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Bulldozer (Hard to Love #3)
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What happens when a single mother is forced to live with a grumpy, ailing football star? The smolder turns red hot of course.
Amanda Shaw has pulled it together. It’s taken a couple of years, a boatload of hard work, and a ton of self-discipline, but she finally has her problems in a headlock. Her yoga studio in the city has become so successful she’s opening one near the beach, and her relationship with her ten year old son is improving every day. The last thing she needs is a monkey wrench thrown into her smoothly running life.
Grant Hendricks is one big monkey wrench. The four time Defensive Player of the Year, three time NFL sack leader, and all around football god has officially hit rock bottom. A devastating back injury means he may have to retire and that scares him more than doctors telling him the next hit could leave him paralyzed. All he needs is a quiet place to think and his teammate’s beach house sounds like just the place. Problem is, the woman already living there.
You know the drill, folks. This book is chock full of naughty words and steamy moments. Not for delicate sensibilities and anyone under 18.
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I learned a long time ago not to lay tracks too far ahead of Life, that she’s a fickle bitch with a mind of her own and likes to have a say in which direction I travel. It’s taught me to prepare for anything and everything…or so I thought.
“But I don’t wanna go with him,” insists the surly ten-year-old in the back seat of my Ford Explorer. “He’s toe cheese.”
That’s one I haven’t heard yet. Kind of gross but I’ll give him points for creativity.
“Excuse me? Did you just call your father toe cheese?” Squinting into the sunlight, I glance at my son in the rearview mirror and find Sam looking back with the same obstinate expression he gets when I tell him it’s time to turn off the Xbox.
Big gray eyes stare back at me from behind the new goggle glasses he has to wear for his farsightedness. Not my eyes––mine are dark blue. He got those from the father he just called toe cheese. The only things he inherited from me are his absurdly tall height for a kid his age and his shyness. It’s those gray eyes, however, that are telling me he’s ready to dig in for a fight.
“You said I can’t say shit,” he casually adds.
Nice. My hands tighten on the steering wheel and my gaze returns to the road ahead. The traffic is remarkably light on this sunny Saturday, even for mid-June. We’re on our way to the beach community of East Hampton, NY, for the summer where I’m opening a satellite location of The Bend, the yoga studio I own with my business partner and best friend, Devya Axelrod. It’s my job to get the annex up and running by the end of July, and as excited as I am about this new endeavor, I’m also bowel-cramping nervous because if I fail, we’ll take a huge financial hit that we simply cannot afford.
You guys need to expand, they said. Growth is how you stay relevant in such a competitive market, they insisted. If our business growth and expansion equals anywhere near that of my anxiety, we’ll be fine.
“That’s correct, you can’t.” This time when I glance back, I find him vacantly staring out the back seat passenger window. “Honey, those goggles are for playing basketball. Why don’t you wear your other glasses?”
“’Cause I like these,” he grumbles, pushing his brown disheveled mop of hair off his forehead. “I want to stay at the beach with you. Why can’t I?”
Hearing him sound so dejected makes my gut churn with guilt, a feeling I’m well acquainted with. And because of my old friend, guilt, I’m usually balancing between giving him everything he wants and being the parent he needs. There’s no getting out of this, though. This is beyond my control.
“It’s only two weeks,” I remind him. “Think of all the fun stuff you’ll get to do with your dad in California.” My chipper tone reeks of prime bullshit and my son being a bullshit expert sniffs it out right away.
Rolling his eyes, he pouts. “I don’t like California.”
“You were two when we left. You don’t remember California.” I swear you have to pass a bar exam to raise kids.
“Who’s gonna take care of Roxy?” Absently, he reaches out and pets his dog’s massive blockhead, staring out the window with a deeply thoughtful look on his face––a young man with the weight of the world on his small shoulders. He knows full well I’m the one that takes care of Roxy whether he’s around or not. Oblivious to the tension in the car, Roxy is happily drooling all over the new leather car seats. Excellent.
Ignoring the comment, I press my case. “And you can call him Dad, or Ronan. You can even call him Mr. McCabe. But I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to call him in pronouns.” Sam kicks the back of the passenger seat. “Or toe cheese,” I wince.
Yep, there it is again. Whatever has become the new normal, his answer to every discussion we have lately. And yet I don’t have the heart to correct him. He’s had to suffer the consequences of my crappy parenting skills. As far as I’m concerned, he’s entitled to complain.
Ronan is a virtual stranger, one that was forced upon him six months ago when his father came unexpectedly back into our lives. I use the term “father” loosely because we haven’t seen hide nor hair of him in seven years, much too busy living his own life. He knew where to find us. He just chose not to.
Regardless, now Ronan insists on spending time with his son and I certainly don’t want him taking me to court. Which he’s insinuated he would do if I don’t cooperate.
“You can’t make me talk to him,” Sam mutters. “And Uncle Cal said I could stay with them.” He kicks the back of the seat again. If I wasn’t traveling at forty miles per hour, I’d be banging my head against the steering wheel right about now.