Blood is thicker than water. Blood is family, and nothing comes before family, that was the lesson that had been pounded into Jesse since birth. At least according to his alcoholic father, who had barely managed to stay just this side of being an absentee parent all of Jesse’s life. Now Jesse’s a grown man, and even though he has his own plans and dreams for the future, he’s given it all up—for family.
He never wanted to run a bar. He never wanted to be a bartender. All Jesse ever wanted was to bake, feed the people around him and see their smiles as he filled their bellies. He never wanted kids of his own. He didn’t know the first thing about intimacy, not with the upbringing he had.
Harlow Jones was so bad at being a girl it wasn’t even funny. The most feminine thing she had ever done in her life was give birth to her son five years ago. She can’t put on makeup or do anything with her hair besides a ponytail, but she can fix just about anything mechanical that’s broken and knows her way around computer code like a wizard. She just needs a chance. A chance at a better life for herself and her little boy. If she could just get that open position at Glass City Guard it would mean a more stable income and a better school district for him. She certainly wasn’t looking for anything complicated like a relationship, not even with a sexy bearded bartender who smelled like cigarettes and powdered sugar. Harlow doesn’t go to bars. Harlow doesn’t even drink.
But after a chance encounter in a back alley, a bathroom incident, and one of the most terrifying nights of their entire lives, both Jesse and Harlow are going to find that while it may be the most important thing, family doesn’t always mean blood. And the closeness of a stranger might be the missing piece to finding the happiness they thought they would never have.
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Desiree lives in Northwest Ohio with her husband, two children, and two rowdy cats. She is a craft addicted, roller derby skating amateur foody who loves anime, wine, and snacks. Mostly snacks.