The Way Home

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Summary

After escaping her ex Marie Alderman finds herself in new home and town after to years she is settled and starting to live her life again with the help of a hand full of friends and three soldiers she wrote for two years who have now returned home in the same town she is in. Will her ex come back and drag her back to the hell she knew?Will her neighbor ruin eveything shes built for herself? Will she finally get the life she worked hard for with her now ex soldier?

Genre:
Romance
Author:
Stephanie Sanchez
Status:
Ongoing
Chapters:
17
Rating:
5.0 1 review
Age Rating:
18+

Chapter 1

The Way Home

Breathe in…Breathe out… Breathe in… Breathe out. She said to herself looking out her window. With a small smile she looked down to make sure she had everything she needed. Phone, Keys, purse, letters, ok ready she thought as she walked out the door and locked it behind her. “Good morning Marie.” Looking up to the familiar voice “good morning Dylan.” “What are you up to today” he said with a smile. Walking over to open her door to her Lincoln Navigator. “Thank you”, she said while he shut the door. “I am off to drop these letters and to visit two very great friends.” “Oh really tell the Medinas I said hello.” He laughed tapping her door. “Hey if you get a little lonely tonight you could always pop over for dinner. You know I’d love the company.” Dylan said with a wink. “Well thank you for the offer but I think I will have to pass this evening. You know how Sunday’s.” “Ya well you know you always worth the shot.” He smiled deeply. “Drive safe Marie.” “have good day Dyl”, she said pulling out of the drive. She pulled up the long country farm road after she went through the post offices drive through mail box. Mr. Medina was rocking on the front porch with his sweet tea next to him as always on the small side table they have on the front porch with two rocking chairs and if you follow the wrap around porch to the west side of it there was a huge swing to sit on to enjoy the sunset. Mr. Medina was reading a book, one that was on their reading list. Marie had a special friendship with the Medinas when she first moved into the small town just a little over two years ago. She met Calli Medina in a grocery store she was having trouble putting some heavy waters in her cart they struck up a conversation and have stayed close since Marie became like the daughter they never had. “What chapter are you on pop?” She said walking up with fresh pastries and other little groceries. “Well the killer, whoever he is just is walking around her house as she asleep. I think it’s the boy whose trying to hard for that date you know how weird they obsess what yall call them now a days fan boys.” Pop said with a chuckle. “ I personally don’t call them that I may call them stalker.” She giggled back. “What all ya got there little one?” Marie smiled she was barely 5’0- 5’1. It’s Sunday pop you know I have to come have linner with my favorite people.” “Linner? Is it because it’s late lunch earlyish dinner? Is it because were old that you come along these times or because you are?” He said laughing deeply. “I resent that now pop I can’t help it I would rather stay home than go out and party in your terms. I’ve been there done that nothing good comes out of it, and it’s just not my scene I like to stay home and read or work or binge watch tv.” “I’m just messing with you. You know I talked to my son today him and his friends are coming home after 5 long years for me and Cal hell for them too. I can’t wait for you two to finally meet. He’s still single ya, know they all are in fact.” “Now Neil leave that baby be and stop pushing her. Although I agree you both would hit it off greatly.” Callie said with a wink. “My god dear child what did you bring this time?” Mrs. Medina said looking at the bag. Well I thought fried chicken, mashed potatoes, fresh bread, some green beans and some fruit sounded good, and it’s Sunday so I share a favorite meal with my favorite people.” “Oh, honey we almost your only people you should really get out more dear.” “Now, I’m generally hurt that both of you calling me out for being a boring old little woman.” She faked being hurt grabbing her chest. “Oh yeah Dylan send his best wishes and happy thoughts.” “Oh ya the neighbor. He was a sweet guy.” Callie said. “Too sweet for my taste, he just wants our girl here. I don’t approve he is a good guy but not a guy for you. He is a guy to be your friend but it will never be enough and than before you know it hell be sneaking peaks of ya through your window.” Neil said holding up his book. “Ok, that’s enough of that for today you know nothing about Dylan except for the fact that he’s a doctor in town who likes all the sports teams you loathe.” Callie said taking his book away leaving him to grumble. “Well I’m just going to get inside and start on Linner.” After she got going Callie made her way in there with her, and pop sat at the kitchen table eating one of the fresh pastries. Looking up and listening to his two favorite girls. Marie was going to be 28 in two months time she was