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Be Mine (Jackson Boys #2)
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At twenty years old, Lainey Wilson has made enough mistakes for a lifetime. She’s gotten herself knocked up by a cruel, uncaring man, lost her home, and found herself outside of a ramshackle bar with a crying baby and a broken purse.
When Nick Jackson, the Mustangs’ new rookie quarterback, swoops in like her savior, all she wants to do is fall into his arms. There’s just one problem… she’s sworn off football players and men for good.
He’s charming, eager, and sexy as hell, but Nick’s not the man for her. No matter what her body says.
Besides, she’s got bigger problems to fix such as how she’s going to feed her child, where she’s going to lay her head, and how to stay hidden from her ex. There’s no room for flirtation, a hand on the small of her back, or even the way he makes her daughter smile.
Nick Jackson isn’t in her plan now or ever.
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At the age of twenty, I’d made enough mistakes for a lifetime. One of those mistakes is currently losing his head fifteen feet away from me.
“You’ve got to be kidding me! I’m already saddled with some third-round rookie this year. I don’t have time for this shit.” Chip Peters’ voice bleeds through the closed den door. Despite his gobs of money earned from his NFL contract, he’d only sprung for a duplex for his mom, and a cheap one at that. I’m two rooms away and can hear their entire conversation through the thin walls. I try to shut out their voices and re-apply myself to my task at hand. The tile floor in this bathroom isn’t going to clean itself.
“It’s not going to take but two jerks of a cow’s tail,” his mom responds. “There’s got to be something up at that big stadium that Lainey can do. Mr. Marvola said she was a very hard worker. My floors have never been cleaner.”
Chip makes a disgusted sound. “Even the janitors at the Mustang stadium have at least a high school degree. That Valdez chick dropped out at seventeen.”
That Valdez chick. It’s a good thing that I stopped caring what Chip Peters thought of me years ago or my body would be burning with shame. Instead, it’s anger and self-directed disgust at ever thinking that he was a decent person. I blow out a frustrated breath and scrub harder, pretending that the hard ceramic beneath my knees is really Chip’s face. It’s a decent motivator.
“Well, that’s because she got pregnant. Besides, I think she has her GED. I’m sure if you said something, the team would hire her on. You’re the quarterback, for goodness sake.”
“Mom, you’ve got to stop doing charity for people who are a waste of your time. Valdez is probably going to snort up any money she makes anyway. Why do you even care? You’re rich now. You don’t have to pretend to care about your trashy neighbors.”
We are not trashy, Chip. I slap the rag into the bucket and wring it out. We’re poor. There’s a difference between trashy and poor. Like Chip’s actual garbage and he’s worth millions.
“Now, Chip, the Valdezes helped me out when I was young and raising you by myself. It’s only right that I help them now if I can. Guadalupe Valdez has a touch of dementia and really needs full-time care from her daughter. Having Lainey and the baby around is causing a lot of problems for that family—” Mrs. Peters’ voice lowers enough that I can’t make out what she says, but I can make a good guess because Mrs. Peters is the first person that my momma goes to when she has a complaint about me.
Granted, in my twenty years, I’ve given Momma a lot of ammunition. It’s a miracle she still lets me in the front door of the house, so when she criticizes me, which is about every time she opens her mouth, I grin and bear it. It’s not like I have a real defense. I got knocked up at age seventeen, refused to name the baby daddy, and dropped out of high school to support myself and my kid.
Since I don’t have any education and zero experience, manual labor is all I can do, and in this small town the only work I’ve been able to scrounge up is cleaning houses, but it’s not enough to keep Cassidy in formula and diapers. Daycare is almost as scarce as work. I need to move to a bigger city.
When Chip got traded from Seattle to Dallas, Momma couldn’t stop talking about how it’d be a real good thing if I got a job in the city.
Just for once, do as you’re told, Momma said. Her voice was so tired. I don’t have time to worry about you and that kid of yours.
I can get another job, I argued, but Momma wasn’t having it. She’d packed up my things, gave me five hundred dollars and a handgun which was essentially her way of saying it was time to take care of myself.
Mrs. Peters seized on this and the two cooked up a plan to get Chip to help out. I knew he wouldn’t help. If he saw me lying in in the middle of the road, he’d accelerate and then back up and drive over my bones again.
He hates me. He hates Cassidy. He wishes I would just disappear. Hauling me to Dallas with him is about the last thing on this green earth that he wants to do.
“Maybe the little shit should have thought of that before she got knocked up,” Chip says.
“Maybe you should’ve kept your dick to yourself,” I mutter under my breath. I dump the dirty water down the toilet and grab my cleaning supplies. He’s lucky I don’t spill the whole story to his mother, but he knows my lips are sealed tight. I don’t want anyone to know that story. Just thinking about it myself makes me sick.