Something told me Amanda would say yes. She’d texted me a couple of times mentioning how sweet my roommate was. She was falling for him, too. “Go tell her. I’m going to head over to Knox’s place.”
Brian nodded. “Okay. I think I’m gonna stop on the way and pick up a gift for AnnMarie. What do you get for a three-week-old baby?” he asked.
He chuckled. “You’re probably right.”
As he turned for his car, my hand on his forearm stopped him. “Bri…thanks for everything.”
His eyes met mine. “Anytime. You know I’m always here for you. I’m always going to be here, no matter where we live or who is in our lives.”
I nodded. I did. And it was a comforting feeling. “Text me later and tell me what she says.”
“Will do. Have fun with the boys.”
I hadn’t told Brian about my fight with Knox, or his drunk-driving arrest. I merely nodded. But inside, my stomach was coiled tight. It was time to go face the music.
A few hours later, I showed up on Knox’s doorstep with a duffel bag slung over my shoulder, wondering what I’d find on the other side of the door. Could he have given up on me already and moved on? It was too painful to think about. I had to believe, with blind faith, that this would all work. I was out of options. Knox and I hadn’t spoken in a couple of days, not since I told him I needed my space. But now that I’d told Brian he could move Amanda and the baby into my old room, I was out of choices. This had to work.
Just like he did the first time I came to this house, Tucker answered the door. “Kenna!” he shouted and flung himself into my arms. It immediately made me feel guilty about staying away for so long.
“Hey, buddy.” I ruffled his hair and glanced around. Jaxon and Luke were in the living room, staring at a game of basketball on TV. Knox was nowhere to be seen, and dread churned deep inside me. “Where’s Knox?” I asked, my voice coming out shakier than I intended it to.
Throwing an arm around my waist, Tucker led me inside. “He’s working right now, but can you stay over and hang out with me?” Big brown eyes blinked up at mine. He was impossible to say no to. Just like his big brother.
“Of course I’ll stay.” I set my bag down in the living room and joined the boys on the couch.
Luke and Jaxon both nodded their hellos, not bothering to break eye contact with the TV until halftime. But I supposed if I was going to be living here, all of this was going to be my life. Boys, boys, and more boys. I nearly giggled at the thought.
“Do you know when Knox gets off work?” I asked.
Luke’s dark, expressive eyes met mine and I knew he was remembering the volunteer event where he’d practically forced Knox’s hand at telling me the truth. Luke had taken a risk, and I appreciated his honesty. His heart was in the right place. I hoped my small smile conveyed my thanks.
“He’s closing up at the hardware store, it should be about another hour.”
I caught up with the boys. Jaxon had cut out gambling, Luke was waiting to hear about the college applications he’d submitted, and Tucker was just Tucker. Loud, animated, and excitable like an eight-year-old boy should be. Thankfully, with Tucker to entertain me, the minutes passed by quickly.
“Have you guys had dinner yet?”
“Nope,” they chimed in unison.
Unable to sit and wait any longer, I ventured into the kitchen to see what I could make for dinner. The cabinets and fridge were pretty much bare, but I pieced together bread and cheese for grilled cheese sandwiches and a couple of cans of soup. I hope Knox wasn’t expecting a gourmet chef with me moving in. But I somehow knew he wouldn’t be. The guys had been taking care of themselves for many years already. They wouldn’t expect me to fill the role of maid or cook; I could just be me. The thought made me smile. The soup bubbled away on the stove and I added the last of the sandwiches to a big platter, carrying the whole thing out to the dining table.
“Boys, dinner!” I called.
I realized the extra commotion I heard from the living room meant Knox had arrived home. My stomach somersaulted and suddenly food was the last thing on my mind.
Knox entered the kitchen and his weary expression found mine. “McKenna?”
“What are you…”
“I made dinner.”
His gaze ventured to the table. “I see that.”
“Boys, come and eat up while it’s still hot. I’m just going to talk to Knox,” I instructed them. It was all the encouragement they needed. They descended on the food like a pack of hungry wolves.
“Guys, save some for McKenna,” Knox said before shooting me an apologetic look.
We headed into the kitchen while the guys busied themselves with the food I’d made in the dining room.
“Sorry about them. You’d think they’ve never seen food before,” he joked.
I smiled. “It’s okay.”
“What’s going on, angel? I take you didn’t come here just to make dinner.”
“No. I didn’t. I’m here because you were right. Your past was hard for me to accept, but it’s also the thing that led you straight to me, and I can’t help but think it was fate or maybe some divine intervention.”
His forehead creased and he took a step closer, obviously trying to understand what I was telling him.
I took a deep breath and continued. “The exact thing I was running from led me to Chicago and pushed you straight into my path. I’m not going to lie and say this isn’t hard for me. It’s the hardest test I’ve ever had to overcome. Harder than coping with life without my parents. Harder than leaving my hometown behind. But loving you isn’t a choice. And it’s worth it, Knox. You’re everything to me. You, your brothers, this home and family you’re offering me. I want it. I want all of it. I won’t allow my past to rob me of any more joy. You messed up, but you’ve changed. You’re not the same man who got behind that wheel. And I understand the life circumstances that drove you down that path. I know there will be bumps and bruises as we figure this out together. But I’m not going anywhere. You have me. You’ve had my heart right from the beginning.”
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