Splinter of Hope: A Small Town Secret Baby Romance
What does anyone know about love at eighteen?
All I was sure of was how much I loved my daughter… and giving her away destroyed me.
Because back then the only labels I wore proved I was unwanted.
Since we met, Trig has stood by my side. A protector. A lover.
A splinter of hope that my arms won’t always be empty.
He says he loves me, and I finally have the desire to lay my secrets bare.
Except giving Trig another reason to walk away feels a lot like sacrificing our future… And I’ve already made one decision that shattered my heart.
Release date: September 10, 2020
Print pages: 55
* BingeBooks earns revenue from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate as well as from other retail partners.
Splinter of Hope: A Small Town Secret Baby Romance
I stand in front of the mirror, fluffing my hands through my waist-length red hair one more time before applying sheer gloss to my lips.
At thirty-six years of age, I’m not sure why I need to look like I’ve stepped out of a magazine. Although, I accept that appearances matter. Today it’s wholesome.
Well, I manage Sweet Caroline’s, the strip club across the street. So like the ladies who work for me, what I was—or rather wasn’t wearing—is better left to the imagination.
I slip a silver cross around my neck as a reminder I have faith in myself to make it through the afternoon. Searching my jewelry drawer for a bracelet, I find the one I’m looking for without much effort. It’s pounded metal with a wide cuff. The brilliant silver contrasts with the deep blue of my top. I slip it over the darkening contusion on my wrist, glad it covers the black and blue.
Trig will be beside himself when he sees the bruise. It’s not healthy of me to hide it from him, but in all fairness, now isn’t the time to add to whatever he’s worried about.
My phone dings on the dresser and my heart speeds up, pounding in my chest the way it does on the back of Trig’s custom bike. I don’t have to look to know the text is from him, and I can’t explain the thrill it sends through me. The same freedom I find with the wind whipping through my hair on the open road is the way it feels loving this man.
Trig is constant and steady. He’s borrowed a car and driven me where I need to go, any time I’ve needed to go there, for the past four years. It took a lot for me to decide to count on him. Now, lying in his arms at night, I’m not sure why.
I pick up an envelope on my nightstand, sliding out its contents to ensure I have the picture inside. I close my eyes. At first, this image is all I see. Then, like the residual spots of looking at something bright, the others I’ve given away over the past decade begin overlapping. Each one holds the memory of another girl with a very different story than the one I’d hoped for.
The picture goes back into the envelope to protect it. After it’s safe in my purse, my pulse picks up again anticipating being with Trig. I open the door to my room, which is closest to the steps, and move the red velvet rope to the side. It’s not much of a roadblock, more of a mental note to keep the barrier in place for the sake of others.
The first thing I see is Trig looking up at me from the last stair before the landing.
If it were any other day, I’d saunter over to him, swishing my ass back and forth. But today quick feet carry me those few steps to where I can feel the warmth of his body against mine.
On instinct, Trig reaches for my waist, setting his hands on my hips. I tilt my chin down and press my lips to his.
“You look gorgeous,” he says. His steely eyes dance the same way his fingertips do against the gauzy fabric of my shirt.
“Thanks.” I worry my lip.
“Big day.” Still standing below me, Trig brushes my hair over my shoulder.
The third floor of the factory is off-limits to men. Carver designated the rooms up here for women only, so this is as far as any of the guys go. Part of it is respect for the ladies who live up here and an understanding that Carver is giving us a chance to change our lives. More than that, though, is nobody would be as brash as to piss him off by breaking the long-standing rule. After all, the restored cotton mill is his building. We live here because Carver lets us.
None of us would ever sneak a man up here either. As a couple, we spend our private time in Trig’s room on the floor just below. The guy’s digs aren’t as nice. I mean, it would be amazing if we had our own private bathrooms the way they do. But I wouldn’t give up the space for a skinny shower stall since we have a sweet claw foot soaking tub up here.
I could use some of those relaxing bubbles about now.
“The biggest,” I reply to Trig’s big day comment with a huge sigh.[ the biggest day/ take out respond?]
The corners of his kind eyes crinkle behind his dorky-but-oh-so-sexy horn rims. I run my fingers through his peppered gray hair.
As my hand comes forward, his lips catch the underside of my forearm. Trig trails light kisses to my palm.
I reach behind him, pulling his toque from his back pocket, and slipping it over his silver hair. “Your hat, My Love.” The heat index in Eastern North Carolina could reach one-hundred, and he’d still put a knit cap on.
Trig gives me a lopsided grin. “It’s good to be taken care of.”
“It is,” I agree, stepping beside him so we can walk hand-in-hand down to the parking lot.
At the next landing, right before we enter the lounge, Trig stops me. “I love you, Kimber.”
“You told me last night. You showed me too.” I waggle my brows, trying to lighten the mood.
Trig is my one long-term committed relationship. There won’t be another like him, and I don’t take one minute we’re together for granted. Sometimes, you have to hold on to the splinter of hope that you’ve done your best for a person. Given them everything they needed… Accept when it’s time to move on.
He pushes me against the stairwell wall. “Stop being kitschy or I’ll ruin your lip gloss. I’m being serious.”
“So am I. And I have more lip gloss in my bag. Ruin away.”