young and educated she was a nurse in the hospital but she got every weekend off it was a small town she stayed on for twelve hours a day but she made a shift to do eight hours a day and in a doctors private practice and would come out to help the Medinas she took care of them but she wouldn’t take their money. They were both getting up there in age and needed some extra help on somethings around the house. Marie would come and clean the house with Callie and fix equipment with the farm hands and Neil. The were the towns main source of everything from milk to meat they had at least fix major farms throughout town and even the next town over. “So did you mail your letters today my dear?” Neil asked with a thoughtful smile. “I did. It’s actually my last letters back to them. They are also getting to leave and come home but they have my number and will keep in touch and will still write I think.” “I’m so thankful for people like you my dear not everyone would write a couple of lonely soldiers. You still won’t tell us their names though huh?” She said with a wink. “Nope.” Marie said popping the p loudly and with a smile and blush. “IF you ask me I think you got feelings for that one who calls you every so often I wouldn’t doubt if he came and collected you for himself. No man is going to write to you everyday and make a phone call every night or everynight he can if he isn’t emotionally invested Marie.” Marie stopped and blushed I doubt seriously a guy who is honestly amazing like him is going to want to come and collect a damaged woman like me. He deserves better. He’s so smart, he gives the best advice. He’s voices is alluring, I honestly don’t think I would have gotten through the last two years without him , or you guys or his friends.” Marie said with a small smile. “I know that man from home did you wrong honey, but you got yourself a fresh start here, you are safe and you damn sure are not damaged.” Callie said cupping Marie’s cheeks. “I don’t know what that boy did to you my child but one name and a car ride I could fix that problem for ya real quick.” Neil said in a serious tone, and she knew he was super serious one thing about Neil Medina he was a man whose personality demanded respect and he would not tolerate anyone messing with his family, workers, or friends. “I’m good pop. I’ll keep it in mind though.” “Anyman would be lucky to have you and a fool to past up a chance.” Neil added. After their meal they made their way to watch the sunset on the porch a couple of farm hands joined them for sweet tea and they laughed talked shared stories of the workers failed dates of the weekend. When the phone rang Marie knew it was their only son who was calling them for a little bit like usual, she knew it was time to go so they could enjoy their conversation. They missed him terribly. Kane would be calling soon anyway with the guys. “It’s time for to head out before it gets to dark mama Callie.” “Are you sure?” “Yup.” “Ya she’s here she’d actually getting ready to leave. Let me give you to your mother so I can say bye to her hopefully she’ll be around when yall get here. What? Yes I go room for all three of ya we even cleaned out one of the back houses in the far back it’s about three- to four bedroom with three bathrooms you guys will be set. Here talk to your mother.” Neil gave the phone to his wife, she took it happily after hugging Marie and started talking to her son excitedily. “One more week pop and you get your boy back.” She said with a smile. “I’ll sleep so much better when their actually home.” “Their?” “He is bringing his two bestfriends home they’ve been together since kindergarten. I’ll be happy to have all four of my kids home on Sundays linner.” He smiled hugging Marie tightly, she smiled back knowing she was the fourth one. I’d sleep even better if you and my son were giving me grandbabies but I’ll take what I can get at the pace I can get it.” Marie shoved him slightly they bothed laugh. “I’m leaving now goodnight pop.” It was dark when Marie pulled in; her phone rang as she got out of the car. Marie had an instant smiled upon her face she knew it was Kane and her other boys. “Hey” she said in calm happy voice. “Hey.” She heard but weirdly she heard it in four voices and one closer than normal. Looking up she saw that Dylan was outside about to make his way back. “Oh, my bad Marie I thought you were talking to me.” Dylan said with a chuckle. “Well I guess I’ll leave you to your call and I’ll see you in the morning?” “Ya, goodnight Dyl.” Marie unlocked the door and locked it right back as she got inside her house. It was a three bedroom two bath house she rented. “Who was that Marie are you ok you need me to come handle someone?” “No Tank I’m good but I appreciate the love though.” Marie said. “Hey Marie, how are you doing did you send my candy?” “Yes Bear I sent it out in todays letters. It will be the last one I send over to you by this time next week you’ll be home to buy them yourself.” “But I like when you send it makes me feel special.” “Well just have to wait and see buy you guys know you’re special to me.” She said happily. “Ok that’s enough you vultures give