You deserve to lose her. You took advantage of her. She never wanted the marriage or you. She just wanted Anton.


“Sorry I hit you and stuff,” Anton said quietly, interrupting Cam’s derisive thoughts. “I thought it was just like before. With him.”


“I know. Apology accepted, okay?”


“Okay.”


“Look, sport, maybe I have been ignoring you. It ain’t because I think you’re bad, it’s just…well, I haven’t spent a lot of time with kids.”


“What about Ky?”


“Sure, my brothers and cousins have kids, but bein’ around them for a couple of hours once a month isn’t like living with them. When I was growing up, my dad was either yelling at me or ignoring me. So maybe I thought ignoring you was better than yelling, but now I can see that isn’t any better.”


“What did your dad yell at you about?”


“Mostly about not getting my chores done.”


“Do you really got a fake leg?”


For once Cam didn’t mind the abrupt subject change. “Yep.”


“Huh.”


Cam half-expected him to ask to see it.


“There’s a kid at my school that gots a fake arm.” Anton squinted at Cam’s leg. “But he doesn’t hide it. Why do you hide yours?”


Because I’m embarrassed. “Because it makes people uncomfortable. And because I’m a cop, everyone is already on edge around me, so it’s easier not to draw attention to it.”


“Jeffrey doesn’t care. He just whips it off in class. He scares the girls because it grosses them out.”


Yeah, it’d probably gross them out long past second grade.


“One time, he hit Doug in the butt with it. He got sent to the principal’s office for that.”


“I imagine so.”


“He said his dad doesn’t whip him anymore ’cause he feels sorry for him. When you were bad as a kid, did your dad whip you?”


“Nope. I didn’t lose my leg until a couple years ago. Besides, there were a lot of other shitty things he could make us do to get his point across that didn’t involve smacking us.”


“Like what?”


“Like the same kind of consequences I’m gonna give you for whaling on me today.”


Anton looked afraid again.


“You’re on dog doo-doo duty, which means you’re gonna pick up all of Gracie’s dog crap in the backyard and haul it to the hole behind that big tree over there.” Cam pointed to a half-dead elm. “I ain’t talking about it bein’ a one time thing, neither.”


“Really? Like chores I hafta do all the time?”


Why did the kid sound so…happy about doing chores? “Yeah, why?”


“Kids at school talk about having to do chores when they get home.”


“Plenty of chores around here.”


Anton smiled sweetly, maybe for the first time since Cam had known him. “I can do chores. Sometimes I help Domini sweep up at Dewey’s.”


“You’ll be on broom detail then. As for your other consequence, I’m gonna hafta take the TV outta your room.”


“Oh, man.” Anton’s shoulders slumped. “Really?”


“Really. When you come home from school you should be doin’ your homework, or chores, or outside playin’ with Gracie.”


Gracie barked and they both looked up to see Domini walking toward them.


“Don’t tell her about what I said about my mom.”


“I won’t. It’ll be our secret. But I think you probably should tell her.”


Anton nodded.


“Hey guys. You’ve been out here awhile. Is everything all right?”


“Yeah, except I’m getting my TV taken away,” Anton said glumly. “And I hafta do chores every day.”


“That sounds fair,” she said cautiously. Domini gazed at Anton with such softness and sweetness Cam was a little jealous. She loved the kid. She was good to him. Good for him.


“Maybe you should get a head start on chores by clearing a path in your room for when we haul the TV out,” she suggested.


“All right.” Anton tapped his leg. “Gracie. Come.” Boy and dog tore off.


Domini nestled her face in Cam’s neck. “I’m sorry.”


“For?”


“For you having to deal with that. Not only him hitting you, but his anger.”


“Which is entirely justified.” He clasped his hands together on her lower back, bringing her closer.


“It’s not the first time he’s been that upset, but I’ve always been able to calm him down.”


Guilt socked him in the gut. Domini shouldn’t have to deal with Anton’s issues alone. “Who calms you down?”


“You. When you’re not heating me up.”


Cam kissed the top of her head, working his way to her succulent mouth.


The unhurried kiss soothed rather than inflamed.


