Make Me Yours Page 1

Author: Melanie Harlow

Series: Bellamy Creek #2

Genres: Romance



“Is that what you’re going to wear?” My nine-year-old daughter, Mariah, assessed me from my bedroom doorway, her nose wrinkled.

I studied my reflection in the mirror above my dresser. “Yeah. What’s wrong with it?”

“It’s boring. I thought you were going to a party.”

“It’s just my friends at the pub.” I frowned at the hunter green polo shirt I’d chosen because it was on the top of the pile in my drawer. Was that the problem? Or was it the khaki pants?

Mariah entered the room and flopped onto my bed, chin propped in her hands. “But it’s a party, right? A bachelor party for Uncle Griffin?”

“Yes.” Bachelor parties were not my favorite thing, but Griffin Dempsey and I had grown up next door to each other, and we’d been best friends since we were younger than Mariah. He was getting married in two weeks, and I was the best man—in other words, tonight was a must-show.

“What’s a bachelor, anyway?” Mariah wondered.

“It’s a guy who isn’t married.” I scratched my jaw. Maybe the belt was wrong. I unbuckled it, deciding to swap it for a darker brown leather.

“Are you a bachelor?”


“But you’re not married.”

“I was.”

“But you’re not divorced. Is there a name for what you are?”

“A widower,” I told her, slipping a new belt through the loops.

“That sounds like an old man.”

“I am an old man.”

“Daddy! You’re thirty-three. That’s not that old,” she said, letting me know with her tone that it was somewhat old.

“Thanks. Is this any better?” Turning around, I held out my arms, showing off the new version of my party outfit.

Mariah shook her head. “No. You’re still boring.”

I gave her a dirty look.

“What? You asked. I’m just being honest.” A cheeky grin appeared. “You look like the guy who came to measure for the new windows yesterday.”

I groaned. “Come on, that guy had a huge pot belly.”

“Or maybe the guy who sold Grandma her new car.”

“Fred Yaldoo? He’s got a pot belly and he’s bald! That’s it.” I dove for her.

She squealed and tried to scramble off the bed, but I managed to get her in my grip and tickle the spot behind her left ear that always made her giggle and squirm. “No! No! I’m sorry!” she shrieked. “I take it back! You’re the handsomest daddy in the world!”

“Too late!”

My mother appeared in my bedroom doorway, arms crossed. “What on earth is going on in here?”

I gave Mariah a quick noogie before releasing her. “My daughter says I look like Fred Yaldoo.”

Just to make sure she wasn’t on to something, I jumped up and checked my hairline in the mirror. Thankfully, it looked fine. I probably could have used a closer shave, but whatever. Griffin and the guys weren’t going to give a shit about my scruff.

Mariah scooted off the bed and put five feet between us. “I did not say that! I just said that his outfit was boring.”

My mother studied me critically from the doorway, one hand on her hip. “Is that what you’re wearing to the party?”

I rolled my eyes, then leaned down and yanked my brown dress shoes from the closet. “Yes. And I’m leaving now, before my self-esteem gets any worse.”

“Well, it wouldn’t kill you to dress up a little more,” my mother went on, taking it upon herself to enter my room and start straightening up the items on the top of my dresser.

I sat on the bed and put the shoes on. “Mom, stop. You don’t have to clean my room. I’m not ten.”

“You live in my house, you deal with my cleaning.” She gathered up stray coins and dropped them into a little painted clay bowl Mariah had made in art class last year. “You want to live in a mess, you get your own house.”

Mariah and I exchanged a here we go again glance. My mother’s definition of a mess was not the same as a normal person’s. Crumbs, dust, and clutter were the enemy. Growing up, I rarely saw her without a broom, the vacuum, a rag and a spray bottle in hand. My older brother Greg and I had learned early on that you take your shoes off at the door, you wipe up your spills immediately, and you make your bed in the morning or else. We used to joke that she wore hand sanitizer like perfume. We’d wrap it up for her at Christmas.

“Actually, I’ve been thinking about that,” I said, tying my shoes.

“About getting our own house?” asked Mariah, surprise evident in her voice.

“Yes.” I straightened up and looked at her, trying to gauge her reaction. “What do you think about that?”

Mariah bit the tip of her thumb. “Where would it be?”

“I don’t know. We’d have to look. Take your thumb out of your mouth.”

She did as I asked. “Would we move far away?”

“Not necessarily.”

“Could I think about it?”

“Of course.” I understood her hesitation—this was the only home she’d ever known. We’d moved in with my mother right after she was born, which was also the day we lost Trisha.

“Don’t worry, Mariah, I’ll come over and clean it,” my mother said, using her apron to wipe off a framed photo of Trisha and me on our wedding day before replacing it at a slightly different angle on my dresser.

“That won’t be necessary, Mom.”

“Really?” She spun around to face me, arms folded. “Are you planning to hire a housekeeper? And while you’re at it, a personal chef and a babysitter?”


“Who’s going to make your meals?”

“I will.”

“You can’t cook! And with your work schedule? You don’t even get home until seven o’clock. What’s Mariah going to do after school?”

“I’ll figure it out, Mom.”

“Would I have to stay alone?” Mariah’s voice trembled.

“Of course not,” I assured her.

“I can come over after school and make dinner for you, Mariah,” my mother said. “Or you can come here. Although it does seem sort of silly to move out if that’s going to be the case. I mean, really, Cole, if you’re not going to get remarried, what’s the point of—”

“That’s enough, Mom.” Anxious to avoid the same old fight, especially in front of Mariah, I went over to my daughter and tugged one of her braids. “And what are you up to tonight?”

Mariah beamed. “Miss Cheyenne said I could come over to her house for a mani-pedi and a movie.”

“Oh yeah?”

Cheyenne was Griffin’s younger sister. She was a kindergarten teacher at Mariah’s elementary school and had moved back home with her mother next door about a year and a half ago. She was wonderful to Mariah—a sort of surrogate aunt and big sister combined.

She was also gorgeous, with a body that wouldn’t quit, and lately she was on my mind all the time—and my thoughts weren’t always clean. I felt like an asshole about it, and I’d never act on the attraction, but frankly, a quiet evening in on the couch watching a movie with Cheyenne sounded a hell of a lot better than a loud night out at the pub.

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