me my phone back.” You could hear shuffling around and the sound of Tank and Bear and Kane wrestiling around getting hurt. “Guys? Kane?” “I’m here, I’m here. Just making my way away from all these annoying ass boys.” He said with a chuckle She couldn’t help but laugh when she heard Bear screamed back you know you love my perfect yet now bruised ass. She laugh deeply. “I don’t think you understand how much I really love that sound.” Kane said honestly. “Thank you.” She said turning red. “Marie I swear I can feel you blushing.” She got redder. “SO hows your day?” “It was good, nice change of subject by the way. Hey look I know were coming home in a week but me and the boys have been wanting to tell you for a long time now but you live in hometown and that’s where were headed this coming weekend.” “That is amazing how could you guys keep that from me for almost two years honestly we just wanted to surprise you and show up in person.” “Well that would truly have surprised me. Why tell me now?” “Marie I’ve grown close and attached to you over the two years we started writing. I think you are an incredible person you are selfless, kind, giving, honest, and judging by your pictures you are truly beautiful and I know that I wouldn’t have gotten through this far without you and those other tow nit wits I wanted to personally thank you for everything you’ve done for us, said to us, being there for us hell even for the things you made and or sent to us. I’m so thankful for you. I was in such a dark place as you were when we started this so long ago it feels like now and I finally feel like I have something to come home for besides my parents, and of course these guys. I wanted to ask you in person but honestly I don’t think my heart could wait that long. I wanted to know if I could take you out on a date when we come home?” Marie stood there shocked. “I have to say I didn’t see that coming. I honestly can say that I’ve grown close to all you guys and I’m so happy to have had you guys in my life even though we haven’t met in person yet. I truly cherish every bit of time I got with you and the boys rather itd be the phone or the letters. I always looked forward to writing your letters daily and receiving them every week. I have to say that I have grown attached to you also. I never thought someone like you could want a chance with someone like me we both know I’m damaged in that area in life. Are you sure you want that chance I mean I could have sent you a bad picture I could be like 5’6 500 pound woman whose cocked eye and drools when she talks with her lisp is that a risk you really want to gamble on?” Kane couldn’t help the deep laugh that rolled out of him. “That was a really thought out description that truly ran wild in your mind baby girl, but I know that picture you sent me is the real thing. I also know you are not damaged if you are than what the hell are me and the boys. It’s ok to have PTSD Marie hell if me and the boys weren’t so screwed up in the head already before we got here we’d probably have it to I guess well find out soon enough. You are worth every risk and gamble I want to take. I don’t even want to date to be honest I rather just have you be my girlfriend now but I figured you needed to be eased into something like this for all the hell you went through, but I will go as slow or fast as you need and I will be there with you every step of the way. I will always be here for you Marie I just think you’re worth so much more than what you give yourself credit for and I know that I can make you happy, we could make each other happy. Hell I all I have to do is think of you and I’m so far gone. Please just think about it promise you’ll think about it talk about it tomorrow with your Ricki next door if you have to or that other couple you see all the time just please say you’ll honestly think about it and not shut me out. I know I’ve asked a couple times before but I just have to know now that it can actually happen with us coming home.” “Marie was silent or a minute they did talk a couple times about a possibility of going on a date or something along those lines whenever he would be freed from his duty. The thought always made her happy deep down. Maybe it was time to move on with her life. It wasn’t so scary thinking of moving on when she thought of the future and honestly when she pictured Kane it made her kinda look forward to it. No one else but him made her heart pick up at just the thought of him, and her stomach turn, and knees weak. She’s never see his face but she did knew him. “I don’t need to take to the couple or go talk to Ricki. I don’t need anytime to mull it over Kane.” Marie said peacefully. “What do you mean?” She could hear the worry and panic in his voice. He was thinking maybe this time he pushed to far his heart felt like it was about to be ripped from his chest he knew it was a long shot and that dating and men were sensitive subject he kind of wished he didn’t open his big mouth now. “I don’t need to think It over Kane, we’ve been at this for over two years I know you. Or at least I hope I do. Kane I just think at this point in my life right now I need