Authors: Aurora Rose Reynolds
I turn and see Asher leaning against the door, watching me. “What time do you think we’ll be at my dad’s?” I ask him.
“In about an hour and a half, baby,” he says softly. I feel a small smile touch my mouth at the word baby.
“Asher says about an hour and a half.”
“I heard him, baby girl. Can you put him on the phone for me?”
“Um, sure. Hold on. Dad wants to talk to you,” I say to Asher, holding out my phone. He slides it from my hand and kisses me on my nose then takes a step back, putting the phone to his ear.
“Mike,” I hear him say. “Yeah, we’ll talk when I get there.”
Then he hands the phone back to me. “Dad,” I say, hoping that with the tone I'm using, he understands that I'm not being stupid.
“See you when you get here, baby girl. Love you.” He hangs up before I can tell him I love him too. Asher is watching me.
“Is everything okay?” I ask, looking at the phone.
“It’s all good, baby. Let’s eat.”
“Okay,” I say, feeling dread creep up my spine. I knew Dad was going to say something to Asher when we got to the house and I was suddenly nervous about going home. We walk back into the kitchen and Mrs. Mayson is standing at the stove.
“Do you like grits?” she asks with a smile. I have no idea what grits are and she must have read the look on my face.
“Okay, how about some eggs and toast?”
“That’s fine. Thank you, Mrs. Mayson.”
“Call me Susan, beautiful. Mrs. Mayson makes me feel old.”
“Okay. Do you have a bowl I can use to put Beast’s food in?” I ask Asher. He gets up and walks around the island to pull out a huge bowl. The kind that you would use to make cookies or bread in. He fills the bowl to the top. I watched this in horror, too stunned to stop him. I always measured his food so he doesn’t eat too much. I read online that you have to be careful with big dogs and their diets.
“What are you doing?” I ask as Asher sets the bowl down on the ground.
“Feeding the dog,” he says with an eyebrow raised.
“You can’t feed him that much.”
“Why not?” he asks with his eyebrows raised.
“Because I Googled it and they say to measure it.”
“Babe, he’s a dog. He knows when to stop eating.” He’s looking at me like he thinks something is funny.
“How do you know that?” I ask, tilting my head.
“I’ve had dogs my whole life.”
“Oh…” That was all I could say. Beast was my first dog and all the information I had came from Google. He chuckled and I kind of wanted to punch him in the arm for laughing at me.
“Whatever,” I say, shaking my head. His arm goes to the back of my head and he kisses me. I can hear his mom laughing. Oh my God, how embarrassing.
“You can’t kiss me in front of your mom,” I whisper when he pulls away.
“Just did and it won’t be the last time.” I hear his mom laugh again and I look at her, smiling down at the stove. Her head comes up and she looks happy for some reason.
“I love this, honey. Asher and his women, well, all my sons and their women. None of them ever came around. At first, I thought maybe they were embarrassed of me and their dad. Then, me and James were out one night and we saw Cash with this girl. Let me tell you…after that, I was glad they never brought anyone around if that was what they would bring home.”
“I was lucky enough to meet some of those women first hand last night when Asher took me to the bar.”
“He didn’t?” His mom looked over at Asher with narrow eyes.
“He totally did.” I smile and look over at Asher who looks like he’s ready to strangle me.
“Asher James Mayson, I thought I taught you better than that?”
“Ma, we met the boy’s there to play pool. I don’t have any control over who goes to the bar.”
“I can’t believe you took her to play pool for a first date.” She looks at me. “I swear I raised him better than that.”
“It wasn’t a date,” I reassure her.
“Jesus, Ma,” Asher grumbles. He looks at me and his eyes narrow. “It was a date.” All I can do is shake my head and smile.
“You know, even when Asher was married, we never met the girl. All we knew was that they met when he was stationed in Texas and got married at a court house. We weren’t even invited.” I feel my heart drop into my stomach at the thought of him married. Stupid, I know. I mean, I was engaged and thought that I would spend the rest of my life with the douche bag.
“Ma, Jesus! What the fuck!”
“Watch your mouth, Asher James.” She glared at him then looked at me. “Sorry, I thought you knew.”
“Um, no. That’s okay. I mean, we just met and we all have a past. Some of it beautiful and some ugly,” I told her. There were some things in my past that were ugly too. Like the guy that I was going to marry before he slept with my mother. How much more ugly could you get? Her eyes were soft and she gave me a sad smile.
