threaten to call the police if I’m even five minutes late bringing her back.”

“Well, you’ve taken care of that, haven’t you?” she snapped at him. “You and your precious lawyer made sure I can’t even see her unless someone else is there.”

“The last time she was under your supervision, and I use that term loosely, she fell down the stairs and broke her arm.”

“I still fail to see how that is my fault. She should have stayed in bed.”

Morgan was having an extremely hard time hanging on to his temper. But, he knew it was necessary. If he lost it, she’d probably use it to say he was the one who was a danger to their daughter the next time they went to court. “She was looking for you. But, you weren’t even home. She could have suffered a lot worse than a broken arm because you put your pleasure before her needs.”

She opened her mouth, but he couldn’t sit there and listen to any more of her excuses. “I’m done,” he said, grabbing the receipt from his lunch. He’d already given Anna the money to pay for it. “I have to go pick our daughter up from school. If you have anything else to say, you can relay it through Brian.”

“I don’t want to speak to your lawyer,” she insisted. “We can settle this ourselves.”

“Obviously we can’t,” Morgan said, “or we wouldn’t be going through this in the first place.” he left the diner, but he knew this wasn’t the end of this. Kacy wouldn’t give up until she got her way.

He just hoped he could protect Raina from as much of the fallout as possible. She didn’t need to understand yet that her mother only saw her as a weapon to use against him.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Today’s Story a Day prompt was to write a story in the form of a list. So, this isn’t so much that. But, more lead-up to High on Your Love, the story I started plotting yesterday. Morgan’s shown up in the last couple stories in this series, so I know some of what’s been leading to this.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: “You’re/Your”

Time for another Stream of Consciousness Saturday post. Today’s prompt was “your/you’re/yore” I’m almost finished with the plotting for Defending the Heart, but it was a couple other characters who jumped into my head this morning. I didn’t think I’d be writing their story yet. but, they’ve convinced me it need to move up in the line. I don’t have any of it plotted yet, but I did write out some parts of scenes in my head one day while we were on the motorcycle. So, there’s that.

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You’re really going to do this?”

Terrall ran one large hand over his head while he held the phone to his ear. He felt the bristle of the hair growing back in. Not shaving it all off again might be the hardest part of deciding to change himself. “Yes, Mother,” he said, trying to hold on to his patience. He should have known better than to answer the phone when he saw her number. “We’ve already discussed this.”

“I still do not see why you won’t just come home. You don’t have anything to make up for.”

Only because your sense of entitlement is too large to let you see it. “You know exactly what I need to make up for, Mother. I would have done it seven years ago, if you hadn’t pulled all those strings.”

“Well, did you really think I’d just let my baby boy rot in a jail cell?”

He moved his hand down to grip the back of his neck. “I deserved to be there, Mother. That’s the point you’re not getting. I didn’t deserve everything I got when someone else-”

“Enough, Terrall,” she said, her voice sharp. He knew better than to argue with her when she took on that tone. “You’ve brought enough shame on us by that public spectacle last summer. Now, you’re back in that backwards town. It is only asking for trouble.”

“Lieutenant Berman  has given me an opportunity here. He could have just written me off after what happened. Instead I have a chance to give back. I don’t see why you have such a problem with that.”

“If you bring more shame to us-”

“I don’t see what could be more shameful than me walking away when I left one person dead and the other broken.” Doren likely wouldn’t like being described that way, but hopefully it would get his point across. “Nothing I do will make that right, but I can at least do everything I can to balance the scales a little. I’m doing this, Mother, no matter what you say about it.”

There was a sharp sound then…nothing. He pulled the phone away from his ear and looked at the screen. Yeah, she’d hung up on him. Not all that surprised, he clipped it back onto his belt.

“Parental expectations can be hell, can’t they?”

He spun around, his gaze latching onto the woman standing a few feet away on the sidewalk. She looked familiar, but he couldn’t place why. “You eavesdropping on my conversation?”

One corner of her mouth tugged up. “I just stepped out of the store there and caught the last part. I don’t know what it was about, but I understand disappointing your parents.” He didn’t like what he saw flash through her eyes, but he didn’t know how to make it go away. Then, she was sticking her hand out. “Jess Amadeo. Haven’t I seen you around?”

He gripped her hand in his much larger and darker one. “Terrall Shreeve. I haven’t been here in over a year, and I don’t live here.”

