Stronger With Us (The Strength Series Book 3)

Stronger With Us (The Strength Series Book 3) by JA Hensley Read Free Book Online

Book: Stronger With Us (The Strength Series Book 3) by JA Hensley Read Free Book Online
Authors: JA Hensley
along.” I’m hoping he’s just here because of the wedding and not something else.
    “They don’t, but they’re going to have to fix that. I’m not marrying into that drama. If I had a sibling, I would do whatever I could to make that relationship work. I know Steph would do anything to have her sister back.” Stephanie’s sister was mentally ill and killed herself in front of the family.
    “I get it. If I my brother was still here, I’d want him in my life, too,” I say quietly. I don’t talk about him much, it’s just too painful.
    “I’m sorry, Christin. I wasn’t even thinking about Bobby,” Becca says as she squeezes my hand. I feign a smile and walk away.
    “It’s in the past. Let’s focus on the happy stuff, like what you’re going to wear for your wedding. I assume you’re not going with a traditional white dress with fifty-foot train,” I say, hoping we can move away from the subject of why Jude is here.
    “Oh, well, you know how it is,” she responds sarcastically. “It’s difficult to pack that much material in one suitcase. Let me show you what I have in mind,” she says as she pulls me into the closet.

 
     

     
    F

     
    I’m still surprised that Colin wants me over for dinner. He has resented me since we were kids. I make no apologies for how I treated him, because sheltering him from our father’s angry outbursts was more important than Colin liking me. I’ll bear the scars and his resentment knowing that he was never beaten by the asshole sperm donor we lived with.
    “Who left this fucking mess in the kitchen? I am so sick and tired of you little shits making more work for your mother. Get your asses in here and clean this shit up!” I hear him yell from out in the backyard. I know what’s going to happen next and Colin is too little to handle it.
    “Why don’t you go next door and play with Brandon,” I suggest to my little brother. He’s only six years old and doesn’t know what kind of man our father is.
    “I don’t want to, Jude. I want to play with you,” he pouts.
    “I know you do, but I have to go in the house. Dad needs me to clean up our mess in the kitchen. Go to Brandon’s, and I’ll come and get you when I’m done, okay?” I turn and push him toward the neighbor’s house.
    “Please hurry. I want to finish building our fort,” he says as he walks away slowly. I watch until he’s inside the neighbor’s house before returning to deal with my father’s wrath.
    “Jude, you little shit, are you just trying to make my life harder?” My father backhands me across the face, sending me to the floor. I don’t cry, yell, or move. I know the drill. He likes it when I fight back so I make sure not to give him what he wants.
    “Answer me when I ask you a question,” he spits out, lifting me from the floor. I can smell the alcohol on his breath and it makes my stomach roll.
    “No, sir, I’m not.” I say quietly. He drops me back to the floor and kicks me in the butt.
    “Get this cleaned up before your mother gets home,” he says as he gets a beer out of the refrigerator and stumbles into the living room. I breathe a sigh of relief that he doesn’t do more to me as I start scrubbing the counter.
    I did everything I could to protect Colin from the abuse and I think I succeeded. After our mother died unexpectedly, Dad seemed to collapse into himself. He doesn’t really care about anything or anyone now. Thankfully, he still lives in Minnesota so we don’t have to see him on a regular basis.
    I pull my truck into Colin’s driveway. The house he and Becca bought is really nice. It’s an older home with leaded glass windows, wraparound porch, and a gabled roof. It looks like something you’d see in chick flick where the cute single woman lives alone in her grandmother’s house. What the fuck is wrong with me?
    I take a deep breath as I walk to the front door. I don’t want this night to end up in an argument with my little brother. I want to have

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