Upper Hand, Cedar Tree, Book Five

More often than not…

Clint Mason has his foot firmly wedged in his mouth, which tends to get him in plenty of hot water with the ladies. Although his laid back good ole’ Southern charm does not fly far with the female population of Cedar Tree, the big burly contractor hides his dark side well.

The only one Beth Franklin allows herself to rely on is Beth, and so far that has served her well. Just when her son disappears after dropping his little guy off on her doorstep, her life seems to spiral out of control. For the first time ever, fearing for his safety, the fiercely independent waitress is forced to be on the receiving end of a helping hand.

That’s not easy for her, especially since the shovel-sized hand belongs to a man whose approach has run hot and cold the last year, leaving her feeling off balance. With a steady and commanding force, he exposes her softer side, while doing everything he can to keep her and those close to her safe.

Fuck me.

She hasn’t been gone more than ten minutes and already I have coffee stains on my carpet, the bottom cabinets in my kitchen have been emptied of all content which is now strewn over the whole house and my TV remote is dying a certain death in the toilet bowl. I’m exhausted.

Half an hour later, Max has apparently run out of steam when his little head starts bobbing on my shoulder. He has a newfound fascination with my hairless head and spent the last five minutes rubbing his little hands all over it while camped out on the couch beside me with some old magazine that is now laying in strips around us. Trying not to look around me at the disaster in my living room I rest my head back on the couch, closing my own eyes for a moment. I only register Beth’s presence when I feel the warm weight lifted off my shoulder and hear her soft chuckles.

“You could’ve warned me,” I groan, making her laugh harder. Squinting my eyes open I find her smiling face burying in Max’s little neck, her eyes warmly on mine.

“What—and spoil all the fun?” she whispers cheekily before heading down the hallway to the bedrooms, Max securely in her arms.

Slowly letting my eyes roam over my surroundings I flinch at the mess. Strips of paper, pans and Tupperware containers, the contents of a box of cereal and other random items are littered about. Jesus. I groan as I get up and make my way to the kitchen for the garbage can, hauling it with me to pick up the debris from every elevated surface, not trusting myself to bend down all the way. Apparently the little monster had found his way into Beth’s bag, judging from the utilitarian cotton panties tossed on the dining room table. It stands in stark contrast with the lacy black and grey Victoria’s Secret bra that hangs over the back of one of the chairs. I know it’s Victoria’s Secret because I’m inspecting the label with interest when a shocked gasp comes from behind me. Busted.

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