She didn’t owe him shit.

Sam didn’t care how much money he’d made her in investments, he could never repay the debt of having her watch out for him and keep him on the straight and narrow.

Or at least as straight and narrow as he got . . .

He picked up the statements and looked at her. “It’s late. You okay?”

“Yes. I just got held up watching The Voice.” A natural beauty, Amelia had turned fifty last year, but looked a decade younger. Cole had gotten all of his charm and easy charisma from her. She was barely five feet tall, of Irish descent, and had the temperament to go with it.

And a backbone of pure steel.

Sam handed her back the statements. “The English version is that you made a shitload of money this quarter, so no worries.”

She nodded, but didn’t smile as he’d intended.

“What?” he asked.

“Nothing.” But she was clearly biting her tongue about something.

He knew her well and braced himself, because that look meant she had something on her mind and there’d be no peace until it came out. “Just say it,” he said.

“I heard that your father called you.” Her sweet blue gaze was filled with worry. “Is it true?”

Well, shit. There was no love lost between Amelia and Mark, mostly because Amelia had always had to clean up Mark’s mess—that mess being Sam. It didn’t matter that he and his dad had lived in Seattle. She’d made the two-hour drive and claimed him whenever he’d needed her.

“Sam,” she said. “Is it true? Did Mark call you?”

“Listen, it’s late,” he said, trying to head off a discussion he didn’t want to have. “Let me walk you out—”

“It’s a simple enough question, Samuel.”

He grimaced at his full name, the one only she used. Pulling in the big guns. “Yeah, he called. I call him, too, you know that.”

Her eyes went from worried mom to very serious mom. “Honey, I need you to tell me you weren’t stupid enough to give him another penny.”

“You know, it lowers a person’s self-esteem to call them stupid,” he said with mock seriousness.

“Damn it!” Amelia stalked to the door that led to a hallway and into the small kitchen.

Against his better judgment, Sam followed, watching as she bypassed the fridge, going straight for the freezer, exclaiming wordlessly when she found it empty.

“You used to always keep vodka around,” she muttered. “Where’s the vodka?” She turned to him, hands on hips. “Sometimes a woman needs a damn vodka, Sam.”

He knew that. He also knew that sometimes a man needed a damn vodka. For a long time after Gil’s death, vodka had soothed his pain. Too much. When he’d realized that, he’d cut it off cold turkey. It’d sucked.

These days, he stuck with the occasional beer and did his best not to think too much. “I’ve got soda,” he said. “Chips. Cookies. Name your poison.”


He sighed and strode over to her, shutting the freezer, pulling her from it and enveloping her in his arms. “I’m okay. You know that, right?”

She tipped her head back to look up into his face. “Does it happen often?”

“Me being okay? Yes.”

She smacked him on the chest. “I meant your dad. Does he call you often then?”

“I call him every week,” Sam said.

Her gaze said she got the distinction, and the fact that Sam was usually the instigator didn’t make her any happier. “And do you give him money?” she asked.

“When he needs it.”

She gave a troubled sigh. “Oh, Sam.”

“Look, he’s getting older and he’s feeling his mortality,” he said. “He’s got a silly, frivolous woman, and a baby coming—”

“Which is ridiculous—”

“—And he realizes he f**ked up with his first kid.”

“You think?” She cupped his face. “Sam, I don’t like this. I don’t like him taking from you. He’s done nothing but take from you, and I know damn well it affects your relationships. Because of him, you let women in your life here and there, but you don’t let yourself fully rely on anyone, ever. That isn’t healthy, Sam. Is Becca any different?”

He thought of the only woman who’d caught his eye lately. Becca. She certainly wasn’t the type of woman to rely on anyone. “I think she might be,” he said.

“But will you be able to rely on her? That’s what a woman will want, Sam. For you to do the same.”

He gave a short laugh. “You’re way ahead of yourself.”

“Well, I worry about you,” she said. “All of you.”

“Marry off all those crazy daughters of yours, and then we’ll talk,” Sam told her.

“You’re changing the subject on me.”

“Trying.” He sighed at the dark look she shot him. “Look, I don’t like that he’s getting older and feeling regrets. Or that he doesn’t have enough money to support that kid. He’s my dad. What would you have me do?”

Amelia sighed and shook her head. Then she went up on tiptoe and kissed his cheek. “I know better than to argue with you. I’d do better bashing my head up against the wall.”

He smiled, as this was true. “So you’ll leave me alone about it?”