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Raw Rebirth (RAW Family #3)
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It had been six years since my world was turned upside down.
If I had the chance to go back and do things differently though?
I’d pick him a thousand times. A million times. For eternity.
I guess not much has changed.
My name is Alexa Ballentine, and I am still in love with my stalker.
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A.J. was a smart boy. He was only five years old but knew the value of a secret.
He didn’t like keeping secrets from his mum, and when he asked her if it was okay to lie, she told him it was never okay to be dishonest.
It didn’t make sense.
A.J. had heard his mother lie before.
Why was she able to lie when he wasn’t?
His mother explained that sometimes people told lies to stop another person from being sad, and these were called “little white lies.”
A.J. thought about this.
His secret would hurt his mum, he’d been told, so it wasn’t really a lie, he thought.
Keeping his secret was more a “little white lie.” As his mother tucked him in to bed, he smiled up at her. “I love you,” he told her, and he meant it.
His mother’s smile softened. “I love you more, honey,” she responded quietly as she ran gentle fingers through his messy hair.
She blew him a kiss as she left his room, turning off the light and closing the door behind her.
A.J. lay in his bed, awake and waiting.
He wasn’t sure how long he waited, but when he heard the window rattle then lift in excruciating slowness, he smiled excitedly.
His little white lie was here.
Daddy was home.
I heard him. How could I not?
But I continued to drive in silence. I wasn’t really in the mood for conversation; however, the little monster in the back seat had other ideas.
My chest felt heavy, weighed down.
What a day.
Everything felt tight. My insides, my jaw, my grip on the steering wheel. Even my eyes felt tightly fixated on the road. But that wasn’t A.J.’s fault, and I wouldn’t let him know I felt like I was dying on the inside.
A sigh left me.
Daddy Day was never a good day for me.
He didn’t answer for a long while, and when a frown tipped my brow and I glanced back at him through the rearview mirror, his eyes were fixed on me, unblinking.
My heart ached as I looked into his soft brown eyes.
His father’s eyes.
My nose began to tingle. And just like that, fresh tears rolled down my cheeks. I swiped at them quickly and blinked rapidly, trying in vain to quell the familiar sting of sadness.
Jesus Christ. Get a grip.
My son, he didn’t like to see me upset. His voice was little over a whisper and near desperate. “Don’t cry, Mummy.” His voice steeled, and he muttered, “I don’t like it.”
I heard his daddy in those hardened words.
Ugh. He was killing me.
We drew to a stop at a set of traffic lights and I took my hands off the wheel, looking back and forcing a smile. I spoke softly, almost pacifying. “Sorry, bud.”
It was his father’s birthday, and we were driving home from the cemetery. Every single time I saw that gleaming white marble headstone, it took me back to a time I chose to remember, when I would be better off forgetting. That time so long ago, yet so vividly fresh in my memories. No matter how much time passed, I was stuck there, in that time. In a place where I was wild and careless and in the arms of the man I loved.
Make no mistake about it. I was dangerously in love.
Recklessly in love.
The lights turned green and I twisted back, driving on, once again gripping the steering wheel like a lifeline. We were halfway home before I realized I was driving on autopilot, not at all paying any attention to my surroundings.
My heart lurched in apprehension. I swallowed hard and shook my head in a poor attempt to snap myself out of my stupor.
Maybe conversation wasn’t such a bad idea after all. “How about we go to the grocery store, get a bunch of junk food, and watch a movie tonight?”
The wide smile on my face was genuine then. There was only one man in my life, and he glued my heart together with mud, giggles, and drawings crafted with crayon and love.
A.J. smiled, my toothless monster, but as quickly as it came, it went. “What day is it?”
I couldn’t help my quiet laughter.
What a question?
Amused bewilderment stunned me and my brows rose. “Uh…” I tried to quell the urge to laugh again. “Sunday.”
He blinked down at his lap before looking back at me through the mirror. He shook his head before staring out the window. “No, thank you.”
Confusion marred my brow.
He was passing up junk food? Since when?
I didn’t want to push, but I was slow to realize I needed time with my son, today more than ever. I was going to have to sweeten the pot. “Maybe we could stay up really late, sleep in, and then go out for pancakes tomorrow.”
Ooh. I smiled inwardly.
He looked tempted.
“What about school?”
Did he even know me? I was a cool mom. What was one day of missing school to bond with my son? “Forget about it. I’ll tell them you’re sick.”