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Learning to Love Again

Author Jessa Stephens

Released and available at most ebook retailers! (Listed below the excerpt.) 

· Romance,Suspense,family

Bree McKinley Hudson had spent the last fifteen years in an abusive, physically and emotionally, marriage.paragraph text here.

She married her high school sweetheart, Cedric Hudson, two months after their high school graduation. Yes, July 21, 1999, would be a date Bree will never forget.

Bree and Cedric were voted ‘Couple Most Likely to Succeed’… well, after they finished college, financially they were a force to be reckoned with.

After they had married, they both supported each other through college. It was a struggle with both of them working, college, studying and maintaining a relationship, but they managed. They both took classes’ year around to hurry along their degrees. It worked, and both of them graduated at the top of their class.

Cedric received his Bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering. He always found it fascinating and wanted to be one of those people that design and develop methods for extracting oil and gas from deposits below the earth’s surface. Petroleum engineers also find new ways to extract oil and gas from older wells, which Cedric found intriguing. He wanted to go down in history for making something new to help the older wells function much more efficiently. Basically, Cedric wanted to be famous.

Bree became a corporate lawyer. The practice of corporate law was less adversarial than that of trial law. Bree found the world of corporate law intriguing. She desired to follow her father’s example. Actually, Bree was seeking approval from her parents and thought joining his company would help. Growing up with a nanny she never felt close to her mother and father. But Bree found her father’s work interesting. Yes, the world of mergers and acquisitions was where she wanted to be. However, the harassment suits and liability claims could really get nasty, and she couldn’t wait to sink her teeth into that world. Being a perfectionist, she mastered it and was in high demand in many areas.

After both of them graduated, they were in their first year of the ‘real world’ and all the stressors that came with it. They felt like they were just passing each other in search of their place in their careers.

Bree got pregnant with their first child six months after they had completed college. Cedric wanted her to have an abortion; a baby did not fit into his perfect plan for his life.

Bree was not having an abortion; she simply did not believe in them, and after hearing the heartbeat, there was no way she would ever hurt her child.

Cedric tried his best to sway her to his way of thinking when that did not work—that was when the beatings began.

Bree continued working up until she had their son, Trevor Hudson and went back to work when he was two months old. She managed to juggle work and motherhood fabulously. However, the abusive marriage that had developed was hard to stomach. The bruising always healed, but the emotional damage she endured never would. Ever.

Bree thought Cedric would come around. After all, what man didn’t want a son to show-off and be proud to have?

On Trevor’s first birthday, Bree found out she was pregnant. Again. The birth control pills had failed to work. She hoped that Cedric would be more supportive of this child than he was when she was pregnant with Trevor. However, Trevor was turning one, and his father had never even held him. He walked around him as if he wasn’t there.

The beatings became more severe until Cedric just stopped coming home for extended periods of time. When Bree went into labor with their second child, her mother and father took her to the hospital because Cedric hadn’t been heard from in days. Bree had made the excuse that Cedric was out of town on business because she felt her parents were inconvenienced by having to take her to the hospital.

After giving birth to Jade Hudson, Bree had her tubes clamped. She went back to work when Jade was two months old.

Over the following years, Bree continued to be a warm, loving and caring mother to their children. She made sure they had the best education money could buy at a local private school. On the rare occasions when Cedric would show up, and they were still awake, the children were afraid of their own father, so they hid in their rooms.

Cedric was always very careful where he hit Bree, careful to hit her so that her clothes hid the bruising. He would yell at her that he found her disgusting and didn’t have any desire for her any longer. Consistently, Cedric told Bree how ugly he thought she was and no man in their right mind would ever want a washed out bitch like her. After that had gone on for an extended period of time, it had gotten to the point that he wasn’t home much at all.

Although, Bree felt it in her soul that he wasn’t faithful, she never said a word. Bree stayed with him thinking that it was best for the children until Trevor and Jade walked in her room. She had her gown on, and her back turned towards them, which revealed all the bruises from the beating Cedric had given her the night before.

