THE ASSHOLE HEIR
Mending fences with my brothers as I uncover family secrets is easy compared to winning back the woman carrying my baby…
Six months ago she ghosted me.
She stopped taking my calls and didn’t even answer her damn door.
Now, with my world upside down and my arm in a cast, where do I find her, but Winter Harbor, seven months pregnant with my baby.
Despite her keeping this secret from me, I want her. I’ve always wanted her. And even though I was dead-set on never having kids, given my own garbage dad, seeing Amaya pregnant and knowing that the baby is mine changes everything. I’m ready to right my father’s wrongs and be there for my kid.I want the family life, and I want it with Amaya.
But she’s not convinced. And for good reason. Now I just have to prove to her that taking a chance on love–and building a family with a man who’s ruined more romances than started them–is a risk worth taking.
Carson and I had practically been made for each other. A challenging, fascinating partnership with one major flaw.
We don’t share the same future.
The Asshole Heir, Winter Harbor #2
Amaya outshone her rivals the way the sun outshone a candle. I'd gotten lost in those flames before. And part of me wanted to again.
The Asshole Heir, Winter Harbor #2
“Need more screws,” I muttered to myself as I set my power screwdriver on the deck, sat back on my heels, and wiped the sweat from my brow.
I also need to get screwed.
Fuck, when was the last time I got laid?
I gave that thought the ol’ heave-ho before it had a chance to take root in my brain. Because when I thought too hard about the last time I got laid, or who the last person I got laid by was, the heat from my fury was enough to burn my cheeks.
And it was already hot as fucking balls outside here in Winter Harbor in late June, so I didn’t need to get any hotter.
“Grab me another paint roller while you’re in town,” Callum called from inside, Hope Creek Manor, the rundown mansion we’d inherited from our father. The door was open and he was busy painting the foyer while I struggled with my one good arm—the left was in a blue cast from a fall several weeks ago—to finish fixing the deck railings.
“And see if they have a big wheelbarrow,” Colton hollered, his head poking out from the nearby dilapidated greenhouse where he’d been pulling overgrown weeds and making friends with ladybugs. “The one I found in here is rusted through.”
I muffled my frustrated grumble. I wasn’t my brothers’ damn errand boy. And why couldn’t they go get the stuff? They each had two working arms.
Because you’re the contractor. You’re the one with a carpentry ticket and either one of them would inevitably get the wrong kind of screws forcing you to go back and get the right ones, anyway. Also, you’re trying to mend fences with your brothers, not stir up more shit.
I was all about trying to be a better person. Learn from my mistakes and not let my past transgressions or our family’s past transgressions torpedo my future.
At least that was the mantra I was attempting to live by.
Baby steps, of course.
I was also trying to curb my asshole tendencies and get a handle on my short-fuse. It’d never served me well, and if I wanted to mend fences that would withstand the family mystery we were struggling to unfold, I needed to be on my best behavior. I was trying to be Carson two-point-oh. A better version of myself, and if there was ever a better place to reinvent yourself, it was in a new town that hated your family for reasons nobody would explain to you, right?
Wrong, but that’s where I was, anyway. Trying to reinvent myself, upgrade myself, become a real brother to my brothers and figure out what I wanted out of life, all while working on my temper.
Callum hadn’t punched me in months, so I’d say I was making progress.
“Get beer, too,” Colton said.
“And ice cream,” Callum added.
“I’m only going to the fucking hardware store. I’m not making fifty stops.” Ugh. What was going to be a twenty-minute trip into town and back for screws was turning into a full day of grocery shopping.
“They’re all beside each other in the strip mall—that we own,” Colton retorted. “Pull your panties out of your ass crack.”
Fuck, it was hot out. And when it was hot, my mood took a turn.
Upgrade. You are upgrading, and that means tempering your temper. Buy yourself a fucking ice cream cone to cool off and stop bitching.
“I’ll see what I can do,” I said, rolling my eyes.
I grabbed my keys from where they rested next to my empty can of ginger ale on the deck railing, pocketed my phone, and headed down the porch steps. The middle one creaked beneath my weight.
