I’m pushing through The Farmer’s Daughter, hoping to finish the first draft so I can gut it later. Ha. Seriously, I like the story, there are just some parts I want to change a bit. Sharing the chapters of my book on my blog helps motivate me to complete the books, knowing I can always change things later. If I had a bigger following than I do, I probably wouldn’t share a semi-first draft of my novels on my blog, but I like my small “following” and how you’re all supportive and give me ideas for future chapters, and even future books.
A reminder to my blog readers who read Quarantined, it is out on Kindle now. For this week only I am offering it for $.99 on Kindle to allow my blog readers time to download it at the lowest price. If you don’t have a Kindle but would like a copy, let me know, and we’ll figure out a format that works for you. If you miss the deal, don’t worry, the book will only be $1.99 in the Kindle store since it is less than 100 pages.
To catch up on the rest of The Farmer’s Daughter, find the link at the top of the page or click HERE. Or you can wait until February when I release it in Kindle on 2.21.21
Alex stretched his legs in front of him under the table at Lenny’s Diner, leaned back in the chair and groaned softly.
Matt chuckled. “Doing okay over there, farm boy?”
Alex rubbed his shoulder. “I always forget how much work it is to get the farm ready for winter. My muscles have been screaming at me.”
Their friend Troy, sitting across from Alex, winked at him. “Sounds like you need a night out.”
Alex shrugged. “Nah. I’m good. I just need a hot shower and a good night of sleep.”
Matt was still in his police uniform and Alex couldn’t help but notice the appreciative glances cast in the officer’s direction from many of the women in the diner. As usual, Matt was oblivious. He had to return to work after this impromptu lunch Alex had invited him to.
Troy worked for the Tanner’s, helping with the additional farmland the company had added a few years ago and he’d rode to town with Alex to pick up a part for one of the tractors at the local hardware store.
“We haven’t seen you at the bars lately, Alex,” Troy said as the waitress brought the drinks. “What’s up with you?”
I’m growing up, Alex wanted to say.
“Just been enjoying some solitude,” he said instead, deciding not to add that he was actually enjoying that solitude with Molly when they could find time alone.
He found it uncanny that at the same moment he thought of Molly she appeared out front of the restaurant, talking to the librarian. What was the librarian’s name again? He thought Molly had said her name was Ginny. They’d been attending art classes together.
He started to smile as an idea struck him; a way to make his friends think he hadn’t lost his way with women, when he knew he had and didn’t mind at all.
“What do you boys think about Jason’s sister? She’s good looking, right?”
Matt raised an eyebrow. “Um. Yeah. She is, but you better not be noticing.”
Alex laughed, looking out the window at Molly. “Why?”
“Because Jason will kick your butt for checking out his little sister,” Matt answered with a tone that signaled he thought Alex had lost his mind.
Troy shrugged. “I don’t know, she’s a little too big for me. Nice girl though.”
Alex took a sip of his soda, still watching Molly talking with the librarian, and then smirked.
“She’s just right for me. I like a girl with some meat on her bones.” He winked at his friends. “More for me to hold on to.”
Matt rolled his eyes. “Dude. You’re so going to end up with a bloody nose if Jason ever hears you talking like this.”
Troy laughed and punched Alex in the arm.
“Yeah, seriously, Stone you better watch it. Jason will kick your butt to next week if he hears you talking like that about her.”
Alex looked at Troy and Matt and rubbed his thumb and index finger along his unshaven chin. “I bet I can get her to go out with me”
Matt shook his head. “You’re too old for her. She doesn’t want to go out with an old man like you.”
Alex’s grin widened. “Hey, she’s only a few years younger than me. I bet you she will.” He stood up from the table. “I’ll be right back.”
“Dude! Don’t make an idiot out of yourself!” Troy called after him.
“More than you already are anyhow,” Matt added with a laugh.
Alex stepped into the sunlight on the sidewalk as Ginny climbed into her car.
“Thanks for letting an old lady share with you, Molly,” she said.
Molly laughed softly. “I’m so grateful you did and stop calling yourself old.”