Trevor was eight at the time, and Jade was six. They confronted her about the abuse and told her they had heard him yelling and beating her for a long time now. They begged her to leave him. It made her think how bad it must be for an eight-year-old and six-year-old to notice that the way their father treated her wasn’t right.

Bree explained that she stayed with him because he was their father.

They didn’t look at him as a father, hell he never even spoke to them.

Bree decided to call into work and have the day together with just her children. She took them to lunch, the mall, to the park where they walked and talked for a couple of hours. After Bree was sure of what she had to do, they went home.

They pulled into the garage and Cedric's car was in there. That was odd because he was supposed to be at work.

As Bree and the children went into the house, they didn’t see him. The kids stayed on her heels in fear of what he would do to her when she asked for a divorce.

They went upstairs, sounds were heard coming from Bree’s bedroom. As Bree opened the bedroom door, her biggest fear and suspicions were revealed. There they were—Cedric and his assistant—having sex in Bree's very own bed. Quickly, Bree shut the door as she tried to protect her children.

The divorce was very fast and quiet. Cedric didn’t sign his rights away to the children but gave her full custody of them. To keep her from going public about his behavior and affairs, she kept everything. All he got was his clothes and car. He did have a girlfriend already. Cedric could live with her …, Right?

Two years later…

As Bree sat and watched Trevor’s birthday party, her mind drifted into deep thought. 

My baby is ten today. Time has flown, but he looks happier today than I have ever actually seen him. He has always been such a remarkable boy. I’m so proud of him. Bree was completely lost in her own world as she watched him play with his friends by the pool area. Jade was at his side, as she always was. Jade is his little shadow. She’s growing up so fast and getting more beautiful each day. She is so smart—brains and beauty. She’ll make some man delighted one day. I love those two so very much.

How did I become this thirty-five-year-old single mother? How did my children get so much smarter than I am, to see that we needed to get out of that situation with their father? They amaze me daily. Honestly, spending that day together with them and then finding their so-called father…Cedric, in a compromising position, so to speak…I think the children saved us all.

Having an incredible career that I love, and it makes us financially stable, the best children a woman could ever want, and a beautiful home for them is all that matters to me. Not being able to help herself she laughed. Hell, I may be thirty-five, but we are doing great!

Bree was jolted from her reflection on the past as Trevor ran toward her and yelled, “Mom! Can I spend the night with Dillion?”

Jade was right on Trevor’s heels, “Mom! Can I spend the night with Alishia?”

Bree took a deep cleansing breath to steady herself, “I don’t know either of their parents or if it is even okay with them.”

“Mom,” Trevor smiled, “they are brother and sister. Their Dad is over there by the ball pit.” He pointed with his short little finger.

“Well, let’s go meet him,” she forced a fake grin while she held her fear of being away from them deep inside herself.

Ugh, these nerves of mine have got to get under control. This is the first time they’ve asked to spend the night with anyone, and honestly, it freaks me the heck out!

They walked over to the ball pit as kids jumped in it and obviously had a blast.

He was nowhere in sight, which caused her to give Trevor puzzled glance, “I don't see anyone over here. Where is he?”

A table that sat by the pool, Jade pointed to it, “I guess he decided to sit down.”

“Maybe he got tired of standing.” Leave it to Bree to come out with a wisecrack. When all else fails, make them laugh. Bree thought.

There, at the little white table, sat a man who had the sweetest smile she had ever seen. It was sexy, and it took her breath away. It was almost as if a force of nature pulled Bree toward him.

Ugh! Have I lost the ability over my own body and mind? Get a shovel I’ve become a pile of mush! Bree shrugged it off and stood straighter.

Trevor elbowed her hip and looked at her like she had lost her mind.

