Home > Down on Me (Man of the Month #1)(7)

Down on Me (Man of the Month #1)(7)
Author: J. Kenner


"Dead on your feet," he said. "Get some sleep, and I'll see you tomorrow."

"Sure." He started to pull her in for a hug, the same way he'd done a million times over the years, but he stopped short and straightened, then stretched as if he'd been overcome with exhaustion.

Something in the back of her mind told her she should be confused. Or maybe even annoyed. Possibly worried. Because something was off-kilter, for sure.

Instead, all she felt was relief.

"Tomorrow," she said, firmly, then followed Reece out the door.

 

"Thanks for letting me crash here," Jenna said, flopping onto the familiar, tattered couch the moment the babysitter was out the door. "Amanda said I could sleep in her living room, but honestly, the idea of sleeping there while her parents are in the house..." She trailed off with a shake of her head. "I love them, but that's a little too close for comfort."

Amanda Franklin and Jenna had shared a dorm for three of their four undergraduate years at the University of Texas, and Amanda was by far Jenna's closest girlfriend. Also an Austin local, Amanda had frequently visited her parents' lakeside house for meals, laundry, and effusive hugs. She'd dragged Jenna along, and once the Franklins learned that Jenna had no family other than a single mom who worked too many hours for too little money, they'd adopted both of the Montgomery women into the fold.

The plan had been for Jenna to crash with Amanda until she got a new job and a place of her own. Amanda was off work for the week, and they were going to spend the next couple of nights drinking and watching bawdy girl movies and eating raw cookie dough.

The plan, however, was no more. Amanda's parents had found themselves homeless while their flooring was being replaced after an unanticipated water heater disaster. Instead of a hotel, they'd moved in with Amanda.

Jenna loved Martha and Huey Franklin dearly, but that didn't mean she wanted to be front and center in the living room where they could ask her question after question about why the job in LA didn't work out (she'd been caught in the crossfire of really bad management) or what she intended to do now (she had no idea, and the thought of her dwindling bank account was making her queasy).

Better to stay with Brent and visit the Franklins when she'd had sleep and pre-rehearsed responses to all of their well-meaning, but gut-twisting questions.

"Tell you what," Brent said. "I'll sleep in the living room, and you take my bed."

Jenna wanted to kick her own ass. "No, no. I didn't mean it like that. You know I didn't."

He brushed the words away, then went down the short hallway and into the kitchen. The small house in Austin's Crestview neighborhood was old enough not to have an open floor plan. She couldn't see him anymore, but from where she sat in the cozy living room she could hear him opening and closing cabinets.

"Dammit, Brent. I'm not kicking you out of your bed. Your living room is fine."

"I'm not talking forever," Brent clarified, his low voice carrying easily to her. "Just tonight. You take my bed. Tomorrow, Faith can start sleeping with me. I'd move her tonight, but she'd never get back to sleep."

Jenna pushed herself off the couch and went into the kitchen, taking a seat at the small breakfast table by the window. "I'm not kicking your little girl out of her bed."

"My house, my rules." He grinned, revealing the dimple in his left cheek. "Here," he added, sliding a cup of hot chocolate in front of her and then taking the seat across from her. "You're exhausted, and you know it. You'll sleep better in the bed. And I can sleep anywhere."

"Fine." She wasn't conceding, but the battle was going to have to wait, because the adrenaline rush that had accompanied the news of Tyree's money problems was fading, leaving her too wiped out to argue. "You don't look tired at all."

He shrugged. "When you combine single dad with working bar hours, you end up with a guy who's at his best at weird times of the day."

"Maybe you're secretly Superman," she teased, then hid her grin in the whipped cream that topped her cocoa. Still, it wasn't a bad comparison. He even had a Clark Kent thing going lately. A Nice Single Dad Next Door persona that mostly eclipsed his panty-dropping good looks.

But that was only the image he showed the world now. Jenna had known him for most of her life. Before he was a cop. Before that bitch Olivia.

Jenna had seen him in swim trunks at the beach during college, his skin glowing with a tan, his body so tight and strong that Jenna was certain all the other girls on the beach had whiplash.

During that same trip, she'd seen Brent and Reece stand up for a confused homeless man against a gang of dangerous-looking locals. The three of them had gone to Corpus for a weekend one summer and had stumbled across a klatch of thugs giving the guy shit, stealing food from the grocery cart that doubled as his home, and making a point of kicking sand at him whenever they passed by.

Brent had led the charge, but Reece had been right beside him. Her guys had shut that shit down with no-nonsense language and a couple of well-placed punches. It was the first time she'd seen them fight together since elementary school, and the depth of their friendship had been reflected in the way they anticipated each other, covered each other. They were so different. Reece, ripped, tattooed and bearded even back then. Brent, all lean muscle, strength, and speed.

She drew in a breath, then sighed with the memory. They were both such great guys, not to mention ridiculously good looking.

But it's Reece you want.

The voice in her head startled her, and she jerked her mug, getting whipped cream all over her upper lip.

"You okay?" Brent put his hand on her shoulder, and she waited for her body to react the same way it had when she'd brushed up against Reece earlier. Because maybe it had just been a reflex. A little bit of sizzle, normal for a girl who hadn't been with a guy in ages.

Except she wasn't reacting now. No zing. No buzz. No heated flurries or spinning butterflies. Just her and Brent and the reassuring pressure on her shoulder.

Nothing like she'd felt with Reece.

So what the hell did that mean?

"Hey?" He squeezed her shoulder. "You in there?"

"Sorry. I'm just—I don't know," she ended lamely because she was hardly going to tell him that her mind had wandered to their mutual best friend.

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