“Strange. I thought you looked familiar. Well, I have to get going, but maybe I’ll see you around. Hope you can work things out with your mom.”

“Thanks, but that’s unlikely.”

She smiled at him then turned and walked away. Well, maybe there was more than one reason to stick around here for a little bit.

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I may have trouble with this one. Drunk driving is one thing I have trouble finding any sympathy for. And yet, somehow, Terrall has burrowed his way in. So, I guess we’ll see if he can find any redemption.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Concentration

Today’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt is “concentration”. Haha, this is funny. I can’t even concentrate enough to get through this intro. ;p Maybe once I get started on the fiction, it will come better. The thing with Gabe, Lora, & Erik that’s referenced here hasn’t actually happened in Break on Me(and may not, we’ll see), but this would take place sometime after that story and before Erik’s own story. The first line popped into my head, but I wasn’t even sure who said it until I started writing.

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“You’re so totally messing with my concentration.” Gabriel ducked his head as the pencil his brother had been tapping against the desk came flying toward his head. “Was that really necessary, Chris?”

“You’re just being a grump ’cause Lora’s out of town.”

“You’re nuts.” Except he wasn’t. Lora had been out of town, tying things up at her old job and packing her stuff up before she moved up here, for three days. Two more days, and she’d be back. But, he was getting antsier the more days that went by without seeing her.

“If you just need to get laid, I’m sure Erik-”

“Enough,” Gabriel growled. “That was a one time thing. Lora and I are in a committed one-on-one relationship. Erik’s the one who took that step back, so just-”

“Easy,” Chris said, holding his hands up. “I was just joking.”

Gabriel ran his hand over his face. He usually would have known that. Maybe more than Lora being out of town had him antsy. Considering they were still living under the same roof, Erik was doing a damn good job of avoiding him. It was awkward now, but there was no way Gabriel would ever ask him to leave. Not unless he knew Erik had a place, and he’d be okay on his own.

And that had been part of the problem. Erik didn’t want someone taking care of him. Didn’t want to share, either, which Gabriel couldn’t blame him for. He’d known that wouldn’t be a long-term arrangement.

“What about you?” he asked, needing to get his mind off this. “You seen Reagen again?”

“Every damn day,” Chris muttered. “This town isn’t big enough. And she’s still with her girlfriend, so you can let it drop.”

“Fine,” Gabriel said, doing just that. He could sense his brother was more upset about the situation than he’d admit. So, he’d let it go. He was getting better at doing that.

He turned back to his desk and tried to get back to work, but his concentration was completely shot by now. “Come on,” he said, standing up and grabbing his keys. “Let’s cut out early and grab some lunch. We don’t have much going on, so I doubt Dad will mind.”

“Not like he’d fire us if he did. Just give us that disappointed look.”

Gabriel laughed, for what felt like the first time in days, and headed for the door. “Sometimes I think that’s worse.”

Teaser Tuesday: JuNoWriMo Edition

So, next month(which starts tomorrow! Eek!), I’ll be participating in JuNoWriMo once again. I love doing these monthly writing challenges(if you haven’t figured that out by now). I’m not only working on one project for this, though. I actually have 6 different on-going projects right now(that doesn’t count the 3 that are in active revisions) and will be working on all of them during the month. For today, I’ll share a short summary and the last few lines I have written.

Protecting the Heart(BC Security #2):

Declan Portor, who has spent most of his life protecting others, is brought back to his first client, but saving her a second time could cost his own life.

His throat went thick at that, and he glanced back at Eva. He hadn’t been doing a great job of helping them. Barely staying one step ahead of trouble. He was going to have to change that. But Eva was smiling at them, like that thought wasn’t even bothering her. She trusted him, and he had to make sure he didn’t betray that by letting either of them get hurt.

“Can you read them to me? I think I’d like to know more about this Nighthawk. As long as he doesn’t fly around my apartment anymore.”

But, Dani grinned at him and put the rest of the books down. “I can do better. I made up a story about him. I can tell you that one.”

Declan settled back on the couch and gestured for her to climb onto his lap. He glanced back at Eva again, worried she wouldn’t like that. But, she was still smiling at them. “I’m listening,” he told Dani, bringing his attention back to her and trying to make sure his eyes stayed open.

***

Ready When You Are(Hunter Family #3)

Kelan Hunter has never quite fit, but just as he feels he may have found someone who accepts him as he is, they face blackmail and threats and are left wondering what will become of their lives.

