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“That’s because you have lady balls,” announced Katie. “The rest of them just have ovaries.”

“Do I want to even know what you all are talking about?” Jacob asked, appearing behind Avery. He gripped the back of her chair and leaned over her.

Calla laughed. “Probably not. So how much longer till we eat?”

He glanced over at the grill. “Another five minutes, I guess? What the fuck do I know though.”

Teresa stretched her legs out in front of her, sighing as she smiled. “I’m glad we all were able to get away and hang out.”

“Yeah, this is probably going to be the last time for a while,” Avery said, smacking at Jacob as he picked up a strand of her hair and tossed it in her face.

“Why?” I asked.

“After this semester, I’m moving back here,” Calla said, a sad smile on her face as she looked at me. “You will be stuck with me, but I’m going to miss seeing Avery and Teresa.”

“With Cam’s schedule, he’s got a lot of traveling coming up. I try to go with him when I can, but it’s not always possible,” Avery said. “But we got a wedding to plan, so don’t forget that.” She grinned at Teresa. “I’m totally leaving that all up to you and Brit, by the way.”

“Fine with me. You’ll be wearing red instead of white.”

Avery rolled her eyes. “Yeah, because that will go great with my hair. Thanks.”

Jacob patted her head sympathetically.

“Weekends are going to be hard for Jase and me to get away. With his new job at the agriculture center, he’s working all week and our weekends are pretty packed right now since Jack will be staying with us during the weekends for now,” Teresa continued.

“Isn’t Jack his brother?” I asked, hoping something wasn’t going on with his parents that meant they couldn’t care for him.

“Uh . . .” Jacob straightened. “I don’t think Roxy knows, Tess.”

“Crap. You’re right.” Teresa scooted forward on the plastic chair. “Well, it’s kind of a complicated, long story, but the short version is that Jack’s not his brother. He’s Jase’s son.”

My mouth dropped open, and I couldn’t help it. I glanced over at Jase, who was holding a plate Cam was heaping burgers onto. I knew that Jack wasn’t a small child and Jase wasn’t much older than me, so . . .

“He was dating a girl in high school and she got pregnant,” Teresa explained when I turned back around. “Instead of putting Jack up for adoption, Jase’s parents legally adopted him and they raised Jack as Jase’s brother. Jase finally told Jack the truth a couple of weekends ago.”

“Wow,” I said. “How’d that go?”

Teresa smiled sadly. “Jack understands, but in a way, he doesn’t. He’s old enough to get what Jase is telling him, but he’s looked at him as an older brother since he was born. It’s going to take a while to get used to the fact that he’s his father. The great thing though is that Jase’s parents have been really supportive, and since Jase just closed on a house, it’s a good place for Jack once he’s ready.” She shrugged. “And hey, it’s like a practice run for me.”

Avery shot her a look. “Oh dear God, don’t let Cam hear you say that.”

“He needs to get over the fact I have sex. Lots of sex,” she replied dryly. “Look at Jase. Who wouldn’t?”

“That boy would never leave my bed,” Katie said.

“Mine either,” murmured Jacob. “Hell, I’d take all these boys.”

Part of me couldn’t believe that Jase had a son, but the guy had awesome genes so I guessed it was great that they were being passed down.

“What about the mom?” Katie asked.

Teresa cringed. “She passed away years ago in a car accident.”

“Oh. Wow. That sucks.” Katie took a long gulp of her beer. “I think it’s time for food.” She wandered over to the grill.

Reece was the man.

He pulled over a chair next to mine, asked what I wanted and returned with a plate full of food and a fresh beer. I could get used to that kind of service. And as corny as it felt, I could also get used to coupledom.

Katie left shortly after she finished eating, stating she had a hot date to get ready for, and I wished her luck. There were a lot of laughs and insults flying once the food was done and the chairs were moved around a fire pit that kept the cold chill of the September air at bay. When I came back from using the bathroom and helping put the cold stuff away in the fridge, Reece snagged me around the waist and pulled me into his lap.

I let out a soft squeal. “We’re going to break the chair!”

He straightened my glasses and then looped his arms around me. “We’ll be fine.” Light from the fire flickered across his face. “Want to know a secret?”

“Sure,” I whispered back.

One side of his lips kicked up and he rested his forehead against mine. “I’m glad we’re here. I’m enjoying this.”

My heart expanded in my chest and I admitted, “Me, too.”

“Good.” He reached up with one hand, smoothing my hair back from my face. “Because I can see us doing this again. And again. What do you think?”

I closed my eyes, secretly thrilled to hear what he was saying.

“I think it’s kind of weird seeing you two be nice to each other,” Jax said as he walked past us, joining Calla on a thick blanket.

Reece lifted his head from mine. “I think it’s kind of weird that you’re paying that close attention to us.”

I laughed as I rested my cheek on his shoulder. There was no denying I was happy where I was at the moment, and yeah, I could really see us doing this. I could see us together, seriously together. And maybe I could even get over myself—over the fear of getting hurt again.

For him—for this—wasn’t it worth it?

My breath caught as I placed my hand above his heart and he immediately folded his over mine. I opened my eyes and stared at our joined hands.

Katie was so right.

And it was so stupid, because I wasn’t even sure why I was fighting this anymore. What I felt for Reece when I was fifteen was nothing like what I felt for him now. Back then, I thought I knew what it was like being in love with someone. Maybe I did, but now I truly knew how it felt. Because this was like flying and drowning all at once, like wrapping yourself in your favorite sweater and running naked through a sprinkler. It was a thousand conflicting emotions all rolled into a ball.