Make it a double, p.28
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       Make It a Double, p.28

         Part #2 of Last Call series by Sawyer Bennett
 
Page 28

  “You let me go out with that guy and didn’t tell me about that? Did you not think that was important?”

  “He seemed like a nice young man, and he’s from a respectable family,” her mother whines. “How was I to know?”

  I have no clue what Alyssa is feeling right now, but I want to ring her mother’s scrawny neck. How in the world could she put her daughter in danger like that?

  “You are un-fucking-believable,” Alyssa snarls as she pulls away from my hands and advances on her mother. She gets right in her face. “What type of mother sells her daughter out for the hope she’ll marry rich? Who the f**k does that to someone?”

  Drawing herself up, her mother’s voice is like ice. “Don’t you dare speak to me that way, young lady. I am still your mother. ”

  Alyssa actually snorts over those words and turns away to look at me. She’s done here… maybe forever. “Let’s go, Brody. ”

  I nod, pinning her mother with a look of blazing disgust. She holds my gaze for a moment and then drops it, picking her glass of wine back up and taking a dignified sip while she stares at the wall.

  Alyssa grabs my hand and gives me a tug. Turning around, I follow her out the door.

  ***

  I pull out of her mother’s driveway and head down the highway toward my hometown of Avon. Pulling my phone out, I hit my parents’ number and dial. Alyssa sits over in my passenger seat, staring stonily out the window. I had convinced her to leave her truck behind and get in my car. I told her I wanted to take her somewhere for dinner, and she didn’t argue. She just climbed in and hasn’t said a word since.

  My mom answers on the second ring. “Hi, baby. What are you up to?”

  “Hi, Mom,” I tell her, my heart feeling full just from her voice. “Set two more spots for dinner tonight, I’m on my way. ”

  “Fantastic,” my mom exclaims. “Who are you bringing?”

  “My girlfriend,” I say as I look over at Alyssa, and I finally get a reaction. She turns to look at me and gives me a half smile. I grin back at her. “Alyssa Myers. ”

  “You are kidding me?” my mom shrieks. “That is awesome. When did this happen? Why am I just hearing about it?”

  “I’ll fill you in when we get there. Alyssa’s had a rough day, and I figured your home cooking was what she needed. ”

  “Bring that girl over here and let me spoil her. See you soon. ”

  I hang up and toss the phone on the seat between us. Alyssa leans her head against the window and sighs. “So we’re going to give your parents a try, since my mom is apparently bat-shit crazy. ”

  Chuckling, I reach over and grab her hand. Bringing it up to my mouth, I kiss the ends of her fingertips. “Your mom is… well, I don’t even have words. ”

  “You see why I don’t have a relationship with her? She doesn’t care about me. ”

  I want to deny that and make her feel better. I want to give her hope that her mom truly cares. But I can’t… I saw it firsthand. There’s no doubt in my mind she gave credence to those rumors, but she was willing to overlook it for the chance of her daughter marring a Gates.

  It was sick, sick, sick.

  “I’m sorry, baby. It was a shitty thing to do. ”

  “It was par for the course, Brody. Par for the course. ”

  My heart cramps in sympathy for her. I think of the five years I suffered in prison, locked away from my family with nothing but myself to soothe away any fears or pain. But the one thing I had… that prison couldn’t take away, was the knowledge my family loved me and supported me. Alyssa has gone twenty-three years without loving familial ties, which makes me think she’s had it a lot worse than I ever have.

  I hold her hand the entire way to my parents’ house. When we pull in, Mom comes trotting down the stairs, still wearing her nursing scrubs from work. Lillian Markham is a stunning woman at fifty, but it’s her caring and empathetic nature that reflects her true beauty. It’s why she went into nursing.

  Mom opens the passenger door and practically pulls Alyssa out, straight into a hug. “It’s been too long since I’ve seen your gorgeous face,” my mom coos, and Alyssa grins at me over her shoulder.

  My mom barely gives me a glance before she pulls Alyssa up the stairs and into our house. I follow behind with a smile on my face.

  As soon as we get inside, my dad gets up from his recliner, where he had apparently been watching the evening news, and bends over to give Alyssa a hug. Butch Markham is a big dude… it’s where Hunter, Casey, and I get our height.

  “Casey’s in her room if you want to go say hello,” my dad tells Alyssa.

  My mom grabs my hand and pulls me into the kitchen. “You can help me finish dinner. ”

  The message is clear and definitely not subtle. Pack Alyssa off to Casey’s room so my parents can grill me about our relationship. Alyssa’s no dummy—she gets it—and I know this by the wink and grin she gives me before taking off down the hallway.

  I follow Mom into the kitchen with Dad right on my heels. It smells of meatloaf, and my stomach rumbles. This will be so much better than whatever fancy shit Alyssa’s mom was going to serve. Probably caviar and toast points.

  I practically slam into my mom when she spins on me with a look of wild excitement on her face, and I have to put my arms out so I don’t knock her over.

  “You and Alyssa?” she says in a screamed whisper of schoolgirl excitement.

  “Calm down, Mom,” I say with a grin. “You act like I’ve never had a girlfriend before. ”

  “Well, you’ve never had one as wonderful as her,” Mom says tartly. “This is an exciting time for your mother. ”

  Dad claps a hand on my shoulder and heads to the fridge. He pulls a beer out and doesn’t offer me one. He knows I won’t accept, but rather hands me a bottled water. “I’m happy for you, Brody. She’s a good girl. ”

  Setting the bottle down on the counter, I lean back against it and cross my arms over my chest. I look at my mom, and she looks like she’s about to hop out of her shoes in joyful abandon. My dad shoots me a wink and heads back to the living room.

