Protecting His Forever

By: LeAnn Ashers

“Oh my God! I’m so sorry. Do you need me to take you to the doctor?” I rush out quickly. Kane grimaces dramatically and clutches his hand to his chest. Way to go Syd. You broke the man’s hand.

“What do you need me to do?” I plead with him. Guilt swarms through me after all he did for you. You repay him back by breaking his hand in the door.

“You can go on a date with me this Friday night.” His voice void of emotion but his eyes show his amusement.

“Huh?” I stare at him like he’s grown two heads.

His injured thumb brushes over my cheek bone, and butterflies swarm my belly. Shuttering I bite my lip to control my reaction. “This Friday night, be ready. I’ll be here to pick you up at 7,” he tells me in a low voice and then steps away from me and down the steps.

I stand frozen in shock for a few seconds. Did he just play me? He just fucking played me!

“I’m going to kill you!” I yell after him.

He gives me a smirk and chuckles slightly. “You heard me, baby. Dress casual.” He winks and climbs into his truck. My mouth opens and closes many times not knowing what to say. He starts his truck and is gone before I can refuse. Holy hell. Slapping my hand against my face, I walk into my house and collapse against my door.

Chapter Four

Climbing out of my car, I hear my mother yell, “Oh, my baby!

"Hey, Mom.” I walk up the steps. She all but runs toward me and tackles me into a hug. My mom is a hugger—big time. She grabs my cheeks and squishes them together. “You look so cute!”

“Thanks, but I’m still mad about the whole hospital incident,” I huff and walk in the house. I catch her grin from the corner of my eye. I haven’t left the house since I left the hospital. I wanted to be alone and my mom respected that.

My mom is unbelievably beautiful. She has dark brown hair, beautiful brown eyes, and freckles covering her nose and cheeks. My mom could pass as my sister. She had kids young—just barely eighteen when she had Ethan. We never knew our dad, and she won’t talk about him no matter how much I beg. We didn’t have much growing up, but we had each other and moved every six months until I was a freshman in high school when we finally made Raleigh, Texas our home.

She laughs as she leads me into the kitchen.

“Ha-ha, laugh it up, Mom.”

“Oh come on, baby. That was a good prank.” She gives me a huge smile before wiping her tears away.

“Yes, it was, Mom. Especially since Kane was the one that handed me my clothes.” I scowl at her. She presses her lips together hard, and her whole face turns red trying to hold in her laugh.

“Just laugh, Mom, and get it over with.” I sigh and sit down at the island.

The smell of fried food hits me. My belly growls in anticipation.

“Kane saw your Pooh Bear panties!” She points at me and bends over laughing.

“That sure didn’t faze him, considering,” I mutter under my breath.

“What?” she whispers and walks over to me.

“Nothing, Mom.” I sigh and bang my head against the top of the island.

“Oh my God! Did Kane come see you? Come on, tell me!” she squeals and shakes my shoulder.

Raising up, I look up at her. “Yes, Mom. He asked me on a date. Wait, no. He told me to be ready at a certain time, and that was that.”

“Good.” She grins and turns around, piling food onto a serving plate.

“Good?” I repeat with an arched eyebrow.

“Honey, you’re a stubborn woman and knowing you, you would have turned him down.” She doesn’t turn around, just continues piling food onto the plate.

She’s right. I never date. Not that I don’t want to, but the truth is that every single date I have been on has been a disaster. Most are too grabby, and the others I don’t feel anything for at all. I’ve never even had a serious relationship.

Looking around the kitchen, I see an abnormal amount of food littering the kitchen. “Are you expecting company?”

“Your brother and some special guest is coming. Plus, Chase and…” She trails off to look at me.

“Kane.” She wags her eyebrows at me.

“Mom, don’t even start!” I point my finger at her. “It’s not even like that.”

“Sure, if you say so, baby.” She winks and goes back to her task.

Throwing my hands up in frustration, I hop off the stool. Walking through the house, I take a moment to admire the décor. Her house is as country as it gets—solid wood with horse shoes everywhere. This house was in bad shape when we got here, but it was ours. Mom saved for years to settle down on a farm, and it took months to get everything fixed the way she wanted it.

Opening the screen door, I go to the barn where my mom’s horse is. I remember the day she got this horse.

Ethan was coming home from his first deployment, and I was home on a break from college. His truck thundered up the driveway with a horse trailer on the back. Confused, I walked down the steps. My mom didn’t care about anything but seeing her baby boy, and she ran off the porch and opened Ethan’s door before he even shut the engine off. She pulled him out of the truck and gathered him into a hug, sobbing against his shoulder.

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