Uh-oh. Casual dress. Don’t eat. Ruined appetite. Mom’s schmoozing someone for her
Ladies Luncheon Committee at church. “I’ve got plans tonight.”
“We know. Hence the reason for dinner. ” Dad walks into the kitchen dressed in a nice
pair of jeans and a blue polo. “Ryan should drive separate.” The sparkle in his eye makes me
nervous. “Our boy has plans with Scott Risk’s niece.”
A slim woman with perfect blond hair pulled into a bun answers the door at Scott Risk’s
house. She air kisses my mother’s cheeks and hugs my father. “Oh, it is so nice to finally meet
you. Scott’s on the back patio grilling some salmon steaks and vegetable kabobs.”
Thankfully she holds her hand out to me, “I’m Allison, Scott’s wife. Scott has told me so
much about you.”
Besides the picture in Scott’s office, I know nothing about her. “Nice to meet you,
Allison nods to Beth’s closed door. “Beth’s in her room. Scott said you can go in and
hang out until dinner as long as you keep the door open. No need to bore you two with silly adult
talk.” She bats her long lashes at my parents. “As long as that is okay with the two of you.”
I think she means no need to bring Beth out in public.
“That’s fine,” Dad intervenes before Mom can say no.
“I’m confused. I thought Beth was sick,” I say. At least, she wasn’t at school today.
Allison peeks over her shoulder to Beth’s room, then places a hand on my mother’s arm,
and leans in to whisper the secret, “Female problems, but she’s doing much better now. The
adjustment of moving has been stressful and we know how stress can mess with women.”
“Poor dear.” Mom spent the entire five minutes on the drive over explaining to me on the
cell how important it is we make a good impression. One because the committee wants Allison
on the board, two the church wants them as official members, and three Scott Risk specifically
wanted to meet the parents of the guy dating his niece.
Great. No pressure for a relationship that doesn’t exist. Won’t my parents be excited
when I find the courage to break the news.
“Ryan,” says Mom. “Be a gentleman.” Meaning if you touch Beth, she’ll drag me to
church every second she can spare.
Allison leads my parents to the back of the house while I stand in the foyer, staring at
Beth’s door. A lot happened last night and I haven’t had a chance to think any of it through. In
fact, the last time we spoke, I thought we had an understanding. Guess not.
I knock on her door and a few seconds later, Beth appears. Hair falls out of a sloppy
pony tail and a pillow crease indentation stretches across her cheek. A short tank top shows her
smooth midriff and fluffy white cloud sheep graze on her pajama bottoms. Groggy and Beth
make a sexy combination.
“What are you doing here?”
I have no idea. “Scott and Allison invited my parents over for dinner.”
“Surprise.” Scott comes up beside me. “Allison made the plans a little over an hour ago
while I was on my way home from Louisville. She thought because you two were dating that we
should all meet. We decided to let you sleep a little longer. Are you feeling better?”
“I guess.” Beth’s eyes flicker between me and Scott. “Did you say dating?”
Scott shrugs. “Two dates in a row. He wants to take you to school. What would you call
Beth kneads a palm to her forehead. “I promised Ryan I’d talk to you and I know I should
have done it this morning, but I felt like…crap so what I’m trying to say is…”
The lines around Scott’s mouth slide down as his forehead crinkles. No. She’s going to
keep her promise and tell Scott that we broke up and say that she was the one to blame. That may
not be what I need. I pick up where Beth had left off. “That I had promised her that I would take
her to Dairy Queen before the party. That’s where most of my friends meet up.”
The lines around his mouth head back north. “I’m fine with that as long as your parents
are. I think the four of us can handle dinner fine on our own.”
“Scott,” calls Allison, “Can you come and check the salmon?”
He nods before leaving the two of us alone.
“What was that?” Beth hisses. “You wanted him to love you and I was about to make that
happen and then you go and put us on a date?”
The muscles in the back of my neck tense. Guess her three second I’m sorry from last
night doesn’t mean crap. “Yeah, because he’s going to love me when his sick niece, whose
standing there looking all…” Hot. “Vulnerable in her PJ’s, tells him that I broke it off with her
because she was being mean. Not sure I would have won the sympathy vote on that one.”