“So what are you kids planning for the day?” she asked, thankfully changing the subject.
“Going home then I need to have my dad take me to get my car.” I was standing at the corner of the island. Asher pulled my hand, dragging me in between his legs. He had a hand on my hip and I looked him in the eye and gave him a death glare. He ran his fingers down the side of my face and smiled.
“I'm gonna give Ma the key to your car. She can have Nico or Cash bring your car home for you. Then you need to pack up some stuff and bring it over. I’ll be out for a while, I gotta go up to Nashville to check on the job site and make sure the fire inspector doesn’t shut us down. I’ll give you a key so just come in and make yourself at home.”
I know I have an ‘are you crazy’ look on my face but he was telling me to stay the night again. What?
“I'm not staying here,” I told him.
“You are staying here. Your dad works the club at night and doesn’t get home till after four in the morning.”
“I'm not! I’ll just stay with my grandma,” I tell him, even though I don’t want to stay with her. She has three cats and every time I walk into her house, my eyes get so swollen that I can’t blink.
“If you try to go to your grandma’s, I will go there and drag you back here so I suggest that you just come here and save us both the trouble.”
“Are you crazy?” I ask, thinking that I know the answer is yes. “I'm not going to stay here.”
“We’ll talk about it later.” I have a feeling that we are not going to talk about it later and that he is going to try to boss me into doing what he wants me to do. I glare at him again and he has the nerve to laugh. Then his mom slides some eggs and toast in front of us and then comes around the island and sits down. I move out from between Asher’s legs and sit on the stool between him and his mom. I turn towards her, completely dismissing him and he knows what I doing because he’s still chuckling. He grabs my neck and kisses me again.
“Stop doing that,” I tell him, glaring.
“Nope.” It’s all he said before he let me go and started eating.
“So, November, have you been to Nashville?” his mom asks.
“Yeah, but only once. Me and my grandma went up there to go shopping for a new computer.”
“Oh, no, honey. I mean real shopping?” she says and I start laughing.
“My grandma’s not a big shopper. We only went to one store but before we left, she made me call to make sure that the stuff I needed was there and then had me put it on hold so all we had to do was walk in and pick it up.”
“That sounds like her.” She laughs. “Me and you need to do a girl’s day. We’ll leave early and hit the shops then go get a mani pedi.”
“Really?” I breathe. I went all the time with my best friend, Tia, to get mani pedis. I would always get jealous of the girls who were there with their moms. I always wanted to do that.
“Really,” she says, touching my face. “How about Sunday?” she asks.
“Yeah, that would be great.”
“It’s a date.” She is smiling again. “I never had a daughter. I kept trying for a girl and ended up with four boys. After that, I gave up. So this is going to be a lot of fun.” I had a mom, but my mom never asked me to go shopping with her let alone go shopping and get our nails done. Suddenly, tears start to sting my nose and she pulls me in for a hug. “I’m really looking forward to it.”
“Yeah,” I say, hugging her back. We finish breakfast then I let Beast outside as Asher walks his mom to her car. When he comes back in, he just looks at me and says, “Gotta make a call.”
I go to his bathroom to get ready. I put on black leggings and an oversized off-the-shoulder sweatshirt in a soft peach color. It matches my ballet flats perfectly. Then I braid my hair to the side and it falls over my breast. I put on some blush, mascara, and lip gloss then I finish with peach body spray.
I shove everything back into my bag and carry it with me to the living room. When I got there, Asher isn’t there, or in the kitchen, so I look out the sliding glass door. He is standing in the yard in a pair of worn out blue jeans, his light brown work boots, and a dark gray thermal that fits like a second skin. Just looking at him makes my mouth go dry. I watch as Beast comes running at him with a stick in his mouth. Asher wrestles it away from him and throws it as Beast takes off. He looks so beautiful, playing with my dog. Then I remember what he said earlier. If I’m not mistaken, he is kind of my boyfriend. With that thought, I want to do some kind of acrobatics…or maybe a cheer. He kissed me and introduced me to his mom. Well, technically she just showed up, but that had to count, right?
Plus, he said this wasn’t casual even though deep down, I don’t completely trust what he was saying. But, I’ve decided that I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt until he proves that he doesn’t deserve it. He must feel me watching him because he turns around and smiles at me and my breath is stuck in my lungs. He calls Beast and they both come up the stairs at the same time and walk into the house. Without stopping to close the sliding door, he comes right to me, picks me up and kisses me. When he breaks away, I’m in another Asher kiss fog.