After she had shrugged her shoulders at her son, Bree cleared her throat, “Hi, I am Bree Hudson, Trevor and Jade’s mother.” Stunned, Bree extended her hand to shake his…big man hand that seemed to engulf hers. Don’t think she didn’t notice that fact either.

“Hi, I’m Ryder Houston, Dillion and Alishia’s father. Do you always have such great birthday parties?” She is a vision of loveliness! I…I thought maybe she’d be a prude or at least an ugly housewife with nothing better to do than plan these kinds of events. Ryder was mesmerized by her beauty. Elegance.

Then he smiled, and Bree’s whole body melted into a big pile of goo. She had to fight to keep her knees from buckling underneath her. Wow, the things that was running through her mind were anything but innocent at that point.

She pulled herself back to the present, “I let them pick what they want to do for their birthday’s each year.” Bree gave Ryder a smile as she waved her hand around at what Trevor had chosen this year. “They want to spend the night with Dillion and Alishia. Are you sure it is okay with you and your wife?”

“It is perfect for me…”

“We don’t have a mom. She died when we were little.” Dillion informed Bree.

“That is okay Dillion, we don’t have a dad. He was a jerk to our mom; he yelled and hit her a lot.” Trevor shook his little head at the memory.

Ground, please open up and swallow me now! She closed her eyes and mentally chanted the silent prayer to save her from embarrassment.

Unknowingly, Ryder saved her, “Hey, little man,” he glanced to Trevor. “Sometimes people are put in our lives to teach us a lesson. After the experience reveals itself, it is time for that person to leave our life. The lesson you both learned from him was—real men do not hit women…, Right?”

Trevor thought for a moment, “You’re right, and we are happier without him. No one will ever hit my mom again as long as I am around.”

Bree was unable to hold back her smile as she ruffled her son’s hair.

“Good job, Trevor. That is a valuable life lesson to have learned. It stinks that he did that to your mom, but you all look thrilled now and right now—today—that is all that matters.” Ryder chanced a glimpse over at Bree, afraid he might have stepped over some kind of boundary.

When he smiled at her it made her body come to life, she felt a tingling sensation she had not felt before. Ever. Like in never. She recovered quickly and gave Ryder a reassuring grin.

Dillion looked at Trevor as if he was in thought. “Alishia and I learned not to do drugs. Our mom was a crack head, and she overdosed. But she wasn’t herself… You know? Drugs make you someone else, and all you care about is getting your next hit. She didn’t know how to love anymore. Honestly, we were scared of her.”

Ryder lowered his head. Bree could sense the embarrassment and…something else radiated from him. Shame?

“Why don’t you kids go play in the ball pit while we talk about tonight?” She sent them on their way, Bree gave them a comforting nod and told them to have fun and enjoy being children.

Quickly, she took the seat across from Ryder, when Bree placed her hand on his arm, it sent a tornado of emotions through her hand and up Bree’s arm. With that pushed aside, “I know how you feel. I wanted the ground to swallow me up with Trevor’s remark. Nevertheless, you are right—they all learned a valuable lesson. Do I like the way my children had to learn it? No. However, in the end, it was me that learned the biggest one of all—I tried staying with him because he was their father. It was them who asked me to leave him when they saw the bruises on my back.”

As if in slow motion, Ryder raised his head so that they were eye to eye, “Sadly, we are in the same position—I thought they had to have their mother, I use that word loosely, in their life.” Ryder shook his head, “I put her in rehab and then two days after she got out she overdosed. The kids and I found her. Looking back, I should have taken them out of that situation long before then.”

“I am sorry you lost her,” Bree gazed at her hands not really sure what was the right thing to say. “I am especially sorry that you and the children had to find her in that state. It couldn’t have been easy…for any of you.”

