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Two years ago, Sara Friessen’s life
But to Devon Reed, Sara is the girl he shouldn’t love. No matter how much he tries, Devon, now a young law student, believes he isn’t the
As he sets out to find justice for a mother who abandoned him when he was a child, struggling to undo a wrong and set the record straight, his life
LONG PAST DAWN (The
Devon was late again.
Sara stared at her cell phone and the third text she’d sent, which he had yet to answer. “Glad that I rate so highly, Devon,” she muttered and tossed her phone onto the counter between the fridge and stove.
She heard a key in the door and lifted her gaze from where she stood in the dated galley kitchen, both hopeful and angry at having
“Devon, it’s after seven, and I’d appreciate…” She stopped talking. It was Anton, Devon’s brother, wearing a bulky black hoodie, perpetually pissed off. Her heart sank.
“Sorry, babe, just me,” he said. “So that answers my question. Guess Devon isn’t home.” He pocketed his keys as he swaggered in, and she had to remind herself why she needed to be civil to him.
“I’m not your babe, Anton. I have a name. I’m your brother’s girlfriend. Some respect would be nice.”
He didn’t bother to look her way as he brushed past her to the dated fridge, also
“Point taken,” was all he said. Yup, he still didn’t like her, but then, the feeling was mutual.
She just stared at his back as he strode to the sofa, lifted the remote to the large TV, which took up a good portion of the tiny apartment, and belched. He lowered his large frame and made himself comfortable.
“That dinner you made smells good,” he said.
She rested a cookie sheet over the chops to
“Yup, help yourself,” she said, taking in the pot of mashed potatoes,
“Don’t mind if I do,” he said, bumping past her, and she had to press her hand to the counter as he reached above her head to the cupboard and pulled out a plate for himself.
She stepped out of the kitchen. The dated dining table was now free of its usual clutter—cards, keys, cartons, junk, everything that seemed to
“Ah, there’s only two left…” He gestured with his fork, and she just lifted her hand, surprised he’d bothered to ask.
“Take them, it’s fine,” she replied. “As you said, Devon’s not here. If he can’t at least
She realized Anton wasn’t even listening. He grabbed a second beer and headed back to the living room, to his spot in the middle of the
“Then stop cooking for him,” he said. “Seriously, although it works for me, I can’t believe you’re in there, cooking. He’s busy, you know, being a law student, interning, and trying to make a difference. His head’s elsewhere, you know, with more important things. It’s as if you expect him to do a nine to five and then come home to you. It’s not all about you there, babe. You can’t expect him to drop everything—”
“And come home for dinner because he said he would? You mean I can’t expect him to keep his word and
Anton shoved the potatoes and beans in his mouth around a hunk of porkchop. He was shaking his head and jabbed his knife her way. “You know what, Sara? I’m tired of hearing you complain about it. If you don’t like his hours, then leave.”
Was he serious? She pulled her arms over her chest, taking a second to push up the sleeves of her dark blue T-shirt. Her feet were in socks, and her jeans hung low and loose on her hips. She fisted her hands, reminding herself again that Anton was Devon’s only brother.
“You want me to move out?” she stated.
This time, he froze with the fork to his mouth before shoveling in more of the dinner she had cooked, and he pulled his dark gaze from the TV over to her, allowing it to scrape down her body before landing on her feet. She hated when he did that. That one look told her what he really thought of who she was.
“That’s totally your choice. Far be it from me to tell you what to do. But then think of how we’d miss doing this, me listening to you complain and such. Yeah, I imagine the peace
She pressed her lips together and nodded, gripping her arms. “You know what? I have a better idea. Since I’m Devon’s girlfriend and he’s the one who wants me here with him, and there are two of us and only one of you, how about you move out?” She circled her finger toward the door.
He laughed as he scooped up another huge forkful and shoved it in his mouth. “Nope, this is my place, and in case you forgot, my name’s on the lease,” he said as he chewed. Sometimes Anton’s manners
The way he said it had her walking back into the galley kitchen and taking in the mess from dinner, then walking right back out again. “No, Anton, I just want some respect. I think I deserve it, and seriously, you think I don’t know you don’t like me and have no use for me? You make your point every day, but you know what? I live here too, and I don’t want to watch you taking over the living room and the TV every night with your video games. Shut it down now, and
She didn’t think she’d ever seen shock on his face. Then he started laughing. “Hey, there should be some benefit to having you here…”
“You chauvinistic a-hole…” she growled, hearing a key in the door but not turning to it, fighting the urge to wrap her hands around Anton’s thick neck and squeeze. But she couldn’t do that.
