From author Carrie Ann Ryan comes a new story in her Fractured Connections series, and I have an excerpt for you.
“Dillon. I need your help.”
The kid looked up, a sly smile on his face as a lock of hair flopped down over his eyes.
Sometimes, he reminded me of Shawn Mendes with the way his hair curled a little bit if he let it grow, and how he always had a smile for others. I knew that Dillon hadn’t had the easiest life growing up, even though Cameron had tried to make it easier for him. But the Connolly brothers—at least those who were genetically related—hadn’t had the best birth mother.
Their foster mom had been fucking fantastic. I’d only met her a few times before she passed away, but I liked Rose. However, she wasn’t here to help me. And I knew from past experience that if she were here, I would likely be asking her for advice. However, I’d have to take what I could get. And Dillon, the sage and wise one when it came to romance, was the person I needed.
“Let me see, does it have anything to do with Meadow?” he asked, and I narrowed my eyes. “How did you know that?”
“Because everybody asks me about women these days. I don’t get asked much about anything else. Although I don’t really know when I became the love guru.”
“You’re anything but that, kid.”
“You say that, and yet, here you are. Asking me about Meadow. So what can I do for you?”
“You sound a bit cocky. Maybe I shouldn’t ask for your help.”
Dillon shrugged, though there was sincerity in his eyes. Maybe he wasn’t so cocky.
“I read romance, and therefore, I happen to understand a little more about women than my brothers. Or at least more than they thought I knew. Not that I know a lot. But I can help you talk it out. What do you need?”
“You’re saying that you read romance books, and that’s how you could figure out how to help each of your brothers with the issues they had with their women?”
I’d never read a romance novel. Not that I hated them or anything, but I didn’t really have time to read. In my old life, nobody read. If you did, you got your ass kicked. And now, I was a little too busy, and it just wasn’t my hobby. Maybe I needed to make it one. If I did, a romance book would be the first thing I picked up.
“It’s not a be-all, end-all, but they’re written by women for women, at least according to their taglines or whatever. So, yeah, I learned a few things. Plus, now that I have a sister-in-law and a bunch of future sisters-in-law, I tend to figure things out by watching. Maybe.”
I narrowed my eyes. “Maybe?”
“I don’t know. You guys keep coming to me. I didn’t actually seek this position out. Like, what if when I actually find someone I really like, I suck at this, and no one’s there to help me?”
I looked at him then, shaking my head. “You have your entire family. And you have me. I might not be blood, but when and if you actually need to talk to me about women or whatever you’re having an issue with, I’ll be here for you. Okay? You won’t be alone.”
“Thanks. Although, if you’re coming to me for help, maybe I don’t want to go to you for help.” He smiled as he said it, and I wanted to punch the kid—good-naturedly, of course.
“You’re an asshole. But I kind of like you. However, I really do need your help. For real. And yes, it’s about Meadow.”
“Okay. Ask away.”
“I have no idea where to take her on our date.”
I didn’t mention that this would be my first date. The first of my life. And not only with Meadow. Sure, I had taken women out before, but it was different back then. You didn’t really date women. They sort of…fell into your life. Jesus Christ, I hated my old ways. I was such an asshole. I didn’t remember the women I’d been with, and I sure as hell did not remember their names.
That was something I’d changed after I left. I knew every woman I’d been with since—not that there had been many. I didn’t want to treat women like that. I wasn’t a horrible person. Everything had been consensual. And I made sure they got off like I did. But I never respected them the way I should have. I saw that now. Once I was out of that life, I vowed to change. And now, I was going to make sure that Meadow knew I was all about her. Only I didn’t know how to go about doing that.
“You have no idea where you want to take Meadow, then?”