Home > Can't Fight It

Can't Fight It
Author: Kaylee Ryan

Chapter 1





“Well, little man, it’s just you and me,” I tell my son, who is sleeping peacefully in my arms. I look around the sparse furnishings of our new home and sigh. I’ve been in the military since the day I graduated high school. I own nothing but the clothes that traveled with me. That’s both a good thing and a bad thing at this point in my life. It’s good because I have saved most of the money I’ve made. Bad, because here I am, a single father, with an infant son, in a house that’s well… bare.

And I’m sure this is no surprise, but kids are expensive. Diapers, formula, co-pays, clothes that he grows out of overnight. Toys and car seats, and I could ramble on forever. Kids are expensive, and it’s just me. His mother signed him over to me, and although I don’t understand it, I’m grateful she did. I always thought my life would be spent in the military. One trip home changed all that. This little man snoozing away in my arms changed it all. Not to mention, I’m going to be an uncle. My little brother got married and is going to be a dad himself. My parents are getting older, and I realize that life is passing me by. I’ve done my duty, served my country with honor, now it’s time to live for me, and Milo. Hence the reason it was time to man up and buy a place of my own.

This house is small but is set up with an in-law suite with a separate entrance. It’s a two-bedroom, three if you count the in-law suite. Nothing lavish, it’s actually perfect for Milo and me. The realtor convinced me that getting a tenant would be a good idea to offset some of the mortgage payment. The in-law suite is more like a tiny one-room apartment. There is a kitchenette, and a full bathroom, along with a small sitting area and room for a bed and dresser. Nothing huge, but definitely worth a couple of hundred bucks a month in rent.

I was starting to have second thoughts about the tenant. I don’t know if I want some stranger living here with my son and me. I mean, I can afford this place on my own, but having some help is always nice. I want to be able to give Milo the best in life, family vacations, the cool new tennis shoes that are ridiculously expensive. I know that’s all far away, but I’m a dad now. I have to think about these things.

Chase and Gabby were here last week after the closing, and Chase mentioned the door to the in-law suite could be locked both ways. Since it has its own entrance, I can lock the door from my side to prevent my new tenant from having access to our home. That sold me on the idea, and I posted an ad. Within hours, I had several inquiries, but one stood out. This guy named Hollis. His email was short and to the point. I don’t need much space, and I just need a new start. Can pay first and last month’s rent before moving in, and I’m willing to take any drug, alcohol, or background tests needed to be approved. He even attached a criminal background check from two years ago.

I messaged him back, we emailed back and forth a few times, and he sent me the first and last month’s rent on Monday. Now, here we are, Saturday midday, and he should be here any minute. Chase and Gabby are coming over too. Gabby is going to watch Milo, while Chase and I help the new guy move in. That’s the least we can do. Then we’ll probably invite him in for a beer after so we can get to know him.

“Knock, knock.” My brother’s voice echoes through the pretty much empty house.

“We’ve got company, buddy.” I climb to my feet, my son none the wiser, and head toward the kitchen. “Hey,” I greet Gabby and Chase.

“Aw, is my little guy sleeping?” Gabby asks, completely ignoring me. Not that I blame her. My son is handsome and hard to resist. He does get his good looks from his father. Just saying.

“He just conked out about fifteen minutes ago. What’s all this?” I ask, nodding toward the bags on the island.

“Oh, just some housewarming stuff. We stopped at the store and got some spices and condiments. Some kitchen utensils, potholders, a pizza pan, and some other random stuff.”

“And by stuff, she means, she filled the back of her SUV. Hand over my nephew and help me carry this stuff in.” I carefully transfer Milo into Gabby’s waiting arms.

“I can’t help it. I was in the mood to clean and get our house settled.”

“She’s nesting. That’s what the books say,” my brother replies.

“Oh, hush,” Gabby says, still staring at my son. “I’m not nesting. I’m just trying to go through my stuff that was stored in the garage before the baby gets here. I just want it off our plates.”

“It’s not hurting anything sitting in the garage.”

“No, it’s not. However, I feel better having gone through it.”

“Nesting,” Chase says again.

“Call it what you want. It’s done, so that’s all I care about.”

“Happy wife, happy life.” Chase winks at her, and she rolls her eyes.

“What time is this guy getting here? What’s his name again? Harry?” Chase asks.

“Hollis. And he should be here anytime.”

“Good, let’s get busy unloading so we can help him.” He leans down, places his hand on Gabby’s protruding belly, and kisses her softly. “Love you,” he whispers before disappearing out the door.

I follow along behind him with a twinge of jealousy. I never really thought much about settling down and having a family of my own. However, I assumed if I ever did, it would be in the right order. Never in my wildest imagination did I ever think I would be a single father to an infant, courtesy of a one-night stand.

“You weren’t kidding,” I tell Chase when we open the back of Gabby’s SUV. “You guys didn’t have to do all of this.”

“It was all Gabs. It’s expensive to start out on your own. We’ve both been there, and we didn’t have a baby to take care of. Besides, some of this stuff is used. We combined our places, cleaned out the garage from when she moved in, and we have duplicates of a lot of things. We figured you wouldn’t mind.”

“No. I appreciate it, man. I was just thinking about how I have this house, but it’s bare-bones.”

“This should get you by. It’s all in good shape. We just don’t need it.”

“Thank you. Not just for this, but for taking such good care of Milo. I don’t even want to think about what could have happened if it had not been your doorstep she dropped him off on.”

“Yeah, well, maybe think twice before you use my name again. I don’t think my wife would appreciate that.”

“Trust me, that’s not going to happen. Those days are long gone. I have more than just myself to think about. Milo needs stability, and I’m going to make damn sure he has it.”

“Great. Start by taking this.” He places a large box in my arms.

“What’s in here?”

“Dishes. Baking dishes, and honestly, I’m not really sure. What I do know is it’s yours now, toss or keep it. We don’t care either way.”

I carry the box into the house and place it on the small kitchen island. “Thanks for all this, Gabby.”

“It’s nothing. We were going to get rid of it anyway. If you don’t like it or need it, just pass it on or donate it. Whatever. I only brought the stuff I thought you might want or need.”

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