Whisper Of Love (Whisper Lake #1)

By: Melanie Shawn

That’s why Kade got away with everything. No one could resist his charm, his strength, or his undeniable charisma. He was a warm fire on a snowy night. He was ice cream on a hot day. He was the scratch for the unreachable itch. He had a magic way about him that made everything better.

She’d always had an incurable crush on him, but during her teen years she’d managed to build up a tolerance to him. She’d erected an invisible shield that protected her from being devastated by his voodoo magnetism by always being on the offensive. She picked fights with him, called him out on his egotistical behavior, and never let him get away with anything. But now…now she didn’t know how much fight she had left in her. She was at her most vulnerable. How could she possibly guard herself against him? Especially since he was staying in her house.

It’s fine, she told herself as she took another bite of mushy, burnt food.

Kade never stayed in town long. About the time she finished college and returned home to Whisper Lake, Kade’s MMA career took off. Since then he’d breeze through just long enough to receive all the accolades and glory that came from being a hometown hero and then he’d be gone. Off living his fast-paced life of debauchery.

All she had to do was stay strong for his pit stop and then he would be gone and she could go back to worrying about things that really mattered like keeping KJ out of jail or Ricky from shutting down completely.

She’d just have to ignore him while he was here. She would only speak to him when the boys were around and then it would only be the bare minimum, and she’d do everything she could to avoid contact at all costs. It wasn’t the best plan, but it was all she had.

“Aunt Ali didn’t want me to start taking jiu-jitsu. She tried to make me play soccer.” The horror in which KJ said the word soccer was so dramatic it made Ali’s jaw tense.

It was clear that she was being cast as the villain. She’d made plenty of mistakes over the past eighteen months but encouraging KJ to play soccer wasn’t one of them. Soccer was a good sport. KJ acted like she’d signed him up for ballet and forced him to wear a tutu and pointe shoes.

The image of her nephew dressed as a ballerina made her smile and also gave her an idea if he kept getting into trouble.

Kade took a sip of his water and set the glass down. “I played soccer growing up. Is Coach Finley still around?”

“Yeah. But now his son helps out a lot.” Ricky explained, never looking up from his book that was set beside his dinner plate.

Ali’s eyes betrayed her plan and shot directly to Kade’s, warning him not to tell the story that she feared he was about to. The last thing that KJ needed was inspiration for more trouble. Unfortunately, the memory caused her lips to twitch as she bit back the laughter that threatened. She hoped that the intensity of her stare was enough to get her point across.

The sexy, sinful grin that caused the corner of Kade’s eyes to crinkle sent a shockwave of desire rushing through her. “Timmy Finley. He still driving that Mustang?”

“That Mustang” was at the bottom of Whisper Lake. The summer before their senior year Patrick and Kade convinced Timmy that if he drove it fast enough, he could make it across the top of the water. Ali remembered the phrase “jet propulsion” being tossed around.

To this day she still couldn’t believe that her brother and Kade had actually got him to do it. They’d masterfully fed on his arrogance, cockiness, and ignorance and ended up sinking his brand new Mustang in the lake.

If Timmy hadn’t been such douchebag as a teenager, Ali would feel bad about what the boys had done. But then again, they probably wouldn’t have done it if he hadn’t been such a jerk.

“He drives a minivan.” Ricky answered, his eyes still glued to his book.

“A minivan, huh?” Kade repeated before thankfully dropping the subject. “Do you like training over at Legacy? I’ve heard good things about your coach.”

“Yeah. He’s great!” KJ enthused. “You should come tonight and meet him! Meet everyone!”

Ali’s fork stilled mid-bite at her nephew’s zealous invitation. Since he’d started taking classes she’d been asking, bargaining, and even begging to come and observe. It wasn’t like she’d stand out, since Kade’s rise to fame mixed martial arts were to Whisper Lake, Illinois like football was to Odessa, Texas. The place was packed and all the parents watched.

From the first time she’d broached the subject of her sitting and watching like all of the other parents did, his answer had always been a hard no. At first, she’d thought that it was just because he was nervous because he was new to the martial arts, but he’d been training for over a year and he hadn’t wavered on his position. He didn’t want her there. It didn’t matter what tactic she took, what strategy she used, he held his ground.

Out of the corner of her eye she saw that Ricky was staring at her, waiting to see what her reaction would be. She made a mental note that the chance of her having a full meltdown was what could get Ricky to stop reading.