“You ready?” he asks and all I can do is nod. He slides me down his body and kisses my nose. My legs are jelly so I hold onto his T-shirt to keep me from falling on my face. He smiles like he knows what he’s doing to me. I glare at him because no girl wants a guy to think that he’s got it going on even if he does. “Okay, babe, get your ass to the jeep.” He steps away and closes the door.
I watch him move then realize that I’m just standing there watching him. I’m finally able to break out of the fog and grab my purse and overnight bag. I walk to the door with Beast at my side, saying over my shoulder, “Don’t tell me to get my ass in your car. It’s rude!” Then, I open the door and walk out to his jeep. His laughter follows me.
We pull up to my dad’s house and he is standing outside. I start to open my door when Asher stops me.
“Wait till I come around and open your door.” This confuses me.
“Do you always have to ask questions?” I think about it for a minute then realize that I do always have to ask questions. Sometimes I ask questions that make no sense or questions that I know the answers to, but I still like to ask them. Asher is watching me and then he starts laughing.
“Nothing, baby. Just wait till I come around to open your door. Will you do that for me?” Because he asks nicely and isn’t being bossy, plus he called me baby and I’m really starting to love that, I nod my head in agreement.
“Good,” he says then kisses me softly and runs his nose across mine. I’m in such a fog that I don’t even realize that he’s gotten out of the car until my door opens and he’s holding a hand out to me. His jeep is one of the cool ones with giant tires that were made for taking into the hills to go mudding. I wondered if he ever does that.
“Do you go mudding?” I ask, looking up at him and, not for the first time, realizing how tall he is compared to me. I come up to the middle of his chest and my head has to go way back to make eye contact. The good thing is I never have to worry that my heels will be too high. My ex never liked me wearing heels because he didn’t want me to be taller than him.
“Mudding?” he asks, bringing me back to topic.
“Yeah, you know, where you drive a truck through mud and… I don’t know what else you do when you go mudding.” He starts laughing again and I have no idea what is so funny so I just wait till he gets control of himself.
“I haven’t gone mudding since I was seventeen.”
“Oh,” I say with disappointment. I kinda wanted to go. Not that I knew much about it, but I saw a video once and it looked like fun.
“If you want, we can take my four wheeler out and drive through some puddles during the next storm.”
“Really?” I ask. That sounds like fun.
“This is why you’re too much. Not too many women go from talking about getting manicures and shopping to wanting to get muddy.”
“Yeah.” He kisses me then and just when it starts getting good, my dad yells at me.
“November!” Crap, I forgot where we are. I put my face in Asher’s chest and giggle. My dad is mad. I’ve never made my dad mad before.
“November,” my dad calls again.
“Oh, lord,” I say, looking up at Asher. He is smiling down at me. I turn my head and my dad and Uncle Joe are standing on the porch. Both of them have their arms crossed and feet planted apart. I don’t think this is going to go well. Asher grabs my hand and starts walking. I am dragging my feet behind him, trying to avoid the confrontation that is coming.
“Hi, Daddy. Hi, Uncle Joe,” I say in my sweetest voice. My dad knows my game because he’s glaring at me and Uncle Joe is shaking his head but his lips are twitching. Then I hear Asher chuckle and both Uncle Joe and my dad look at him like he has a death sentence.
“Oh, geez,” I say, leaning my head back in exasperation. “I'm going to be twenty-five soon so I'm way past the stage of my dad trying to run men off.” I pin my dad with a glare of my own.
“You’re never too old for me to look out for you and to make sure that every guy knows that if he tries to screw you over, I will shoot him.”
“Okay,” I say, looking up at Asher. “If you screw me over, my dad will shoot you.” Asher looks down at me and I can see that he wants to smile but he’s fighting it.
“Go inside and pack, baby,” he says, running his knuckles down my jaw. I glare at him.
“I'm not staying with you.” Geez, what is so hard to understand? We had one semi date. It’s way too soon to start nightly sleepovers.
“You are,” he says in a tone that I'm sure would work on someone but that someone is not me.
“I'm not,” I say, my voice getting louder. I look at my dad for support but I see that he is now fighting a smile. Then, I look to Uncle Joe and he’s straight out smiling. What the heck?
