"I heard that Mom!"


"I heard that too! Getting that new game is going to be easier than I thought." My son Deuce is 10 years old and a total smartass. He's also right. Crap.

So, here's the deal. I curse like a sailor despite my best efforts to amend the habit. He, makes a royal mess and conveniently forgets to do his chores. So we developed a system where we both have to pay for our crimes—literally. If he catches me cursing, I have to put a quarter in his jar. If I have to remind him to clean up after himself or do his normal chores, he has to put a quarter in my jar. Then we each have money to get to do whatever we want with the money. He spends his money on crap that I won't buy for him, usually video games. I put my money in a special bank account that I want to give to him when he turns 21. He doesn't know that part though.

"Okay, new deal temporarily. While we're unpacking, no money jars. Either that, or I'll have to suspend your allowance indefinitely to afford it. Cut me some slack D." To say that I was frustrated would be an understatement.

"Fine. But that seems like a pretty crappy deal for me. I still have to work."

"You can go to the river if you'd prefer?" My dad owns a bar slash bait shop slash boat ramp in a prime spot on the river. He also parks his giant motor home there so it's like having a small house there. Deuce loved it there.

"Really? Awesome!"

"Yeah, I need to go to the store anyway. I'll drop you off now and you can stay with them, okay?"

I called on my way, and of course my parents were thrilled. I wanted to escape as quickly as I could, wanting to avoid completely 'the look' that I knew I'd be getting for a really long time.

I just got divorced. It wasn't a shock. It wasn't violent. It just… was. My eleven-year marriage ended three months ago. I haven't seen my now ex-husband in at least 8 months. The thing is, John's not a bad guy. He's a pretty good guy, actually. He's just not meant to be a husband and father. He loves D, of course, but he's just so absentee. He works overseas, doing some boring business stuff. One day, I got an email that said he thought we should get divorced. I have a feeling he met someone with a lifestyle similar to his, but I didn't press it. I love him, but I haven't been in love with him for… well, I can't remember how long.

Now, I'm moving home. Well, we have moved to my childhood home.

I grew up in a small town. I went to a private Christian school in said small town, so I was even more sheltered. As soon as I graduated, I moved away to a college that was a 7 hour drive from home, in a city that never sleeps. I love New Orleans. But, moving back was the best thing for us.

John and I had been together so long that all of our friends had melded into one big group of friends. Sure, some of us were closer than others, but still we were all just one group. I didn't have friends of my own that would automatically take my side of things, not that there were sides really. John was gone so much most of them thought of me as single anyway. Now though, it's different. I need a fresh start. So yes, I miss my friends and the life I had in the colorful city, but it's time to try to find myself, so to speak.

I didn't have time to think about it actually. Our house had sold so fast that I didn't have time to try to find a house here. So, we moved into my great uncle's house. He died several years ago, and the house has been empty since then. The thing is, the house is in the middle of a large piece of property. Like a farm. There's a huge garden full of vegetables. There's a pasture with about a dozen cows lazily munching away. And there's a 15 minute drive to my dad's business on the river.

"Do you need anything from the store?"

"God Mom there's no freaking radio our here in the boonies!"

"First of all, watch your mouth. Second, I know. I'm going to get satellite radio as soon as the internet gets hooked up in the house. D, I know it's going to be a hard adjustment…"

"It's cool. At least now I can take the boat out whenever I want. Can you get me some cereal and some chocolate milk?" He flashed his most dazzling smile and I laughed. Deuce will be a heartbreaker one day. He has blonde curly hair that flops around his very tan face and covers his bright blue eyes. He's very outgoing and athletic, and brilliant. He got all of that from me. Well, not the athletic part. That's all John. Deuce, of course, is his nickname. I refused to call him 'junior' so we went with Deuce. He likes it because he's always the only one. He's missing summer camp this year to adjust to the new town. Ugh.

"That smile doesn't work on me, but I already have those on the list. Oh crap, my phone. Hello?" I answered the phone and didn't bother with the hands-free set. No one here cares, despite the actual laws to the contrary.

"What the hell are you doing?" I smiled when I heard Remy's voice.

"Don't cuss at me jackass. I'm taking D to the river and going shopping. What are you doing?"

"Waiting for customers to go away. Having a cold icy beverage. Wanna go out to dinner tonight?" Remy is my best friend. I know I said I didn't have any friends of my own, but he doesn't count. He lives here, at home, in Springdale, Alabama. He also has a wife and two daughters. But we've been friends forever.

"Let me call you back." I hung up and focused on driving, trying to ignore Deuce flipping through the radio stations like they were shocking his fingers.

"There's nothing but country. I'm going to go nuts here. Do they all listen to country? Seriously?"