When Ginny drove away Alex walked toward Molly, knowing he was in full view of Matt and Troy.
“Hey, beautiful,” he said softly, stepping behind her. “What was that all about?”
Molly turned and the smile she flashed him made his heart pound. He hadn’t expected his body to react so viscerally to being so close to her, not now, after he’d already told her how he felt, and she’d said she felt the same.
“Hey, yourself. You know Ginny, don’t you? She’s the librarian down at the Green Leaf Library. We were just chatting about – life, I guess you’d say.” She tipped her head slightly, still smiling “What are you doing in town?”
He jerked his head toward the diner front window. “Just having some lunch with the guys.”
Molly glanced throw the window and saw Troy and Matt watching and smiling, which made her wary.
“Uh huh. What are you boys up to?”
“I told them I was going to ask you out.” He stepped closer and laid a hand against her waist. “Want to help me have some fun with them?”
Molly’s cheeks flushed warm. She twisted her finger in her hair, as Alex stepped closer to her. He slid his other arm around her waist and pulled her closer.
“Out here? On the street? Where everyone can see?”
He moved his head closer to hers. “I doubt anyone will even notice the farm hand kissing the farmer’s daughter on a public street.”
Molly glanced around her at the cars and trucks on Main Street, people walking with their heads down, looking at their phones. She knew he was right. None of those people cared about two people they didn’t know sneaking a kiss on the sidewalk. She looked back at Alex, smiling as he leaned closer and caught her mouth with his.
She closed her eyes and the kiss lingered before he slowly pulled away.
“See you later,” he said softly, taking her hand in his.
Molly laughed softly, shaking her head. “I have no idea what is going on but, yes, I’ll see you later.”
Before she walked away, he pulled her back toward him and kissed her briefly again, then looped his thumbs through his belt loops and watched her walk to her truck across the street.
Matt and Troy were shaking their heads and laughing as he walked back to the table a few moments later.
Matt smirked, cocking an eyebrow as he sipped his soda. “You’re already seeing her, aren’t you?”
Alex sat down, looking smug. “Maybe.”
“And Jason doesn’t know?” Troy asked.
“Not yet but her dad does,” Alex said. “He caught us a couple weeks ago. I figure he’s told Annie by now too.”
Both of Matt’s eyebrows were up now. “Caught you? Dude! Caught you doing what?!”
Alex raised his hands and shook his head. “Kissing. He caught us kissing in the barn. That’s all.”
“I don’t think Jason is going to like it,” Troy said shaking his head.
“Me neither,” Matt agreed. “He knows you too well.”
Alex shrugged. “He’ll be fine. I’m not who I used to be. He knows that.” He looked at the two men who were watching him with wide, unblinking eyes. “I’m changing. For Molly. She’s worth it.”
Matt grinned as he set his drink down on the table and looked over Alex’s shoulder. “Well, I hope you’re right about Jase, because here he comes now and he does not look happy.”
Alex turned in his seat to see Jason walking through the backdoor of the diner. He raised his hand to wave but paused mid-wave as he noticed Jason wasn’t actually walking. He was storming across the diner like a freight train. Combined with the fact he was as big as a freight train, Alex had a feeling this wasn’t going to end well.
He stood slowly. “Hey, Jase, you okay?”
“Am I okay?” Red flushed up into Jason’s face from his gigantic neck. “Why don’t you tell me what you’ve been doing behind my back with my little sister?”
Matt and Troy looked at each other.
“This is going to be better than the game,” Troy whispered nodding at the television screen behind the counter.
Matt nodded, his eyes fixated on the scene before him.
Alex’s eyebrows furrowed. “What do you mean what I’ve been doing with Molly?”
Jason towered over Alex, nostrils flared. “You know what I mean, Alex. Don’t play games. I was over at the gym just now and saw you kissing Molly.” He took another step toward Alex. “What are you doing messing around with my sister?”
Alex didn’t take his eyes off Jason’s, anger rising in him at the tone of Jason’s voice. “I’m not messing around with her, Jason. I’m in love with her.”
