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Studying me, she finally relents. “Fine.”
“Thank you.” I breathe out a sigh of relief then pick up my coffee and take a sip.
“I think he sees a lot of himself in Harlen, and that scares the bejesus out of him,” she admits after a moment, and I turn my head, meeting her gaze. “It will be okay.”
“I know it will,” I agree. It will be okay; it might take some time for my dad to come around, but I know he will eventually and if he doesn’t then… Well I hope I never have to think about that.
“So did he really toss you over his shoulder?” she asks dreamily, and I laugh so hard my body shakes.
“Yes, he really did.”
“Wow.” She grins, and I roll my eyes at her then watch Harlen come back out of the bedroom dressed.
“You gonna stay for breakfast, Sophie?” he asks, and she turns her smiling eyes to him.
“I’d love to.”
“Good,” he says softly, and then his eyes come to me. “Babe, you wanna feed Dizzy while I cook?”
“Sure.” I hop down off the stool, informing my mom, “Harlen bought the whole grocery store yesterday.”
“Did he?” she asks, looking between the two of us.
“Yeah, now I won’t be able to have takeout for at least a month, and I love takeout.”
“Worse things a man can do than keep your fridge stocked and your belly full,” Mom mummers, smiling into her coffee mug, and I feel Harlen’s fingers give my hip a squeeze, so I turn my attention to him.
“You gonna bitch about me, or are you gonna help me out by feeding your dog?”
“I’m going to help you out, and you shouldn’t curse in front of my mom,” I tell him, resting my hand on my hip, and his eyes drop there and I watch his lips twitch.
“Know your dad and your brothers, Angel. Doubt your mom hasn’t heard worse.”
“This is true,” she confirms.
“Whatever, still,” I huff.
His fingers dig into my hip then he lowers his head and kisses me hard and quick.
“Feed your dog,” he orders as he lets me go.
“Bossy,” I grumble under my breath, and I hear my mom laugh, which makes me smile. I look at her and see her eyes are soft, not on me but on Harlen. One down, one to go.
“SAID I’D GIVE HER YOUR message,” I hear Harlen clip angrily as I walk toward the kitchen, where I left him a little over fifteen minutes ago so I could go get changed for work. “Yeah, and I said I’d tell her,” he growls as I round the island. Sensing me like he always does, his head turns toward me and our eyes lock. “Yeah, later.” He pulls his cell phone from his ear and drops it to the top of the counter near his hip.
“Who was that?” I ask, seeing the pissed off look on his face and knowing the answer before he even opens his mouth to tell me who was on the phone.
“Your dad says you need to call him back, that if you don’t, you won’t like the consequences.”
“He said that?” I whisper, feeling annoyance turn my stomach, and his face softens.
“Babe, I get why you haven’t talked to him, but you need to speak to him.”
“I’m not ready to talk to him yet,” I say, tying my hair up into a ponytail, and he takes a step toward me, wrapping his hand around my hip and giving it a squeeze.
“It’s been a week, Angel,” he tells me, something I already know, since it’s the longest I’ve ever gone without talking to my dad. It’s been exactly seven days since my mom came over and stayed for an impromptu waffle breakfast cooked by Harlen. If he hadn’t already won my mom over, I know his waffles would have done the trick. They’re that good. My dad, however, is a whole other story. He’s called; I haven’t answered. He’s kept calling; I’ve kept ignoring him, which I know is pissing him off. But I need time to figure out how to deal with him without losing my mind and saying something I’ll regret. “Seriously, baby, it’s time,” he continues when I don’t reply.
“Whose side are you on?” I narrow my eyes on his and he grins, showing off his perfectly straight smile.
“Your side,” he says, pulling me against him. “That said, you still need to speak with your dad.”
“Fine,” I grumble. “I’ll tell him to meet me for coffee tomorrow.”
“Good.” He dips his head, brushing his mouth over mine. “You want me to go with you when you talk to him?”
“Will you beat him up if I ask you to?” I question, and he chuckles like I’m joking—which I’m not, since my dad might actually need some sense knocked into him.
“Then no, since you’re going to be of no use to me,” I mutter, and he gathers me against him and shoves his face into my neck, laughing so hard my body shakes with the force of it. “It’s not really that funny.” I smile, and he gives me a squeeze and gets control of himself before pulling his face out of my neck to look at me, running his fingers along the apple of my cheek.
“Before you leave for work, pack a bag. We’re staying at my place tonight,” he orders, and I blink at him.
“Yeah, the place I’m paying rent on, where I keep my clothes and get my mail. My place.”
“I forgot you don’t actually live with me,” I mumble, and his arms tighten around me. My eyes widen and I hurry out, “I mean, I know you don’t live with me, obviously, but—”
“Babe, shut up,” he cuts me off, smiling, and I glare at him.
“Don’t tell me to shut up, Harlen,” I snap, and he smiles.
“You okay with staying at my place?”
“Maybe?” He brushes his nose across mine. Gah! I really hate when he’s annoying and sweet.
“Can Dizzy come?” I keep my tone snippy to cover up how much I love him being sweet, and his smile turns into a grin.
“Then yes,” I agree.
“Good, I’ll pick up Dizzy when I get off work and take him to my place.”
“How? Do you have one of those fancy white baskets with yellow plastic daises on it for him to ride in on your bike?”
“No, smart ass, but I do own an SUV.”
“You do?” I question, surprised, and he brushes his lips against mine.
“It’s parked up for the summer, but yeah, I’ve got an SUV.”
“Go pack your bag then come kiss me before you leave for work.”
“You know what you can do?” I ask scrunching up my nose, watching his eyes crinkle in the corners like he’s trying not to laugh.
“No, what’s that?”
“You can stop bossing me around.”
“You like it when I’m bossy.”
“Yeah, I don’t think I do,” I deny, and he dips his head and brushes his lips over my ear.
“Yeah, baby, I know you do. Whenever I’m bossy, you don’t just get wet; you get drenched, and your pussy latches onto me, to whatever part of me it’s gotten ahold of.”
“Whatever.” I fight back a shiver, listening to him chuckle before he places a kiss against the shell of my ear and neck.
“Go, and then come back and kiss me.”
“Maybe I will; maybe I won’t.” I pull from his hold and head for my room. I pack a bag then take it with me, dropping it by the door before heading back to the kitchen. “I’ll see you tonight.” I lift my hand and wave, and his eyes narrow on me across the island.
“You better get your ass over here and kiss me.”
“And if I don’t?” I raise a brow, holding his stare while crossing my arms over my chest.
“Do you really wanna find out?”
“Maybe.” I shrug, and his eyes darken, causing me to brace.
“You feel like playing, baby? I got no problem with that. I’ll like the consequences of it, and so will you… after I finally give you what you want. But believe me, I’ll make you work for it before that happens,” he warns gruffly, and my nipples harden while the space between my legs tingles with anticipation. “What’s it gonna be?”