“Bree, the love was gone long before she died. I was going through the motions for them,” he nodded toward the children, “while I was dying inside. I was only a shell of a man, walking around in life and going through the daily activities, but not living—only existing. Unfortunately, what Dillion said was true. Kacey, my wife, was no longer herself. Nothing mattered to her but the drugs. The end for me was the night she smacked me and said, ‘If you loved me…,’” he had shaken his head before he continued, “‘…you’d get me what I need. Drugs! I don’t need you or those brats.’ I knew then I didn’t know her any longer. She killed my love for her that day, but I was determined to find her again—at least for Dillion and Alishia, then possibly we could’ve worked on how badly she had hurt me. The next day I admitted her into rehab. Then like Dillion said a couple days after she was released Kacey overdosed. She didn’t look like the woman I married, and her personality was or seemed so different and mean. It was as if she was, for lack of a better word, possessed. ” 

“I am horrified that you, Dillion, and Alishia had to endure all of that kind of abuse.” It was as if the wind was knocked out of her as she tried to imagine someone that could treat, not only her husband but her children so horrible. “Seems our lives are mirrored just different circumstances,” she took a chance at a glimpse of Ryder while the reality hit her. “I was going through the motions and trying to keep a smile on my face for Trevor and Jade, all the while I lost bits and pieces of myself every single day. A person can only take so much emotional, verbal…any kind of abuse before it makes your love for that person falter and pieces of you die daily.”

“I am sorry you had to live in that abuse. It is a testament to the woman that you are—to allow that to continue for your children. No one deserves to be abused, emotionally or physically.” Ryder shook his head when he laid his large hand on Bree’s hand. “Men that do that baffle me. And do you know most of those men will not ever stand up to another man? Ridiculous. Our society’s values and morals are not what they used to be. What has happened to our world?” Ryder shook his head.

“I am not sure if it is a testament to the woman I am or stupidity on my part,” she let out a forced laugh, as she tried to shrug it off. “I agree with you on society not having the values and morals that it once prided itself on. Sad. This is a deep conversation for just meeting. Let’s try this again,” Bree cleared her throat, “It is a pleasure to meet you, Ryder. I am Bree.”

Both of them broke out in hysterical laughter.

“Anyway,” as she calmed herself, “Trevor and Jade asked if they could spend the night with your children. I have a rule that they go nowhere until I know the parents. Not meaning any disrespect, but they are all I have,” Bree gave him a small smile that revealed her pain, both emotional and physical.

Ryder forced the lump that had formed in his throat down as best he could. That man she was married to was pure evil. I’ve never understood men like him.

“Well, now,” he tried to lighten the mood as he continued, “I am fine with them spending the night. You must know that I am an ax murderer, and my best friend is the crazy dude from Friday The 13th.” He gave her a smartass smirk.

Laughter had erupted from her before either of them knew it. 

“It is nice to know you are consistent,” talk about getting knocked off your feet, Bree completely took him by surprise with that statement.

That earned Bree a full-blown deep, sexy laugh.

What is it about him that has me attracted to him? Two years—two freaking years—I have avoided men. Now, this! No, I’m not attracted to him—he is just nice. Yeah, right! Bree, you dork, you don’t even believe that! He is sexy as sin, and you’d love to take him for a spin. Bree’s inner Goddess decided to show her ugly head. What was worse was Bree knew the bitch was right!

“Seriously, I am a child psychologist. I love working with kids. Fortunately, it actually came in handy when Dillion and Alishia’s mother overdosed. It took some time to work through it with them, but they are doing great now. Do you know that this is the first time, in the three years she has been gone, that they have asked for friends to come over or even got close to other children—your children? I must say you have done a great job with Trevor and Jade. They are well mannered and respectful—you do not see that often these days. They are more than welcome to spend the night—as long as it is okay with you.”

She debated in her mind for a moment before she spoke, “Well, since our children announced our past with our spouses, I’ll be totally honest, their father has not seen them since that day we left him. He refused to sign his rights away, not because he wants them, but because it would have looked bad on his part. He had to keep his reputation intact.” Bree lowered her head as she tried to erase that part of her life. “Please forgive me if I am a bit overprotective. They are my world.” Then Bree did it, she made the mother of all mistakes, she glanced up at Ryder and their eyes locked—they were both lost in each other at that point.

