Ooh, one of my favorites this week – small towns! How about a trip to my favorite fictional small town, Petal, Georgia?
Petal, Georgia: LOST IN YOU by LAUREN DANE
Copyright 2013, Lauren Dane
All Rights Reserved, Samhain Publishing
Beth carted a huge tray of hot dogs and slider-sized hamburgers over to the table where the kids were sitting in Tate and Matt’s big backyard. A loud celebratory chorus met her, and she laughed, kissing heads as she did.
Little hands grabbed the food as she squirted mustard and ketchup on things when asked to. Tate insisted on fruit salad instead of chips, but the kids thought that was just fine.
“I’m going to get y’all some extra napkins. Be back in a sec.” She headed to the table near the barbecue to grab some and some juice boxes as well.
William loomed nearby, and when he saw her, he sidled over, pretending to be nonchalant in a way a guy who stood well over six feet tall could never be. She knew it was only a matter of time before her brothers approached her about Joe.
“Let me take these over and then you can ask me whatever it is,” she told him before returning to the kids’ table with the promised napkins and juice.
She grabbed her own burger and began to lay tomato, onion and pickle on it. “So?”
“Joe says you and he had lunch last week at the Sands.”
“We did. It was nice. Cake day, dontcha know.”
He sighed. “What’s your plan here, Beth?”
“It is my plan to make sure there is bacon the next time we have burgers.” She grabbed a root beer and cracked it open.
He sighed again and she took pity on him. “I’m feeling magnanimous so don’t get used to this. Are you asking about me and Joe?”
His grimace made her smile. “Yes. He’s…well he’s older than you are.”
“He’s five years older than I am. Let’s get to the heart of the issue. I like Joe. In a I-want-to-kiss-him sort of way. He of course is trying to hold on to the whole you’re my best friend’s sister so I can’t touch you in your no-no places thing.”
William flinched. “God. So leave him alone then.”
“Look here you.” She turned and narrowed her eyes at him. “I like Joe Harris. He’s a nice guy. I know he was a wild one when he was young. But you were too and now you’re a family man. People can change. Also, I’m a big girl. Five years is nothing. Anyway, if he didn’t like me, he wouldn’t be so panicked. You and I both know it.”
“It would be so nice if one of my sisters was unassuming and sweet.”
She guffawed. “Wrong family for that. But I can handle him. Anyway, you’re acting like I’m going to elope and have eleventy billion of his babies next week or something. We’re at the hey I like you-like you stage still. That’s the best part. Don’t ruin it. You know I’m going to have him if I really want him. I’m totally good enough for him.”
He shook his head and took her chin for a brief moment. “Honeybunch, that was never in question. You’re beautiful and successful, and as far as your brothers are concerned, there’s no one who’s good enough for you. He’s just, he’s seen a lot.”
“Yeah? Fancy that. I have too.”
He shrugged. “I guess that’s true. And I know you’re strong enough to kick any man who’d hurt you to the curb, though you’d have to get in line. But he was in Iraq for four tours. He’s seen a lot. I just don’t want you hurt.”
She grinned. Her brothers were all big, gruff men. But beneath the surface, they were each giant marshmallows for the women in their lives. It was a good thing. Made her lucky. “Thank you, William. I mean it. Thank you for looking out for me.”
He sighed. “You’re going to pursue him anyway, aren’t you?”
“Duh. And there’s already the fact that you and he are friends from way back. We know he’ll fit in just fine.”
“You’ll at least keep me updated? Not on any details of a physical nature or I’ll have to pound his face. But you know the general stuff?”
“I sure love you.” She dodged his question neatly before she patted his arm and headed off to the table where her sisters sat.
Be sure to visit today’s other snippeters!
Mandy M. Roth