Home > Hold on Tight (Sea Breeze #8)(3)

Hold on Tight (Sea Breeze #8)(3)
Abbi Glines

The kid was cute. And he was right. He didn’t need to be opening the door. And giving a complete stranger that kind of information. If he had just a mother, then the car in the driveway concerned me for other reasons. If that was all she had, how the hell had she afforded this house? It wasn’t an expensive house or anything, but I’d think a used rental trailer would have been more in her price range.

“Maybe in the future you should wait for her to open the door. You got lucky this time.” I pointed at my parents’ house. My dad was standing on the front porch watching us. “That’s my parents’ house. I was coming to meet the new neighbors.”

The kid peeked around my legs and looked at the house and my dad, then turned his attention back to me. “You live with your parents? My momma ain’t got no parents.”

Again, more info than he needed to be sharing. Hell, did this woman not teach her kid not to talk to strangers and spill her life story? It wasn’t safe.

“Probably shouldn’t tell strangers that, either, little man,” I told him.

He frowned and held out his hand as if to shake mine. “My name is Micah. What’s yours?”

Although he shouldn’t have been telling me his name, I couldn’t help but grin. The kid was a charmer. I clasped his hand in mine and gave it a shake. “Nice to meet you, Micah. My name’s Dewayne.”

His grin got huge. “Like Dwyane Wade? You know, from the Miami Heat?”

I didn’t keep up with basketball much, but I knew who Dwyane Wade was. I nodded.

“I wish I had a name that cool. But I would want to be named LeBron.”

“I take it you’re a Heat fan,” I said.

He nodded vigorously. “Oh yeah. I’ll be the best one day. My dad was the world’s best basketball player. I will be too.”

I thought he’d said he didn’t have a dad. Just a mom.

“Micah?” a soft, feminine voice called.

The kid’s eyes got big and he spun around. “Yeah, Momma. I’m at the door with our neighbor. He came to visit.”

I lifted my eyes from the kid just in time to see legs. Lots of f**king legs, all smooth and creamy and encased in tiny little cutoff blue jean shorts. Holy hell. My eyes continued their upward track, taking in the tiny waist and generous br**sts barely covered up by a tank top before reaching her face.

Mary, Mother of Jesus. No. Fucking. Way.

I knew that face. It was older. She was a woman now, but I knew that face. Those bright blue eyes, all that long, silky red hair, and those pink lips that made men, young and old, fantasize. But this . . . She couldn’t—I stopped and stepped back, and then my eyes went back to the boy in front of me.

“Micah, go to your room,” she said in a calm, even voice. “Now. Go.”

“But he’s nice—” the little boy started, but she cut him off.

“Micah, go.”

I watched the back of his head as he walked away from me. I wanted to see his face again. I wanted to study it. This was not . . . This couldn’t . . . No. He was too young. He wasn’t Dustin’s. There was no way she’d had my brother’s kid and hid him from me . . . from us. But the kid had said his dad was a basketball player. He’d never known Dustin. He obviously knew his dad.

“Hello, Dewayne,” Sienna said, with a tone of warning I didn’t miss. My head was still reeling. How did she have a kid? I thought she’d lost her mind when my brother had died. Not gone off and started a family.

I stared at her. I didn’t understand. I was trying to wrap my brain around it. How old was that kid? Where the hell was his father? Men didn’t let women like this one walk away. Especially with a kid that damn cute.

“Sienna,” I finally said. “It’s been a long time.”

Chapter Two

Eight years ago . . .

DEWAYNE

“Freshman girls,” Preston Drake drawled, sounding pleased as he looked down the hallway. “Damn shame they’ll be illegal before the year is over. We need to enjoy being seventeen while we can.”

Marcus elbowed Preston in the ribs. “Dude, you’re a douche. Glad my sister won’t be here until next year when we’re gone.”

Preston chuckled. We all knew he wasn’t going to touch Amanda Hardy. She was our little sister too. Or at least¸ it felt like it. We’d been friends with Marcus since Amanda was in diapers.