I’d need to fix that at some point, even though Callum told me not to touch it as he said the creak was quaint.
My older brother was naïve.
A creak meant something was loose or worn or rotten.
It needed to be upgraded. Like me.
I opened the door to my Dodge Ram extended cab and slid in behind the steering wheel. Even for a white vehicle, it was hotter than Satan’s balls. I put the key in the ignition, turned it on, and immediately rolled down the windows—and cursed myself for not buying air conditioning.
Because Winter Harbor—my new place of residence until April 23rd of next year when we inherited everything my father had left for us—was a tiny-ass coastal town in Oregon. Nothing was more than a ten-minute drive and that included the hardware store.
I was there before my left nut stopped sticking to my thigh.
There were loads of angled parking spots, so I picked one beneath a big ginkgo tree in full bloom that would hopefully shade my truck so it wasn’t the depths-of-hell-hot inside when I returned.
For summer in a tourist hotspot, the sidewalks were surprisingly empty and all the storefront doors were closed.
I paid this unusualness no mind since I hadn’t lived in the town long enough to truly know its character, and I headed for Pete’s Hardware and Garden. I heaved on the door, but it didn’t budge.
What the fuck?
I tried again.
It still didn’t move.
Cupping my palms around my eyes, I peered through the glass door into a dark and empty hardware store.
This didn’t make any fucking— Oh shit.
Goddamn quirky-ass little town!
Everything was closed on Tuesdays.
Why Tuesdays? I don’t fucking know. But this wasn’t the first time we’d needed something on a Tuesday and driven into town only to have to turn around and do without until the following day.
I’d never lived anywhere in my entire life where a place was open every other day of the week, but closed on a Tuesday.
I pulled out my phone and double-checked the date. Sure enough, it was mother-fucking Tuesday and every single store in the entire strip mall was closed today.
The only places that would be open were the bank, the hospital, and Ned’s Necessities, a puny corner store hovel on the other side of town where Ned the geriatric owner defied the town laws and stayed open on Tuesdays, jacking up his prices, and selling weird canned meats on his dusty shelves.
No way was I driving all the way over to Ned’s Necessities for ice cream, beer, paint rollers, or screws. Not that I figured he carried the latter two.
“Fuck!” I growled, spinning on my heel to head back to my truck and kicking a dented metal bucket that was under a rain spout and sending it rattling down the sidewalk toward the florist.
Go get the fucking bucket, you hot-headed asshole.
Grumbling, I did as my conscience told me to and stalked down the empty cobblestones toward the bucket, muttering curses that would have earned me so many smacks from the nuns at boarding school.
Well, motherfucking, cock sucking, gaping asshole, pig testicle licking, cockroach eating, shit sniffers. In your face, Sister Glenda. Can’t beat my palm red now, can you?
With purpose and anger in my stride, I made my way back toward the downspout with the bucket, but I wasn’t even two steps from the hardware store when strolling toward me with her pale, slender arm linked with the arm of a tall, decent-looking man was the woman who ghosted me over six months ago.
The woman who broke my heart.
Shattered it. And then, for good measure, crushed those tiny fragments into dust beneath the heel of her boot.
My heart lurched against my ribcage as I came to an abrupt halt and everything inside of me went ice cold. “What the fuck are you doing here?” I blurted.
“C-Carson,” she stammered, stopping directly in front of me. Well, not directly in front of me, seeing as she had a pretty significant baby bump under a long gray dress consuming a large portion of the space between us.
My gaze locked on the human in her belly.
“What are you doing in Winter Harbor?” she asked, her voice just as soft and breathy as it’d always been.
Normally, I didn’t like women with that kind of voice. It struck me as ditzy. But when Amaya spoke, it did nothing but make me hard.
My eyes were still glued to her stomach, but the gentle throat clear of the man who was obviously her baby-daddy and the man she’d jumped into bed with probably seconds after ghosting me—quite possibly before—had me lifting my head.
