Playing for Keeps / Page 30

Page 30


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"I made them," Haley said, feeling a little embarrassed by the attention.

"You made these?" Jared asked with a cupcake in his hand.

She nodded.

"She's a great cook," Jason announced proudly.

Jared took a big bite, closed his eyes and made a yummy moan sound. In seconds he had the entire cupcake devoured. He reached out and snagged the second plate of cupcakes from Haley and headed back into the house without a word.

"My cupcakes!" they heard him snap at someone. Haley just barely stopped an eye roll. Definitely like father like son.

"Hey, old man, she made those for me!" Jason yelled, charging past his mother to go after the cupcakes, leaving Haley with Megan who was still staring at her.

"Um," she gestured to the car. "I have two more plates of cupcakes. I didn't think those two would survive the trip over here," she said, feeling foolish. Perhaps she should go hang out in the car until after the party was over. Seven hours in a car with nothing to do sounded better than being gawked at.

Megan's eyes narrowed on her. "You're really his girlfriend?"

"Yes."

"This isn't just some sick game he's playing?"

"Uh, no...is there something wrong?" She was really starting to feel self-conscious.

"Nothing other than you are the first woman he's ever brought home and you'll have to forgive me if I seem a little surprised. For a moment there I thought hell had frozen over." She put her arm around Haley's shoulders as if they were old friends. "Now, let's go in there and give a few dozen people the shock of a lifetime."

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

"Mom," Jason growled in warning.

She ignored him. Again. He leaned forward and tried to grab the photo album off Haley's lap only to have his hand slapped away by two women.

"Damn it, mom! This is supposed to be a barbeque. Shouldn't you be mingling and being a good hostess or something instead of sitting here and embarrassing me?"

"The hell with the barbeque! I've waited over thirty years for my only child to bring home a woman and I'll not be denied!" Several people around his mother smartly moved back while he just glared.

"Ah, you look so cute-"

"Naturally," he said with a sniff.

"-playing dress up in your mother's clothes," Haley said with an evil little smile. He turned his glare on her. She simply smiled sweetly and returned to the pictures from hell.

"Haley?"

She ignored him pointedly and laughed along with his mother.

"Haley? Do you want to go get something to eat?"

"Huh? Oh, yeah, I could go for a burger and potato salad, thank you," she said dismissively before laughing at something his mother pointed out.

"Oh, that sounds good. I'll take the same. Thank you sweetie, oh, and get us each another soda since we seem to have run out," Megan said, gesturing to their empty cups without looking away from that damn album he was going to have to torch.

Where the hell was the adoration and love? His mother normally babied him. Hell, at this point she normally was getting him a third plate of food and a drink. Let's not forget Haley who should be loading up a plate for herself with food for him to steal. What was wrong with his women?

He walked into the kitchen where food covered every surface. As he made up their plates his father, who was licking icing off his fingers, walked into the room with two of Jason's uncles and three of his cousins. The bastard hid the cupcakes and wouldn't share. When Haley made the mistake of mentioning the two plates of cupcakes still in her trunk he ran for them with his father close behind. The man actually tackled him to the ground, stole his keys and his beloved cupcakes.

"Those were without a doubt the best cupcakes I've ever had," his father announced happily.

"We wouldn't know since you wouldn't share any of them, you greedy bastard," Uncle Chuck said.

"I don't share," Jared said simply.

The men rolled their eyes.

"So," his cousin Trevor said as he leaned against the wall with his arms crossed over his massive chest, "how much did you pay her?"

"What the hell are you talking about?" he asked, placing the ketchup back on the counter.

His other cousin Nate answered, "What he means is why is she here? Did you pay her? Did she owe you a favor? We're just wondering how you managed to get her here."

Aggravated, he snatched the ketchup bottle with more force than necessary and squeezed an insane amount on both burgers.

"She's my girlfriend, plain and simple," he said.

"Uh huh," his father said in clear disbelief.

Jason slammed the bun on top of the burger, forcing ketchup out the sides. "What the hell is that supposed to mean? Why is it so hard for you bastards to believe that she's my girlfriend?"

They took that as their cue to tell him exactly why they didn't think she was his girlfriend.

"She's too nice."

"Too sweet."

"Nothing at all like the skanks you normally date."

"She doesn't come off as a brainless bitch like the girls you took to the clubs."

"She doesn't annoy the shit out of us."

"Plus, there is that whole thing where you've never claimed to have a girlfriend before, never told us about her, and gave your mother and me the surprise of a lifetime when you announced her earlier. So, you can see why we're curious," his father finished with a shrug.

"Plus, she's clearly too good for you," Uncle Mark added for good measure. "That's my main reason for not believing this bullshit story."

Well, that.......hurt. Not that he could or would argue that she was too good for him. She was. There was no question about that. What really hurt was they didn't believe him. He was known for being an ass**le not a liar. There was a big difference as far as he was concerned.

His mother chose that moment to come in smiling. Thank god. She'd put an end to all this nonsense.

"Do you need help with those burgers, sweetie?" she asked, frowning down at the hamburger he squished into a pancake. She lightly tsked him as she threw away the burgers and started over.

"I'm glad you're here, Mom."

She smiled warmly up at him.

While looking at the men of his family he asked her, "What do you think of Haley?"

Her smile grew. "Oh, she's such a sweet girl. I'm so glad you brought her." Her smiled turned wistful. "I just wished you would date a girl like her instead of the girls you find at bars, sweetie. A woman like that is just what you need. I'm sure if you straighten your act a bit you'll get a woman like Haley one-"

The men laughed.

Jason held up a hand. "Whoa, whoa, whoa, woman, back up there a second. I bring a woman home and introduce her as my girlfriend and you're giving me a lecture on how to get her to go out with me? Are you serious?"

She blinked up at him. "Well, yes. I've heard about some of those girls you date, sweetie, and while I appreciate the fact that you've never brought them home to me, I would really like to see you with someone. It would be nice if you considered dating Haley. She's such a nice woman."

He thrust his hands into his hair. This was crazy. Was this what normally took place when a man brought a woman home to meet his family? He was pretty sure it wasn't. This was worse than when he met Haley's family.


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