“Y’all seen Trisha?” Rock asked as he walked up to us with a frown firmly in place. It was the kind of frown that meant he was on the verge of beating the shit out of someone.

“No. She didn’t take the bus?” Marcus asked.

Rock shook his head. “Stupid piece-of-shit mother of hers. I’m gonna have to go find her. I’ll be back later. Cover for me,” he said, before turning and heading for the back exit of the building. This was a once-a-week thing. Trisha had a verbally abusive mother, and her mother’s current boyfriend had slapped Trisha’s younger brother, Krit, around last week. Trisha had jumped on the man’s back and started pulling his hair, and he’d slung her across the room. If Rock hadn’t shown up when he did, Trisha would have ended up in the hospital or worse. Rock was working on getting her out of there. But he had to do something about her younger brother, too. She wouldn’t leave him in a dangerous situation.

“Ain’t that Dustin’s girlfriend?” Marcus asked, drawing my attention back to the present moment. I scanned the people until I saw Sienna Roy standing in the crowd with her book bag held protectively to her chest and her eyes wide with wonder. She looked lost. Where the f**k was my brother? The girl had turned into a beauty overnight. I had told him just last month he needed to make their relationship official before they started high school. Guys were going to notice her.

“Yeah, it is, and the stupid little fucker isn’t anywhere around,” I muttered. Sienna was so damn overprotected by her parents that she didn’t have much of a life outside of her house and ours. My brother was already going to parties, but Sienna didn’t get to go. And she never seemed to have friends over. Dustin was her friend. But his stupid ass was nowhere to be found.

“They break up?” Preston asked, taking a new, keen interest in Sienna. Fuck no. He could back his horny ass off.

“They were never a couple. And don’t even go there. I’ll beat your ass. Do you understand me?”

Preston gave me that cocky grin that I’d hate if he wasn’t one of my best friends. Right now, though, I was considering knocking it off his face.

“Don’t piss him off, Preston. I’m not in the mood to handle that without some backup,” Marcus said, glaring at Preston.

I wasn’t going to let my little brother leave Sienna out there to the dogs. And there were lots of f**king dogs at this school.

“I’ll meet y’all in first period. I got something to do,” I told them, but didn’t make eye contact. I didn’t want to see the looks on their faces. I never messed with freshmen. But this one freshman needed me, and if my brother wasn’t going to take care of her, I was.

I didn’t have to shove through the crowd. It split for me as I made my way to Sienna. I was halfway there when her gaze found me. First her eyes went wide with surprise, and then a shy smile touched her face. Damn, she was pretty. Too damn pretty. My brother was an idiot.

“Hey, Little Red, looks like you found your way to the big leagues,” I teased her as I took her arm gently and pulled her to the side of the busy hallway. “You found your locker yet?”

She blushed and glanced down at her feet. I followed her gaze and noticed she was wearing a pair of cowboy boots with her skirt. That was sexy as hell. Fuck! She was a kid. She was also my brother’s girl. He just needed to grow up and realize it.

“I looked for it, but there are so many people and I couldn’t remember if the one hundreds are on the first or second floor. So I just figured I’d carry my books around today and stay late to find it.”

Her books weighed more than she did. “What’s your number?” I asked her. I wasn’t letting her carry those books around all day.

“One eighty-eight,” she said, frowning and looking around again. The hall was so full of people, it would be hard to see the locker numbers from her height.

“Come on. Can’t have you getting a backache your first day of school,” I told her, and put my hand on her back to guide her through the crowd. I could see people looking at us, and I wanted to glare at them all and warn them to be careful with her. But I didn’t. I made my threat silently. I kept my hand on her back as we walked down the hall and turned left to find her locker in the first row on the east wing.

“This is it. You got the combination?”

She looked relieved. She dropped her bag and began going through it until she pulled out a little scrap of paper. “Here it is,” she said, beaming at me before carefully turning the lock until it popped open. I took the door from her and made a little change to the inside of it.

“Now close it. Let me show you something,” I told her.