“I’m not sick,” she says. “Or vulnerable.”
That leaves hot as the only option and I’m not saying that out loud. “I’m not discussing
girl parts and their problems. Get some clothes on. I’ll take you to the party then bring you home.
Tomorrow, after my parents and your uncle fall in love, you can keep your end of the deal.”
She rolls her eyes. “I may be a girl and have parts, but those aren’t my problems. I faked
it. And if I’m doing this you’re buying me dinner.”
“Fine.” Anything to get her to turn around and get ready. Every single time I walk away
from Beth I swear I’ll never get frustrated or mad at her again. Yet, three seconds in her presence
and she can push me from zero to a hundred.
I need this girl out of my life.
Beth does her patented slow pivot and my jaw hits the ground. Black Chinese characters
decorate the spine along the small of her back. Her body curves inward towards her waist and her
skin is smooth, white…
She kicks her foot back and slams the door in my face.
Nope. I definitely need this girl out of my life.
Deleted Scene #2
This scene took place the week that Ryan’s parents were out of town and the afternoon before Chris took Ryan to Walmart. While I love this scene, I cut it because it didn’t help progress my plot forward.
Because Logan’s a crazy son of a bitch, he undoes his seatbelt the moment we hit Scott Risk’s drive and stands up in the backseat. He wraps his arms around the frame and let’s his head hang out of the top of the open panels.
“He’s like a dog,” mutters Chris from the passenger side.
Chris jolts forward when Logan kicks his seat.
“My bad,” says Logan.
Chris and I share a look then chuckle. Logan’s Logan. We’re lucky he’s got two feet on the floor board. When I pull up to the house, Scott walks off the front porch and waves to show us where to park. Once I pull up to the edge of the yard, Scott moves to the side and shows the caravan of the guy’s from the baseball team trailing behind me their designated parking spots.
It’s pro baseball playoffs and Scott’s invited us over to watch a game. While there’s a part of me that’s excited at the thought of hanging with the guys and watching the game in Scott’s surround sound basement, what I’m itching for is to see Beth.
My parents are away for the week and she’s been sneaking out every night to stay with me. While it’s only been hours since I held her tight to me, it’s been too long.
Most of the guy’s on the team flock to Scott and I use the excuse to fly up the stairs and slip through the front door. The door to Beth’s room is open and a quick check confirms that she’s not inside.
“I’ve been told you’re off limits today.” In a black shirt that hugs her just right and a pair of jeans ripped more than her normal pairs, Beth leans her shoulder against the corner of the wall leading to the kitchen.
I smile. Just being near her sends me into a high. “Do I get a say in this?”
“Scott’s playing hardball. If I stay away from baseball boy bonding time, then for dinner tonight I get a steak that’s barely mooing, French fries out of the fryer, and chocolate cake.”
Her eyes darken with each step I take closer to her. “Hell, Beth, if I had known you could be bought, I would have showed up at your front door with a hamburger weeks ago.”
My hand rests on her waist and Beth melts into me. She’s warm and she’s soft and memories of last night flash in my mind. Her fingers under my shirt. My hands wandering along her back then the lowering of her bra straps.
Beth bites her bottom lip and when she looks at me, I know she’s remembering the same thing. “I’m a simple girl, Ryan. It doesn’t take much to please me.”
I laugh at simple and she laughs along with me. Caressing the few stray hairs away from her face, I lean down and whisper against her lips. “It’s okay, Beth. I love you just the way you are.”
“And absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Scott pats my shoulder and glances between me and Beth. “Space. Three feet. Maybe five.”
Beth’s cheeks turn red and I reluctantly step back.
Scott jacks his thumb over his shoulder while staring at Beth. “Lacy’s waiting for you out front.”
Beth touches my shoulder as she passes. “Later, Ryan.”
She moves down the hallway to the front door with that easy sway. Before she walks out, Beth glances over her shoulder and her smile practically brings me to my knees.
There’s seven hours until she’ll show up at my doorstep tonight and I’m definitely counting down the seconds.