“Baby girl,” my dad calls and I look at him. “I think it would be best if you stayed somewhere at night until I can get a security system put in. But I agree that maybe Asher isn’t the best bet. What if you went to stay with your uncle tonight?” Now I know I'm going to end up at Asher’s. My uncle is a hardcore biker and always has some biker babe staying at his place. Me and my grandma stopped by his house one day and there were two random women, both basically naked, wandering around his house.
Besides, he doesn’t really have room for me. His sons are both older so he turned one of their rooms into a work out space and the other room into an office. He has a couch but I would rather not sleep on it knowing that some woman could come out of his room at any point.
Uncle Joe was married for eighteen years. From the time he found out that the woman was pregnant till his boys graduated high school. I never met the lady but from the stories I was told, she was a major bitch to him and his sons.
At the time, he felt he was doing the right thing by keeping his family together. But as soon as my cousins went to college, he no longer felt the need to pretend who he was. I guess under the suits that he used to wear to work he was secretly a bad ass biker.
“I'm staying with Asher. No offense, Uncle Joe,” I say, looking at him with a smile and hoping he won’t be mad. He smiles back at me and I know he doesn’t mind.
“What about your grandmother?” my dad asks.
“I would stay with her but I'm afraid I might die from allergies.” My dad looks like he is trying to come up with somewhere—anywhere—for me to stay. The moon, a convent, prison, perhaps? I don’t think he cares as long as Asher is not there.
“Baby,” Asher says getting my attention. “I need to talk with your dad and uncle for a minute but I’ll be in to say goodbye before I leave,” he says, looking down at me and then his eyes go to my dad.
“Alrighty, then,” I say. I look at my dad and give him the look that says be nice. Then I start to walk away but I'm pulled back by my sweatshirt. I look over my shoulder at Asher and see he’s holding on to me.
“You forget something?” he asks.
“Ugh…no,” I say, turning around to look at him and wondering what I could have forgotten.
“Kiss me,” he says, with a completely serious expression. I can’t believe he just said that in front of my dad.
“I'm not kissing you in front of my dad and uncle,” I hiss at him and he has the nerve to smile.
“You kiss me or I’ll kiss you. Make up your mind, and make it quick. I need to talk to your dad then I’ve got shit to do.” I cross my arms over my chest and glare at him. He
“Don’t tell me to kiss you in fro—” I'm cut off when Asher pulls me to him and kisses me. It’s closed mouthed and ends before it really starts, but I'm speechless that he just did that in front of my dad. I try to pull myself together but I'm completely stunned by what just happened. Then, I hear my dad laughing and I look at him just to make sure I'm not imagining things.
“Shouldn’t you be getting your gun or something?” I say, looking at my dad while throwing my hand out in Asher’s direction.
“Nope,” he says, smiling. “Now I see what James was talking about when he called me this morning.” My dad recrosses his arms over his chest and leans back on the heels of his boots.
“Great! Just frickin’ great,” I mutter to the ground, rubbing my temples. I look up and glare at Asher. “Seriously, stop kissing me in front of our parents,” I say, pointing at him. Then I turn around and stomp all the way up the stairs and into the house. I slam the door for good measure before I realize that I left Beast outside. I open the door and call Beast but all three heads turn to watch me. I glare at all of them then slam the door again.
This time, I can hear laughter from the other side. “Whatever,” I mumble as I make my way down to my apartment.
Sitting on Asher’s back deck with my kindle in my hand, my feet up on the railing, my head tilted back and enjoying the sun on my face, is practically paradise. I can hear Beast running back and forth in the yard, chasing something. I let my mind wander to thoughts about my day.
After my tantrum, I went down to my apartment and looked around. It was obvious that my uncle and Dad had been busy. The red was gone and there were three full garbage bags. I walked around to see if anything was missing but couldn’t find anything out of place. The chair and couch were now garbage because the cushions had been slashed. I walked into my bedroom to make sure that everything was in its place and it looked perfect. There were even yellow roses sitting on my side table. I walked to them and noticed the card.
You deserve beauty. Why are you forcing me to become ugly.
“What the heck?” I whispered. These were from the person who broke into my apartment. My hand started to shake and I wanted to cry. I knew that my family had worked hard to make that space special for me and now I didn’t even want to be down there. I sat on the ripped couch and had my face in my hands, thinking about how I was going to fix this. I smelled Asher and he pulled my hands away from my face. He was crouched in front of me and looked worried.
“Is everything okay?” I asked, thinking that he and my dad got into it.
“I think I should ask you that,” he said pulling me up then sitting on the couch with me in his lap.
