She worked in a shithole diner and probably lived in a shithole place when she was the daughter of a state judge, probably grew up in private schools with a Mercedes gifted to her on her sixteenth birthday and more money than my own parents had. This shouldn’t be her life.
She’s better than this. Better than her circumstance and I believe her. She just needs someone to help.
The memory of Melissa’s pleading eyes made me squeeze my own eyes shut. “Fucking bleeding heart.”
Since she could walk, she had a calling to save everything from kittens and frogs and turtles in the road to classmates and children where she worked.
One last request. Promise me.
I’d wanted to throttle her slim, pale throat.
I gripped the door handle and scowled at the silver-plated handle, before I threw it open.
“Happy now?” I asked, and somehow, I knew she was.
Lilly was still in the back when I entered. Where Dad said she always stood, there was an old laptop with notebooks spread open. I took the seat at the far end and waited, snagging a menu from the counter on my way.
The food was cheap, basic diner food, perfect for the clientele a place like this brought in. Greasy, thick burgers, patty melts, and Reubens. Sandwiches and burgers and two salad options.
It was late enough none of it appealed to me. Probably why my dad came for the pies.
Fortunately for me, he’d said they were the best he’d ever tasted, and I’d inherited his sweet tooth.
The creak of old, squeaky door hinges rang out and I lifted my head.
Lilly came out carrying a tray stacked with food, focused on the four-top. I didn’t move for fear of distracting her. Not a great first impression to make if she ended up covered in grease and condiments.
The guys at the table did more shoulder-slapping, whooping and hollering like they were watching the Super Bowl and not their food being delivered. I kept my eyes on them, waiting for one to give me a reason to put an end to all of them. The dark-haired guy would be first. He sat at the outer edge of the booth and as Lilly leaned forward to deliver a tray to the guy next to him, his hand hovered inches from her backside.
The blond across the table egged him on with a nod but she stood back, put space between them, and barked, “Even think of touching me and none of you are leaving with your dicks still attached to your body.”
“Oohh. I’ll show you mine happily,” one said, hands dropping to his lap.
She glared at him, resting bitch face I was certain she learned in prison firmly in place. It didn’t look right on her. Too hard. Too forced.
What would she have been like as a smiling, happy teenager before life was stolen from her?
Damn it. I felt it then. That pull my dad had when he first saw her.
She’d lost too much.
Stacey Lynn likes her coffee with a dash of sugar, her heroes with a side of bossy, and her wine a deep shade of red.
The author of over thirty romance novels, many of which have been best-selling titles on Amazon, AppleBooks, and Barnes & Noble, she loves being able to turn her vivid imagination into a career that brings entertainment and joy to her readers. Focused on sports romance and emotional, small-town romance, she also loves stretching herself in different genres.
Born in Texas and raised in the Midwest, she now makes her home in North Carolina and loves all things Southern. Together with her ultimate tall, dark, and handsome hero, she has four children. Her life is a chaotic mess that fights with her Type-A, list-making, neurotically organized preferences and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
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