Sneak Peek of The Broken Road – Chapter 1.

The doorbell interrupted my train of thought and Penny started her happy wiggle. I quickly put her in the mudroom so she wouldn’t charge the delivery guy and grabbed some money from my purse. I opened the door and was startled. Standing on my front porch was Shane, holding my dinner.

“Hey, trying to steal my dinner? Don’t make me sic Penny on you!” I joked, letting him in. Shane is gorgeous. Dressed in his usual attire of baggy jeans, a black long-sleeved shirt, and motorcycle jacket, my heart hurled into my throat at the sight of him.

“Oh what? Death by pooch?” he shot back, as he followed me into the kitchen. He shook his head when I offered him money for the food. His six foot-three, two hundred-thirty pound hockey player frame fills my small kitchen. Shane has this presence about him that always makes me feel safe and secure. That same presence that makes me want to fold myself into his muscular arms. Shane gives fantastic hugs.

“I thought you were meeting Allison for dinner.” I said as I took the food out of the bag. Shane shrugged out of his leather jacket and hung it on the back of the chair, then let Penny back into the kitchen.

“Yeah, we were supposed to meet her brother later on, but she said that she didn’t feel well.” He poked his head in my fridge. “What’s up with the rabbit food in here?” He asked, taking out a beer and sitting at the table.

I rolled my eyes at that comment. “You know my New Year’s resolution.” I smacked his hand as he inched toward my egg roll. “I’m trying to be healthier.”

Shane took a swig of beer, and laughed. “Right. That’s why you have Chinese food for dinner, beer in your fridge, and a stash of candy up in the cabinet.”

“Whatever. That is my emergency stash. Every woman needs to have her emergency stash.” I said with an indigent huff. “Besides, you can’t complain about the beer, especially since you drink it. Here. You might as well eat this since you can’t find anything else.” I tried so hard not to act like a total idiot, but I couldn’t help the goofy smile on my face. Penny’s tail thumped on the wood floor as she looked expectantly at the food being served.

We ate for a few minutes in silence. My heart raced a mile a minute; every time I looked up, his hazel eyes stared straight back at me. It was as if he could hear my heart skipping. “So what’s going on tonight?” I dumped my leftover rice into Penny’s bowl and put the plate in the sink. Shane rubbed his face and goatee tiredly. His brown hair is normally cut short, but it looked like it had been weeks since he had last seen the barber. He stretched his long legs out in front him and yawned.

“I’m not sure. I’m beat. Adrian has had me working all night on this special project, and then I was running around all morning. I feel like I haven’t sat down all day.”

“That sucks. So then why you aren’t at home sleeping?” I replied, putting away the food.

Shane stood up and silently washed the dishes. Drying his hands on the dishtowel, Shane turned, looked at me, and leaned against the counter. “Honestly, that’s the main reason I’m here. Well, to pick up the DVD, but something else too. I need to ask you a favor. You remember that Ben is getting married to Paige?” he asked. Ben is Shane’s roommate, whom I’ve known for years. I nodded.

“Well, Ben has accepted a job in Baltimore, near Paige’s condo. So he’s moving in with her next week. The lease on the apartment is up anyways and since I’m practically broke, I need a place to crash,” he said, his eyes boring holes into mine.

It took a beat before I fully grasped the question. Holy shit, he wants to move in with me! The romantic, wishful part of me started doing a happy dance in my head, until the smarter, more realistic side smacked the other one down and told it to shut up.

“So, you’re asking to move in?” I said cautiously, as I walked into the living room and sat on the couch. Shane sat down at the opposite end, facing me. So that’s why he is here. I should have known. I must have the word sucker stamped on my forehead. I could never say no to him and he knows that.

“It will only be for a little while, until I can get my own place. Please?” He gave me a pleading grin. I chuckled, then got curious.

“What happened? How did things get so screwed up?” I asked casually.

