Home > Collision Course (Body Shop Bad Boys #4)(7)

Collision Course (Body Shop Bad Boys #4)(7)
Author: Marie Harte


   Go away? That she didn’t want. Not yet.

   Oh hell. He’s F-I-N-E fine, and I want to spend a little more time with him. It’s not like I’m doing anything more than coffee and a bear claw. The pastry made everything worth it. Because, of course, it was all about the bear claw.

   She neared the house before remembering she had to pick up Brandon at his friend Kyle’s. She drove by, thanked Kyle’s family for having Brandon for dinner, then took her boy home.

   “So then he spilled the milk, and his mom called him an asshole.”

   Joey gaped at her third grader before turning her gaze back to the road. “Brandon!”

   “Sorry, but that’s what she said. Under her breath, kind of. But I heard it, Mom.”

   “Carly called Kyle a bad word?” Funny, PTA secretary Carly hadn’t seemed the type.

   “No, she said that to Bob, Kyle’s dad.”

   “You mean Mr. Sorenson.”

   “No, they said to call them Carly and Bob.” Brandon grinned. “But Carly called him an asshole for daring Kyle to snort milk out his nose.”

   She stifled a laugh. “Brandon, watch your mouth.”

   “Sorry.” Under his breath he added, “Not sorry.”

   She rolled her eyes. “So what did you do after school?”

   As her son launched into a fascinating tale involving Kyle’s tadpoles and an epic experiment with a dirty dog, she couldn’t help thinking about how her life might have gone differently if she’d done everything her parents wanted. In Andrew and Amy Reeves’s imagined world, she’d have graduated college with a fancy degree, been making six figures, and made rounds with Ivy Leaguers before settling down with a millionaire CEO.

   Instead, she had the best kid in the world, a management gig at S&J, and no Mr. Right in sight. And that suited her just fine. She didn’t count coffee with Lou as anything more than a thank-you. She wouldn’t let it be anything more.

   After they returned home and Brandon finally stopped talking, she had him wash his face and brush his teeth to get ready for bed. Lots to do before he could sleep in their one-bedroom apartment above her parents’ garage.

   “I’ll be right back,” she told him. “I just need to talk to Grandma about something.”

   “Okay, Mom,” he said through toothpaste. She managed to translate a bunch of grunting and slurred words to “I’ll get a story and wait in bed.”

   Joey walked down the side stairs then around the garage to the back door to the house. Just as soon as she could, she’d find them their own place. She’d been living at home forever. As a single mom on her salary in Seattle, Joey knew owning a home was nothing more than a distant dream. And renting something in a decent area? Nearly impossible. Having her mother watch Brandon after school had been a blessing she never took for granted.

   Joey did her best to be mindful of how much she relied on her mother. She hated feeling like a charity case. Not that her mother seemed to mind. Now. Amy Reeves loved Brandon more than anything. Heck, more than me, Joey thought with a snort.

   She found her parents in the kitchen, having dessert. Her father was addicted to chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. And yep, he was wolfing down a bowl and lecturing her mother about something, no doubt. Andrew Reeves had definite opinions on just about everything, yet twenty-five years after saying their I do’s, the pair was still in love. Yeah, because those who judged together stayed together.

   Feeling bad about mentally dissing her parents, Joey cleared her throat and smiled at them.

   They turned to her when she entered.

   “Hi, guys. Brandon is brushing his teeth before heading to bed. I just wanted to say thanks for taking him to Carly’s, Mom. He had fun.”

   “Good.” Amy smiled. “Want some ice cream, honey?”

   “No thanks.” She paused. “I have some good news.”

   “Oh?” Her father put his spoon down and gave her his undivided attention. A head supervisor at a medical clinic in town, he lived and breathed responsibility. The man had been supporting his family, always paying his bills, and working hard forever. She doubted he knew the meaning of the word vacation. She sure couldn’t recall ever taking one with the whole family.

   “Yeah.” She felt nervous. “Today Stef told me I got the promotion. I’m the new manager, and that comes with a pay raise.”

   “Why, honey, that’s wonderful.” Her mother gave her a hug and a kiss, beaming.

   Joey felt calm then nervous, as if she stood on a tight wire waiting to fall off. Her father remained quiet as he studied her.

   “Manager, hmm? After seven years, I’d hope so.” Then he added, “Congrats, honey. We’re proud of you.”

   She blinked to keep her eyes dry. Her father so rarely said anything positive that she treasured the backhanded compliment. After a bit of chatter about her day, then her mother’s morning spent doing medical transcription from home and her father’s new doctors on staff, she left to go back to her place. She’d opened the back door when she realized she’d forgotten to mention an upcoming field trip to her mother. She shut the door and walked back toward the kitchen. When she heard her name mentioned, she slowed, still in the hallway out of sight.

   “Manager.” Her father grunted. “Jesus, she’s been working in that dump since high school. She should be a full-out partner in the place.”

   “Andrew, Joey’s done a terrific thing. Like you, she set a goal and met it. Before you know it, she’ll be running her own set of flower shops. And be reasonable. She hadn’t even been full-time until three years ago.”

   “Girl should have a master’s and a decent job by now. Hell, we should be able to rent that unit out to help with the bills. Instead it’s losing value.”

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