Adeline Jackson ran her numb, nimble fingers through her wavy caramel blonde hair, that came a few inches past her shoulders. Then her hands moved to her round seven-month pregnant belly. She let out a sigh as she clicked the pen in her hand as she read her divorce packet seemed more of the correct description then just papers. The forms put together were huge and took so long to read, but she was going to read every last word of the documents.
How had her life come to this? Her tired, strained eyes darted over to her soon to be legally ex-husband, he was a compelling insurance agency owner. She pulled her full bottom lip between her teeth and nibbled as she averted her gaze from the spineless man. He had cheated on her with his not so proper secretary and had gotten her pregnant even.
Now Adeline was forced to sign this stupid divorce packet. She’d barely get anything, just enough to move far away from Middletown, Ohio, not that she wanted to stay anyway. She could never look at this town again. It was for the best. And it wasn’t like her soon to be legal ex, Martin Tanner, wanted anything to do with the kids either. He signed off all rights because she’d asked him to or she would have gone for child support for them, but since he was “going to have his hands full with his new family” he didn’t see a point in keeping contact with her, or their two sons Cade, four, and Dex, two, and soon to be newborn daughter, Isabelle.
She rubbed her hand along her bulging belly as a small cramp erupted through her. She pinched her eyes shut and took a couple of deep, calming breaths and the pain subsided a little. She had done too much over the last two months trying to get ready for this day, she had gone through her things, and the kids things, anything they could use for their new life she had packed up in boxes and loaded them up in the trailer that was hooked up to her truck. Yeah, she never had been a woman for cars. She hated them. But she didn’t know how the truck was going to make it to Sparks Hollow, Texas, where her little sister Melody Jackson, lived. Pathetic and she knew it, a twenty-nine-year-old single mom of two soon to be three having to move with her twenty-five-year-old sister. All because her no-good ’husband’ couldn’t keep it in his pants.
The pain slowly subsided. As if things couldn’t be bad enough, he had the woman he was now dedicated to sitting right beside him for ’support.’ Adeline tried hard to keep her emerald green gaze fastened to the thick packet in front of her. Hard to do. The woman was five years younger than herself. She was a bleach blonde, with a pair of breasts on her that were ridiculous, she could never have competed with her or tried. She assumed after the last secretary left was when the affair had started, she had already been four months pregnant with Isabelle when Martin had come to her to tell her the news of having another woman in his life, that he had impregnated and intended to marry her. So that would make the bleach blonde support system about three months along. She was still a bit of a stick compared to her bulge, then again, she’d already had had two kids.
It was no wonder why Martin Tanner had strayed. They’d been on the rocks ever since they had had Dex, but every now and then, he would need some release and would come to her at night. Back then, she had loved him, wanted him with such a burn she didn’t think a whole tsunami could douse her, but that was then this was now. And the last time they had done anything which was seven months ago had resulted in Isabelle. Then things had gotten even worse, so, hell for all she knew he had cheated on her many times and was now just getting caught. But that information was far from the wanting to know list. It was bad enough that she knew about bleachy over there sitting by him, digging her long, perfect pink manicure into his arm.
“Just sign the damn papers!” Martin’s harsh, cruel voice broke through her thoughts.
Adeline glared at the pitiful excuse of a man, “I’m sorry, I didn’t take anything from you, and I am going to sit here, read these documents to make sure you don’t even try to take my kids from me, Martin, we’ve waited two months for this day, a few more minutes will not kill you, although it looks like it may have, so I don’t think it’s going to ruin anything If I make sure that you are really done with our children and me because you will not take them from me later on.”
“You know I don’t want those damn brats.” He glared his harsh brown gaze on her. But Adeline just glared back and continued to read everything. The paper where he had given up his rights to the kids along with documentation that he’d never try to take them, nor come into contact with them ever again seemed to be all in order.
She touched the pen to the divorce paper and signed in the correct spots. She looked to her best friend, who had her own law firm, “Can you handle the rest of this Danni?”
Her red-painted lips smiled, and sympathy was in her large almond eyes and written all over her tan face, “Sure, are you okay, Addie?”
“Yeah, just feeling a little crampy, plus I have to get the boys ready for the long trip ahead, I just need to get some pressure off my stomach,” Addie mumbled as she scooted back and adjusted her blue with white flowers maternity dress as she got up. She grabbed her purse and headed toward the door in her soundless flat blue dress shoes. She walked out of the thick, solid, dark wooden door and closed it, shutting out her old life. Twenty-nine years old, three kids, how hard could it be to start over?
“Landon Costello, you give me back my phone, now, this isn’t funny, I’m expected a very important phone call you blundering idiot!” Melody Jackson yelled at her very hot neighbor’s very hot younger brother as she began to run after him. She had just gotten home from the office and was checking her phone for a message or call from her sister when he had come up behind her and snatched her phone out of her small hands. He was so immature for a twenty-six-year-old. And that led her to be here in three-inch black pumps, a cream-colored jacket, and matching pencil skirt, chasing after one hell of a sexy firefighter who was running away from her in beat-up sneakers and a pair of red basketball shorts. Which allowed her to feast her eyes along his sweat glistened, hard toned back and for a fleeting moment before he ran away his just as toned, broad, lightly speckled chest and rippling abs?