“It’s been building for a while. I lost my job at the dealership two years ago. At that point, I couldn’t find anything steady, except for side jobs working with Adrian. I couldn’t keep up with the rent at the old place, so I got evicted and moved in with Ben. Credit cards got maxed out and I depleted my savings. But things are looking up. I’m paying off my debt a little bit at a time and managed to get a full time spot at the shop. I’m trying to clean up my act, but I really can’t get a place of my own quite yet.” he said quietly, almost like he was ashamed. I felt bad for him. While I was with Tommy, I didn’t keep up with my old friends as much as I should have. I had lost Shane for a while and I never knew about these problems. My best friend Jen is practically his sister and told me a few times that he was having some issues and just being a regular pain in the ass, but she never went into detail. After three years, I’m still trying to catch up on his life. I felt a swell of pride for him, it took a lot for him to say that to me.

“I’m sorry to hear that. What about Allison? Why don’t you move in with her?” I replied, playing with the string on my sock. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to hear the answer to the question.

Shane gave a dry chuckle. “Yeah, we’re not on that page yet. Plus, her two roommates don’t really like me.”

I felt some relief. Then some slight apprehension. Could I block out these feelings? Yes, I resolved. I had to. Besides, he’s with someone else. We can be just friends – I hope.

“Yeah, sure, you can move your stuff in, Only until you can find something on your own.” I pushed aside the doubt that had been looming. Shane and I are just friends, what could go wrong?

“Thanks Megs. You’re so great to me,” He surprised me by wrapping me up in a hug. I quietly inhaled his cologne and closed my eyes. This is going to be harder than I thought.

I let out a fake chuckle and pulled back. “So, when are you bringing over your stuff?” I asked. Hopefully I had a few days to prepare. I had a comforter set in the laundry room that he could use for a while and would need to get more towels.

“Well, I figured you wouldn’t leave me out in the cold, so I brought over what could fit in the truck,” He practically bounced off the couch and gave me a knowing smile. That ass. He knew I wouldn’t say no to him.

I swatted him in the leg. “You arrogant jerk! What makes you think I would have said yes? I could have said no!”

“Aw, come on. You can never say no to me. Don’t try and lie,” Shane laughed as he walked out the front door. I sat on the couch for a minute, shocked at what just happened. I think Shane pulled a fast one on me. He’s moving in and I don’t think I had the opportunity to say no. I had to chuckle. Still uses his charm and smile to get what he wants.

While Shane brought in his pillows and trash bags of clothes, I made up his bed in the guest room. He added his toiletries to the bathroom and I got a pang of nervousness. This is going to be interesting. I watched him as he came out of the yellow bathroom and into his new room. I only had one shower. The fantasies I used to have about the two of us together came flooding back. I could feel my body blush and quickly turned my attention to an invisible speck on the comforter.

“So is Allison going to be okay with you living with me?” I spoke up, hoping my face was not as red as it felt.

He paused in hanging up a white polo shirt and winked. “She’s just someone I like to have fun with. We’re not serious, so she’s cool with it.”

“Ah…. Okay. Um. Good. I just wanted to make sure there weren’t going to be any issues.” I mumbled, as I headed back down the stairs. I had to get out and cool off. These feelings needed to be separated if this was going to work. I quickly pulled on my shoes and winter coat for Penny’s last walk of the night.

The temperature had dropped and the smell of snow lingered in the air. Punxsutawney Phil had seen his shadow this morning, and the stupid groundhog predicted six more weeks of winter. Penny and I quickly walked down the tree-lined street. I hoped she would hurry up and go already, but she took her sweet time. Twenty minutes later, we returned home to find Shane’s black Ford F150 gone and the lights off. I didn’t want to think of where he had gone off to. It’s none of my business. It’s none of my concern. I have to remember that. I told myself.

I unclipped Penny, put the leash on the rack next to the door and walked into the kitchen. Stuck to the usually blank fridge was a note in Shane’s chicken scratch.

“Went to get my bike from Ben’s.”

I shucked off my snow boots and coat, locked the doors, set the alarm and headed upstairs with Penny in tow. After peeling off my clothes, I paused. I normally sleep in my underwear. But with Shane here, that would have to change. It could be awkward if he peeked in and saw me in nothing but my Victoria Secret panties. I put on a tank top shirt and cotton boxers and climbed underneath the cloud-soft down comforter. Penny climbed onto her large dog bed and did her usual routine of turning around until she got comfortable. This had been one hell of a day and I was over-exhausted. The last thing I remember was hoping that Shane came home alone

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