He was laughing again, her food still in his mouth. “A-hole? Is that the best you’ve got?”
She was already walking over to the TV. He had the remote on the sofa beside him, so she reached around and pulled the cord from the wall to unplug it. His expression was priceless, and she was still holding the cord as Devon walked in, wearing a white dress shirt and navy suit, his tie pulled
His heavy gaze landed on her and the cord. “And what’s going on here?” he said.
“I can’t believe you did that, you fucking little troublemaker!” Anton snapped, not pulling his gaze from her. Mad was mad, and Anton had a way of looking at her when he was angry that would
“Hey!” Devon shouted, turning to his brother. “Don’t you dare talk to my girl like that—and you, what the hell are you doing?” He was already walking toward her, his hand out as he gestured to the cord.
She dropped it to the floor and stepped away. “Trying for a little peace around here. Seriously, Devon, your brother’s on that TV the minute he walks through the door. Just this morning, Mr. Lewis from 7B commented on the noise from video games until all hours. It’s waking him up and keeping him awake.”
He hadn’t, really. In fact, when she’d brought it up, he’d said it wasn’t really a big deal. She felt her cheeks warm, and she stepped around Devon into the kitchen when he didn’t touch her. She didn’t hear what he said to his brother, but the next thing she heard was Anton’s footsteps and the door to his bedroom closing.
Devon appeared in the doorway to the kitchen as she took in what should have been dinner. “Do you think you could try to get along with my brother?” he said, his hand on the frame of the door. She didn’t miss the way he stared down at the potatoes in the pot, the wilted green beans, and the two dry
“I’ve tried, Devon, but it’s not all on me. He doesn’t want me here and makes no secret of it, the way he talks to me, treats me, and…”
He was right in her space, his hands on her arms. “I want you here. What Anton wants doesn’t enter
He leaned down and kissed her, and she went on her tiptoes, feeling his hands slide around her and over her ass, pulling her closer. She tasted his coffee, his day, and she pulled back, still in his arms. He took in dinner on the stove.
“It’s cold, you know,” she said.
He pulled in a breath, “Sorry, something came up.”
Something always came up. This time, when his brooding gaze fell on her, she saw that something hadn’t gone right. Devon didn’t share everything. No, scratch that. He was as closed off as every male she’d ever known—her father, her brothers. Then there was his mother’s case, which she knew had taken up his entire focus and made him change course, studying to become a lawyer.
He said nothing more
“It’s fine,” he said. “Thanks for cooking.”
She blinked, realizing he was talking about the dinner, which she’d wanted to be special. He took another bite before dropping the chop back in the frying pan and reaching for a towel hanging by the sink to wipe his hands.
“It’s not fine,” she said. “So how about you tell me about your day and what’s really going on? I can always tell by that look. Is it your mom’s case or something else?”
There it was, the pull of his lips that hinted at a smile. He gave her all of his hard gaze, and just the way he looked at her, she felt as if he could see everything, even the things she showed no one, the private, personal side of herself that she didn’t let others have. She also knew she was one of the few people that Devon, who wrote the book on being closed off
“Shows, huh?” He shook his head, and she waited. “It was just one of those days, those shitty days where all the work I’ve done appears to be a waste of time. The piles of casework, paperwork, filings
She just stared at him with a sick feeling in her stomach. She knew how hard he worked. She shook her head.
“I packed up the files, put everything in boxes, and carried it all to the storage room, where it’ll go with all the other closed cases. My boss said it was dead in the water, no more appeals, and the parole board
She didn’t know what to say, fearing saying the wrong thing. “So now what?”
Devon shrugged, pushed away from the counter, and stepped around her, not touching her although she was so close. “I
That was it. She stared in shock at his back as he walked out of the kitchen, and she listened to the bathroom door close, feeling completely shut out and at a loss of what to say. This was the one thing she’d never expected from Devon, for him
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