"Don't be a drama queen." I pulled up in front of the small white building with the big sign that said 'BAIT SHOP' and sighed. My parents were sitting on the porch, staring out at the river below. It was too hot to be outside, but they didn't seem to care. My dad was the one that had planted the huge garden at my now new home, and he'd planted a small one behind the bait shop as well. Deuce jumped out as soon as we came to a stop, waving behind me in my direction. My parents waved at me and I sighed again, this time in relief. Apparently I was saved 'the look' for now.

I drove to town, another ten minute drive, and parked at the same grocery store I'd been wandering around since I was a child. They'd remodeled, of course, but it was the same. As I was putting the car in park, my phone rang again.

"Spence did you forget to call me back?"

"No Rem, I just got distracted trying to avoid my parents. I have too much to do to go out tonight. Thanks anyway. Tell Claire I said thanks."

"Claire took the girls on some kind of girl scout camp out thing or something. I don't know. But I'm all alone tonight. Come on. I need to drink and I'm sure you do too. Plllease?"

"Fine. What time?"

"I'll pick you up at 6:30. Fuck. I haven't been to the farm in forever. Text me the address so I can GPS it. Oh, customer, gotta go." Then he hung up. Remy, short for Remington, not even joking, owns a car dealership. He works very hard and plays very hard. He also drinks like a fish.

I checked the time, 10:30. I hadn't made a list, but given that there was literally nothing to eat in our new house, I didn't exactly need one. I came a week ago to clean the house and settle a few things like address changes and getting the utilities changed to my name. They hadn't ever been turned off, so my parents had been paying the bills for a while. My dad used the property so he needed running water and power. The cable wasn't hooked up, thus no TV or internet yet. Deuce had just arrived yesterday, as had all of our stuff, which the movers unloaded into the huge garage. So now I have to get some food for my constantly hungry kid. It's not like anyone delivers out to the boonies.

I took a deep breath before getting a cart and walking into the store. Sure, it's a big store, but it's a small town. I pushed the cart up and down the aisles, and by the time I made it to the refrigerated section I had a very full cart.

"Spencer?" I turned to the voice that had said my name and I smiled automatically.

"Hey stranger. Long time no see."

"Yeah, you too. Wow. That's uhh… a lot of stuff. Moving back?" He was obviously joking, which surprised me. Small town equals no secrets.

"Yes, actually. I'm surprised you didn't know Ry." I smiled at his shocked expression. Ry, or Riley as his birth certificate says, was the guy that got away. From everyone. He's just an all around good guy that never seems to find 'the right girl' as my mom puts it.

"I've been out of town for a while. I just got back this morning and I came straight here. No food. I guess you have the same problem."

"Yeah exactly. D just got in yesterday and I can't let him live off fast food." I kept the smile painted on, but I was getting more and more uncomfortable.

"You look good Spence. I should go. I'm sure I'll see you around." He smiled and half hugged me before wandering off again. Strange.

I had a few run-ins during the shopping trip, mostly friends of my parents since my friends were mostly all working, but seeing Ry was a shock. Two hours later, I was unloading the car full of groceries and trying to find places for everything. One good thing about Uncle Lew's place—the kitchen was huge. By the time I had everything from the store put away, it was nearly 2 in the afternoon. Remy had called several times, obviously bored and trying to avoid talking to the imbeciles that work for him, and Deuce had sent me several pictures from his phone.

I spent the next couple hours trying to unpack stuff. The movers had put the furniture in the house but the boxes of 'stuff' was randomly stacked in the garage. I left most of Deuce's boxes there. Lord knows the fit he'd pitch if I went through his stuff.

"Oh hell!" I glanced out the back window in the kitchen to see some kids in the field. I ran out to see what they were doing. "What the hell are you boys doing? Get out of here! These cows are not pets!" They didn't look like they wanted to pet them. They actually looked like they were planning to do something mean, though I didn't bother to see what.

"Who the hell are you?!" One of the little hoodlums yelled. I was shocked. He looks the same age as D.

"I'm the owner of this property! Now get off my land or I'll call the police." I struggled not to laugh when I said that, knowing what would happen if I called the cops and Jake came out. They seemed to know what would happen too, but they left anyway.

Jake Saunders was a big football star in high school, and he'd played for a Division I college, but his knee got messed up and that was the end of that. The country life suits him though. I knew he'd come back home. But if I had to call him to come out, he wouldn't have done much besides give the boys pointers on how to ride the cows.

"God Spencer, what the hell have you gotten yourself into?" I muttered to myself as I went back to the house to sort boxes and unpack before getting ready to go out to dinner with Remy.