Home > Falling Fast(10)

Falling Fast(10)
Author: Aurora Rose Reynolds

“I approve,” Dad mutters, and my eyes go to him. “I get why you were with Lisa when you were young, but she wasn’t the woman for you. She wasn’t the kind of woman you build a life with. She wasn’t back then, and she isn’t now. That girl there…” He lifts his chin at Gia’s back as she disappears into the bar. “That’s the kind of woman you lay all your hopes and dreams on, the kind who will make the struggles you’ve been through worth it.”

“You just met her,” I remind him while trying to remind myself of the same thing.

“No,” he denies, shaking his head. “I’ve been married to a woman just like her for the last thirty years, and for those thirty years, she’s made me happy, given me a family, and made it possible for me to live a dream every day.”

With that, he claps me on the back before heading toward the bar.

“She’s cute,” Tide says, breaking into the millions of thoughts swirling through my head. “And funny.”

“Yeah,” I agree, running a hand through my hair.

“Lucky fuck,” he mutters, starting to the bar then spinning around to look at me. “Come on, I need a beer.”

Pulling in a breath, I turn to Gia’s Jeep, shut the door—or try to, since the shit just pops back open—and after three more tries, I finally get it closed. Heading inside, I find Tide at the bar with his ass planted on a stool, my dad behind the bar, and Gia nowhere to be found.

“She’s helping your mom in the back,” Dad says as I pass him on the way to the office. Ignoring his comment, I drop Gia’s keys to the top of the desk and pick up the ones for the storage room. I don’t know how I feel about my dad or anyone knowing how I feel, when I haven’t even come to terms with it. This attraction came out of nowhere. I wasn’t expecting it or looking for it. That doesn’t mean I’m stupid enough to let it pass me by. I would be pissed off at myself if I didn’t try to get in there, and let some other guy see what I see. Then again, I don’t want to scare her off, since my feelings are so intense. I don’t know what could happen if I’m not careful.

“Earth to Colton.” My mom’s voice snaps me back to reality, and I tip my head down to look at her. “You okay?”

“I’m good.”

“You sure? I called your name three times, and three times you ignored me and stared at the desk like it had all the answers in the universe.”

“Sorry, I was just thinking,” I mumble.

“You sure?” she questions, getting close, or closer than she was just a second ago.

“I’m sure, Ma.”

“All right, honey,” she coos, but I can see she wants to ask at least a dozen more questions. “I’m going to take Gia over to the storage locker and show her around.”

“I’ll do it,” I say without thinking, and her head jerks back in surprise.

“Uh….”

“I’m sure you have other stuff to do,” I interject.

“Okay, sure. Well then, since she’s already in my car waiting for me, why don’t you just drive my Charger?” She hands me her keys.

Giving her a smile, I leave, shoving them in my pocket as I go. “I’ll be back,” I tell Dad as I pass him, and Tide frowns.

“Where are you going? We just got here,” Tide questions after taking a pull from the beer in front of him.

“Gonna take Gia to the storage locker.”

“Is that what we’re calling it nowadays?” he asks with a lopsided grin that turns into a wince when Mom pops him upside his head with her open palm.

“Tide, you better watch it. And you…” She spins around to look at me. “You, Colton Samuel Rust Allyster, better be on your best behavior with that girl.”

“Leave him be, babe,” Dad mutters, and Mom looks at him with squinty eyes.

“Leave him be?” she repeats.

“Yes,” he says, and she must see something in Dad’s look, because she turns her eyes back to me and when they meet mine, they’re warm and knowing.

“Please go in soft. She needs soft,” she whispers, and I lift my chin, letting her know I hear her. Leaving the bar, I head out the back door to where my parents park. As soon as Gia spots me walking toward the car through the windshield, her eyes get big and her lips part.

“I thought your mom was taking me to the storage unit,” she says as I slide in behind the wheel.

After releasing the lever to move the seat back, I look at her. “She was, but she got caught up. Asked me to take you,” I lie.

“Oh.” She presses her lips together then looks away, and I can see her eyes are on the door handle and she’s thinking about bailing. Before she can do what I know she wants to do, I start up the engine and put the car in drive since Mom had backed in when she parked.

“Seat belt,” I say, stopping at the stop sign at the end of the drive, but just like the other day, her look is a million miles away as her eyes stay glued to my hand on the gearshift. “Gia.” I reach around and her body jolts.

“I...”

“It’s all good, but you need your belt. I’d hate to get into a wreck and have your pretty face splattered against the windshield,” I tell her, then instantly regret it when I see her eyes fill with pain. Knowing that her mother’s death isn’t something she shared with me, as much as I hate to do it, I ignore the look and hook her belt. “There. Now you’re safe,” I say softly, hitting the blinker, looking for traffic, and pulling out onto the road.

Making it to the storage unit on my parents’ property fifteen minutes later, I put the car in park. The drive was made in silence. I could tell by the energy coursing through the car that Gia wasn’t sure what to think, what to say, or what to do with herself. She kept shifting in her seat and messing with the vents. I asked her a couple of times if she was cold, but she would say no, then go about messing with them some more which made me fight back a smile. I make her nervous; that much is clear. But that also means I have a shot with her because she’s at the least attracted to me.

“This is it.” I shut down the engine and unhook my belt. When I turn to look at her, her eyes are on my parents’ house that’s up on the hill above us.

“Did you grow up here?” she asks, and I try to see what she sees. A twenty-five hundred square foot Tudor home, surrounded by trees at the top of the mountain, that looks out over the city.

“I did, but I didn’t grow up in that house.” I nod toward it. “My parents had that built two years before I moved out. But growing up, there was a double-wide in that exact spot. Me, my two brothers, and my parents lived in it,” I explain, expecting her expression to change to one of disgust—the same look Lisa used to have when she would come to our house when we were in school. It was before my parents were able to afford building their dream home.

“It’s still beautiful. The land is beautiful. I can’t imagine waking up to that view every day,” she says wistfully. “Growing up in the city, you don’t get a view like this.” She nods toward the windshield.

“You’ll have to see my place sometime. My parents’ view is good, but I got one of the lake that puts theirs to shame,” I brag, pushing open my door and hearing her open hers.

“I didn’t know you have brothers,” she prompts, meeting me at the hood while putting on a light beige jacket.

“I do, two of them, both older. Cade lives in Nashville with his wife and two daughters, and Carson is right outside of Chattanooga. I’m sure you’ll meet both of them sometime, since Cade brings his girls at least a couple times a month, and Carson is around all the time. What about you? Do you have any siblings?”

“No, I was an only child. I used to beg my parents for a brother or sister, but it didn’t happen. I do have my best friend, Natasha. She’s like a sister to me, since we met when we were five and have been inseparable since then.”

“Is she back in Chicago?” I ask, heading toward the door to the building, unhooking the lock, and punching in the code to send the door up.

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