Troy raised his eyebrows at Matt and mouthed the words, “In love? Whoa!”
“She’s my baby sister,” Jason snapped. “You’re too old for her.”
Alex looked at Jason with an amused expression. “She’s a grown woman, bud, and I’m only four years older than her not ten or twenty.” He laughed and propped his hands on his hips. “It’s not exactly like I’m robbing the cradle.”
Jason’s jaw was so tight Alex expected his teeth to shatter at any moment. “She doesn’t need someone like you messing her head all up,” he hissed, practically nose to nose with Alex now.
“Someone like me?” Alex’s heart pounded in his ears. He wasn’t amused anymore. He folded his arms across his chest. “What’s that supposed to mean? We hang out every night and you trust me to help run your family’s business but now I’m what? A piece of garbage? I’ve never done anything to hurt you or your family. Why would I start now? My past is in the past. You know that.”
Jason tipped his face toward the floor, opening and closing his hands, snorting through his nose like an angry bull before he moved his eyes back to Alex’s again. “This is my sister, Alex.” He riser his eyes again, pointing aggressively at his own chest. My sister. I don’t want you playing your games with my sister.”
Red spread from Alex’s cheeks to his ears. “You need to calm down, Jason. I’m not playing games with Molly. I already talked to your dad about this after he caught us in the barn the other night and he — ”
Jason grabbed Alex by the front of his shirt and yanked him forward, almost off his feet.
More people had started watching. Matt and Troy stood up and stepped back from the table. This was indeed better than the game, but it was also getting dangerous. Matt wasn’t sure if he was going to be needed professionally or not.
“He caught you? Caught you doing what?” Jason growled at Alex.
Alex put his hands on Jason’s large fists, which were curled way too close to his throat, and tried to pull them away.
“He caught us kissing,” Alex growled. “That’s all I’ve done with Molly, Jason. That and fall in love with her.”
Jason let go of Alex’s shirt and shoved him back hard, sending him skidding across the hardwood floor on his back. Alex winced and looked up to see Jason breathing hard, standing with his arms at his sides like a WWE wrestler about to grab his opponent and slam his head into the ground.
Even he looked surprised he’d pushed Alex. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I need some time to think,” he said softly before turning and walking toward the back door.
Pushing himself off the floor, Alex looked at everyone watching him, most of them smiling with amusement.
“Go watch your race,” he told them, smiling. “Nothing to see here.”
Matt patted him on the back as he sat down at the table.
“Well,” Matt said. “That went much better than I thought it was going to. You still have all your teeth.”
Troy nodded in agreement. “Yeah and your jaw isn’t broken. Yet. So, there’s that.”
“Yet. Yeah.” Alex rubbed his jawline and laughed softly. “Maybe I’ll sleep in my truck tonight instead of going home.”
The more Alex thought about it, though, the more Jason’s reaction ticked him off and by the time he’d finished his lunch and headed back to the farm with Troy his heart was racing in anticipation of the conversation he knew he was going to have to have with Jason.
He dropped Troy off back at the farm and head back to the house to try to cool down before he encountered Jason again.
When he saw Jason’s truck in the driveway he parked, but hesitated going in. He knew his blood was boiling and a conversation with his friend probably wouldn’t end well if he talked to him now. Then again, if he let the anger fester the conversation would be even worse.
He opened the front door and headed straight for Jason who was in the kitchen making a sandwich, knowing he might regret it in a few moments.
“What was that all about earlier?”
Jason kept making the sandwich, ignoring him. Alex knew he heard him though. Red was spreading up his neck to his face and he was working the muscles in his jaw as he clenched and unclenched it.
After a few moments he turned to face Alex, leaning back against the counter and crossing one leg over the other, and pressing his palm against the counter. “So, tell me, Alex, are you making Molly another one of your conquests?”
“No, Jason, I’m not. I don’t want to be like that anymore. You know that. I told you that after that night with that girl from the bar.”
