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Chapter 11

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Later that spring night, Emma and Mary sat hip to hip on the porch swing. The temperature had dropped considerably but they were both comfortable huddled close together in hooded sweatshirts. Also, the mosquitoes hadn't hatched yet in Michigan, so it was tolerable to be outside in the evening without smelly bug spray.

It had been a good day for the two of them, hanging out in Mary's bed watching movies, eating salty buttery popcorn, and being generally super-lazy together. Emma had loved every minute of it. She'd even let her mother pick the movie, against Emma's better judgment. It was one they'd watched before. The lead guy was ultra-hot, but it was more than a little corny if you thought about it. Seriously? What girl would really let a boy have her underpants to win a bet?

"Are you sure you want to do this tonight? We could do it tomorrow." Mary draped an arm over Emma's shoulder and pulled her closer. The chains on the porch swing squeaked loudly in protest.

There was nothing that Emma wanted to do more. She didn't care that it was already pretty late. "Yes, I still want to talk to him, and I'm not that tired. We had that nap earlier."

"I know. You were out cold." Mary elbowed Emma. "You drooled all over Jake's pillow and everything."

"Shut up. You were snoring." Emma elbowed her mother back. She'd thought she'd fallen asleep next to a chainsaw. Emma wondered how Jake could put up with that.

"I don't snore," Mary protested.

"You're a big fat liar."

Mary visibly recoiled. Emma hadn't intended for her jab to land so effectively, but she wasn't about to retreat now.

She laid her head on Mary's chest. "Besides I've waited three years for this day, I don't want to wait another night."

"And you still want to be the one to tell him?" Mary asked.

"I do."

Emma was more nervous than she was letting on, but the hard part was over confronting her mother. Emma was fairly certain that she knew how Jake would react. Her mother had been the wild card. She could've flat out denied her indiscretion or gone completely ballistic on Emma for being a little snoop. Luckily, after Mary's initial freak-out, she'd attempted to explain the situation and Emma truly loved her for that. Emma had come to terms with it long ago. Her mother and Jake were people, and people make mistakes. Also, Emma had a feeling that her dad had his own secrets. She wasn't going to judge anyone? All she wanted was the truth.

"Do you know what you're going to say?"

"Not really." Emma shrugged. "You'd think I would for as many times as I've rehearsed this conversation in my head, but I've forgotten everything."

Mary ran fingers through Emma's long blond hair. "Don't worry. It's Jake. You'll be fine."

"How much longer do you think he'll be?"

The time on Emma's phone showed it was a few minutes past eleven o'clock.

"I don't know. The game should have been over by ten, but the traffic could be tricky afterward. I'm sure he'll come straight home. It's not like he wants to spend any more time with his dad than he has to."

"When did he get out of prison?"

"A few months ago."

"Did he get out early?" Emma asked.

Before Mary could answer, Jake's car glided to a stop in front of the house. His jaw looked clinched, and his lips were pressed tight together. The night must have been long with his father, and Emma wasn't about to make it easier. Jake turned off the engine and stepped out into the street. When he saw the pair of them sitting under the porch light, his head cocked to the side, and he walked quickly up to the house.

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by Henry Scott
With his new family caught in the crossfire, Jake Bryant races to sto...
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