Sweet Trouble

Sweet Trouble by Susan Mallery Read Free Book Online

Book: Sweet Trouble by Susan Mallery Read Free Book Online
Authors: Susan Mallery
Tags: Fiction, General, Romance, Contemporary, Domestic Fiction, Love Stories, Sisters
peanut butter, too.”
    “Those are my favorite, too,” Gabe told her, as charming as ever. “You’re pretty. Isn’t my grandma pretty, Mommy?”
    Jesse nodded.
    Paula looked as if she couldn’t believe this was happening. “Can I hug you?” she asked him.
    Gabe smiled and held out his arms. Paula dropped to her knees and held him close. Her eyes closed as her face took on an expression of such longing that Jesse had to look away. Wasn’t this always the way? The two people who were more likely to welcome her had been cautious and unfriendly. The one person who had always hated her seemed thrilled she was back in town. Life was nothing if not perverse.
    Fifteen minutes later, Gabe had eaten a cookie and finished a small glass of milk. He’d also brought Paula up to date on their trip from Spokane and how he was going to meet his daddy soon.
    “Matt hasn’t seen him yet?” Paula asked.
    Jesse shook her head, then looked into the family room. “Gabe, would you like to watch TV for a little bit?”
    It was a rare daytime treat. Her son jumped to his feet and followed her to the sofa. Paula found a channel for kids, then the two women retreated to the kitchen where they could keep an eye on Gabe without being overheard.
    “I didn’t know,” Paula said as soon as they were seated. She leaned toward Jesse and touched her hand. “I swear, I didn’t know you were pregnant. All I knew was what your sister said.” She shifted uncomfortably. “I told Matt about that.”
    “I know. It’s okay. There were complications.” Jesse hated how, after all this time, the past still had the power to hurt everyone involved.
    “It was a long time ago,” Jesse told her. “Whatever you believe, you have to know I loved Matt. I would never have hurt him.”
    “I do believe you,” Paula said, surprising her. “He was devastated after you left.”
    “Was he?” It was nice to know he’d missed her, however briefly. “I told him I was pregnant, but he didn’t think he was the father. I told him there hadn’t been anyone else, but he didn’t believe me.”
    Once again Paula looked uncomfortable. “It’s my fault. All of it. He was angry because of what I said. I’d held him too close for too long. I was one of those horrible, clinging mothers they’re always discussing on talk shows. He was angry with you, but he never forgave me. We stopped being close after you left. We’re still not close. I rarely see him.”
    “I’m sorry,” Jesse said, and found she meant it. “You’re his mother. Nothing will ever change that.”
    “Something he’s managed to ignore,” she said with a lightness that seemed forced. “So tell me. What have you been doing with yourself?”
    “I’ve been living in Spokane. That’s where I went when I took off. At least that’s where the money ran out. I got a job in a bar. I was lucky. Bill, the guy who owns the place, took care of me. Found me a place to live, worked my schedule around Gabe.” She smiled as she thought of her boss and friend. “He’s the one who gave me the kick in the ass to come back here. Well, him and Gabe. Your grandson wants to meet his daddy. I couldn’t keep saying no.”
    “Are you and Bill—” Paula’s voice trailed off.
    Jesse stared at her. “Are we…” she got the question “…involved? Oh, no. We’re just friends. He says I’m too young for him.” She smiled. “He’s in his sixties, as are all his friends. They’ve been my family while I was gone. It was just so hard being away. It’s only a few hundred miles, but I felt like I was in another world. I couldn’t believe Nicole just let me go.”
    Jesse held the coffee mug Paula had given her but didn’t drink. “It was always just Nicole and me. She was my bossy older sister. Claire, her twin, had gone away the year I was born, so I never knew her beyond the little Nicole told me or what I read in magazines.”
    “She plays piano?”
    “Yes. She’s pretty famous but I don’t

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