“What am I doing in Winter Harbor? What are you doing in Winter Harbor?” I repeated. My heart was thumping so loudly I felt like I was yelling in order to hear over it.
The delicate line of her throat bobbed and her gaze bounced from the man beside her, then back to me. “I … we’re here helping my aunt who lives in Winter Harbor. She fell and broke her hip, and since I just finished school and am between jobs, and Stanton works freelance, we offered to help her for the rest of the summer. What about you?”
What about you? What the hell was with the small talk? Fuck this noise. Amaya didn’t deserve to know a damn thing about me, including why I was here, in Winter Harbor or in front of Pete’s. She deserved nothing from me. Not even the door held open for her.
My eyes were back on her stomach.
Well, and her tits. She’d always had great tits, and now they were even bigger. Her long, dark red hair fell in chunky waves over her shoulders, the ends landing right where her nipples would be. Fuck, I’d loved sucking on those nipples.
She loved it when I sucked on them, too.
The man she’d called Stanton cleared his throat again.
Lifting my gaze once more to Amaya’s, even though it was seriously painful to look at her glittering green eyes, I pushed through and opened my mouth. “I’m staying here,” I said through gritted teeth. It was taking every ounce of energy I had not to say something super snide and mean. Accuse her of cheating. My nails dug half-moons into my palms as I struggled to take deep breaths.
Her brows bunched. “Since when?”
“Since a while ago.”
“You’re not in Portland anymore?”
I shook my head. “Not if I’m here.”
When she stopped returning my calls and messages, she lost the privilege of knowing more about me. And now that she’d so very clearly moved on, like hell was I going to waste any more of my time pining over her, let alone standing here talking to her.
“What happened to your arm?” She pointed to my cast.
“Pretty obvious that I broke it,” I said in typical asshole fashion. Apparently, my upgrade was a complete failure where Amaya was concerned. Hooking my thumb over my shoulder at my truck, I turned. “Gotta go.” I was unable to continue looking at her. She was fucking gorgeous, and pregnancy had only enhanced her beauty. I couldn’t keep torturing myself like this. I’d never felt about a woman the way I had about Amaya. Hell, the way I still did about Amaya.
Even after she ghosted me. And had probably cheated, too. Given the size of her belly—unless there were twins in there. But either way, I needed to get fucking gone and take my pain and anger out on something productive. Like trying to open that motherfucking hobbit door on the side of the house. Maybe a few rounds with a sledgehammer would convince the fucker to finally open.
I showed her my back.
“I-it was nice seeing you.”
I could not say the same.
“Where in Winter Harbor are you living?”
I turned back to face her, her expression earnest and curious. She blinked those long, thick lashes and one hand fell to the top of her swollen belly.
My own belly formed a tight knot and an agony so fucking fierce I thought I might collapse on the street throbbed in my chest. “Why do you care?” As much as everything inside me hurt, I grabbed onto those dark red ribbons of frustration that were twisting through me and wrapped them around myself like a protective mantle. It was easier to despise her than it was to remind myself of what I thought we had, what I’d thought we could be, and let the grief of it consume me entirely.
Pain filled her eyes and her bottom lip wobbled.
Her baby-daddy took her hand and made to pull her away. “Come on, Amaya, let’s go.”
“I know you hate me,” she said, her words coming out like the croak of a chain-smoking frog.
“Can’t hate what you don’t care about,” I said, the pain in my chest intensifying.
Well, that was a big ol’ fucking lie.
Not only did I care about this woman, but I’m also pretty sure I was still fucking in love with her. Which was why her ghosting me and now showing up on the arm of another man and carrying his baby gutted me like a rusty knife. Sepsis or tetanus would be a welcomed alternative to this feeling of complete and total heartache.
A tear slid down her cheek, but she wiped it away quickly and nodded. And then, now clutching instead of merely holding her baby-daddy’s arm, she turned and left me.
I barely made it to my truck before my legs gave out and a ringing formed in my ears.
Amaya Peterson was in Winter Harbor and she was pregnant.
What other sick fucking surprises did the universe have in store for me?
(Available on Amazon and in Kindle Unlimited)