“She has a name, Alex. Her name is Jessie. She’s not just that girl from the bar and Molly isn’t just that girl in the barn. Get it? She’s my sister. She’s a real person with real feelings and I don’t want you toying with her and wandering off when something better comes along.”
Alex seethed with anger. “That’s not what this is about, Jason. Don’t you get it? Molly isn’t just some one-night stand for me. She’s different.”
Jason folded his arms across his chest and tipped his head slightly to one side. “Some one-night stand? What have you been doing with my little sister, Alex?”
“Jason, I already told you – nothing. I mean, something but not that. I’ve only kissed her, I swear to you. I wouldn’t do that. I don’t see Molly that way. Well, I mean, I see her that way but I —”
Jason took a step forward, unfolding his arms. “You better get your tongue untied, Alex and tell me what you mean.”
Alex slid his hands in the front pockets of his jeans. “I want something different with Molly. I feel something deeper for Molly. Deeper than a physical connection. I love her personality and talking to her and just being with her, as much as I like,” Alex dropped his gaze from Jason’s and kicked at the kitchen floor with the tip of his boot, his hands in his pockets. “As much as I like looking at her.” He looked up at Jason again. “Jason, I love Molly. I’ve loved her for a long time and I’ve never made a move on her, tried to seduce her, whatever you want to call it. Don’t you think if I thought of her as just some conquest I would have made a move before now? I cracked about three months ago. She was running herself down and . . .”
Alex tossed his arms out to his side and cursed. “Jason, I had to show her she was worth more than she thought, that she was worth something to me, that I love her the way she is and wanted her the way a man wants a woman no matter what she thinks of herself. I wanted her to know that what I see isn’t what she sees.”
A deep scowl clouded Jason’s expression as he took another step toward Alex, his arms still folded tight across his chest. “So, you showed her in what way?”
“I kissed her, Jason,” Alex snapped. “I already told you. For God sake, do I have to keep going into detail about this? Some things are allowed to be private between a man and a woman, even if the woman is your sister. All you need to know is that I did not ‘deflower’ your sister.”
Jason tipped his head down, a smile crossing his lips reducing the anger he’d been feeling. He looked up at Alex again, trying not to laugh. “Dude. Did you just use the word ‘deflower’?”
Alex laughed softly, glad for even a small break in the tension. “Yeah. So?”
Jason laughed out loud and playfully punched Alex in the arm. “I’m just about to believe you on all this. I think my sister has screwed you all up in your head. You’re definitely not the Alex I’m used to.”
Alex rubbed his arm, wishing Jason had pulled the punch a little more.
“Yeah, and maybe that’s a good thing,” he said, his smile fading into a more serious expression.
Jason nodded. “Yeah. Maybe it is.”
Alex rubbed the back of his neck, stepped back, and leaned against the door frame. “Give me a chance, okay, Jason? Give me a chance to prove I’m changing.”
Jason shook his head, turning back to his sandwich on the counter and taking a bite. “I want to, Alex. I do. It just makes me nervous knowing my sister is involved and that if you fall back into your old ways, she’s the one who is going to get hurt.”
“I understand,” Alex said. “But I can tell you, I’m doing all I can to make sure she doesn’t get hurt.” He shrugged and stepped forward from the doorway. “Help keep me in line, if you’re worried. Help me be a better man. For Molly.”
Jason remained quiet for a few moments, eating his sandwich without looking up. He wanted to be there for his friend, and he wanted to protect his sister at the same time. He only hoped he could do both. He shoved the last bite of sandwich in his mouth, wiped his hands on his pants, and then held out his hand toward Alex. When Alex took it he pulled him in close for a hug.
“I’ll do the best I can, buddy.”
Alex clapped Jason on the back. “Thanks, Jase.” He pulled out of the hug. “Listen, though, let’s get one thing clear. I like hugging your sister way more than I like hugging you.”
Jason laughed and shoved Alex gently back.
“Whatever, dork.” He leaned back against the counter. “Hey, you know I’m not perfect either. I made my share of mistakes in college. You’ve never ragged on me about them, or told anyone, and I want you to know I really appreciate that.”