  “What’s with you?” I ask her, shaking my head in amusement.

  “It’s just… I had actually hoped for this… been trying to figure a way to push you two together for years. ”

  “Really?” I ask with skepticism.

  “Alyssa is wonderful, and my son deserves someone lovely and kind and generous. I knew she would grow up to become an amazing woman years ago when she first started hanging out with Casey and Gabby. So, yeah… I had my eye on her for you. ”

  “Why didn’t you pick Gabby out for me?” I ask in curiosity.

  She looks at me as if that were the dumbest question ever. “Because… I had already picked her out for Hunter. You could see that girl always had it bad for him. ”

  “You’re a pretty smart woman,” I tell her, leaning over to kiss her on the cheek.

  She takes her hand and puts it on my chest. Looking up at me, she says, “I like your haircut and I’m not sorry to see that beard go. You look more like the boy I knew before you went away. ”

  My gut tightens at the pointed reminder that I was a different person then.

  “I might look like that boy, but you know I’m a different man now, right, Mom? I mean… you get that some changes are forever. ”

  My mom gives me a soulful stare and shakes her head a bit. Her voice is kind but firm in her beliefs when she says, “Yes… I know you changed in prison. It broke my heart to see what you had lost… what you had become. But you’ve changed even more. Three weeks ago, you would not be in this kitchen talking to your mother about your girlfriend. Three weeks ago, you didn’t have that easy smile or that sparkle in your eyes. We are always changing, Brody. I expect you still have more to come, but for now, just know that it soothes my heart to see you this way. ”

  I have to blink rapidly at my mom to stop the prick of mois
ture in my eyes over her proclamation. I know I’ve hurt her greatly. My choices… my terrible, terrible choices have devastated my family. The fact I was withdrawn and unable to connect with them after getting out of prison only hurt them more.

  Here I now stand… with the simple gesture of wanting to bring my girlfriend over to my parents’ house for dinner, and my mom is about ready to perish from happiness. How did I not know how badly she must have been hurting? Because I’m only now just truly understanding it by virtue of the fact that she’s swimming in joy… all from a simple gesture.

  “Hey, Brody,” Casey says as she walks into the kitchen with Alyssa.

  I reach my hand out and snag Alyssa’s, pulling her into my side. Wrapping an arm around her waist, I tuck her in as I ask Casey, “So, how’s work been going?”

  Casey grabs a beer out of the fridge and twists the cap. She hops up on the counter while Mom turns to get the meatloaf out of the oven.

  “It’s been going really good,” Casey says with passion. “I mean, I’m really good at it… natural-born salesperson, I guess. ”

  “You get that from your father,” my mom says as she sets the steaming meatloaf on top of the stove.

  “Get what from me?” my dad asks as he walks back into the kitchen.

  I just stand there, with my arm around Alyssa, watching my family talking about mundane life stuff. It’s a conversation that’s probably occurring in millions of households across the world.

  Nothing special, definitely not news worthy.

  What it is, though, is f**king awesome.

  Chapter 22

  Alyssa

  “Where do you keep the towels?” Savannah asks me, and I have to shake my head to blink away my thoughts.

  “The supply room, on the top shelf in the back,” I tell her. “Brody can show you where if you can’t find them. ”

  Savannah shoots me a smile and walks out of my office. I’ve been trying to do bookwork for the last hour. Savannah came by to help out today, which she does at least once a week. I set her and Brody to the task of bathing all the dogs, a chore I love doing but definitely is not a three-person job. So I relegated myself to boring invoices while they got to play with bubbly puppies.

  And since I’m bored silly, of course, I keep thinking about last night.

  Which was absolutely perfect… well, at least after my mother admitted to setting me up with a potential ra**st.

  But damn if I didn’t have so much fun at Lillian and Butch’s home. It’s always been a place that has been filled with love and humor. I’ve spent many nights there with Casey and Gabby over the years, basking in the Markham’s unconditional acceptance of the poor little rich girl with no one to love her.

  Last night, we sat down to an amazing meal. There was laughter and joking, with some of it actually coming from Brody. I tried not to giggle when I would see Lillian, Butch, and Casey looking at Brody in wonder when he would smile or say something funny. He clearly has changed, in amazing leaps.

  Ever since I found out his secret, and he trusted me to keep it.

  Even more so after we became intimate.

  I say that with no measure of ego, only the facts as I see them. However, I’m not going to lie… it makes me feel good that I’ve been able to help Brody break out of his shell. To start to live life again.

  Maybe even love life again.

  Where my thoughts really end up roaming is what happened when we got back to my house. By unspoken agreement, Brody has taken to staying at my house every night. We’ve seen neither hide nor hair of Chad, but Brody still comes over and I wouldn’t say no anyway. He even brings a bag so he can shower at my place and head to The Haven with me the next morning.

  We had no sooner shut my front door and set my alarm than Brody was on me. His kisses were warm and deep, his hands moving leisurely over my body, but there was an intense need underlying his movements. I succumbed to it right away, letting out a gut-wrenching moan when his hand went down the front of my pants while he pinned me to the living room wall.

 
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