Writing From Hart
On Saturday, May 7th All In: Paying His Way will be released! You may remember Jake Young first from Zack's book, Playing to Win, and from his own novella, Paying to Play. This new story is about Jake's oldest brother Jordan Young. It's short and sweet, so grab it now at the pre-order price of only 99 cents, before the price increases to $2.99 on release day.
Here's a sneak peek of the first chapter:
I’m standing in the only open checkout lane at the supermarket, trying not to get annoyed and epically failing.
Tired of holding the case of beer, I sit it down by my feet to put my hands on my hips in the universal sign of you’ve got to be fucking kidding me. I volunteered to bring the booze to the small backyard barbecue, so by God I’ll stand here all damn day if I have to.
My buddy, Caleb, who I met in the Reserves when we joined up together four years ago, invited me down to his place in Greensboro to celebrate one of the holidays-that-must-not-be-named with his wife Lauren and a few of their friends. The M word probably won’t even come up since his passed away a few years ago from breast cancer, and his wife’s is a worthless piece of shit. And if it does, well, that’s what the case of beer is for. Shit. Maybe I should’ve grabbed two. Then I could’ve started on one while I stand here and wait for the woman holding up the line with her coupons or price matching bullshit.
I blow out a frustrated breath and then have to apologize to the blue-haired lady in front of me when it ruffles her poofy Sunday hairdo. Standing on the balls of my feet, I make my six-foot-two frame a little taller to get a better look at the woman we’re all silently cursing.
She's a small, nothing special brunette with her hair slicked back in a ponytail. Wearing a tattered and faded floral dress, the girl is digging frantically through a canvas tote, her head halfway inside of it looking for something that probably doesn’t exist based on the cashier’s outstretched palm and annoyed expression. More money.
When the infant in the woman's buggy starts screaming like someone's shoving splinters under its fingernails, my patience snaps.
To hell with this.
I shove my way forward, offering apologies to the other customers I nudge. Yanking my worn leather wallet from my back pocket, I eye the rectangular readout to determine the amount of money owed. Hell, I’m getting off cheap at just fourteen dollars and some change. I pull out a crisp twenty and place it in the goth-looking cashier’s hand. Surprised by my intervention, she doesn’t immediately do anything with the currency for several seconds, just stands there frozen.
“Will that work?” I ask, and she nods, turning back to enter it into her register.
“Oh my God! Thank you,” I hear the small brunette beside me say. Her soft voice is shaky like she’s on the verge of tears. Then I hear her sudden and deep intake of breath. “Jordan?”
Of course my head automatically turns at the sound of my name; but even standing inches away, I blink at the young girl with dark rimmed bags underneath her blue eyes, unable to place her. Suddenly, she reaches over to the spinning baggage area to grab the one containing my recent purchase, before pushing the buggy with the still wailing baby quickly out of the store like her ass is on fire.
“Sir? Here’s your change, sir,” the cashier says to get my attention when I don’t notice she’s offering my money back with the receipt. I’m too busy trying to figure out who that woman was and how she knows me. There was something familiar about those sad, indigo eyes…
Oh, yeah! She dated my little brother, Jason, and her name starts with an M. Megan? Melissa?
It hits me like a bolt of lightning.
Maggie Frasier. Jason’s high school girlfriend. And, damn, the poor girl looks like shit. No wonder I didn't recognize her.
For the past few years I've heard Jason mention in passing about how they're fuck buddies or friends with benefits right up until this past Thanksgiving when he joined the Army, the full-time kind of service, unlike my one weekend a month in the Reserves.
Wait a fucking second.
He's been gone less than six months. The wailing baby couldn’t have been more than a few weeks old. No. No, no, no. She would’ve told him, right? Jason would’ve said something...
I take off running after her, my case of beer abandoned thanks to this crazy as shit notion that I might be an uncle.
Weaving my way around customers, I make it through the sliding glass doors and look around the crowded parking lot for Maggie. I finally spot her sliding into the driver seat of a rusty brown clunker. I can’t even decipher the make or model of it since it’s missing whatever emblems it once had when it was made in the factory several decades ago.
I run across the rows of vehicles to get to her before she can pull away, and I don't stop until I’m next to the car, knocking on her window. The sound startles her, making her narrow, hunched shoulders jump. Her head bows like she’s debating rolling the window down or just reversing her ass out of there.
“Maggie, talk to me,” I say, proud of myself for actually remembering her name. She finally reaches over to hand roll the window down a few inches, releasing the screaming cries of the baby in the backseat. I try to get a better look at the bundle of blue in the rear-facing car seat. It's hard to make out any features with his mouth wide open while he wails, his tiny clenched fists shaking in the air with his displeasure.
“Is he Jason’s?” I ask her pointblank.
After what feels like an eternity, she gives a small, almost unperceivable nod in affirmation.
Motherfucker. Although in this situation brotherfucker might be the more appropriate term, especially on this day in May when the M word must not be muttered.
My little brother’s a father. Josh, Jake and I are uncles to a baby we’ve never heard about. If Jason knew, he would’ve told us, right? I mean, the woman barely looks like she can legally drink, much less take care of a baby on her own.
Ah, shit. I remember her standing at the register, pitiful because she didn’t have enough money.
“Doesn’t he know? Is he paying child support?” I ask, but the questions are drowned out by the constant howling. “Why is he yelling so damn loud?”
“He-he’s just hungry. I need to go so I can get home and feed him,” she says while looking straight ahead, avoiding my eyes and my other questions.
She needs to feed him.
Because my little brother is a sack of shit that’s not helping her take care of his responsibility.
Before I can say another word, I have to jump back so that my toes don’t get run over when she floors the clunker in reverse; and then she’s gone.
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NY Times bestselling author Lane Hart has published more than a dozen romances that will make your Kindle sizzle.