Revealing Annie, On Call, Book Five

As the fire department’s joker, Kyle (Sumo) Matsumo, loves nothing better than ribbing the guys at the station. However, he’s all business when he’s on a call, and when he tries to snag the attention of a cute little baker. Then life takes a more serious turn when he’s plunged headfirst into fatherhood—of a teenage boy—giving his teammates the last laugh.

For almost a year, Annie Flowers has been tucked away in plain sight. It’s amazing what a pair of colored contacts and a different haircut can accomplish. She likes her new, simple life in Durango with her only concern getting up on time for her morning shift at the bakery. Yet she’s not as invisible as she thinks. Not to the creep who chased her into hiding, and definitely not to the charming EMT with a penchant for sweets.

Annie trusts only one person, her friend, Erin Gardner, but she’s in Texas, so when she discovers someone has been leaving her unwanted gifts, she has no choice but to put her faith in Sumo.

“Interesting,” she mumbles.

“What do you mean?”

“I’m just surprised he hasn’t tried to pull it out of you, especially since something is clearly happening between you. Most guys I know would go into high protective mode.”

I reach to set my coffee cup on my small side table, only to find it on the other side of my chair. 

“He’s had a lot going on this week,” I jump to his defense, even though I don’t think she meant it as criticism. “He just discovered he has a son he never knew about.”

“Are you freaking kidding me? How can you not know?”

“If the mother lives in a different state and doesn’t tell you for fourteen years. That’s how.” That seems to silence her, but now I’m on a rant. “Who would do that? And get this; she put the kid on a plane to stay with him while she goes into rehab. Can you believe it? She’s pawning off her son on a guy she knew fifteen years ago for a vacation fling! For all she knows, he could’ve ended up a horrible person, a molester, even a serial killer. What kind of mother does that?”

While I catch my breath I hear Erin’s soft chuckle in my ear.

“Feel better?” she asks sardonically.

“I held back,” I admit, and that makes her laugh even harder.

“I think I got the picture, though, and I have to admit it sounds like he has a lot on his plate.”

“Yeah.” I’m losing a bit of my steam. “Which is why I needed to talk to you. What am I doing? One minute I’m living a nice, quiet, predictable existence—just what I was looking for—and the next I find myself hit by all these curveballs.”

“Sounds like life to me,” Erin points out calmly. “Messy and real. You have to know that predictable existence you mentioned wasn’t really living, right? Life is by definition not predictable, or perfect, for that matter. You know as well as I do recovering from an eating disorder, control is an illusion.”

She’s right. I know she is, but it’s hard to let that compulsion to control go.

“Annie, I realize it’s not easy. I’m aware that whole situation back home messed with your head, but you got away from that. You’ve gotta live a little, girlfriend. You can’t hide out forever.”

I try to ignore the little pang of unease when she reminds me, but it keeps popping up. Long after the call ended and I made my way to the shelter. 

The truth is; there have been a few times I’ve wondered if perhaps I wasn’t as well-hidden as I thought.

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