Today’s Snippet is all about the male protagonist…because who doesn’t read these books for the heroes, right? Or is that just me? Today it’s all about Dillon Barnett, one of the protagonists from Texas Tangle. Dillon’s a golden boy, he’s pretty much floated through life with a family who loves him and accepts him just the way he is. But with Nikki, and Brett, in his life, he’s realizing others haven’t had it so easy, sometimes because of him.
A donkey’s bray interrupted his father. Dillon laughed as Merlin raced across the field to where Nikki had led the colt to set him free, the training session over. The donkey’s musical hee-hawing ended as he head-butted Nikki. “That donkey’s in love with her. He does that whenever he sees her.”
His father made a sound in the back of his throat. “From the way you’ve not stopped looking at that girl the whole time I’ve been here, I’m guessing he’s not the only one in love. Or is it more lust at this stage?”
The tips of his ears burned at the thought he’d been that obvious. “I’m just trying to be a good neighbor. I could hardly leave her to sleep on the floor at her place, could I?”
“Uh huh.” His father sounded doubtful. “So she’s staying in the guest room, and you and your brother are sharin’ a bed again, are you?”
Busted. He ducked his head, hoping the brim of his hat hid the color rising into his cheeks. Shit. He hadn’t blushed since he was in Bible camp and Tommy Snider had pantsed him in front of the entire girls’ class.
His father chuckled. “That’s what I thought. You know your momma’s buying wedding magazines already. Talking swatches and color schemes and all those things women love.”
Shit. Rolling his shoulders, he pretended to examine the chainsaw’s air filter. This was going in a direction he’d not wanted. Not yet, anyway. “Talk about jumping the gun. We’ve only just started dating. Besides, Nik’s first marriage wasn’t great, so I doubt she’s ready to tie herself down any time soon.”
“Glad to hear it.”
That got him staring at his father, his fingers clamping over the screwdriver. “What? You don’t think Nikki’s good enough for me?”
His father held up his hands in mock surrender. “Now, don’t go puttin’ words in my mouth. All I meant is that marriage can be hard work. It ain’t all about the fun you have in the bedroom, you know. Especially once you’ve got kids. So it’s not something you should rush into.”
“Jeezus, Dad. I’m not the one who mentioned marriage here.”
“Maybe not, but you do have a tendency to rush into situations, thinking you know everything there is to know. Look at that fight you and Brett had senior year of high school. If you’d just taken the time to—“
“I know.” He tossed the screwdriver back in the toolbox. Christ on a crutch. How had a perfectly nice afternoon gone downhill so freaking fast? “I know I should have checked out Wade and Dave’s story and made sure it really was Brett’s condom. It was Brett who’d taken my Camaro to Tater’s party; how was I to know Dave and his girlfriend had snuck into the backseat and fucked in my car, huh?”
“You should have trusted in your brother over those two. Brett would have told you the truth if you’d bothered to ask him.”
“I know, all right?” He took a breath and forced his shoulders down when his father raised an eyebrow at his sharp tone. “I apologized when I realized what had happened.”
Of course, that had taken over a year.
“That’s what I’m saying, son. Apologies sometimes aren’t enough to patch things up. Not in a marriage. Some things a body just can’t get past. Lack of trust is a big one.”
“You think I won’t be able to trust Nik?”
“I’m not saying that. I’m more worried about your impulsiveness. I hate to see you hurt by jumping into a relationship with a woman you barely know, only to end up hurt in the end.”
“I’m not eighteen anymore, Dad.” He sure as shit sounded like a surly teenager. “I own my own business and make decisions that affect my employees every day.”
“I know, and your mother and I are as proud as peacocks about how things have worked out for you. I’m just sayin’ take your time. Get to know her and make sure she’s what you want before you get in any deeper. Hellfire, son, you had her move in before you even started dating.” His father stood with a groan and dusted off his jeans. “For all you know, you’re her rebound affair. Once she’s worked out her issues with you, scratched whatever itch she’s got, she may want to move on.”
Rebound affair? Was that what he was to Nikki? His guts sure didn’t like the thought that she might be using him to work out any issues.
“Ah, who knows? For all I know, I could be talkin’ out my hat.” As he passed Dillon, his father tapped Dillon’s brim, a habit that had started when Dillon was a kid and got his first Stetson. Normally he liked the ritual. Today however, it bugged the bejeebers out of him. “I gotta go. Don’t forget to tell Brett to call your mother when he gets back.”
The dust left by his father’s truck had long since dissipated before Dillon roused himself. He tossed the chainsaw into the back of the truck, not caring that he’d cracked the casing.
Rebound affair ringing in his ears, he stomped into his workshed and slammed the door behind him. His father had to be wrong. This thing with Nikki was more than an itch to be scratched. He was in it for the long haul.
But was she?
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