Ryder cleared his throat, grabbed a napkin and took out a pen, “This is our address, phone number and entry code for the gate to enter the property,” he handed it to her. “I am protective, too. Why don’t you bring them over and while they play, I can show you around, and we can have coffee or tea? That should give you time to decide if they can

 stay.”

“Entry code? Are you serious?” Bree’s smile was borderline laughter at the thought of an entry code. “I like this idea even better now that I know you live in a secured area.”

Ryder couldn’t help himself but return the smile, “With the way she died I was concerned with drug dealers. I packed up Dillion and Alishia, moved us to a safe neighborhood and made it even safer. I don’t want them to ever be subject to that environment again.”

The entry code and strong security made even more sense, now. “That is completely understandable. I would have done the same, but then, in my opinion, any good parent would remove their children from harm’s way.”

“Do you realize that not everyone sees it that way? My family ridiculed me for such a ‘drastic move’… as they called it.” He ran his hand over his jaw.

“I have learned that we have to do what is right for us, not anyone else. I have been subject to the same ridicule,” Bree gave Ryder a knowing glance as the reality that someone other than herself, and the children, had gone through similarly horrible situations.

Both, Bree and Ryder, jumped as Trevor came in a dead run towards them, “Mom! Jade is bleeding!”

Bree was out of the chair so fast it hit the patio as it flipped over. She was in a dead run behind Trevor to get to Jade. Poor Jade had blood in her mouth, “What happened?”

“I lost my tooth!” Jade squealed.

“That loose tooth finally came out?” Bree laughed, but her fear level was higher than ever. When will I finally stop panicking over every little thing? When they are grown that’s when! No, not even then. Not ever!

“Yeah,” she giggled, “Dillion helped me pull it, and it didn’t hurt just like you said, mom.”

Bree glanced at Ryder, he had a brilliant smile that beamed at her, “Let’s go get you cleaned up…”

“Mom, will the tooth fairy still come if we go to their house? Will she be able to find me there?” Jade had concern written all over her little face.

“Of course,” Bree gave her daughter a wink and reassured her with a smile. Bree apologized to Ryder, “Excuse us while I clean her up.”

“Thanks, Dillion. I will be back.” Jade yelled to her new friend.

Hurriedly, she took Jade in the house and placed her on the counter, then spun around to grab a dishcloth. Bree ran into Ryder in the process. It was a good thing that he had fast reflexes or they both would have hit the floor. Ryder was built like a brick wall, had he not grabbed her waist Bree would have bounced off him and onto the floor.

“I’m sorry, Ryder. I didn’t know you came in,” Bree breathed out. She felt her whole body as it quivered from the shock of the collision.

“Bree, it is okay,” he rubbed her arms as he tried to calm her. “I wanted to see if I could be of some help to this little lady.” Ryder smiled at Jade.

Jade giggled, “This is one of my top teeth.” She held out her hand and showed him her tooth.

“Wow, the tooth fairy will be waiting to get that tonight,” Ryder was wide-eyed like that was the best tooth he had ever seen.

After Bree had her cleaned up, she grabbed her camera, “Give me a big smile Jade.”

Capturing moments like this is priceless. I put them in their scrapbook I have made for both of them. They are growing so fast! I feel like I have blinked and time has passed by.

“That is a good looking smile you have Jade. That tooth will grow in before you know it.” Ryder pinched her cheeks which made her cackle.

“Can I go now? I want to show them my smile. Can we still spend the night with Dillion and Alishia?”

“Of course. After everyone leaves and we get things cleaned up, I’ll take you over to their house,” Bree gave a gentle tug on Jade’s braid.

“You’re the greatest mom!” she hopped down and took off.

Stuck in place, Bree stood there watching her daughter fly out the door. She couldn’t help the small laugh that escaped her lips. “I remember being that young without a worry in the world.”