“Whoever did this left me flowers.” I felt Asher freeze underneath me as I handed him the card.
“What the fuck,” he whispered.
“How am I going to fix this?” I asked. “Everyone worked so hard for me to feel welcome and now this is happening and I don’t even know why.” He started rubbing my back so I cuddled into his chest with my head under his chin.
“I'm going to give this to my dad. The rest is just stuff, baby. Your family is just glad that nothing happened to you.” He ran his fingers along my jaw then kissed the top of my head and I can’t help but to sigh. I wanted to close everything off and pretend that this wasn’t happening.
“I'm glad that I wasn’t here when it happened,” I said, cuddling closer.
“November,” my dad called from the top of the stairs. “Nick Stevenson is on the phone. He says he needs to talk to you.” I felt Asher’s body go tight under me again. I lifted my head to look at him and he was pissed.
“Nick who?” I called up the stairs.
“Nick Stevenson. His dad is a lawyer in town.”
“What the fuck?” Asher clipped then he stood, taking me with him. He dragged me up to the kitchen where my dad left the phone on the counter. I watched in horror as Asher answered the phone. Well, if you understand caveman talk, he answered the phone.
“I know that I made myself clear yesterday so why the fuck are you calling?” Asher growled into the phone.
“Oh my God, Asher. Give me the phone,” I yelled as I reached around him, trying to grab the phone from his hand but he’s so damn tall that it was useless.
“Hold on,” Asher said, handing me the phone. I wanted to kick him but he wrapped his arms around me, holding me close. I was counting in my head, trying to keep calm and it wasn’t working.
“Nick, I'm sorry,” I said, apologizing for Asher’s rudeness while shoving Asher but he didn’t even move.
”Um, it’s okay, November. I'm calling to set up a time for you to meet with my father. He represented John and Ellen Armsted before they passed away and he needs to go over a few things with you regarding their will. Can you come into the office on Monday at around eleven?”
“I'm sorry, Nick, but I have no idea who John or Ellen are.” I was completely confused. Armsted is my last name but John or Ellen didn’t ring any bells.
“John and Ellen Armsted were your grandparents on your mother’s side.”
“Oh… Why do I need to see your dad?”
“It seems that your grandparents had you in their will before they passed away and my father needs to meet with you to talk about it. I don’t know what it says but if you can meet here on Monday, he will discuss it with you.”
“Um…sure. Monday at eleven,” I said into the phone.
“Okay, November, see you then.”
“Yeah, see you then,” I said, confused about the conversation. I heard the phone cut off and felt Asher’s arms give me a squeeze.
“Is everything okay?” I remembered what he did and I'm pissed at him. I turned in his arms and stood on my tiptoes so I could get in his face.
“I can’t believe that you answered the phone and worse, you were rude to Nick. He didn’t do anything to you.”
“Babe, he wants in your pants.” I can feel my head getting ready to explode and I know that my eyes are bugging out.
“He does and that shit’s not happening.”
“Oh my God, you’re insane. He just introduced himself to me at a bar. He noticed that I was new. That’s all it was. Then he calls to tell me that I need to meet with his dad because my grandparents put me in their will and you go all caveman on him for no reason.” I push at his chest.
“Am I a man?” he asked.
“Yes,” I snapped, not knowing why the heck he asked that stupid question.
“Then I think I know what the fuck I'm talking about.”
“Whatever,” I said with clenched teeth. “I don’t have time to argue with you. I have stuff to do and you need to go to work.”
“Don’t be pissed, babe. It’s done. Now he knows that I was serious yesterday. Hopefully he spreads that shit wide so I don’t have to deal with anyone else.”
“You do realize that it’s 2013, right?” I glared at him.
“Are you mine?” He nuzzled my neck then I felt his tongue and I forgot that I was mad and that he was rude and that, once again, he embarrassed me.
“Yes,” I say, even though I was questioning my sanity. I just can’t help it when his mouth is on my neck. Then, without warning, he picked me up. I squealed and my legs automatically went around his waist so that I wouldn’t fly back. My hand goes to his shoulder, the other to his hair, feeling it prickle under my palm. One of his hands is at my ass, the other goes up my back and into my hair. Then he tugged my hair to tilt my head while his went the other way. The kiss was hot and wild. He started walking and I felt the wall at my back and his heat hit my center. As I moaned into his mouth, he was grinding into me. He pulled his mouth away and set his forehead to mine.