to move on and just start living again. Your right. A date would be nice but I think the term friend is too small or how I feel for you. So that being said if you would like me to be your girlfriend I say yes. I can’t wait to see you in person and get a proper hug but we will have to take this at a slowish pace. Is that… ok?” “That is perfect I’ll do whatever you want to do baby girl as long as you give us an honest shot. I cant believe this you have no idea how happy you just made me. Seriously oh this is going to be the longest week of my life I’ll tell you that right now. You had my heart on the line not going to lie I was seriously freaking out for a minute thinking I just ruined everything. I’m so freaking estatic right now.” She could hear his happiness through the phone she could almost feel his smile. It made her own grow from ear to ear. “What the hell is wrong with you making all this noise over there. What’s wrong with your face.” She heard Bear ask him Tank adding on.” “It’s called a smile you botard and she said yes.” She was giggling hearing Kane Talk to them. “That’s awesome she said you could take her out?” Tank asked.” “Yes and No, she said yes to being my girl.” “You actually asked her that I thought we told you to wait . I thought easing her into your dumb ass would have been the best thing to do.” “I couldn’t help it I couldn’t wait anymore you know how I am about her.” Her heart felt like it would explode, she realized they somehow forgot she was still on the phone and they probably didn’t wan ther to hear all that. “Why is you phone still lit up, dude!! Are you still on the phone with her like she just heard all that?” Bear asked laughing. “Oh… crap. Baby girl you still there?” It was Tank. They all called her baby girl since she was so small and sweet. “Give that back dude that’s my baby girl go find your own.” They heard her laughing. “When are you guys coming?” We should be there Saturday, I would like to see you than if that’s ok? I won’t hold you to long and the guys will be with me so there’s no pressure we just. Well we just wan to meet and say thank you for all you’ve done in person.” I would love to see you guys if you need me to I could pick you up from wherever you are coming in from?” “No no we will make our own way we have no idea when or where we just know Saturday. I don’t want you waiting somewhere and than we had to get another way in. We have your address memorized from the letters. We will come to you baby girl, don’t worry I know you run your errands in the morning and you go see your friends every Sunday afternoon.” He chuckled. “I forget you know me so well. Maybe I am to boring I do the same things. Maybe when you come home we can find a new normal and gt me out of such a rut?” “Well I know it’d make Ricki happy? How is he by the way?” “He still Ricki, he’ll be sad not to talk to you guys but he will be happy to meet you in person you know how protective he can get.” “Yes that’s why I like him so much he looks out for you for us especially me.” He said that last part in a whisper. “You know our boy there has told me about your other neighbor Dyson?” “You mean Dylan?” She said with a giggle. “Ya sure Dylan, I hear he has been trying to get you to go out since you moved in. I just wanted to ask if he’s doing anything that makes you feel uncomfortable I know how you get with akward situations and pressure.” HE asked curiously. “No, Dylan is a good neighbor and he is a good friend we’re not super close or anything he is a doctor. His office is actually across the street from mine.” “You mean the new office you work at last couple months to take care of your friends?” “Yes, actually their son is coming home he’s a soldier too their over the moon to have him come back he also comes home this week. Your going to have to meet them next one of these days they’ve been trying to get me to go out with their son, now I can finally tell them I’, happily taken they’ll be excited to meet you. As for Dylan he’s harmless he doesn’t make me feel uncomfortable or pressure me about anything. He actually knows that I write to you guys. You’ll be able to meet him too an that will put any worries to rest. You’ll see all harmless.” “Well that makes me feel better knowing my girl talks about me.” He teased. “Awe man, sweetheart I gotta go. Their reeling us in. I will call you tomorrow. I won’t be able to call for a couple days I will be able to make contact with you again on Saturday, but just know you made my whole week don’t worry about us and we will see you soon baby girl. Sleep well.” “Good night Kane. I look forward to it.” They hung up. Her heart caught in her chest this was really happening after two years of escaping him. Changing homes, cities, everything to escape him and the nightmares life she lived the hell he put her through there are some nights where when she dreams she is back there PTSD is truly a horrid monster. Marie began to have a small panic attack. Breathe in Breathe out. Thinking of Kane it help calm her down. She got ready for bed laying down she got a bit of a twisted stomache, her heart skipped a beat she was finally becoming happy..