“Oh come on, Melody Jackson, what man is it this time?” his deep voice teased as he kept running from her.
She stopped chasing him and shot daggers at him. He really was an idiot. She had been in Sparks Hollow for two years now and never had a date with a man because the idiot who was running around with her phone had caught her eye, and no one else made her feel the heat like he did.
She moved in next to his older brother when she was twenty-three when she was offered an internship while she finished her two years of college in Austin, to be a psychologist. A couple of days after she moved in, her eyes landed on this man, and boy did she fall and ache for him something fierce.
But for some reason, he never picked up on it. She rolled her eyes and huffed, if she missed her big sister’s phone call because of this idiot she was going to knock his block off along with that sexy grin of his. Too bad she’d probably miss it too much and wouldn’t do anything of the sort to him. But he definitely had been getting under her skin for the past two years, in a hot and bothersome way and an irritating way.
She glared at more when Landon began to answer the phone. “Don’t you dare answer that!” Melody yelled at him and went after him again.
“Hello?” Landon’s deep voice answered in that slow sexy drawl of his that almost turned her knees to rubber.
As she reached for the phone to pull it from his ear, he must have hit the speaker button because they were met with the sound of an upset child then her sister’s voice.
“Cade, don’t punch your brother, please, we’re heading to see Aunt Mel right now, so just be nice to him for a little while, please? Melody, it’s done, everything is done, the divorce, he even signed off his rights to the boys’ and Isabelle like he said he was going to, so we’re heading out now.”
Melody knew that tone like she was on her last thread that was close to breaking, “That’s good, Addie, that’s what you wanted, right?”
“I, I guess, you know what the snake did, though? He had her with him, sitting there right beside him, stupid bleachy, her manicured nails digging into his arms, which he probably paid to have done for her, he even called them all brats.” She let out a shaky sigh. “I was no competition even to sway him away from her, I’m such a failure and loser and an idiot for believing anything he had ever said, at one point I really thought we loved each other, now I know, I never did or if I did it was only for a short time after our marriage.”
Melody glared at Landon, this was such a private conversation but when she locked eyes with his actually soft brown eyes filled with sympathy the anger in her melted away a little, “I’m honestly not surprised he’s been throwing her in your face the last few months, but, Addie you deserved better than him from the beginning, and you still do, sweetheart, so you’re leaving now, when do you think you’ll be here?”
“I honestly don’t know, Melody, I was shooting for late tonight, but between packing up everything and the stress over the last couple of months, my back is killing me. I’ve been cramping some, and my feet are so swollen, guess you’d think a woman in my condition would be used to this by now, but I never had to pack for three people by myself the last two pregnancies.”
“Then don’t make the trip in one day, sis, please? You still have two months to go. We don’t need her any earlier than we are already going to be having her, okay? Take care of yourself, Cade, Dex, and Belle, it’s going to be okay.” Melody was trying not to cry for her big sister, and she would be so mad if she knew she was having sympathy for her.
She looked up when Landon wrapped his strong, muscular corded arm around her shoulders and pulled her close to him. She didn’t even mind that he was still a little bit sweaty and sticky.
“If you need me to, I can put you and the boys up in as many hotels as you need.”
“No, Melody, I got enough out of him for food, and the trip there, and if I’m lucky a little bit extra to help while I try to find a job, then again who the hell would want to hire a beached whale? If I decide to stop, I’ll let you know.”
“All right, I love you, Addie, and my nephews and niece, everything here is ready, your room, the boys’ room, and the nursery.” She shook her head a little when she heard another cry.
“Cade Alexander, stop being mean to your brother, I’m sorry, Melody, I better go before they burn my truck down.”
“If you need anything, let me know.” “Thanks, Melody, but you’re taking me, two boys, and soon a baby girl in that’s more than enough, I’ll see you soon.”
Melody looked up at Landon as Addie hung up, great now he knew way more than he should, her cheeks heated a little, and she turned away from the sexy firefighter. She pulled her pumps off, letting the blades of her lush, green grass tickle between her toes a little.
She dropped her pumps beside the steps as she fell to the concrete steps. She stared at the sidewalk, and her gaze was filled with muscular legs, then the man who made her blood roar crouched in front of her.
Landon reached out and tilted her head up gently by her chin, “Sorry, Melody, you okay?” “Yeah, I’m fine, I’m not going through it, my sister is.” She sighed.
“So, what was that call about? I mean, I kind of got the gist of it, but maybe you could explain it to me in a little more detail.”
“What’s there to explain? My sister just signed her divorce papers today. She is officially a single mother of three with no support. Still, me right now, she’s coming to live with me for however long she needs to along with her four-year-old and two-year-old sons. She’s seven months pregnant with a girl, she needs help, and the asshole husband of hers cheated on her I don’t know how many times but finally got caught when he got his bimbo bleach blonde secretary pregnant, so I guess he now thinks the bimbo is more important than the family he already had. Now he wants nothing to do with kids he already helped make with my sister.” Melody’s eyes widened as she spilled everything.
