Thirty-One and a Half Regrets Page 100

“After I lost the election, I told my dad I was taking this job. He didn’t like it, but he gave me his approval.” His voice lowered. “So you’re safe.”

“For now.”

Worry flashed in his eyes for a moment. “Hopefully forever.”

We both knew that his father was saving the leverage for when he needed Joe to toe the line next time.

“So Hilary’s not moving in with you?” I couldn’t see her willingly moving into the tiny house. After discovering Joe’s financial situation, I found it hard to believe he would live there.

“No.” His voice was hard. “She’s gone.”

I didn’t say anything.

“I know you don’t believe me, but it’s true.” He stood and moved closer to me, his hands lifting slightly as though to reach for me before falling to his sides. “I’m here to prove to you that I can be the man you need me to be.”

I closed my eyes and shook my head. “Joe.”

“I know you say we’re over, but I refuse to accept that. You taught me to fight for what I want and not to let it go. What I want is you.”

I looked up into his face. “What about what I want, Joe?”

Before he could answer, the side door of my house opened and Mason hobbled toward us on his crutches. “Well, hello, Joe. What a surprise to see you here.” He stopped next to me, wrapping an arm around my waist.

“I’m moving into my old house,” Joe said with a grin, his gaze landing on Mason’s hand at my waist then rising. “Rose and I are neighbors again.” The challenge in his voice was clear.

“Well then, your timing is perfect,” Mason said, his friendly tone not matching the look in his eyes. “Seeing as how Rose is moving out to her mother’s farm.”

Joe’s smile fell. “Is that true?”

I nodded. “Violet’s moving in here next week.”

“But I’m sure Violet will appreciate having you for a neighbor.” Mason leaned down and kissed my temple, his lips lingering for several seconds. “I’ll go finish packing your bathroom.”

As Mason walked away, Joe’s eyes narrowed in determination. “We’ll be working together quite a bit now, Mason. Seeing as how I’m the new chief deputy sheriff.”

Holding onto the door, Mason paused for a second and then turned at the waist, flashing Joe a firm smile. “I’m looking forward to it.”

And just like that, my life got even more complicated.