A Little Dare(10)

By: Brenda Jackson

not outgoing.”

Dare nodded. Of the five Westmoreland brothers, he was the least outgoing, if you didn’t count Thorn who was known to be a pain in the butt at times. Growing up, Dare had felt that his brothers were all the playmates he had needed,

and because of that, he never worried about making friends or being accepted. His brothers were his friends—his best friends—and as far as he’d been concerned they were

enough. It was only after he got older and his brothers

began seeking other interests that he began getting out

more, playing sports, meeting people and making new


So if AJ wasn’t as outgoing as most ten-year-old kids, he had definitely inherited that characteristic from him. “So how do you think I should handle it?”

“I suggest that we don’t tell him the truth about you just yet, and that you take the initiative to form a bond with him,

share his life and get to know him.”

Dare raised a dark brow. “And just how am I supposed to do that? Our first meeting didn’t exactly get off to a great

start, Shelly. Technically, I arrested him, for heaven’s sake. My own son! A kid who didn’t bat an eye when he informed me he hated cops—which is what I definitely am. Then

there’s this little attitude problem of his that I feel needs

adjusting. So come on, let’s be real here. How am I

supposed to develop a relationship with my kid when he dislikes everything I stand for?”

Shelly shook her head. “He doesn’t really hate cops, Dare, he just thinks he does because of what happened as we were driving from California to here.”

Dare lifted a brow. “What happened?”

“I got pulled over in some small Texas town and the officer was extremely rude. Needless to say he didn’t make a

good impression on AJ.”

She sighed deeply. “But you can change that, Dare. That’s why I think the two of you getting together and developing a relationship as friends first would be the ideal thing. Ms.

Kate told me that you work with the youth in the community and about the Little League baseball team that you coach. I want to do whatever it takes to get AJ involved in

something like that.”

“And he can become involved as my son.”

“I think we should go the friendship route first, Dare.”

Dare shook his head. “Shelly, you haven’t thought this

through. I understand what you’re saying because I know how it was for me as a kid growing up. At least I had my brothers who were my constant companions. But I think you’ve forgotten one very important thing here.”

Shelly raised her brow. “What?”

“Most of the people in College Park know you, and most of them have long memories. Once they hear that you have a ten-year-old son, they’ll start counting months, and once

they see him they’ll definitely know the truth. They will see

just how much of a Westmoreland he is. He favors my

brothers and me. The reason I didn’t see it before was

because I wasn’t looking for it. But you better believe the

good people of this town will be. Once you’re seen with AJ they’ll be looking for anything to link me to him, and it will be easy for them to put two and two together. And don’t let

them find out that he was named after me. That will be the icing on the cake.”

Dare gave her time to think about what he’d said before

continuing. “What’s going to happen if AJ learns that I’m his father from someone other than us? He’ll resent us for

keeping the truth from him.”

Shelly sighed deeply, knowing Dare was right. It would be hard to keep the truth hidden in a close-knit town like

College Park.

“But there is another solution that will accomplish the same purpose, Shelly,” he said softly.

She met his gaze. “What?”

Dare didn’t say anything at first, then he said. “I’m asking that you hear me out before jumping to conclusions and totally dishing the idea.”

She stared at him before nodding her head. “All right.”

Dare continued. “You said you told AJ that you and his

father had planned to marry but that we broke up and you moved away before telling him you were pregnant, right?”