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Oxygen Deprived (Kilgore Fire #3)
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That was the motto that Drew lived by in all things, including his love life.
Karma hits like a bitch.
Aspen needs a break. A long one that doesn’t include anything with a Y chromosome. Not even one as tempting as her new neighbor who just moved in across the street. Men are trouble with a capital freakin’ T, and she has the ankle monitor to prove it.
Everything happens for a reason.
A rash decision—undoubtedly regrettable, undeniably unforgettable. In the heat of the moment, Aspen’s actions with a tire iron and her ex-boyfriend’s brand new SUV land him in the ER getting stitches and have her seeing the inside of a jail cell for the first time.
Hide your crazy.
Drew enjoyed the show, though. For the first time in a year, he’s thinking about his life, and how it would be a lot more enjoyable with a woman like Aspen at his side.
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Twenty years earlier
Beavers Bend. Broken Bow, Oklahoma
I watched him play football for nearly an hour with my brother, completely and totally enraptured by him.
“Mom!” I hissed at my mother. “Do you see that teenage boy over there?”
My mother turned from the magazine that was in her hands, to me.
“Yes, baby,” she said. “What about him?”
Everyone had seen him. I’m not sure why I was bothering pointing the man—teenager—out to her.
“I’m going to marry him,” I informed her.
“What?” She whispered in shock. “Why do you say that?”
I looked back over at the teenager, that wasn’t so much of a teenager but more of a young man on his way to adulthood, and back to her.
“We just are. I’ve decided.”
“You’ve decided, huh?” She teased.
“And how are you going to accomplish that?” She wondered.
“She’s going to demand it of him, Mother,” Downy, my brother who wasn’t very happy about being on vacation with us, drawled.
Downy and the teenager were probably similar in age, although that’s where the similarities ended.
Downy had red hair, where the teenager had blonde.
Downy’s ugly eyes had nothing on the teenager’s gray eyes that looked like they were ringed with green.
I couldn’t tell for certain, though, which was why I moved closer.
And found myself next to a couple that was excited about something.
“He’s getting married,” the woman was saying to the man. “To Constance. Isn’t that something?”
The man shrugged. “She’s not the best, but I guess she could be worse.”
The woman snorted. “Don’t let him hear you say that. They’ve been dating for four years now. And he knows everything, don’t you know?”
The man sighed.
“She’s cried every night this week because he’s been gone to the fire academy. How do you think she’s going to fare when he’s gone once every three days?” The man continued.
The woman had nothing to say to that, and I sat down in the chair right by them, hoping it wasn’t obvious what I was doing. I crossed my legs and started swinging my foot.
Then in a rush of moving limbs, the teenager took the seat, in between his parents and me.
He had his shirt off, and his skin was bronzed from the summer sun.
“Your mother tells me you’re getting married,” the man said to his son.
“Yep,” he confirmed.
The teenager paused. “Because I love her, Dad.”
My heart thumped painfully, and I couldn’t help but look over at the three of them.
I must have made a small noise because the father’s eyes went to me, then back to his son.
“But why do you love her?” He asked.
The teenager paused.
“Because, I just do.”
“You should really have a better answer than that,” I blurted out, immediately clamping my hands over my mouth.
All three of them looked over to me.
“What?” The teenager asked shortly.
I dropped my hands and smiled weakly, suddenly feeling incredibly stupid for offering my two cents when it wasn’t asked for.
My mother was always getting on to me about that, too.
“Uhh,” I said.
“Go on, child. Tell him what you meant,” the father urged.
I bit my lip.
“It’s just…if you really love her, you should know why you love her. You should be able to say more than ‘because I just do.’ You should love her because she makes you feel happy. Because she makes you sleep well at night. Because she makes you laugh. Because when you see her, your heart starts to race. Things like that,” I informed him. “’I just do’ isn’t a good enough reason. “
He blinked, surprised at how well I’d answered him.
And the father smiled.
“What she said.”
“Well,” the teenager growled. “You can’t take a ten-year-old’s opinion for shit, Dad. They don’t know anything.”
My mouth dropped open in affront.
“That wasn’t called for,” I blurted.
My brother showed up at my side, pulling me away from the three of them.
“She’s sorry,” Downy apologized to them. “She doesn’t realize how nosy she really is.”
I snatched my hand away from my brother.
“Get off me, you infidel,” I ordered crossly.
Downy laughed in my face, then dropped me back off to my mother before returning to the field.
It didn’t take long for the teenager to join Downy, and soon they had a full on football game again with a couple of other kids.
And I watched, and wondered, if maybe I was wrong about the teenager.
Maybe my instincts were off.
Then I decided that no, my instincts weren’t off. His probably were, though
He would be mine.
It might take a while, but he would.
No ifs, ands or buts about it.
Men and women are different. If a man is scorned, he’ll show up at night. If a woman is scorned, she’ll show up at your job and smash your shit in front of everyone.
I stood at my front window, eyes narrowed as I watched man after man move heavy boxes out of the back of a moving truck into the house directly across the street from mine.