Playing for Keeps / Page 53

Page 53


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Haley chuckled softly as she sent the little boy on his way. "Everyone was too busy laughing."

"Those were my peanut butter cup bars, woman!"

"But," Haley said with an innocent little pout, "the poor things were starving."

"You're mocking me, aren't you?" he asked, lips twitching as Haley walked into his arms. He put an arm around her shoulders and pressed a kiss to the top of her head.

"Yes, yes I am," Haley said, sounding proud as she snuggled closer.

He held her for a few minutes, simply enjoying having his little grasshopper in his arms before he asked the question he hated asking, "Did they show up?"

"No," she mumbled against his chest.

Jason leaned back and cupped her face in his hands. "I'm really sorry, my little grasshopper," he said softly, pressing a kiss to her forehead. He hadn't really expected them to show up to celebrate their ten year anniversary, but he had hoped for Haley's sake.

No matter how many years passed he still couldn't rid himself of the guilt he felt every time her family disappointed her. After they announced their elopement her family had gone a bit hysterical. They'd screamed, ranted, and begged Haley not to throw her life away on a loser like him. They hadn't cared that he'd been in the room at the time.

Finally Grandma had put an end to the bullshit and started swinging that cane of hers. Ten minutes later while Mr. Blaine was rubbing a sore knee he wrote a check in Jason's name for a hundred thousand dollars and all he had to do was walk away from Haley. Turning down that money had been the easiest decision he'd ever made. He just wished Haley and the kids weren't the ones to suffer as a result.

They completely cut Haley off and refused to have anything to do with the kids. He knew it hurt Haley, but she never let it show. Thankfully he had enough family to more than make up for the loss.

"It's okay," Haley said, forcing a smile.

"The hell it is!"

They both looked down and smiled as Grandma glared up at them from her new electric wheelchair. With a flick of her hand she gestured for Jason to load her up. With a smile he did just that.

Having Haley's grandmother move in with them five years ago when Chris retired and they finished building this house had probably made up for her family's neglect. Haley and the kids loved having her with them and Grandma loved having her own in-law apartment and the freedom to harass them any time she felt the need arise.

"I don't know why you keep inviting them, Haley," Grandma said, gesturing for Jason to add another hot dog. "They don't deserve you."

Haley shrugged. "It wouldn't feel right if I didn't."

Grandma gave Haley a sad smile. "I know, kiddo."

"Here you go, Grandma," Jason said, placing the plate on one of the tables the guys had set up that morning. She reached out and gave Haley's hand a squeeze before she rode over to the cooler and grabbed an ice cold beer. With a long suffering sigh, Jason grabbed the beer away from her, ignored her glare, and handed her an ice cold root beer instead.

Haley couldn't help but smile as the two got into a bickering match over Grandma's right to have a beer at a barbeque. Jason reminded her that her doctor said no alcohol and Grandma reminded Jason that she'd take him over her knee if he didn't give her the damn beer.

In the end Grandma grumbled as she went to eat her meal with an ice cold Coke. She threw Jason a fond smile when he wasn't looking. Five minutes later the kids were happily skipping out of the woods with an exhausted Megan pulling up the rear.

"Grandma!" they said excitedly as if they didn't see their great grandmother every day. Grandma didn't bother hiding her pleased smile as all three children sat down with her and shared their latest adventures with her. Megan grabbed a beer and headed for the pool, muttering something about needing a vacation.

Haley leaned against Jason as he flipped burgers. "You okay, my little grasshopper?"

She wrapped her arms around his waist and snuggled into his side. "More than okay."

"I love you, my little grasshopper," he said, leaning down to brush his lips against hers.

"I know," she said, smiling against his lips.

He pulled back to grin down at her. "You know?"

"Mmhmm," she said, absently as she ran her fingers through his hair, smoothing it back.

"Mmmhmm?" he repeated back, sounding amused. "You love me and you damn well know it."

"Maybe," she said with a shrug.

"Maybe you should just admit that you're crazy about me," he said, leaning in to kiss her again.

"And why would you want me to do that?" she asked, still smiling.

"Because I'm playing for keeps, my little grasshopper."

The End.


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