Alex nodded. “No problem, bud. None of that was my story to tell. I’ve always known it was up to you to tell the people in your life about your life back then. And I’ve always known that even if you do tell them, they’ll still love you, just like I do.”
Jason drank the last of the water in his glass and set in in the sink. “Yeah, maybe. I don’t know about that.”
He turned back toward Alex. “Listen, just because I’m agreeing to try to help you become a better person,” He stepped toward his friend, pointed at him as he narrowed his eyes. “doesn’t mean I still won’t kick your butt if you hurt, Molly. Got it?”
Alex nodded. “Got it.” He let out a long breath. “I wouldn’t expect anything less.”
“So, this is exciting.” Molly slid in the seat across from Liz at Pam’s Diner, which wasn’t owned by, or even employed, a Pam. “Us. Out. Together. Alone. Without a tracker in your neck from your parents, I hope.”
Liz laughed. “Yeah. I know. Honestly, I think they were afraid to let me out of their sight, but when you actually showed up to pick me up, they knew I wasn’t lying about us going out together.”
Molly was glad Liz and her parents had finally talked and that Liz was staying with them while she decided her next step.
“So, you guys talked?”
“What did they say?”
Liz sighed. “That they love me. That they’re sorry they had no idea what was going on. They’re blaming themselves. I honestly didn’t expect that.” She twirled her straw in her ice water. “I don’t know, maybe I’ve been too hard on my parents all these years. My mom literally sobbed and said she felt like the worst mother ever. She hugged me and promised to pay more attention, begged me to never try that again.”
“What did they say about the baby?”
“Surprisingly, they didn’t lecture me. They didn’t point out my mistakes.” Liz turned her head toward the window, tears glistening in her eyes. She swallowed hard and shook her head slightly. “They told me they loved me and that that my mistakes don’t define me.”
She looked back at Molly and swiped at a tear that escaped the corner of her eye. “They’re really happy about becoming grandparents and told me they will help however they can.”
Molly smiled and squeezed her friend’s hand. “That’s awesome news. How are you feeling about it all, though?”
Liz let out a shaky breath. “I’m terrified. Most women would be excited, but I don’t feel excited at all. I just feel absolute terror at the idea of being a mother.”
The waitress set down their drinks and Liz took a long drink from hers.
“I’m not ready for this, Molly. Not at all. I’m not mature enough. I mean, I know I’m closing in on 30 but my head is in the clouds half the time and I obviously don’t know how to cope with my toxic thoughts or feelings. How can I raise a child? I’m going to give birth to an irresponsible, insecure, emotionally unstable hypochondriac.”
Molly laughed softly, but then shook her head. “Liz, you may be jumping the gun a bit on deciding who your child is going to be. You’re also selling yourself short. That’s not who you are. You’re strong. You’re smart. You’re loving. But the truth is, you can’t do it alone. You’re going to need to ask God to help you.”
More tears filled Liz’s eyes and she nodded. “I know. I’m just too embarrassed to talk to God right now.”
Their conversation paused as their food was placed in front of them.
“Do you think God doesn’t know your heart?” Molly asked as the waitress left. “He knows your shame and he’s already covered that with the sacrifice of his son. Remember?”
Liz looked out the window, wiping her eyes again. “I’m trying to remember that, yes. I’m just going to need a little longer, I think.”
She sniffed and blew her nose on a napkin. “Matt showed up at the hospital. A couple days after I was admitted.”
“I’m sorry? What?” Molly’s eyes widened. “That’s a huge development. What happened?
“He heard about my overdose from his co-worker who showed up with the ambulance. I was so out of it I don’t even remember a cop being there. Matt said the guy knew we’d gone out a couple times and thought Matt already knew. He had asked Matt if I was okay.”
“Yeah. So, that was awkward.”
“So, what did you say to him?”
Liz took a bite of her burger. “I thanked him for checking on me and just told him my life was pretty messed up right now so I didn’t think I could keep going out with him.”
“And he said?”
Liz laughed. “Molly, now you sound like me with you and Alex, which reminds me — how is all that going?”
