Aaron eased off the accelerator and allowed his Range Rover to crunch slowly over the gravel road. Her house looked beautiful trimmed in white lights, sparkling like an oasis in the December dark. A fresh evergreen garland with red ribbon was intertwined casually across the porch railing. A huge twig wreath with a giant red velvet bow hung in front of the bay window.
Michelle had always made Christmas special and festive.
Aaron smiled, remembering their first Christmas together as newlyweds. They lived in that cramped overpriced death trap in Southwest Atlanta. Michelle had turned their small rental house into a winter wonderland on the inside, but kept the outside looking like a shit hole so their ghetto-ass neighbors wouldn’t be inspired to help themselves to anything they suspected to be inside.
By the time the boys came along—and they’d long since escaped the SWATS—she put their holiday experience into overdrive. Each year, she transformed their house in Marietta into a replica of a Swiss chalet that would’ve left Mrs. Claus envious. The house smelled like fresh pine, mulled cider and sugar cookies for months.
God, he missed those cookies.
Of course, Jackie had no interest in such things. She’d rather spend his money and pay someone to duplicate the perfect Christmas she’d seen in a magazine or on TV with no thought to family traditions or memories.
Aaron pulled into the driveway and cursed silently when he spotted the pick-up truck. That damn coach was probably in the house eating his damn cookies. What the hell did Michelle see in that guy? He wasn’t even her type—not only because he was white, but because he was just a construction worker. She deserved better than him. They couldn’t possibly have anything real in common. Then again, she did usually feel more comfortable around regular people than the high-profile professionals, athletes and entertainers he worked with on a daily basis.
But what did she really know about the guy? The fact that he was a damn Marine made him automatically psycho. What the hell was she thinking? The second fact was, Michelle’s kids were his kids, so he couldn’t take any chances. He contacted a law school friend with the State Department and had him do a little digging into Damien’s background.
But when his friend got back to him, his report contained nothing helpful. Over the phone he read the list, “Business owner. Divorced. Two kids. Exemplary military record. On paper, the man’s a freakin’ Boy Scout war hero.”
None of this was what Aaron wanted to hear. He would just have to find another way to get the coach out of the picture.
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