Hold on Tight (Sea Breeze #8)(10) by Abbi Glines

Oh crap! I threw my legs over the bed and reached for the silk wrap Janell had given me for Christmas last year. I needed to get dressed, but the knocking and voices were getting louder. I had to go out there and deal with them. Now. Before Micah heard something he didn’t need to hear.

I tied the belt around my waist and ran my hand through my hair, then bent down to look Micah in the eyes. “You and I have something to talk about later. It’s about a good thing. But first I need to go outside and talk to them, and I need you to stay in your room and play like you were doing before they knocked, okay?”

He nodded, but the frown on his face told me he didn’t like that he wasn’t going with me. I kissed his forehead, then hurried to the door before Tabby Falco broke it down.

Glancing back, I saw Micah go into his room, and I took that moment to open the door and step outside on the porch with a red-eyed Tabby Falco; her husband, Dave; and of course Dewayne.

I didn’t let myself think about the look in Dewayne’s eyes as he took in my appearance. I was a mess, with bed head and no makeup. But I wasn’t out here to impress Dewayne. I wouldn’t think about that.

“I never got a letter. Not one letter, Sienna Roy! If I had gotten a letter, I’d have come after you and my grandbaby. What were your parents thinking? You were a kid! A baby having a baby, and they left you! I just don’t understand it. And that precious boy who looks so much like my Dustin.” She choked up, covered her mouth, and sobbed. Dave pulled her against his chest.

“Please, I know this is a lot. And I know you’re upset, I can see that. And as thankful as I am that you do want to be a part of Micah’s life, I don’t want him hearing this. He needs me to explain it and talk to him first. This would be too traumatic for him.”

“She’s right, Momma. You gotta calm down,” Dewayne added.

I wouldn’t look at him. I couldn’t. I kept my focus on Tabby. She nodded, then dropped her hand from her mouth and looked up at me. She had always been a tiny woman, which was so weird in contrast to her huge sons. Then again, Dave Falco was a massive man.

“Look at you,” she said in a whisper. “You’re all grown up and beautiful.” The sincere smile on her face made me tear up, and I blinked back the tears burning my eyes. I wouldn’t cry. I had Micah to think about. She looked back at Dewayne. “She is much more than average, Dewayne Falco! Are you blind?”

That hurt so much more than it should have.

DEWAYNE

Motherfucking hell. My mother had no damn filter on her mouth. Maybe that was where the kid got it from. The color on Sienna’s cheeks at my mother’s words told me Momma had seriously embarrassed her. Fuck!

Sienna had come out of the house in nothing but that short silk wrap and her hair looking like she’d been properly fucked, and my imagination went to just that. To what it would be like to have those legs of hers wrapped around me and that gorgeous face of hers in the throes of an orgasm. The idea of anyone else seeing her like this pissed me off. I’d moved to the side so the view of her was blocked from anyone driving down the road or looking out their windows. Did she not realize she looked like a walking fantasy?

Then my mother had gone and told her I’d said she was average. Damn, that sucked. I didn’t want her thinking I was attracted to her, because that would complicate things, but I also didn’t like her thinking I was talking bad about her. I wanted her to like me. I wanted to be around Micah as much as possible.

“She’s absolutely beautiful. You have to beat those men off with a stick, don’t you, honey?” my mother continued with her praise of Sienna. She was right, of course, but what was I supposed to say now? I already looked like a douchebag. I kept my mouth shut.

“I, uh, I . . . Thank you,” she said with an unsure, forced smile.

“How are you still single? You should have a man taking care of you,” my mother said.

The pink on Sienna’s fair cheeks only got brighter. “I don’t date. I have Micah to think of first.”

Shit. She was a good mom. I had known a lot of single moms, and none of them sacrificed a social life because of their kid.

“But you’re young, and Micah needs a man. Don’t worry about that. He’s gonna have his uncle Dewayne and his grandpa Dave there for him. Maybe you can think of spending some time with a man soon. It’s a shame for a beauty like you to live life alone. Dustin wouldn’t have wanted that.”

Sienna swallowed nervously. “It’s okay. I’m happy with it being just me and Micah.”

