A Little Dare(4)

By: Brenda Jackson

“I caught him throwing rocks at passing motorists on Old

National Highway. Do you know what could have happened had a driver swerved to avoid getting hit?”

Shelly swallowed as she nodded. “Yes.” The first thought that came to her mind was that AJ was in need of serious punishment, but she’d tried punishing him in the past and it hadn’t seemed to work.

“I’m sorry about this, Dare,” she apologized, not knowing what else to say. “We moved to town a few weeks ago and it hasn’t been easy for him. He needs time to adjust.”

Dare snorted. “From the way he acted in my office earlier today, I think what he needs is an attitude adjustment as well as a lesson in respect and manners. Whose kid is he anyway?”

Shelly straightened her spine. The mother in her took offense at his words. She admitted she had spoiled AJ somewhat, but still, considering the fact that she was a single parent doing the best she could, she didn’t need

Dare of all people being so critical. “He’s my child.”

Dare stared at her wondering if she really expected him to believe that. There was no way the kid could be hers, since in his estimation of the kid’s age, she was a student in

college and his steady girl about the same time the boy

was born. “I mean who does he really belong to since I

know you didn’t have a baby twelve or thirteen years ago, Shelly.”

Her gaze turned glacial. “He is mine, Dare. I gave birth to him ten years ago. He just looks older than he really is

because of his height.” Shelly watched Dare’s gaze

sharpen and darken, then his brows pulled together in a deep, furious frown.

“What the hell do you mean you gave birth to him?” he

asked, a shocked look on his face and a tone of voice that bordered on anger and total disbelief.

She met his glare with one of her own. “I meant just what I said. Now may I see him?” She made a move to leave

Dare’s office but he caught her arm.

“Are you saying that he was born after you left here?”


Dare released her. His features had suddenly turned to

stone, and the gaze that focused on hers was filled with hurt

and pain. “It didn’t take you long to find someone in California to take my place after we broke up, did it?”

His words were like a sharp, painful slap to Shelly’s face. He thought that she had given birth to someone else’s

child! How could he think that when she had loved him so much? She was suddenly filled with extreme anger. “Why does it matter to you what I did after I left here, Dare, when you decided after six long years that you wanted a career with the FBI more than you wanted me?”

Dare closed his eyes, remembering that night and what he had said to her, words he had later come to regret. He

slowly reopened his eyes and looked at her. She appeared just as stricken now as she had then. He doubted he would ever forget the deep look of hurt on her face that night he

had told her that he wanted to break up with her to pursue a career with the FBI.

“Shelly, I…”

“No, Dare. I think we’ve said enough, too much in fact. Just let me get my son and go home.”

Dare inhaled deeply. It was too late for whatever he wanted to say to her. Whatever had once been between them was over and done with. Turning, he slowly walked back over to his desk. “There’s some paperwork that needs to be

completed before you can take him with you. Since he

refused to provide us with any information, we couldn’t do it earlier.”

He read the question that suddenly flashed in her gaze and said. “And no, this will not be a part of any permanent

record, although I think it won’t be such a bad idea for him to come back every day this week after school for an hour to do additional chores, especially since he mentioned he’s not into any after-school activity. The light tasks I’ll be

assigning to him will work off some of that rebellious energy he has.”

He met her gaze. “However, if this happens again, Shelly, he’ll be faced with having to perform hours of community

service as well as getting slapped with a juvenile delinquent record. Is that understood?”