She closed it without question and looked up at me.

“Hit it twice.”

She barely slapped at it.

Chuckling, I shook my head. “No, Little Red. You got to hit it twice. Like this.” I showed her, then turned the lock once and it opened up.

Her eyes went wide. “How’d you do that?”

Winking at her, I grabbed her book bag and put it inside the locker. “Magic, sweetheart.” I closed the door again. “Now you try it again.”

She hit it harder this time, and with one twist of the lock it popped open. She laughed and clapped her hands in excitement. “That is so cool. Thank you, Dewayne.”

Yeah, my brother was going to have to do something fast, because this kind of pretty wasn’t going to be left alone long. I’d have to make sure no one else got near her until Dustin woke the f**k up.

Present day . . .

SIENNA

I had wanted to prepare myself for this. I needed time to think this through. Had they sent Dewayne over here to look at Micah? To see if he was Dustin’s? Was that what this was?

My stomach turned, and I was sure I was going to throw up right here at his feet. Micah didn’t know them. They hadn’t made any attempt to know him. I couldn’t just let them try to walk into his life. Not like this.

“It has been a long time. Why are you here?” I replied, not taking my eyes off Dewayne. He was still larger than life. More so than when I was a teenager. He had a few more piercings now and a couple more tattoos. His shoulders were even wider, and the thick, corded muscles in his arms were intimidating. The man was like a brick wall.

Yet those eyelashes of his were still too thick for a male, and even though he’d pierced his lip, it didn’t take away from the plumpness that women paid good money to mimic. The worn jeans that looked like they needed a good washing hugged him in a way I wanted to ignore. I had to ignore. This man was off-limits to me.

He wasn’t just the nice guy who had been my friend when I was younger. He was also a man who had abandoned me when I’d needed someone the most. Even if he was delicious and what female fantasies were made of, I would never forgive him. Dustin had adored him, yet Dustin’s son didn’t even know him.

He cocked an eyebrow at me, as if he was surprised by my reaction to him. “Came over to see who the new neighbors were. Beat-to-shit car parked out front concerned me. Neighborhood’s not what it used to be.”

Once I wouldn’t have been able to look past his perfectly chiseled face and full lips to get angry with him. That wasn’t the case any longer. My hands fisted at my sides, and I wanted nothing more than to punch him in the nose. I owned that car. I had worked hard to buy that car.

“I’ll keep that in mind. I can assure you we’re not going to cause any problems,” I replied, walking over to the door and putting my hand on it to let him know I was done with this visit and wanted him to leave.

Dewayne frowned, and his dark eyes, which in my dreams had looked at me like he had today when I’d walked into the room, were now narrowed. Great, I’d managed to piss off the massive, monster-size man who could knock me down with one hard puff. “Where did that sweet girl I used to know go? You lose her somewhere?” Dewayne’s voice was even, but the low, menacing sound to it bothered me.

What did he expect me to do? Bat my eyelashes at him and swoon like I had when I was a kid? “She learned to toughen up and trust no one.” I gripped the door, fighting the urge to slam it in his face. Because I was pretty sure he could rip it off its hinges if provoked. “Thanks for stopping by. Now that you know we aren’t about to dirty up the neighborhood with our presence, you can go on back to your parents’ place. We’re fine here.” I started closing the door. Dewayne stepped back. To my surprise, he turned around, then started walking away.

At least he took the hint. I was torn between being angry and being relieved. He’d left without making a scene and upsetting Micah . . . but he hadn’t asked me one thing about him. Hadn’t asked to see him or asked for his parents to get to meet him. That was a pain I thought I’d gotten over years ago. Now I realized I hadn’t. Living here was like ripping the scab right off. It hurt something fierce.

Locking the door, I moved over to peek through the curtains and saw Dewayne talking to his dad as he walked inside their house. Why were they like this? I had loved them like my own family. At times growing up, I’d wished they were my family. Tabby had always had a smile and open arms when I needed to throw myself into them. Never would I have imagined that the child of the son they’d adored would be completely ignored.

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