He’d probably be right to.
She swallowed down a hard knot of pain and dropped her gaze to stare into her coffee. Hank was a good man. An amazing man. So much better than she could have ever hoped for. Better than she’d dreamed of. Funny how her father’s scheming had brought her Hank and would inevitability take him away.
She was going to get her heart broken, and this time, it wasn’t going to heal. Her life was so freaking unfair. She closed her eyes and took a breath. Enough wallowing.
Self-pity was pointless. It wasn’t going to change anything. Better to focus on finding a way to fix things.
She could tell Hank the truth right now. Hank seemed like a trustworthy guy. But she’d trusted a man before, a man she’d had no reason to doubt, and been betrayed. What if she’d misjudged Hank? What if he used the information to get the Merrows out of their debt? Then there’d be no marriage at all. It would save the Merrows. But it would destroy her. Clemens would blame her for the whole thing falling apart.
Her and Charlie.
But Charlie would pay the price.
She bit back a sob. She couldn’t risk her son’s life for the sake of her own comfort.
At the sound of Hank’s voice, she turned. He was more gorgeous than ever with the look of sleepy satisfaction on his handsome mug. “Did I wake you? I was trying to be quiet.”
He padded up to her, wearing nothing but pajama pants, and wrapped his arms around her waist. “I wish you had woken me up. But then you’d still be in bed.”
She smiled, unable to help herself. Gruff, serious Hank was anything but in bed. The man was an artist with his hands. Generous, giving, and wicked in the best possible ways. She hadn’t been so thoroughly shagged in…ever. “Sorry, I couldn’t sleep.” She lifted her cup. “I made coffee.”
Everything. “Nothing. Just restless with the full moon so close, I guess.”
He lifted one hand to her chin and tipped her face toward him, then planted a soft, closed-mouth kiss on her lips. “Please don’t regret last night.”
She shook her head. “I don’t. I promise. Last night was amazing.”
He grinned. The smile lit his face so brightly it was like staring into the sun. “Damn straight it was. You hungry? I’m starving.”
“Sure, what do you want for breakfast?”
He made a face at her. “For you to sit down and enjoy your coffee while I fix it.” He grabbed her hand and pulled her toward the kitchen.
She went along with him, balancing her cup to keep from spilling coffee on the hardwood floors. “You cook?”
He snorted. “No, but I can make breakfast.”
He looked at her. “Do you doubt me, woman?”
“I’m just saying it’s pretty hard to believe judging by the state of your refrigerator yesterday.” She liked this new playful side of him. It seemed he’d let his guard down. Like she was catching a glimpse of the man without the weight of sheriff and firstborn riding his shoulders.
No doubt that would change when he learned what her father had put her up to. She pushed that thought away and tried to focus on the present.
“You sit here.” He pointed at one of the bar stools at the raised breakfast bar.
She climbed into the chair. She’d been a child the last time someone had made breakfast for her.
He opened the fridge. “What’ll it be?”
She decided to go big, knowing she’d probably end up doing the cooking, but then she’d planned on that anyway. She thought about what she’d bought yesterday and based her choice on that. “Blueberry pancakes.”
He looked over his shoulder at her, his brows angled down in a victorious expression. “Thought you were going to trip me up with that, didn’t you?”
She laughed. “Yeah, I kinda did. Good thing I bought blueberries. Are they better than Mummy’s?”
He hesitated. “You won’t have to eat them in a holding cell.”
He pulled the ingredients together and got to work, refusing to let her help. Once the ingredients were mixed, he pulled out the griddle, greased it and set it to heat up. Then he refilled her coffee, fixed himself a cup, and leaned against the counter facing her. “Tell me about your son.”
The lightness of the moment disappeared with those words. A wave of desperation went through her. She missed Charlie so much it hurt. She tried to cover by taking a sip of her coffee. She swallowed and chose her words carefully so she could stay truthful. “He’s a good kid. Quiet. A little on the shy side. Kinda small for his age.”
“So was I.”
She raised her brows. “You were small for your age.”
“Almost dead last in the percentages.” He turned, ran his fingers under the tap then flicked the water onto the griddle. It sizzled, so he poured thick circles of batter onto it. More sizzling followed, sending up the most delicious aroma. He dropped big handfuls of berries into each one. “Until I hit puberty. Put on seventeen inches and forty-three pounds in a year and a half.”
“Hurt like a mother, too.”
“I’ll bet.” For the first time, hope for Charlie bloomed within her. “Kincaid men get their size early.”
Pancakes cooking and coffee in hand, he went back to leaning. He swallowed another sip of coffee. “Charlie’s dad still in the picture?”