Home > Show Me the Way (Fight for Me #1)(3)

Show Me the Way (Fight for Me #1)(3)
Author: A.L. Jackson

Those jeans should have made her look frumpy and unkempt, but instead, the whole package sent a skitter of lust racing through my veins and prodding at my dick.

She was the kind of woman who could make a grown man stumble on his feet.



Too sexy for her own damned good.

Or maybe mine.

I could call it a complication of abstaining for too long, but I was sure no woman had ever incited a reaction like this in me with just a glance.

She raked her arm over her sweat-drenched forehead as she headed straight for the cargo area of the SUV, which was crammed full of moving boxes. I wouldn’t mind all that much if she were hauling stuff out of that house directly across the street, but it sure as shit looked like she was moving her things in.

Tell me this girl is not moving in next door.

I clenched my jaw and grabbed Frankie’s hand, needing to get the hell out of there.

“Come on, Frankie Leigh, we’ve got to get a move on. You’re already late.”

But Frankie was already moving, bouncing down the stairs and along the walkway, waving her free hand in the air. The kid just adding to the stark sunshine that burned bright in the waning day. “Hi, hi, hi! I’m Frankie. Whose are you?” she shouted across the street.

Startled, the women’s gaze darted our direction, and the determination in her step slowed when she caught sight of my daughter.

An amused smile grew on the rosy bud of her mouth when her gaze swept the ridiculous outfit Frankie was wearing. She seemed to hesitate for a second, eyes glancing around her like she was looking for something before she changed direction, heading our way. “Hey there, Frankie, I’m Corinne Dayne, but everyone calls me Rynna.”

Rynna Dayne.

What the ever-lovin’ hell?

Could damn near feel the bewildered excitement roll through my daughter while I stood there cursing the world that just fucking loved to curse me. “Your name’s C’Rinne, too? That’s Mrs. Dayne’s name. She worked at the restaurant called Pepper’s Pies and cooked all the pies, and my daddy ate them all, all, all the way gone. Sometimes we wents to go eat there, but mostly we ate at my house right here, but now she wents to heaven.”

A bolt of sadness streaked through her expression, and fuck, if it didn’t hit me, too. Still, the smile she wore only grew. “She made the best pies in the whole world, didn’t she?”

Frankie’s excitement only amplified. “Yes! You know Mrs. Dayne, too?”

She started to cross the narrow street, all chestnut hair and java eyes and a body that was built for temptation.

Awareness ridged my spine like a steely stake of lightning, and I stepped back, my jaw tightening at the same time I protectively took hold of my daughter’s hand.

That was all that women were.



Forbidden fucking fruit.

Because all they did was condemn you in the end. So, I stayed away. Kept my distance. If I didn’t step into the fire, then I wouldn’t get burned.

Kneeling in front of my daughter, she stuck out her hand. “It’s so nice to meet you, Frankie. It sounds like you were a good friend of my grandma’s.”

So yeah.

I’d already figured it out.

It didn’t stop me from flinching.

Frankie had stars in her eyes as she enthusiastically shook her hand. She might as well have been meeting Taylor Swift. “She told me I was her favorite, favorite friend, and sometimes she even let me go to her house and make some pies.”

“Is that so?” Rynna said with a tease in her voice.


Rynna leaned in, and I caught a whiff of something sweet. “Want to know a secret?” she whispered.

Frankie bounced on her toes. “Oh, yes, yes please, I love secrets. I won’t tell nobody.”

Soft laughter floated out from Rynna’s mouth, a mouth that was getting harder and harder not to stare at, all plush and pink and perfectly pouty. “Well, this is a secret I hope you tell everyone, because guess what? I have some of the recipes for those pies.”

Frankie’s mouth dropped open, and damn it if my stomach didn’t fucking growl.

“You gonna make me some?” she gushed.

“Definitely,” Rynna said, taking that moment to look at me with the threat of a smile on her pretty face, the angle of her jaw sharp while everything else about her was soft.

That sweet scent was back. Billowing in the breeze. This warmth surrounding her. Hot cherry pie.

My teeth ground together, and the smile slid from her face when she saw what must have been my irritated expression, and I swore I heard the slight catch of her breath when she met my glare. Could see a slight quiver in her throat when she straightened and took a step back.

Still, she stood her ground.

There was something unwavering about her. Like she had something to prove. To herself or me, I wasn’t sure.

“Hi. I’m Rynna Dayne. Was named after my grandmother,” she managed, though the words were rough as she stuck her hand out toward me like she’d done to my daughter.

I just stood there staring at it like it held the venom of a viper bite. Finally, I lifted my chin at her and gathered all the pleasantness I could summon. It wasn’t much. “Rex Gunner. I’m sorry about your grandmother. And we’re late . . . so if you could excuse us.”

I gave Frankie a gentle tug of her hand. “Come on, Frankie Leigh. We’ve got to get you to dance.”

Frankie trotted along at my side, looking back over her shoulder with what I knew had to be one of those adorable grins.

“What a jerk,” I heard Rynna mumble behind my back when I turned and led my daughter to the passenger side of my truck.

Bitterness burned.


I was a jerk.

An asshole.


Better to burn bridges before anyone had a chance to cross them.

Shaking it off, I hoisted Frankie into the high cabin, making her squeal and pretend like she was flying. I strapped her in her car seat and jogged around to the front. I hopped into the driver’s seat, wondering if it were possible for the roar of the engine to cover the hurt that sagged Rynna’s shoulders as I took to the street.

Wondering why I felt like a complete piece of shit when I caught a glimpse of her in the rearview mirror. She just stood there in the twilight like she was caught in a dream.

Watching us go with disappointment on her face.

Befriending a sweet old lady was one thing.

Allowing a girl like Rynna Dayne into our lives—a girl that made my body react the way it did? Now that was pure stupidity.



Why am I doing this?

Anxiety convulsed through my nerves as I waited for my computer to fire up. The truth was, I couldn’t not know. I connected to my hotspot and logged on to Facebook. It felt like forever while I sat there, the screen churning, lighting up like a window to the past. I could almost feel it stretching its fingers out to touch me. To tease me with the control it’d held over me for so long.

For too long.

Fingers trembling, I managed to type the name into the search bar. A task I’d attempted at least twenty times before I’d set out on my journey back home. I had never found the courage to press enter.

Today, I did.

She was the third listing. A grainy picture. Almost indistinguishable. But I knew it was her.


She lived in Missouri.

I slammed the lid down.

That was all I needed to know.

As long as she wasn’t here? I could totally manage staying in this town.

“Tell me you’re miserable without me.”

Laughing quietly, I flitted around the kitchen on my bare feet. My cell was pressed between my ear and shoulder as I slowly unpacked the few things I’d brought. I hadn’t needed much since my grandmother had left everything she owned to me.

“Completely miserable,” I told Macy, letting the tease wind into my tone as I hiked onto my toes to set my favorite Christmas mug on a high cupboard shelf.

“Huh. That’s weird. I haven’t even noticed you’re gone,” she deadpanned.

“Says the girl who’s called me like ten times today,” I ribbed.

She giggled. “Okay, okay, I might have kind of noticed.” Her voice dropped to a whisper. “It’s just that I think the apartment is haunted.”

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