Landon let out a low, prolonged whistle, “Damn, that’s rough, so does she look anything like you?”
“Eh, same hair color, not sure how long it is, it’s been a while since I’ve seen her and the boys, but she has emerald green eyes instead of my blue ones.”
“So, who are you fixing her up with?”
“I’m sorry, what?”
“You must have someone in mind to eventually set her up with.”
“Really, Landon? The divorce just became final today, she still has to give birth to her daughter in two months and has two, as you heard, very rambunctious boys, hooking her up with anyone right now is out of the question.”
“Darn,” he snapped his thumb and forefinger together.
“Come on, Landon, be serious right now!” Melody pleaded with him when a different, yet very deep voice entered the conversation.
“You know this punk is never serious.” The deep voice rumbled.
Melody gazed up at the little bit older version of Landon, “Hey Nicolas,” the difference between the two men was subtle but definitely there. Nicolas was about six-three at least, with very beautiful, deep blue eyes, while Landon was six foot even, with the soft brown eyes.
They both had the same shorter style hair but not completely cropped off. There was enough for a girl to run her fingers through their dirty blonde hair and mess it up quite a bit during an exciting, hot night. They both were ripped and toned. Nicolas was also a firefighter. But he always tended to have a little bit of scruff along his chiseled face. At the same time, Landon was always clean-shaven, Nicolas was the older of the two brothers by a few years, but he’d been so nice to her when she first moved in. They still were on a friendly level for the most part, and all three of them even had cookouts together when she was feeling cheery enough to join them. But the older brother did nothing for her, Landon was the most get your blood going man she had ever met.
“I know, I don’t know why I ever thought he could be.” She smiled at them both.
“So, what are you trying to get him to be serious about?” Nicholas Costello slid his hands into the back pockets of his faded blue jeans.
Landon leaned back, his elbows on the concrete steps now since he had somehow managed to move beside her at some point and stretched his legs out a little, “Her newly divorced sister is coming to stay with her for a little bit, I was trying to see who Melody had planned to set her up with.”
“Really, little bro? The poor woman just got divorced, and you’re thinking like that?”
“Hey, she’ll need someone to show her around,” Landon leaned forward. “She has pretty emerald green eyes.” He teased his older brother.
Nicholas rolled his eyes, “Landon, you are a piece of work, Mom and Dad raised you better than this, I mean come on, they raised me for crying out loud and look how I turned out,” he turned to look at her. “So, why the sadness, Melody, you don’t want her here?”
“No, I want her here, I’m just worried how messed up she’ll be after all of this, and she does have a sixteen-hour drive ahead of her at least.”
“How long were they married?”
“Well, she was twenty-three so six years, I think,” Melody froze. “Oh no, no, no, no, six years in three days.” She stood up quickly. “Give me my phone, Landon.”
He pulled it back out of her reach making her have to lean down in front of him, and she snatched it from his hand that was behind his back. She hurriedly called Addie.
She let out a sigh when Addie answered, “Addie, are you sure you don’t want me to come get you?”
“No, I’m fine, we’re already moving, and the boys have just settled down.”
Melody nibbled on her lip a little, “How’s your back, the cramps too?” she asked as she headed into her one-story, five-bedroom, two-bath house.
Landon looked to his older brother, “This is going to be interesting.”
“Come on, bro, I’ve got the grill ready, and it’s calling your name. It is your turn to cook, you know.”
They headed out behind Nicholas’s two-story red brick house, there wasn’t anything special about it, but it was decent.
Landon began to throw the stakes on the grill while Nicholas pulled two beers out of the cooler on the wooden deck.
Nicholas sat down in his laid back, blue longue chair after handing his brother the other long neck and his deep blue gaze locked with Landon’s brown eyes, “So, pretty emerald green eyes, huh? As pretty as those blue eyes who lives next to me?”
“You know a pretty blue-eyed girl that lives next to you, and you haven’t introduced me? That’s so wrong.” He placed his hand over his heart and staggered a little as if Nicholas had shot him in the heart.
Nicholas rolled his eyes, “So, you’re telling me you really haven’t noticed Melody?” his voice turned to teasing.
Landon turned back to the grill, quickly letting out a gruff grunt. “Oh come on, you’re always over there agitating her when you’re waiting for me to get home.”
“It wouldn’t work, she’d never go out with me.” He flipped the stakes as Nicholas leaned forward his beer in his hand, and his elbows propped on his knees.
“Because you don’t let her see any side besides the teasing idiot that you are around her.” “Come off it, Nick, let it go, that’s why I don’t let her see any other side, she’s too, classy for me.”
“I don’t know, she had no problem leaning down in front of you with that low cut shirt of hers to get her phone, maybe she is into you.” Nick teased again.
Landon just grunted again, causing Nick to shake his head. Little brothers, they never learned. But, then, on the other hand, he couldn’t help but be interested in this new neighbor he was going to be getting with pretty green eyes. He just might have to investigate that little tidbit out for himself.