The next morning she walked into her kitchen dressed in her scrubs for work. Ricki had let himself in with his spare key he has been her friend since junior high he knew everything about her and everything had happen to her. He’s also took it upon himself to leave with her. He has been her rock. He was a physical therapist and a Zumba teacher on Saturday mornings. She could never keep up with him that was for sure. Not after all the bruising done to her bones she would have to quit after awhile he’s work outs were way to intense. “Morning sweet pea” he said drinking her coffee. “Good morning Ricki. So how was the big date last night?” “Damn girl, he was cute, he was fit, he was smart, he was boring as hell. I tried to get to know him but either he was to uncomfortable or nervous it just did not work out. I paid and left.” “I’m sorry Ricki.” “So how is Kane and the boys did they get to call last night?” They made their way out the door so they could both get to their cars for work. “They did, they wish you well. They are coming home Saturday and they all live here in this town. So guess we will all be seeing more of each other soon; and of course that could also be because I agreed to be Kane’s girlfriend last night.” She said snagging a drink from the coffee. “SHUT YOUR ASS ARE TOU SERIOUS!!! Ricki said so loud it caught Dylans attention. “Dude you guys ok?” Dylan said laughing loudly at Rickis antics. “Are you serious Marie? Are you ok with this?” “I am it’s time I take back my life, I am finally ready and he’s been there for me through all of this. I am actually excited about it.” “What’s going on?”Dylan asked. “I’ll tell you what’s going on bud, our girl here finally has a man! A soldier no less.” Ricki said with pride. “I gotta go but we will talk later I will call you.” “Bye Ricki.” “So it’s true you got a boyfriend? One of the soldiers you talk to?” Dylan asked a little disappointed. “Ya, I did. They are free from their duty this weekened and they live here so I guess you’ll be getting to know them soon.” “I guess so. I look forward to meeting the man lucky enough to be able to be your side.” He said with a wink. “Have a good day Dylan I’ll see you later.” “Maybe we can go for lunch sometime this week.” He asked quickly. “I wish I could but I’m backed up at the office this week. I’ll see you around though.” They both drove off to work

The week went by so fast as promised she did not here from Bear, Tank or even Kane at all it was Saturday about eleven a. m. and she just got back from the store putting her food away. She did put on a huge pot roast in her crock pot and made mashed potatoes and homemade pot of beans with fresh bread and a green salad ready in the fridge. She made a big meal because she was not sure when the boys would come in or how hungry if they even would be when they got there worse case Dylan and Ricki get a good meal, and she doesn’t have to cook for tomorrow. She was nervous about today Ricki was still in his class and would not be for a few hours. There was a knock at the door pulling her out f her daze. There stood three beautifully dark skinned men at her door all smiling like idiots or so they thought. It was enough to catch Dylans attention who just got done mowing his lawn and he was just finishing cleaning up. The men watched him until the door opened and he watched them back with an odd look. He knew who they were, but not which one was his competition. “Oh my god you here. You’re actually here, you’re in front of me. Don’t say anything I wanna guess the person.Is that ok?” They all nodded. She looke deeply into their eyes. “Bear” she said to the one on the left he was the smallest by half an inch. “You know me so well angel.” He said with a chuckle hugging her tightly. She took astep back as she looked at the other two men. They never said their size directly just a guess. She looked both smiling men who looked at each other tan back at her. She turned to the man on the right side “Tank.” “You’re two for two angel.” Bear said squeezng her tightly. “Kane.” She said softly with the biggest smile. “Hey baby girl. Kane said picking her up swinging her tightly around in circles. Both laughing. She kissed his cheek feeling brave leaving the biggest smile upon his face he cupped her face. “You are so much more beautiful in person and so beyond worth the wait.” He said with a small kiss to her cheek as well. “I hope you’re all hungry I made quite a big meal. “YES!!” They all said loudly “Girl I can’t wait for a home cooked meal.” Tank said. “Marie, are you good?” Dylan said walking a little up to her and Kane who are in the center of her yard. Kane had stood infront of her a little protectively standing infront of Dylan eyeing him up an d down both of them sizing each other up only the boys were the only ones to noticed. “Dylan. I am perfectly fine these are my boys I’ve been telling you about Bear, tank this is Dylan. Dylan this is Bear, Tank, and my boyfriend Kane. They are finally home.” She said proudly looking to Kane. Kane smiling proudly back. “SO you are the one whose lucky enough to snag up our girl here. Well you must be one hell of a man. Welcome home boys. “ Dylan said shaking all their hands smiling a fake smile. “Well I stay and chat but I’m in desperate need of a shower and I’m sure yall would like to catch up I’m positive we’ll be seeing you around soon. Small town and all.” “Ya and with my girl living next door you sure will be seeing us a lot I assure you.” Kane said dead eyed back. He could sense the jealousy just pouring off Dylan. “Ricki won’t be able to join us until later he is busy all weekend. He will be so bummed.” “Another day than. For now lets eat because I can smell that roast from here.” They laughed and joked and enjoyed each others company. It was great but over to soon. “It’s late we gotta get going, we need a shower and put our beds together. How about you call me tomorrow and I’ll try to see you before you get to bed if not let me take you to Dinner Monday I won’t keep you late I know we’ve both got work during the week.” “That sounds great. I don’t want to put too much on you while you guys just putting your home together. How about I call you when I’m done and maybe I can help you guys clean up or put your things together?” “Well just have to wait and see but please call me when your done.” “I promise.” “Lock the door baby. He kissed her cheek. “Yes, dear. “ She mocked. “Good night guys I’ll see you soon. Welcome home.” “Good night Angel.” They waved and got into their truck and left. Tonight was perfect she thought.