Molly held up a hand. “Tell me about Matt first and then I’ll tell you.”
Sighing, Liz wrinkled her nose at the memory of her conversation with Matt. “He told me if I ever needed anything to call him but that he understood. And, no, I did not tell him I am pregnant.” She sipped from her soda. “Now, tell me about you and Alex. How are things going? Still exchanging kisses behind the hay bales?”
Molly swirled a fry around her plate. “Um.. . yeah, you could say that. Dad walked in on us one night last week.”
Liz raised an eyebrow, her burger part way to her mouth. “He walked in on you? One night?” She set the burger down on the plate. “Explain. Now.”
“We were kissing,” Molly said with a laugh. “That’s all. It was a truly amazing kiss, though.”
Liz stared with wide eyes, her chin propped on her hands. “What did your dad say?”
“Honestly? He acted like I was 15 instead of an adult.” She scoffed as she picked at the bun on her chicken sandwich. “He was all flustered and saying things like ‘how long has this been going on?’ It was like I was caught kissing a Capulet.”
Liz blinked in confusion. Molly rolled her eyes. She tried to think of a more modern example that Liz might understand.
“It was like I was dating someone from a rival clique on a CW show.”
Liz nodded. “Oh. I see.” She started eating again. “Yeah. Your dad really does need to realize you’re an adult now. You know what would help drive that home for him?”
Molly smirked. “Eloping with an older man?”
Liz leaned slightly over the table toward Molly. “Are you planning to do that?”
Liz held her hands up in front of her. “Okay, okay. So instead, I think you should move in with me like we talked about. You know I can use the support and well, you can use it as a way to push yourself out of the nest already.”
As Molly opened her mouth to answer Jessie Landry and Maggie Baker appeared as if out of nowhere at the end of the table. Molly had Liz had graduated from high school with Hannah. Jessie was a couple of years older, but Molly knew of her and, more importantly, her dating habits.
“Hey, girls,” Maggie said with a friendly head tilt. “Do you mind if we join you? All the other tables are full.”
Maggie had always been polite enough, Molly thought, but she was a horrible judge of character, hence her hanging out with Jessie.
The pair shoved their way into the booth — Maggie next to Molly, Jessie next to Liz — without waiting for an answer.
Molly and Liz shot each other surprised looks.
“Thanks, girls, we appreciate it,” Jessie said reaching over to Liz’s plate and snatching a French fry. She turned her attention to Molly, plastering a broad, fake smile on her face. “Oh my gosh, Molly, I haven’t seen you in forever. How are you?”
Molly’s muscles tensed. “Good.”
Jessie’s eyes slid down from Molly’s eyes to her chest and back. “You look . . . well, great. Have you lost weight?”
Maggie smiled apologetically and spoke before Molly could answer. “Sorry we busted in on your private conversation, ladies. We were just starving. We’ve been at the gym.”
Molly shrugged. “It’s fine.”
She slid her gaze over to Jessie busy eating Liz’s fries.
Jessie and Maggie placed their orders when the waitress came back to refill Liz and Molly’s drinks. When the waitress left Jessie turned her attention to Liz.
“Liz, where have you been? I haven’t seen you at Woody’s in weeks.”
Liz shifted uncomfortably and sipped her soda. “Been busy at work.”
Jessie smirked. “Oh. Is that what they’re calling it these days?”
Liz scowled. “Excuse me?”
“Never mind,” Jessie said with a small laugh, looking at Molly. “Hey, Molly, doesn’t that sexy Alex Stone work at your family’s farm?”
Liz raised an eyebrow at Molly who cleared her throat. “Yes. He does.”
Jessie’s smirk seemed permanently plastered to her face and Maggie was shaking her head and smiling.
Jessie leaned back, stretching an arm along the back of the booth behind Liz. “It must be fun looking at him all day. He’s hot.”
Molly eyed Jessie suspiciously. “Yeah. I guess so.”
Liz caught Molly’s eye and jerked her head toward the front door. “Let’s go,” she mouthed.