Domini shivered and he forced his lips from hers. “It’s getting chilly. We should go in. Supper’s done anyway.”


“Mmm. Think we can pick up where we left off after he goes to bed?”


“If I can stay awake. I’m so tired lately.”


“I’ve got plenty of ideas on how to keep you up,” he murmured.


“Isn’t that supposed to be my line?”


“Smarty. Just for that, I think I’ll drag out the nipple clamps tonight.”


“Promise?”


Cam swatted her on the ass. “Feed me, woman. I’ll need to keep up my strength.”


Chapter Twenty-One


Two weeks later…


“Please no. Come on.” Domini turned the ignition key again.


Nothing.


“I don’t have time for this. I really don’t.”


The next try had the same result of an empty click. The damn car was dead.


Domini wanted to beat her hands on the steering wheel in pure frustration. She knew nothing about cars. Nothing. At least the stupid thing had broken down in the school parking lot and not in the middle of the road.


“What are we gonna do?” Anton asked.


“Walk to the diner, I guess. And hope the repair shop can look at it tomorrow.”


“Why can’t Cam look at it now? He probably knows a lot about cars.”


Domini froze. She’d handled every little thing in her life for so long it never crossed her mind to ask someone for help.


Cam’s not someone. He’s your husband.


She reached for her cell phone and dialed. She was patched straight through to him.


“Hello, wife. You never call me at work. What’s the occasion?”


“Nothing that will make you happy. My stupid car died.”


“Where are you?”


“In the school parking lot.”


“Hang tight. I’ll be there in five.”


“But—” and she heard a dial tone. She looked over at Anton.


He smirked. “Told ya.”


As soon as Cam arrived, he checked the engine and did mysterious manly stuff beneath the hood. Then he sauntered over to where Domini and Anton waited.


“What’s wrong with it?”


“The starter is shot. The repair shop will have to order the part so it looks like we’re carpooling for the next couple days.”


“That won’t work. I need my own car. I have to be—”


“Well, princess, we don’t have a choice about sharing a ride, unless you stashed another vehicle someplace I don’t know about?”


Domini shook her head.


“Then that settles it.”


“I’m working from five until close tonight. Do you really want to wake Anton up at eleven and drive back into town to get me?”


“No, but I’d do it.” Cam’s eyes held a challenge. “What’s wrong with you driving my truck tonight?”


“You’d trust me with it?”


“I trust you with everything, Domini.” Cam touched her cheek. “Every. Damn. Thing.”


When Cam uttered such sweet words she wanted to burst out in song.


Anton sighed. “Can I sit in the truck if you guys are gonna kiss and junk now so I don’t hafta watch?”


“Do you have all your stuff out of Domini’s car?” Cam asked.


“Yeah.”


“Then climb on in, sport, and close your eyes ’cause there’s gonna be some serious smooching going on.”


She smiled when Anton sighed again.


Cam situated them chest to chest. “I wish we had time for kissing and junk, but I know you have to work. I’m off duty now, so why don’t you drive us home and bring the truck back into town.”


“You’re sure?”


“Yep. Nowhere I need to go tonight.”


“What will you guys be doing?”


“I dunno. We’ll think of something.”


“That’s what worries me.” Domini kissed his chin and snatched his keys.


***


“More?” Cam asked Anton.


“Nope.” Anton pushed aside his empty bowl.


Cam rolled the wax pouch and shoved it inside the Cap’n Crunch box. “This was a new box and now it’s half empty. Domini is gonna know we had cereal for supper.”


“We could tell her it’s gone because…it spilled?”


“Lying is never a good choice. We’ll have to come clean if she asks, okay?”


“Okay. But only if she asks, right?”


Cam smiled. “You’re learning. You rinse the bowls and I’ll take the garbage out.” Cam practically dragged the bag he was so dead on his feet. After dumping the trash, he trudged up the back deck. Maybe Anton wouldn’t mind if they just called it a night right now.


He snorted. Yeah, nothing seven-year-olds liked better than hitting the hay at six thirty. As Cam tried to think of something entertaining he and Anton could do, he misjudged the next step and fell on his ass with a loud crash, painfully twisting his bum leg in the process.

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