The next morning she went to the store and got some ground beef. Homemade burgers and fries it is. She thought to herself. Driving up to the Medinas house she got out with her bags. To find pop right where he always is on the front porch reading. “Did you like it pop?” “I enjoyed it greatly it was dark and twisted you were right you had it pegged to a tee I’m on the other list you need to find me some more I’m going through these faster than I care to admit.” He said with a chuckle. “How is your son did he get home safely.” “Our baby is safely home he should actually be down in a few minutes he came up here to fix some of the flooring in the attic upstairs. Hope you got enough for some more my dear he brought his friends and they have yet been able to get the store and all.” “I have plenty homemade burgers and fries if you would help me peel the potatoes.” “I’d love to come on and tell us about the week you had.” As usual pop sat at the table munching on a pastry, while Callie helped peeled the potatoes so Marie can cut them into fries. They heard the banging and working from upstairs. “So how was work anything new happen?” Neil asked. “Work was the same a little more busy this week with all the flu shots that came in. Everyone got them. That reminds my boss gave me some to give here for yall and the workers. He said something about losing a poker bet to you Neil. I don’t even wan to know by the way. However there is something new I did get to meet my soldiers friends yesterday. You’ll be glad to know I took your advice and even started something new and took astep back into breathing life back into my life so to speak. I got a boyfriend.” Their jaws dropped it was almost like someone slapped them in their faces which would have been more believable than their introvert basically daughter finally got a boyfriend after spending two years avoiding the opposite sex like the plague for about two years. “Please say it’s not that Dylan.” Neil said “Pop. No.” “Are you happy love bug?” Callie asked? “Yes I am so far.” “Than we are happy for you. I’ll call the boys the food smells great.” Boys come on up the food is done, there is also someone we wan you to meet.” Callie hollered down. The voices sounded slightly familiar as Marie set the food on the table and Neil grabbed some drinks and was standing close to her. Marie still looking down. “Ah son great boys I’d like you to meet.” “I know who she is dad I think I’d recognize my own girlfriend.” Kane said with a small laugh. “What are you doing here?” Marie said with a pleasant smile. “Hi guys.” “High Angel.” “This is my parents house babe better question is what are you doing you here?” He asked curiously. “Kane she’s the girl we’ve been talking about, the one your dad kept trying to set you up with who helps every weekend.” “You’ve been helping my family this whole time?” He said with a smile and a hug. “Thank you, so much for helping when I couldn’t. I guess if I had sent you some pictures maybe we could have been better and avoided this.” “Let’s eat Bear said. They enjoyed their meal talking about any and everything sitting on the porch swings in the back and the stairs with a couple of other of the hands. “Do you need me to drive you home?” Kane asked. “Actually I was thinking if I can go back and help you guys if you spent most of your time here fixing the attic than your place should still need a little more work right?” “That’d be great and Angel and it would help so much.” Tank said “If it’s not to late for you that’d be great come on give me your keys I’ll drive you out there.” She handed him the keyes and hopped in after he held the door opened for her. Once they pulled up to the house” you sure you want to help in this?” “I am.” She said smiling at him.

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