“Wasn’t he the guy you went home with a few weeks ago?” Maggie asked Jessie.
Jessie pushed the tip of finger in her mouth to suck off the salt from the fries. Light bounced off her calve-high silver boots as she crossed one long leg over the other. “Uh-huh.”
“So?” Maggie watched her expectedly. “Is he a good kisser or what?”
The smile on Jessie’s face was what Molly could only describe as a smug leer. “Well, I don’t like to kiss and tell, but…” The giggle that escaped Jessie grated on Molly’s nerves. “Let’s just say that lifting hay bales isn’t the only thing Alex Stone is good for.”
The waitress set Maggie and Jessie’s food down in front of them.
“Come on, Jess, spill the beans,” Maggie said. “It was more than kissing, wasn’t it?”
Jessie winked, stabbing a fork into her salad. “It was definitely a night to remember.”
Liz shot Molly a look that spoke volumes. She knew that Liz was sending her a warning message to stay calm.
“Stay calm,” was almost exactly what Liz said when they were outside, walking toward Molly’s car after Liz had skillfully changed the subject from Alex, telling Maggie and Jessie she had to get back to work.
“Promise me you’ll talk to him, Molly.”
Molly let out a long breath and tilted her head back to look at the sky, blinking back tears.
“Molly, look at me.”
She looked at Liz. The tears were threatening to spill over.
“Talk to him,” Liz urged. “Don’t take Jessie’s word for it. You know what kind of person she is. You know she’s a liar and she’s, well, I hate to say it, but she’s a . . . ahem . . .very loose woman.”
Jessie’s “loose” reputation is what worried Molly the most, considering Alex had once had a somewhat similar reputation when Jason had first brought him to the farm.
She rubbed a finger across a tear that had escaped from the corner of her eye. “That’s the nice way to say it, I guess.”
“Molly.” Liz placed a hand on Molly’s shoulders. “Promise me. Talk to Alex.”
Molly nodded slowly, taking a deep breath. She closed her eyes and willed the tears away. “I will. Later. For now, let’s go grab some ice cream before I drive you back to jail. I mean, your parents.”
Liz looped her arm through Molly’s. “Actually, you’re going to drop me off at the store. Linda wants to talk to me about what shifts I can work. I’ll walk back to my parents.”
“Molly, I’ll be fine. Really. I’ve got to get back on my feet sometime and you can’t babysit me forever, okay? I want you to go back to the farm and talk to Alex. Straighten this out before it gets out of hand.”
Molly nodded, but as she walked back to her car, the idea of ice cream abandoned, her stomach ached and emotion clutched at her throat. Alex had told her only a week ago that he loved her and wanted to take things slow. Was he lying? Was she another notch in his bedpost like her grandmother had said? Or was there another reason he had said he wanted to take things slow? Maybe she wasn’t as attractive to him as Jessie Landry was to him.
Then there was that whole thing outside of the diner. Maybe kissing her had been a bet he’d wanted to win. She remembered the kiss on the overlook and shook her head. That kiss had been too amazing to be faked. And the way he’d looked at her? The words he said? She’d gotten to known Alex really well in five years and she knew when was lying. There was no way he had been lying.
“Molly, this is stupid,” she said out loud, pounding the steering wheel. “Jessie Landry is a liar. You know that.” She rubbed her fingers across her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose. “You are not in the middle of a romance novel where the man finally tells the woman he loves her and then the woman finds out a secret and they break up. This is real life. I’m sure there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for all of this.” She sighed and turned the key in the ignition. “Now, stop talking to yourself like a crazy person and go talk to Alex.”
By the time she reached the farm, though, her internal dialogue had swung back and forth between trusting Alex and believing Jessie so many times she couldn’t even think straight.
She pushed the truck into park and turned the engine off, staring at the open barn door, chewing on her lower lip, her stomach still aching. She was grateful she had work to do in the barn for the rest of the day and could use it as an excuse to not talk to Alex. She knew she couldn’t avoid him forever, but she needed to for now because she didn’t want to confront him with her emotions as raw as they were at this moment.