ec556-moonthumb“There’s someone following us.” My sister said after the third shop we’d stopped at.

“There’s always somebody following us, we’re beautiful people.” I mocked, jokingly. I really hadn’t been paying attention.

We had won the lottery a little over a year ago and I’d finally gotten used to people looking at me like I was familiar.

“I’m serious Montana.” She tried to point, but her hands were too full of bags with clothes and shoes in them.

“Don’t point, just tell me where.”

“Really hot, sexy guy on the corner to your left,” She whispered, taking a step back so I’d be able to see, “Black hair, sunglasses.”

I turned my head slightly. My heart dropped into my chest. An electrical bolt sizzled through me.

I normally wear dark lens sunglasses, I was glad I had them on now. They hid the emotions that I’m sure were flitting through my eyes.

“Keep walking. We’re almost to the restaurant.”

“You should go talk to him.”

“No.” If I ignored him he might go away.

My sister’s mouth fell open. She closed it quickly, grinning at me. “You know him don’t you?”

My lips thinned. I thought I’d put a good amount of distance between us when I left the mountains, but his job was tracking down people, and other things, so I wasn’t surprised he’d found me.

“He’s hot!” She exclaimed, blatantly staring at him. “Oh, he’s gay isn’t he?”

I smiled, wishing that was the problem.

“What’s gay mom? What does gay mean?” Charlie had snuck up behind us while my sister stood gawking.

She bit her lip, “Happy honey. It means happy.”

“Who are you staring at?” Shawn asked as he walked up to join us.

My sister nudged me. “That guy over there. He’s been following us.”

Shawn looked over at Max. Yes, Max, the guy I’d been trying to forget about.

Before I had the chance to say “no” Shawn crossed the street and stalked toward Max. Shawn’s a formidable person, but Max was worse.

“Oh shit!” I replied too late. I bit my tongue.

“Auntie Tana, that’s a bad word and you’re not supposed to say it!” Charlie frowned at me while tapping her toe.

“Sorry Charlie.” I put on my best forgive me face, “I’ll never do it again.”

My sister couldn’t keep her eyes off Max and Shawn.

“What do you think they’re talking about?”

“Max is inviting himself to lunch.” I grimaced. “And most likely Shawn will let him.”

Max loved to invade my space. Now that he’d been found out I was pretty sure that was going to happen. They both started heading toward us. My first reaction was to turn tail and run, which I would have done if my family wasn’t here with me. Instead I stood firmly, taking in his powerfully built body. Max had this affect on me – I always felt like the proverbial moth being drawn to the flame around him.

“He doesn’t look gay,” my sister whispered as he strode over.

“Montana.” Max drawled.

“Max.” Even with his sunglasses on I felt his eyes linger over my body. I glared at him behind mine.

“Max will be joining us for lunch.” Shawn mentioned. “Max this is my beautiful wife, Zoë, and our even more beautiful daughter, Charlie.”

“Nice to meet both of you,” Max grinned.

I headed into the restaurant, leaving them behind. I needed a beer and maybe a bottle of rum. I’m not really a drinker, but now might be the time to start. How dare he track me down? I’d been having a great time until he showed up. Trouble followed him.

Was he worried about me? He could have just talked to Rose or Chase to know I was all right.

“Table for five,” I told the waiter.

Of course that’s what Max did for a living, track people, things, creatures, but still. How dare he?

Max slipped up behind me as I reached the table, wrapping his arms around my waist, sending goose bumps over my flesh.

“I told you that you belong to me.” He whispered in my ear.

Oh brother. We only had one night together; he left me to heal on my own, and I was his property. I stood still, reining in my control. I wanted to jump him and punch him at the same time.

He stood back and pulled out a chair for me. I sat down and glanced around for my family.

“Bathroom breaks.” Max said.

I looked over at him, was just about to ask him what he was really doing here, when Charlie came bounding up, followed by mom and dad.

“Are you gay?” Charlie asked Max.

My sister’s jaw dropped, Shawn glared at Charlie, and I broke down into laughter.

His eyebrow rose. “No.”

“That’s what I thought. You don’t look very happy to me.” Charlie replied.

I laughed a little harder as my sister gave Max an apologetic gesture.

“Remember your restaurant behavior.” Shawn mumbled into Charlie’s ear as he plopped her down in her seat.

“Yes dad.” Charlie sat up straight, sighing.

We sat in silence until the waiter took our order. I decided to forgo the beer and rum; I’m really not much of a drinker. I ordered coffee, water, and a salad instead. My appetite had deserted me at the first glance of Max.

“So what brought you to Florida?” Zoë asked Max.

“Montana and I have some unfinished business.” Max replied, smiling at me.

“You told me you were her neighbor.” Shawn grumbled, eying Max.

“He is my neighbor.” I agreed. All I needed was for Shawn to get his feathers in a ruffle. Mine were ruffled enough for all of us.

My sister gave me a “he’s your neighbor and he’s not gay” why didn’t you tell me look.

I ignored her.

Sterling- A Montana Dayton Novel Capter 1:2

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