Momma waved her hand. “Nonsense. You have us now, and we’ll make sure you have a life too. Being a momma is the most important job you can have, but you have to think about you, too. Enough of that for now.” She walked up and pulled Sienna into her arms and held her tightly. “You’re here. And you have Dustin’s boy,” Momma said, choking up again. “I’m so happy. I’m just so happy.”

Sienna’s eyes misted over as she looked up at me briefly, then over at my dad, and she smiled. “I sent letters,” she said, feeling the need to defend herself.

Momma nodded and pulled back. “I believe you did. But I didn’t get them. I think you might want to give that aunt of yours a call. That’s the only explanation I got. But those letters never made it to me.”

Sienna nodded. “Okay. I, uh . . . I need time with Micah. When he’s ready, we’ll come over for a visit. He enjoyed his last visit over there. He’s a fan of cookies,” she said, smiling so sweetly.

My mother had always loved Sienna Roy, and she’d encouraged Dustin’s relationship with her, but right now I realized that the love she’d had for Sienna just multiplied by a thousand because Sienna had brought Dustin’s child into the world. She’d given my momma a part of her son back.

Which was something I’d never been able to do.

Dad finally spoke up, tugging on my mother’s arm. “Let’s go back over to the house and let them talk.” She nodded, but she looked longingly at the door to the house, knowing her grandson was in there.

“Our door is always open, Sienna,” my dad told her.

She sniffed and smiled. “Thank you.” The look on her face told me just how alone she had been all this time. I wanted to strangle her father. It was a shame I wouldn’t get the chance. How the f**k had he done this to her?

My parents walked down the stairs and I waited. I wanted to say something to her, but I wasn’t sure what. Explaining my “average” comment would sound insincere now.

“I’ll bring him over when he’s ready,” she told me, then opened the door and stepped inside before I could say anything else.

“Come on, son. Let them alone,” my father called after me.

Frustrated as hell, I turned and followed my parents home.

When we got to the house, my mother looked back at me and frowned. “I don’t know what you think is attractive, but apparently Dustin was the only one with good taste in females. That girl is a beauty. Even just out of bed she is breathtaking. Nothing fake about her. She’s the real thing. She’ll make a man a good wife one day. Shame you can’t see what a jewel she is.” Then she turned and walked inside.

Dad chuckled and I looked over at him. “What?” I snapped.

He only laughed harder. “Reckon that ‘average’ comment was about the stupidest shit I’ve ever heard. I may be an old man, but I ain’t blind. Hell, boy, she’s a looker. She left average a long time ago. But then, you know that. Be careful what you say, because your momma will make sure the world knows.”

He continued to laugh as he went inside.

I glanced back at her house and remembered the young girl who used to run across the street in bare feet and a pair of cutoff jeans and a shirt tied up above her belly button. All that red hair flying, and her smile big and bright. Dustin would meet her out front, and she’d fling herself into his arms and he would swing her around.

I think it was about the time she had turned sixteen that I decided staying away from her was really f**king important. Because I had watched her run into my brother’s arms, and I’d been jealous. The emotion had startled me and taken me a moment to understand. I’d never been jealous before or after. Because I had known in that moment that I’d somehow lost a part of my soul to a girl who would never be mine.

I spent the next seven years proving just how much I didn’t need love. I just needed pussy, and I could get it easy. I had f**ked Sienna Roy out of my system with each redhead who wasn’t her. With each girl I bedded, I’d felt further and further away from any emotion.

When Sienna had left, she’d taken a piece of me with her. I had suffered, and I was so trashed for months that I couldn’t even remember half the shit I did. I had wanted her, and she had been my brother’s. She had also been too damn young.

I was a fuckup and would never be good enough for the likes of her. My brother was what she’d deserved. Someone like him was still what she deserved. Not me. Never me. I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t a golden boy. I couldn’t make her happy. But I’d be damned if I let anything hurt her again. I could protect her. And Micah. They weren’t mine, but in my heart they were.

SIENNA

“What if I told you that Dewayne was your daddy’s older brother? Would you like having Dewayne as an uncle?”