She turned to pick everything up, Ryder stood there with his arms crossed over his chest as he cocked his brow at her.

“I am not sure which smile is the prettiest, hers or yours.”

She felt her face heat, “Thank you, but in my opinion, it is hers.”

“Somehow I knew you would say that. Spoken like a good mother.”

With shaken hands she passed him the wrapped up tooth, “If I give you some money will you play the tooth fairy tonight?”

Ryder glanced at her, bowed at the waist, “It would be my pleasure. When you bring the children over, why don’t you stay and watch a movie with us?”

“That sounds like a good plan. I will get Trevor and Jade’s overnight bag packed now,” Bree laughed, “I know they won’t be able to wait when the party is over.”

“Go ahead, I will watch everyone play and have a blast.” Ryder chuckled, “I get to do the fun stuff.” He gave her a wink.

“Thank you, Ryder,” she winked back at him. Hurriedly, Bree left the room when she realized what she had done.

What the hell did I just do? You flirted with him, girl! The little devil which would be her inner Goddess was back. You know you like him and you know I’m right because I’m your little subconscious Goddess. The little witch had a point. Nevertheless, it would only be proper to get to know him—be friends first and then see what happens. I can’t just jump his bones! Ugh! 

Immediately, she hurried upstairs to Trevor’s room and promptly packed him a backpack. When she got to Jade’s room, she had toys everywhere. Bree stood there and debated if she should make her clean it before she could spend the night with her friend. No, this will be good for them to spend the night with friends. We haven’t done anything with anyone other than my parents, once or twice, and talked with a few friends since the divorce. Honestly, I think we all need this.

In a flash, she packed Jade’s backpack, she was sure not to leave her snuggle blanket that Jade had slept with since birth. Bree could sense the smile creep across her face, as she thought of how hard she had to fight Jade just to wash it. Bree placed it in the bag with everything else.

She made her way back downstairs, tossed the backpacks on the sofa and went back to the party.

As Bree opened the French doors, she heard the children chanting, “Cut the cake! Cut the cake!”

She looked around for Trevor. Much to her surprise, Ryder had his arm around Trevor and led him, and the other kids’ up to the table with the racecar themed cake on it.

“I guess we better cut the cake before this mob gets worse.” A giggle emerged from Bree’s mouth at the thought. These are the best times with my children—memories to last a lifetime.

“Yeah, mom. Did you get ice cream?” If mom forgot the ice cream, my friends are never going to forgive me or let me live this down at school. I mean who eats cake without ice cream? No one, ever, that’s who! Trevor was borderline panic.

“Hmm… you have to cut the cake first to find out.” She grinned to herself because the cake had ice cream on the bottom with a cookie crunch and fudge center.

Trevor’s smile beamed, as everyone sung to him. He blew out the candles and cut the corner piece, his favorite because it had the most icing. Trevor laughed as he tried to loosen the ice cream from the bottom. Mom totally rocks! I love ice cream cake, and my friends will have it all ate. I’m am going to have to put a piece in the freezer so Jade and me can have it tomorrow. I gotta look after my little sis! Trevor glanced at his sister and her big toothless smile. If anyone makes fun of her at school, they’ll have to deal with me! I have the best family! Like ever!

Bree helped him scoop it up, as she placed it on a paper plate for him. Gently, she ran her finger on the icing and quickly smeared it on his nose, which made everyone laugh.

Trevor glared up at his mom. “Mom, are you ever going to grow up?” He wiped it off his face.

“No, no I’m not.”

“Good. You would be more boring than you already are.” He leaned over and whispered in his mom’s ear where nobody could hear, “Be sure and put Jade and me a piece in the freezer for when we come home from Ryder’s.”

With her best-shocked face at being called boring, she glanced at Ryder as he tried not to laugh. “I am so hurt. I think I am a kind of cool mom,” then she whispered back, “You got it, buddy.” She gave him a kiss on the cheek, and he quickly wiped it off.