There was that desperation again, and it tore at Kelan’s chest. “[xx], there’s nothing wrong with you. No matter who you’re attracted to and who you aren’t. Have you talked to your parents about this?” He certainly didn’t want to be the one to out the boy to them if they didn’t know already. But, someone should know what he was going through. Kelan hadn’t had anyone at that age, and he still hadn’t known just what he was then. Maybe if he’d talked to someone else, it would have saved a lot of years of questioning himself, though.

***

Paint Me a Picture(Gilbert, CO #4.75)

Artist, Rylan Stevens, wants to give single mother, Kirsten Matthews, and her daughter the life they deserve, but just as they get started, someone from her past returns.

Rylan took the hand Kirsten offered and let her lead him back to her bedroom. He’d seen the fear go through her eyes when he’d said he wanted everything. Was she really afraid of him? She had to know he would never hurt her. Not even once. So, it had to be something else.

He turned to her as they stepped into her bedroom doorway. He slid one hand up her neck to cup her cheek. “We don’t have to do this,” he told her. “We don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.”

“I wouldn’t have invited you over if I didn’t want this, Ry,” she told him. “That’s not what scares me. I know it doesn’t have anything to do with you. It’s all me.”

***

Shed Some Light(Gilbert, Co #5)

When his brother is apparently framed for a crime he didn’t commit, Carlos has to turn to the one woman who could save or ruin them both.

Tereza grabbed her bag from the seat beside her and hurried out of the car. She was already running behind. She’d wanted to have a chance to stop and see Brent before the hearing. See if he would be at least a little more cooperative than the last couple meetings they’d had. But, her car hadn’t wanted to start, then after it finally had, she’d gotten stuck in traffic. She’d realized she wouldn’t have time to stop by the jail and get to court in time.

Like it would have done any good anyway. Brent refused to help her help him at all.

She slammed her car door shut and walked as quickly as she could without losing her footing on the icy parking lot. The last thing she needed was to show up in court with a sprained ankle. She did slip a couple times, but thankfully managed to not fall. Thankfully the sidewalk had been shoveled and salted, so she was able to move at a brisker pace once she hit it.

***

Break on Me(Kurztown #4)

Gabriel Saranno wants to honor his friend’s memory with his father’s latest construction project, but when that friend’s sister gets involved, with the project and him, he doesn’t know if he can hold on to a promise he made.

His house for dinner? Why had Lora agreed to that? Being alone with Gabriel Saranno had to be a mistake. A huge one at that.

But, still, instead of calling him, or at least the office since she didn’t have his personal number, she stood in her closet, trying to decide on an outfit to pack. They were just going over the presentation to give to the town at the next council meeting. It’s not like it was a date.

So why did she have to agonize so much over the choice?

“You’re being ridiculous, Lora,” she muttered. “Just grab something, so you can put the rest of your shit in the bag. You don’t need to impress Gabriel.” Not like she’d ever been able to anyway.

***

In the Moonlight

When Yasmin Reisner inherited her great-aunt’s house, it comes with more than she expected; an alleged ghost, a relentless realtor, and possibly the love of her life.

“I’ll see you in the morning then, Ms. Reisner.” She turned away,  but I reached out and put a hand on her arm. She stopped and waited for me to say something.

“It’s Yasmin,” I reminded her. “I told you to just call me Yasmin.” I didn’t need the formality.

“Yasmin then,” she said, and her smile nearly knocked my legs out from under me. “I’ll see you in the morning. I hope you have a more restful night.”

I watched her walk away and highly doubted that would happen. But, I might get some good dreams out of it. And I’d still call that a win.

 

Looking forward to working on all of these. Anyone else participating in JuNoWriMo this year? Any other writing challenges you like to participate in?

Story a Day: Day 31 – Reasons Upon Reasons

The last day of Story a Day, and today’s prompt was to “Go Big”. Taking everything we’ve done this month and put it toward something new. This takes place shortly after “Put the Brakes on“.

Gabriel opened the door, not sure he’d ever been this nervous. Which was rather silly. It was Lora. His friend’s little sister. Who he’d talked to enough times through the computer. No screen, or thousands of miles, between them now, but it didn’t have to be any different.

And then he saw her. Gabriel imagined she thought the outfit was professional, and he was sure it was. But, it clung to every curve, giving him just a taste of what was under it. Stop it, he scolded himself. She was here for business, and he’d promised himself he wouldn’t let his thoughts go there. He’d made a promise to Aaron, and just because the man wasn’t here to make sure he’d keep it didn’t mean Gabriel would go and break his word.

