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Hearts Under Siege Excerpt

Chapter One

 

SOUTHERN CONNECTICUT
THANKSGIVING

“You missed the turn.”

“Dammit.” Dragging himself out of his own head, Brady Fitzpatrick scowled at his best friend. Molly Byrnes smirked back at him and shoved her feet up onto the dashboard, her fingers dancing across her knees like they were a keyboard. He checked behind him and did a U-ie in the middle of the empty street. “Why didn’t you say anything?”

“Because when I said something two turns ago, you growled at me.” She pointed to the left. “There.”

Brady made the turn and tried to remember what they’d been talking about, before he’d gotten lost in his thoughts. Right. True love. She’d razzed him for believing in it and said it wouldn’t make a good pickup line. For who-knew-how-many miles, he’d brooded about the job offer from SIEGE, and how true love fit into it. He cast another glance at Molly, who was now humming something unfamiliar. Probably an assignment for the composition class she hated, judging by the dark look on her face. That explained why she’d let him brood for so long.

“Check that, would you?” He motioned at the crumpled directions stuffed into the cup holder between them. “I thought we’d be at the station by now.”

Molly heaved a sigh, dropped her feet, and pulled out the paper, comparing it to their location. “Couple more miles on the right, looks like.” She went back to playing her knees. “So anyway, women aren’t going to fall all over a guy just because he walks up and tells her he believes in true love.”

“I’m not talking about picking up chicks,” he protested. “I’m talking about relationships like my parents’.” He squinted against the glare of the sun off a sign, trying to see if it was for the train station. His parents had moved from Massachusetts to Connecticut a few months ago, while he was at school, and he didn’t know the area yet.

“Your parents are, like, the exception that proves the rule.”

“Well, yeah, my parents are awesome.” Molly’s parents couldn’t go five minutes without sniping, a whole day without a knockdown, drag-out fight. That was why she’d come down here with him for Thanksgiving instead of going home. “And they’re not the only ones.”

Molly snorted. “Name another couple you know who’s been together longer than three years.”

“There’s—” He stopped. No, Sheri and Dave had been married less than two years. His aunt and uncle had just separated. Who else did he know? He couldn’t believe he was going to lose this debate when it had barely started. Though it kind of answered his question about love versus work. “Anyway—” His phone rang, and he snatched it off his belt, ignoring Molly’s derisive laugh.

“Hello?”

“Did you get her yet? Where are you? Why didn’t you call me?”

His brother. The reason he and Molly had ended up on this topic in the first place. “Geez, Chris. Chill. Her train’s not due for another half hour.”

“Dad said the trains are early sometimes.” There was a tiny snap, and Brady knew his brother was biting his nails. He was really gone over this girl. “Make sure she knows I would have gotten her if Mom hadn’t—”

“Don’t worry, I know the story.” Brady rolled his eyes. “I’ll make her feel so welcome she won’t even miss you.”

“Okay, good. Hey, wait!”

Laughing, Brady shut the phone and dropped it into the console. “Chris is freaking out that we’re going to miss the train.”

Molly shook her head. “He really wanted to be the one to pick her up. What’s her name again?”

Spotting the station parking lot up ahead, Brady flipped his turn signal and slowed the car. “Jessica. Sounds like a princess. Just his type.”

“Yeah.” She snorted again. “True love.”