Micah went very still in my arms, and his frown grew. This was not how I wanted to do this with him. I was hoping to watch Star Wars with him and have that as a happy distraction. But after our morning visitors I knew this had to be done now. I wanted him to have Tabby and Dave Falco in his life, and from what I had just seen, they did too. It was time Micah had grandparents to dote on him.

“Dewayne is my daddy’s brother? But . . . he didn’t tell me that.”

This was the tricky part. Micah was five, but our life had made him grow up fast. Emotionally, he was a lot older than he should’ve had to be.

“Dewayne didn’t know about you until the other day, when you thought he made me cry. I had thought he knew. I’d sent letters, but they never got them.”

“Who’s they?” Micah asked.

“Dewayne’s parents. Your daddy’s parents. Your grandparents.”

Micah’s eyes went wide with wonder. “Mama T and Dave are my grandparents?”

I nodded. “And they want to know you very much. They loved your daddy a whole bunch. And they want to know his son. That’s why they came over this morning. They’re very excited to know you’re their grandson.”

Micah’s eyes got bigger. “I have grandparents? I thought you said I didn’t.”

Sighing, I kissed his head. “I didn’t want you to think that your grandparents didn’t love you. I thought they were turning their backs on us since your daddy was gone. So I was protecting you.”

Micah was quiet for several minutes. I let him think about all this and didn’t speak. He fiddled with his thumbs as he studied his hands. Every once in a while he glanced back over his shoulder, out the window to the house across the street. I couldn’t imagine what was going on in his little head. Saving him from any more pain was my first concern.

“Do they have pictures of my daddy?” he asked. I’d only had a couple in my purse when I had been shipped off, and that was all Micah had seen of his father.

I nodded. “They have a lot. You will even see pictures of him when he was your age. You can see just how much you look like him.”

Micah fidgeted and looked out the window toward their house. “Can I go see the pictures and have some cookies?” he asked, turning back to me.

Tabby would probably never be without chocolate chip cookies again. “I am sure they are waiting anxiously for you to come over there. Do you want me to come too? Or would you like me to let you visit alone?”

Sending him over there alone terrified me. I wanted to hold his hand through this, but just like through everything else, Micah was a rock. He handled things with a strength that was unexpected from a five-year-old.

“I want you there. She’s makes really good cookies. You can eat some too.”

I wanted to let out a sigh of relief.

“Okay, then. Let me get dressed and brush my hair, and then we can walk over there. Why don’t you go get dressed too?” He was till wearing his Superman pajamas.

He nodded and hopped up, then ran off. This had been much easier than I’d anticipated. But then, he hadn’t had time for it to sink in yet.

I followed behind him and went to the bathroom. Before I did anything else, I stood there and looked at myself. I had always thought I was pretty. Guys seemed to like me. I wasn’t a raving beauty or anything, but my body wasn’t bad. My legs were long and I had C-cup boobs. My hair was red, but I had made my peace with that a long time ago, as well as the freckles on my nose. But knowing Dewayne had described me as average stung. No . . . it was a serious blow to my self-esteem. Maybe I had aged more than I realized. Maybe being a struggling single mom had put some wear and tear on me. I leaned toward the mirror and checked for wrinkles. I did see my freckles, but no wrinkles yet. I guess my nose was kind of stubby and my arms weren’t that toned. I didn’t have time for the gym. Any sign of a tan had faded.

I guess I was average. He hadn’t called me ugly, at least. I could live with average. Besides, I was Micah’s mom—who cared what a man thought of me? It wasn’t like I was looking to start dating. If that were the case, I might have spent a little more time than usual making myself look less worn out.

When I was finished brushing my teeth and brushing my hair, I wanted to slap myself for letting Dewayne’s opinion affect me. I was better than that. I was tougher than that. Being pretty wasn’t something I worried about normally. I went to my closet, pulled out a pair of shorts, and pulled them on, then grabbed a tank top. I would not think about my clothing choices. I was not going to dress nicer than this for a visit across the street. I intended to do some yard work today and have a picnic in the backyard with my son. No reason to dress up. I’d already spent more time on my face than was necessary for those activities.