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My Step-Dad's Brother(4)

By:Fiona Davenport



“There’s nothing wrong with this sleepy town,” Stanley grumbled.

“Of course not, honey bear,” my mom cooed across the table at him. “But that doesn’t mean we can’t be excited about our trip to Italy, now does it?”

“How can I not be when you’re so delighted by it?”

“Only because you’re taking me on my dream trip.”

The way he looked at my mom had my eyes filling with tears. When I’d first met Stanley, I’d been worried that he was all wrong for her. He was ultra conservative and my mom was such a free spirit. But there wasn’t a doubt in my mind about them as a couple anymore because he showed her—and me—how very much he loved her.

I was sniffling a little when I felt something brush softly against my leg. A quick glance under the table had my head jerking up to stare across it at Harrison because it had been his foot I’d found there. His eyes were filled with concern... and was that anger I saw, too?

“Why’re you crying, Maggie?” His voice was a low rasp that sent goosebumps along my skin.

“Happy tears,” I hiccupped, waving him off, even as my heart raced at the look he was sending my way.

“My girl.” Mom sighed, reaching over and squeezing my hand. “She’s got such a good head on her shoulders. Straight A’s all through school. Never caused a single bit of trouble. But she’s also got the softest heart of anyone I know.”

“Which she got from her mother,” Stanley interjected. “Both my girls are sensitive souls.”

I snorted softly, knowing darn well that even though I had a soft heart, I wasn’t a ‘sensitive soul’ as he’d put it. Maybe I would have been, if I hadn’t have spent the last ten years taking care of business around the house. Making sure the bills were paid since my mom could be flighty like that. Someone had to live in the real world, and as much as I loved my mom, I knew it wasn’t going to be her.

“I don’t like seeing those pretty blue eyes filled with tears.” Harrison’s foot slid along the side of my leg again, offering comfort.

“Oh, you’ll get used to it,” my mom replied airily.

“Not if I have anything to say about it.” I saw, more than heard, his words since he spoke so lowly. But with my eyes on his lush lips, I knew what he’d said and my heart soared.

“Hush, Bunny.” The smile Stanley sent my mom’s way was soft. “Or else you’ll scare my brother off before we make it to the airport, and then what’ll we do? We can’t just leave Maggie here alone for two weeks.”

It was at this point in the conversation that I usually interjected with all the reasons they could do exactly that, but this time around I didn’t say anything. Now that I’d met him, I didn’t want to risk Stanley having a sudden about-face and deciding Harrison didn’t need to stay with me.

Stanley offered his brother an apologetic smile. “It means a lot to me that you agreed to stay here with Maggie, especially since I know how much you hate small towns like Fentonville.”

“Which just means they already have something in common,” my mom mumbled after she polished off her last bite of garlic bread.

“You’re not a fan of small towns, either?” Harrison asked me.

“Well, I’ve never really been anywhere other than a small town, but I’ve always dreamed of traveling,” I answered shyly, feeling like a stupid teenager as I admitted it.

But Harrison didn’t seem to mind at all. “Maybe I’ll take you to Miami next weekend, show you the sights.”

“Now, Harrison. She’s only seventeen.”

“Eighteen,” I interjected.

Stanley smiled at me a little ruefully. “Yes, sorry. It’s hard to think of my step-daughter being eighteen.” He turned back to Harrison. “Anyway, anything could happen to her in a city like Miami,” Stanley chided.

“Nothing bad will happen to her when she’s with me. Ever.” I shivered at the dark tone in his voice, as though he was ready to fight some imaginary foe to protect me.

“Of course not. I’m sure Harrison will take wonderful care of Magnolia for us,” my mom agreed, jumping up from the table to get the cake off the counter.

As she set it in front of me, my eyes met Harrison’s one last time before I looked down at the lit candles. Then I closed them and made my wish.

Please let Harrison want me as much as I want him.





Chapter 3


Harrison


It was great to see Bunny and Maggie pulling out another side of Stanley. Just moving in with her had been unexpected of my very traditional brother.

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