Renovations Book 5
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Life for Toby and Ven has settled down into a new ideal: half of every week with Toby’s girls and half to themselves. But what Toby’s disapproving father-in-law has to say brings everything crashing down.
Length: Novella | Rating: Hot | Publisher: Torquere Press
Themes: Interracial Relationship; Working Class Hero; Interclass Relationship; Hero with Children; Bisexual Hero; Contemporary Romance
Charlotte gave Blade a kiss on the nose and got up to get her backpack, but Josie was more reluctant to let go of Whistler. “We’re going back to Mama’s tonight? We’re not spendin’ the night here with you?”
“Not tonight.” Toby shook his head. He didn’t much like it either, but he wouldn’t show the girls that. “You’re going to church with your mama in the morning, so we need to get you back home to her tonight.”
Ven crouched down with his back against the door to help Charlotte with her things, bracing himself as Abby tried to get into his lap, ramming herself between his thigh and arm. He put her in an affectionate headlock with one arm and used the other to hold the backpack so Charlotte could dig in it.
Charlotte pulled her teddy bear out of the backpack and squeezed him tight. “I wanna stay here,” she said, her lower lip poking out.
“Don’t you miss your mama?” Toby asked gently, kneeling down so he could see Charlotte’s little face.
Charlotte nodded slowly. “Uh-huh. But I miss you, too. How come we only got to spend today with you this week?”
Josie finally let go of Whistler and came over to sit down in front of her backpack and bag. She was frowning, digging through her clothes haphazardly, as if she wasn’t paying attention to what she was doing. She kept glancing at Charlotte out of the corner of her eye.
“You got to spend time with your Gramma and Grampa this week,” Toby reminded them. God, it hurt to hear them say things like that, that they missed him. “That was pretty fun, huh?”
Ven reached over and petted Toby’s back and a moment later Abby was bumping against him with a soft snuffle, like they could both feel his pain.
Toby flashed Ven a sad, grateful smile and leaned over to ruffle Josie’s tight, black curls. “Wasn’t it?”
Josie looked up, still frowning, and nodded. She hesitated another moment and then said, “I don’t wanna go to church tomorrow.”
That stopped Toby dead. “Why not?”
Josie just shook her head and looked away, still frowning. Toby knew she wasn’t likely to give in if he badgered her, so he just gave Ven a troubled look and let it go. For now, anyway. He’d ask again later, and hopefully she’d open up then.
Ven didn’t look happy at all; the look on his face wasn’t much different than Josie’s, really, but then he shook it off. “How about we take some of these things upstairs,” he said, pushing himself to his feet. “Put ‘em back where they belong.” He stepped around the dogs and pretended he was going to pick Josie up just like he was scooping up her pillow.
Surprisingly, Josie just raised up her arms and let Ven lift her up. She wrapped her arms tight around his neck and tucked her face down against his shoulder. Toby watched the scene with an aching heart. What had happened to make his little girl so upset? He sighed and scooped up Charlotte and her bags, carrying her up the stairs behind Ven and Josie.
“Each story is this series has been just as enjoyable as the previous and never fail to satisfy.” — Emily, Rainbow Reviews
“Emotional and poignant.” — Nannette, Joyfully Reviewed