“I like you,” Grandma announced.

“Thank you, Mrs.-”

“You may call me Grandma,” she said in a tone that let him know she would not tolerate him calling her anything else.

Haley sat there stunned. She was the only one allowed to call her Grandma. The rest of the grandchildren called her grandmother when they started to take after their parents.

“Okay, Grandma it is,” Jason said with an easy smile. Wow the man really did have a way with women.

Chris stepped out from the house, no doubt where he just put away an enormous amount of groceries that had nothing to do with a barbeque. It was one of Grandma’s sneaky ways of helping her out since she refused to accept financial help from her family. Grandma had her ways.

“I’m sorry to interrupt, ma’am, but it seems some of the guests from the last barbeque have followed us here,” Chris said softly.

“Who is it?” Haley asked.

“Your cousins and a few aunts. I believe one or both of your sisters as well, Miss. Haley,” Chris said.

Grandma waved a dismissive hand towards the front of the house. “Well, they can leave because there isn’t enough food,” she said even though she hadn’t looked at the grill.

“I can put some more on if you want,” Jason offered.

“No!” Haley and Grandma said at once, startling Jason.

Chris cleared his throat. “They’re rather insistent about joining, ma’am.”

“Tell them to go away or I’ll write them out of my will in the morning,” Grandma said firmly.

Chris hid his smile as he turned to do just that.

Jason gave them all a curious look before shrugging. Apparently he really didn’t care enough to be bothered, which was a good thing for her. She earned her way in life and didn’t want anyone thinking any differently. All her friends knew she came from money and none of them cared. She was just Haley to them and she planned to keep it that way.

“What did you think of your father’s birthday gift, Haley?” Grandma asked.

Jason frowned. “I missed your birthday?”

“It was months ago,” Haley said with a shrug.

“He just remembered today?” Jason asked in disbelief.

“It’s no big deal,” Haley said, giving him a tight smile.

Jason scoffed. “If you say so.”

“I do.”

“Fine.”

“Fine.”

“Ah, children? If I may interrupt? Haley, have you looked at your gift?” Grandma asked.

“Not yet.” There was no rush. She already knew what was in there since her father thought she was twenty-five there would be twenty-five hundred dollar bills in an unsigned card.

“Well, go get it,” Grandma said.

With a sigh she went into the house, rolling her eyes at the overfilled bags of groceries that covered her kitchen counters and table and retrieved the envelope from her purse. She carried it out and sat down with it.

“Well, open it!” Grandma said.

“Why are you so eager for me to see this gift?” Haley asked suspiciously.

“Because I’m the one that suggested your gift,” she said with a dismissive wave of her hand.

Haley bit her lip so she wouldn’t cry. Not only had her father forgotten her birthday, but Grandma had to be the one to finally remind him and most likely ordered her gift.

She opened the card and wasn’t too surprised to see the card wasn’t signed. Surprise, surprise. Her eyes shifted to the gift and froze there. It was a full minute before she began breathing again. In another ten seconds she was up and around the table, hugging her grandmother and kissing her.

“You are the best, ever!” Haley said between kisses.

Grandma laughed. “I’m glad you like it. I wanted to give those to you but you’re so damn stubborn about no one helping you so I used your father’s stupidity. Now you have to accept them,” Grandma said with a firm nod.

*************

Jason got up and flipped the burgers before he added the hot dogs. He turned back in time to see Haley jumping up and down and giggling like a school girl.

“Well, don’t leave me in suspense,” he said, earning a loud squeal from Haley.

Apparently she was beyond words so she pushed the card into his hands. He looked down. Blinked. Blinked again before stumbling back into a chair. Did he just wet himself? Ah, who cared? He was holding four tickets to the Yankees vs. Red Sox at Yankee Stadium for this Friday and they were without a doubt the best seats in the stadium.

His eyes shifted from Haley to the tickets and back again before he made a split second decision and made a run for it. He didn’t make it five feet before his little grasshopper tackled him to the ground and ripped the card from his hands.

He spit grass out of his mouth. “Fine. You can come with me I guess,” he said, earning a knee to the ribs.

Chapter 7

“I love you, Derek!”

Jason tried to drag Haley back to her seat, but she fought him tooth and nail. “I love you, Derek!”

“He knows, woman! He’s known since the first inning. Let the man focus,” he said, finally managing to drag her a foot when that bastard Derek Jeter went and waved to Haley. That did it. She tried to break free and make a run for the field.

Trying not to drop her as he burst out laughing, he readjusted his grip and pulled Haley back with him until she was sitting on his lap. He kept one arm around her waist as he retrieved his beer from Brad.

The man threw him another triumphant grin. For three days Jason taunted the man with the two extra tickets. He already knew he was going. There was an unspoken understanding between him and Haley. If she tried to leave without him he would burn her house down, plain and simple. This was a Yankees/Red Sox game for Christ sake.

On the third day of taunting the little betraying bastard had his wife call up Haley. Little tattle tale. Since Haley’s friends hated anything to do with any sport she invited Brad and another friend of his, Mitch. Mitch was a good buddy and had an obvious crush on Haley, one that she didn’t seem interested in. That was fine with him because he didn’t think Mitch was good enough for his sweet little grasshopper.

“Come on! He was safe! Get your head out of your ass and pay attention!” Haley screamed as she bounced on his lap, desperate for freedom, no doubt to rip the umpire’s head off.

Okay, he thought, chuckling, maybe sweet was a bit much. His little grasshopper was a little fire cracker.

“Calm down before you get us kicked us out of the stadium,” he said, laughing.

She huffed and crossed her arms over chest as she leaned back into him. “Cheating bastards,” she muttered.

“Because they’re winning?” he asked, already knowing the answer.

“Yes!”

“Relax and I’ll buy you a foam finger,” he said, absently caressing her stomach with his thumb while she thought it over. Today she wore a tight pink tank top with an open Yankees jersey and a pair of shorts giving him and every guy a look as those golden beauties.

“I already have a foam finger at home,” she pointed out sullenly.

“Then what would my little grasshopper like?” he asked, fighting back the urge to press a kiss to her back.

She glared over her shoulder at him. “I’m not going to call you Mr. Miyagi you know.”

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