“Come in,” he said when she looked at him curiously. He must look like an idiot just standing in the doorway, staring at her.

She stepped inside and let out a little shiver as she slipped off her sweater. “I thought it was warm when I left the bed and breakfast. I would have grabbed a coat, too, if I’d realized the temperature had dropped so much.”

He couldn’t say he was too disappointed that she hadn’t. Then, he reminded himself, again, that he wasn’t going to think like that. “We’ll get you warmed up,” he said and hung her sweater on a hook by the door.

He caught the way her eyes darkened as the words slipped out of his mouth. Shit. He hadn’t meant it like that, but now he couldn’t stop thinking about it. “Roommate threw some soup in the slow cooker this morning. House has smelled amazing since I got home.” Which had been fairly early since there wasn’t much to do, even in the office. And he’d needed to clean the house up anyway.

Her face tilted up, her nose twitching as if smelling the air. “You’re right,” she said, “it does smell good. Is it ready?”

“He said it would be whenever we wanted to eat.” Had he told her who his roommate was? He couldn’t remember now, though he wracked his memory for it.

“Is he joining us?”

“I don’t think so.” Actually Erik had made it pretty clear he wanted to be anywhere but near them tonight. And he knew his roommate had reasons upon reasons for that.

Gabriel led her into the kitchen. “Have a seat,” he told her. “I’ll get the bowls.”

He took a moment to draw and release a few breaths as he took the bowls out of the cupboard. Being here with her shouldn’t be dragging this response from him. They were going to eat and go over the proposal. That was it. And yet, this felt awfully close to the panic he’d found himself fighting off nearly daily when he’d first come home. He hadn’t dealt with that for a while now, though. He’d thought he was over it.

“Gabe, you okay?” Lora asked from over by the table.

He drew in another breath and said, “Fine,” on the exhale. And he was. This wasn’t a typical panic attack. It had felt like it at first, but the feeling was changing. Still, he breathed through the feeling as he dished out the stew Erik had made then cut a few slices of the bread he’d brought home.

When he carried the first of the bowls to the table, she still looked vaguely concerned. “I could have helped you with that. I should have. Your hand-”

“It’s fine,” he said, almost snapping the words. Even though relief nearly flooded him when she did. His father and brother nearly refused to acknowledge that anything was different and he had to make certain accommodations because of it. Having someone note it without acting like nothing had changed was a relief.

She jerked back, and he winced. “Sorry,” he said. “It’s been a little rough. Had an argument, I guess, with my roommate. Did I tell you who that was?” He rubbed at the side of his head, it was aching a little. Like it always did when he felt a small detail escaping from him. The blast had done more than take part of his arm, though most of the time the other issues didn’t affect him as much.

“Yeah,” she said, that curious look on her face again. “You’d said Erik was living with you.”

He cringed at the way she said that. But, she had to know. If they were going to be working together, she’d hear what everyone else in town said, so he should set her clear now. “We live in the same house, yes,” he said, testing his words carefully. “People may tell you there’s more going on, but that’s really all there is.” Except those few times. But, he wasn’t going to mention those. It wasn’t anyone else’s business how they both managed to cope late at night.

“I never thought any different,” she told him, still with that slightly curious look on her face.

Of course she hadn’t. Aaron had known, but he’d never told anyone. Not even his sister, despite how close they’d been. He turned and grabbed the other bowl of stew, but before he had turned back, Lora was reaching around him for the bread. He had to stop and take a breath, calming himself at the feel of her so close.

By the time he’d set his bowl on the table, Lora had taken a tub of butter out of the refrigerator and was heading back. It was like she belonged there. No. He couldn’t think like that. She didn’t belong here, not with him.

But, when he looked up after taking a bite of stew, she was watching him. He couldn’t exactly say what the look encompassed, though. Some curiosity, certainly. He was acting strange. He knew it, even as he couldn’t do anything to stop it. But, there seemed to be something else, too. He dropped his gaze again before he could think too much about it.

He couldn’t let himself go there.

But, she reached across the table and laid her hand over his. As if she knew the thoughts were bouncing around in his head, and that touch was the one thing that seemed to slow them down. How could she know that, though, when he’d never told anyone else? Still, there was something there between them. He couldn’t deny it, even if he’d never act on it.

He owed his old friend that much at least.

 

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