Playing for Keeps / Page 33

Page 33


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Mitch pursed his lips, thinking over the ultimatum. After a minute he dropped his arms to his side and sighed, "I'd rather get my ass kicked."

Chapter 18

"Baby, stop!" Haley said, giggling.

Jason hugged her waist tighter, keeping her from walking away. "Stay home with me. I missed you," he said, giving her his best pout.

She gently ran her fingers through his hair the way he liked it. "I'm sorry, sweetie, but I can't back out again. I promised Amy and the girls that I was definitely coming tonight."

There was no way she was allowing herself to stay home tonight. Over the past week she'd come so close to wrecking the surprise by telling him. She knew that if she stayed home tonight that the excitement would get to her and she'd blurt it out and everything she'd gone through over the past month to plan this would be wrecked.

Of course none of this would have been possible without her grandmother's help. A few times Haley considered giving up when money and location became an issue, but then Grandma offered to help her out. Grandma found her the perfect place at more than half the cost of every place Haley had looked into.

It was the first time Haley had ever accepted her grandmother's help. It had always been important for her to make it on her own without her family's money and influence. For Jason she'd sucked up her pride and asked Grandma to help her find the perfect cabin to rent. Everything was going to be perfect.

"Does it not matter that I'm on my knees begging you? You're really going to be able to leave someone this pathetic?" he demanded in a sulky tone.

Haley rolled her eyes as she gently pried his arms from around her waist. "It's just for a couple of hours. You won't even know I'm gone," she promised him.

He sat back on his haunches doing his best to look pathetic.

She did her best not to roll her eyes, again. It was just so damn cute and sweet that he didn't want to spend even one night without her. This was something she never expected from Jason Bradford, one of many things actually. He was so sweet and attentive.

"What if I promise to make you a batch of brownies tomorrow?" she asked, deciding to use his love of baked goods against him.

He snorted in disbelief as he got to his feet. "I'm not some whore you can buy with a pan of yummy baked goods, woman. How dare you insult me?" he said on a sniff as he folded his arms over his chest and did his best to look put out.

"Fine," Haley said with a sigh. "What if I promise to make a big bowl of frosting tomorrow and let you lick it off me?"

She had to bite back a smile as Jason shifted anxiously while he licked his lips and ran his eyes hungrily down her body. "Buttercream?" he croaked out.

"Mmmmhmm," she said, walking over to him. She cupped the back of his head and gently tugged him down for a quick kiss. "And if you're good I might lick some off you," she said, loving the idea.

"Get your own bowl of frosting. I don't share," he simply said, giving her one last kiss before walking out the door, whistling happily, no doubt thinking about the large bowl of frosting he was going to devour tomorrow.

With a smile she grabbed her small black purse and headed out the door. She wasn't too surprised to find Jason playing basketball with Mitch and Brad. Not that she would ever really expect it, but it was nice to know that he'd pick her over his friends. She wasn't the type of woman that expected a guy's attention twenty-four seven, but it was nice to know it was hers if she wanted it.

She blew a kiss in his direction and couldn't help but laugh when Mitch jumped in front of Jason to snag it.

"That was my kiss, you bastard!" Jason yelled, placing a choke hold on Mitch and taking him down to the ground while Brad stood by sighing.

He really was a sweetheart. Maybe she'd make him a big batch of fudge brownies to go along with that bowl of frosting.

"And stop looking at her ass!" Jason snapped.

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

"Oh my god, I can't believe you came," Amy said, leaning back in her chair as she watched Haley approach the table.

"He's probably following right behind her," Sarah pointed out with a laugh.

"Ha, ha, very funny," Haley said, taking the only empty seat at the table as her four friends and a woman she had absolutely no idea who she was gave her knowing looks.

Amy gestured to the new woman. "This is my friend, Kate. Kate this is Haley, the woman I told you about."

Frowning, Haley reached over to shake the woman's manicured hand. She couldn't help but wonder what Amy said about her. Thankfully she didn't have to wonder for long.

"So, this is the woman that brought Jason Bradford to his knees?" Kate asked, cocking her head to the side as she ran an assessing eye over Haley. Haley didn't miss the woman's lips twitching when she came to her glasses. Obviously the woman thought she came up short.

Haley didn't care what this woman thought. It wasn't the first time someone had a hard time believing she was with Jason and probably wouldn't be the last. There was no denying that she wasn't Jason's usual type. She hadn't lived next door to the man for five years without learning a thing or two. Granted she never saw the woman until after he dumped them and they were drunk screaming messes, but it was pretty easy to guess his type.

The old Jason, as she liked to think of the not so sweet Jason that used to drive her insane, liked woman who were a walking breathing advertisement for sex. Kind of like Kate, Haley thought with an inward groan. With her perfect silky long raven hair, makeup that made her look sultry and clothes that were a little too tight and showed off way too much Kate could be a walking advertisement for Jason's type.

Judging by the smug smirk on the woman's face she'd guessed what Haley was thinking.

"How long have the two of you been together?" Kate asked casually, but Haley hadn't missed the calculating gleam in her eyes.

Before she could tell her it was none of her business Amy answered for her, "About two months."

The surprised look on Kate's face was rewarding. She knew she'd lasted longer with Jason than any other woman, surprisingly since she never put out. Well, she did do a thousand and one naughty things with him and kept his interest with baked goods, but that was neither here nor there. She was pretty sure he really cared about her, maybe even loved her.

Okay, love might be pushing it for a man like Jason, but she was damn sure that he cared about her. He was always sweet to her and seemed genuinely happy to see her. Not to mention that he went out of his way to spend time with her. She wasn't entirely sure, but she didn't think he'd done that with anyone before her.

"That's pretty impressive," Kate mumbled distractedly.

Amy waved off her comment, leaning closer towards Haley with an unholy gleam of interest in her eyes. "Well?" she said expectantly.

Haley could only frown as she looked past her friend for the waitress. Suddenly she had the feeling the only way she was going to survive this girl's night out was with a lot of alcohol.

She looked back and was startled to find Beth, Alice, and Jen leaning towards her as well with similar expressions.

"Well what?" Haley asked, wondering if she needed to start drug testing her friends. They were seriously freaking her out.


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