I’ve heard the dancers talking in the dressing room at Sweet Caroline’s say some people kiss until they have to come up to catch their breath. Me? I choke on the air while waiting to kiss this woman. Letting Kimber slip from my bed this morning made me feel like I was drowning.
Kimber waltzed into my life four years ago. The moment I saw her, I decided to make her my own. Of course, in the beginning, the head below my waist was in control. I marked my territory so no one else could have her. It wasn’t long before something else took over and the constant thought of “I want her” that runs through my mind started playing a different tune.
Maybe I’d gotten to the point in my life when easy pussy became boring. But I’d like to think better of myself. And I definitely think better of Kimber. If anyone was able to change me it was bound to be her.
I use my lower body to hold her against the stairwell wall.
“Ruin away.” She dares me, raising a light sculpted brow.
Kimber takes the temples of my black glasses frame between her fingers and removes them from my face.
Middle-class housewife isn’t her usual attire. It’s a turn-on nonetheless. Similar to her work clothes, these shorts cling to her ass in all the right places. My thumb sneaks past her khakis and up the thin navy blue shirt she’s wearing, caressing the underside of her breast through her silky bra. When the light shone through the factory window, and she moved in the right direction, the fabric of her cotton top became translucent, showing me all the places I’ve skimmed my tongue against. I could stand seeing her looking like an ad for a southern department store more frequently. I’m intimately aware of what’s underneath. My girl kept wearing G-strings for me long after she’d stopped stripping and started managing at Sweet Caroline’s.
Our hungry lips crash together as if I haven’t already kissed her half a dozen times this morning. I can’t get enough of this woman.
Kimber claws at my back. I push her farther into the wall, sucking the soft spot behind her ear, and making her moan. I fucking love that sound falling from her lips when I’m buried balls deep inside her.
I’d slip my hand down her pants if this interlude wasn’t messing up her timetable for the day. I’ve come to understand Kimber’s desperation, why her kisses are more frenzied than they were an hour ago.
Before she left the second-floor lounge to get ready, it was closer to a typical Saturday morning for us. We’d sat on a sofa, drinking the steamy cups of Joe she’d poured. Uninterrupted by the sun or anyone else, my palm slid up the leg of her sleep pants, holding Kimber above the ankle while we talked quietly. We both knew deep down the calmness was about to change, but some things we don’t say aloud. Most of them we don’t need to.
What Kimber is feeling today is the same thing she endured a year ago and twelve months before that: A longing to be close, which I refuse to deny her. Drowning in emotions, she’s searching for a life preserver. I’ll wrap my arms around Kimber to keep her safe any damned way she pleases. I want to convince my fiery redhead that I’m her anchor.
Her personal convictions aside, it’s finally the day she’s got to let me give her everything I’ve always wanted to. Everything she lost and doesn’t believe she’ll find again. And if her heart hasn’t mended? Well, that’s on me. I have to admit to myself it might be time to tuck my tail between my legs. Although, I’m not sure how I’ll walk away and leave her empty again.
I pull Kimber back to the center of the landing, straightening her clothes while I’m still kissing her. “You’re going to be late, My Love.” I grin between nips and bites.
She glances down, brushing her hands over the tats peeking out from my shirt collar, and tracing the lines of others on my pecs hidden by the fabric. “Can’t blame a girl for losing her head over someone as sexy as you.”
Using the tatted knuckle of my index finger, I lift her chin so our eyes meet. “Tell me again how much you want me?”
I chuckle when she slaps my chest. Unfortunately, I’ve got the same desire Kimber does. I’ll never tire of hearing her say she wants to fuck me and only me. If she keeps it up today, it might change tomorrow for us.
“Sterling’s?” I lace her dainty fingers through my rough ones and ask where we’re going. The upscale engraving shop in North Hills is the place she’s had me stop each year.
Her face breaks into a wide grin and she pats her purse. “Yes.” I catch a little blush across her porcelain cheeks.
Kimber is my unbreakable China doll. She’s been to hell and found the determination to bring herself back. I can’t fathom half of it considering her life—or rather ours since we’ve been together—is as close to perfection as I’ve been able to make it for her. That said, I’m the one who does everyone’s background checks for Jake, the owner of Sweet Caroline’s. Per Carver’s instructions for anyone who he lets live at the mill, I also had to dig deeper. Nobody sticks around the factory unless we’re sure they aren’t inviting trouble to our door.
In Kimber’s case, she was one of Jake’s girls, attempting to take control of her life. He proposed Carver put her up on the third floor. The only dancers Carver does that for are the ones who are clean and stay clean. It doesn’t matter none that they’re stripping their way through Pinewood State. It’s that those women want more for themselves than what life’s thrown their way.
Spew any hateful thing about Carver and Jake. It’s likely the truth, unless it comes to females. They only fuck over the women who fuck with them. It doesn’t make them much different than any other man on the planet. The good girls like mine? They’ll build a stairway to get those ladies to their goals.
The residents of the third floor all have skeletons in their closets. Kimber is no exception. She’s also about five to ten years older than her floormates so she’s had extra time for trouble to find her. Kinda like me. Only my sole purpose has become keeping her on the straight and narrow. I got fed up with finding trouble a long time ago. My job focuses on figuring out what kind of shit I can use, good or bad, against someone. The reason I don’t need My Love to confess her transgressions is because I’m aware of what they are.
We hope you are enjoying the book so far. To continue reading...