“You are the best mom ever,” Trevor winked at her.

Good grief! He has already hung around Ryder too much. Bree winked back at him.

In quick fashion, she slipped two pieces of cake in the freezer as requested.

When the kids’ had finished their cake, Bree turned to the stereo system and put Enrique Iglesias’, ‘Heart Attack’ on. Everyone cheered and started to dance.

Ryder bowed at the waist, “May I have this dance?”

Reluctantly, Bree agreed. Ryder pulled her tight to him as he guided her with ease across the patio floor.

Wow, for the first time in a long time, I am actually having fun. It feels right to enjoy life a little. Bree smiled inward to herself.

“You dance so wonderfully that you make it look like I can dance,” her voice was soft as she gave him a schoolgirl smile.

“Are you kidding me? You are so graceful…Look at you glide across this patio! I am working to keep up with you!”

That earned him the best laugh she has had in a very long time. “Your sweet-talking doesn’t work on me. Especially since I know, I cannot dance.”

“Your laugh is intoxicating.” All of Bree is intoxicating. Ryder smirked.

“This is the most fun I have had in some time,” she looked anywhere but at him. “Isn’t that sad. This is my son’s birthday party. All that matters is that he enjoys his special day.”

“You are an excellent mother, Bree.” Ryder had a sincere look on his face.

“Thank you, Ryder. I do my best.”

The music switched to ‘God Gave me You,’ and Bree excused herself to dance with Trevor. To her surprise, Trevor was making his way toward her.

“Mom, this is our song,” he held his little hand out to his mom.

He glanced at Ryder, “We dance to this every year on my birthday. Mom and Jade have a song they dance to on her birthday or when Jade is having a moment,” he rolled his eyes at the last part of his statement and danced his mother away.

Bree’s heart swelled as she heard Ryder chuckle behind them.

As Trevor turned them during their dance, Bree caught a glimpse of Ryder not only dancing with Alishia, but he was dancing with Jade as well. Her heart felt like it would burst with happiness until she saw Dillion as he sat at the table. Alone. Luckily, Trevor saw him as well.

“Mom, can we share our dance with Dillion, too?”

“I was hoping you would suggest that. I don’t want for Dillion to feel left out.”

“Dude!” Trevor yelled.

Dillion’s head raised up, and Trevor motioned for him to come over.

A smile spread across his face that wasn’t there before. They both took turns twirling Bree out and back to them until the song ended.

Trevor bent at the waist, “Thank you, mom. I love our dance time on my birthday.”

Dillion followed Trevor’s actions as he thanked her for the dance.

Bree gave both boys a courtesy. “It was wonderful to dance with two handsome young men. We will have to do it again.”

Afterward, the children had a blast as they danced and played with their friends.

The afternoon went by quickly… too fast for Bree’s taste. Parents started picking up their children right at dusk.

Bree walked the last little guy out to his mom’s car. Something caught her eye, she could have sworn she’d saw a light across the street. It wasn’t a street light or flashlight… more of a flicker of a candle or a cigarette lighter. After Bree buckled the little guy in and thanked his mom for letting him come over, she shut the door and waved bye to them.

Bree pretended as if she was watching them leave. All the while, she searched for any sign of the light from moments ago. Nothing.

You’re slipping. The watcher thought as he stalked his target from across the street. He laughed his sadistic laugh as he put the cigarette out. Hell, that bitch isn’t that smart, and she doesn’t know you started smoking, idiot. He thought to himself.

You are just here to make sure she is still a miserable, washed out, lonely bitch, and no one is in her life. His face scrunched up with hate. It is time for her to pay and those two brats of hers, too.

I’ve lost a lot of respect from people at work because of them. I will have my day—just you wait and see—when she least expects it. Cunt!

Bigtime Lawyer thinks everything she touches turns to gold. I have news for her—she’ll soon see her last case.

I won’t mess it up this time, you're dead and don’t even know it yet.