Home > Driven (Driven #1)(14)

Driven (Driven #1)(14)
Author: K. Bromberg

Jackson laughs his deep, hearty laugh. “I would have loved to see you in action, Ry.”

Shit, shit, shit! My heart races. How am I going to explain this one? I feel warmth on my cheeks as my flush spreads. I open my mouth to answer him when he continues.

“Parading around on stage in the event you so desperately fought against.” I can hear the amusement in his voice. “My God, you must have been pissed!”

“You have no idea.” My response is almost a whisper. I have nothing left to wash but I keep my back to him, afraid if he sees my face, the questions will start.

“And then Bailey told me she met this hot guy—her words, not mine—and lured him backstage in typical Bailey fashion and had a hot and heavy make-out session with him.”

I release the breath I’m holding, grateful that it was our intern Bailey bragging about her exploits rather than gossiping about her boss’s. And then I realize that sexy siren Bailey, whom all the guys at work want to date, was most likely Donavan’s first conquest on Saturday night.

If that were the case, why would he want to go from the auburn-haired bombshell with legs for days to me? Talk about reinforcing my feeling of being second choice.

I blow my hair up out of my face. “Well, you know Bailey,” I counter, trying to phrase my next words carefully, “She definitely likes to have her fun.”

Jax laughs at me, patting my back as he walks by, “That was a nice way of putting it,” he says as he starts to make the boys’ school lunches for the next day. “She’s a great girl, works hard, the kids love her … just not a girl I’d want my son to date.”

I murmur an agreement thinking about our beguilingly sweet intern, who is only five years my junior, and her free ways. A part of me has always been jealous of girls like her. Girls who throw caution to the wind in spontaneity and live their life without regrets; kiss random boys recklessly, take spur of the moment road trips, and are always the life of the party. I often worry that one day I’ll look back on my life and feel like I haven’t lived. That I haven’t taken enough chances, sowed my wild oats, or ventured outside my comfort zone.

My life is safe, predictable, controlled, and always in order. I like it that way most of the time. It’s not that I’m not jealous of her because she kissed Donavan first (well maybe a little), but rather that she lives without regrets.

I shake myself out of my thoughts, ones that I have been having more of lately with the anniversary approaching. If anything, I should have learned that life is short and I need to really live it, not stay in my safe corner of it as it passes me by. I pull myself from my thoughts and refocus on my task at hand.

“Boys,” I shout over the cacophony of chaos, “it’s time to come finish your homework.” I hear groans coming from various rooms for I’ve said the dreaded “H” word. Six boys, varying from eight to fifteen years old, sullenly walk toward the table, grumbling as they go.

I look over toward the couch where Zander remains curled into himself, rocking back and forth in rhythmic comfort.

I slowly walk toward him and kneel in front of him. “Zander, do you want to join us? I can read you a book, if you’d like?” I speak softly to him, slowly reaching my hand out, holding it still for him to see my intention, and rest it on his hand that rests on his knee. He continues rocking, but his blue eyes flicker over to hold mine.

I see so many things in the depths of his eyes that shake me to the core. I smile softly at him and squeeze his hand. “We’d love for you to join us.” He remains silent but his eyes are still fused on mine. A small sliver of hope springs within me since he normally looks at me and glances away after a few seconds. “Come on, Zander, take my hand, I won’t let go if you don’t want me to.”

He continues to stare at me for some time, as I remain stock still, a reassuring smile on my face. His tiny hand moves, and he closes his fingers around my hand. He stands slowly, and we move to join the rest of the boys at the table.

CHAPTER 5

I’m dragging big time. I’m in the last hour of my shift at The House, and the long hours of the past couple of days have caught up with me. The boys were a handful today and it seemed that the chaos moved steadily through each child at various parts of the day.

Kellen, my co-counselor, has the boys outside and is playing tag with them. I can hear their laughter and squeals through the open windows.

I’m in the kitchen getting everything together for dinner for the next shift when the house phone rings.

“Hello?”

“Oh, good! You’re still there.” I can sense relief tinged with excitement through the phone.

“Just barely,” I laugh. “I have about fifteen minutes left. What can I do for you, Teddy?”

“I know you’re probably exhausted, but is it possible for you stop by the office on the way home?”

It’s the last thing I want to do as much as I love him. I just want to go home, crawl into bed, and sleep until the next day. “Um, okay. Sure. Is something wrong?”

“Just the opposite! I think we found the solution to rest of the funding for the new facilities.” Enthusiasm is evident in his voice. “I’ll tell you all about it when you get here. We’re just hammering out all of the details right now.”

“Wow! Are you serious?” My hopes start to rise. Even with the charity event and the numerous other donations we have already received, we are still shy of our goal by several million dollars. “I—I will be there as soon as I can, depending on traffic.”

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