Whisper Of Love (Whisper Lake #1)

By: Melanie Shawn
CHAPTER 1


“ARE YOU LOOKING at porn!?”

“What?!” KJ’s brow furrowed as his eyes remained glued to the device he was clutching in his hands. “No!”

The grunts and groans Allison Walsh had heard from the hall that had sent her to where no man dared to go—a teenage boy’s bedroom—were silenced now. Thanks to the homemade blackout curtains her nephew had put up a few months ago, the room was dark even though it was four in the afternoon. The only thing she could see through the small crack in the door was her nephew’s face illuminated by the screen of his iPad.

“Give it to me.” Ali did her best to sound authoritative as she shouldered the door pushing it open slowly. The task was made difficult due to an enormous pile of laundry halting its path. After putting her back into it, she managed to budge the blockade enough for her to finally squeeze inside.

The first thing to hit her was the overwhelming, pungent smell—a combination of dirty socks, rotten food, and the distinctive funk of teen-boy aroma—that was so thick she was choking on it. Lifting her hand to cover her mouth, she instantly regretted that she’d let the room checks slip over the last few months.

That’s not the only thing you’ve let slip, her inner—somewhat judgmental—voice chimed in.

She shook off that truth and forged ahead into the funk cloud, expertly navigating the minefield of dirty laundry, pizza boxes and general debris that covered his floor. When she reached the bed, she snatched her nephew’s iPad out of his hands.

“Hey! What are you doing!?” he shouted angrily.

Making sure you’re not watching porn. Her eyes quickly glanced at the screen and relief swept her when she saw there were no naked bodies. “You’ll get it back when your room is clean and the yard is mowed.”

Her nephew shot up to a seated position and extended his hand in an entitled belligerent manor. “You can’t take that, I need it for schoolwork.”

Shit. Ali’s mind raced as she searched her nephew’s light green irises for any hint of deception.

Was he lying?

Was he telling the truth?

She had no idea.

A year and a half in as his legal guardian, she’d yet to develop any kind of parental radar skills. Her bullshit meter was either broken or non-existent. She was officially in over her head and since he and his twin brother had only just entered the dreaded teen years, she was afraid the worst was yet to come.

Trying to get a clue as to whether KJ actually needed the device for scholastic reasons, she looked down again to see if she could figure out what he’d been watching. It didn’t take much detective work since the YouTube video was still playing. It was an MMA fight that she’d seen at least a dozen times, which for her was a dozen times too many.

“This is not schoolwork.”

“Yes, it is! It’s for my essay.”

“What essay?”

“The essay I have to write on who my hero is.”

No. Not that. Not him.

Of course she knew that her nephew looked up to the man that he was named after. Kade Jameson McKnight, the twins’ godfather, was an MMA fighter who got more press for his extra-curricular behavior than he did for his profession. He’d been the reigning Bad Boy of MMA for nearly ten years, which was not an easy title to gain much less hold. That line of work didn’t normally attract choir boys. To stand out as trouble in it was quite a feat.

She didn’t want to discourage KJ from doing the assignment, as getting him to do any homework at all was like pulling teeth, but she wanted to guide him in a different direction so she suggested, “Why don’t you write it on—”

“You can’t tell me who to do my project on. I already emailed Uncle Kade the questions!” His anger was palpable as he grabbed the iPad from her hand.

“He’s not your uncle.” She knew that she was being petty but it was better than what she’d wanted to say which was, He’s not your uncle, he’s an asshole who showed up at your dad’s funeral drunk with a stripper, got in a fight with the caterer, and then when he found out that he was as legally responsible for both of you as I was, disappeared, leaving me to raise you and your brother alone.”

Considering the alternative…petty wasn’t so bad.

Ali knew that she wouldn’t get anything accomplished by arguing with her nephew and if she didn’t start dinner now she wouldn’t have it done before he left for jiu-jitsu, so she decided a strategic retreat was the best move.

If there was one thing she’d learned over the past eighteen months, it was to pick her battles. As much as she wished her nephew being rude was one of the fights she could take on, it wasn’t. Vandalizing property, getting in fights in school, drinking, stealing—all of which he’d done—were much higher on her list of priorities than a bad attitude. At this point she just wanted to get him to eighteen alive and without a juvenile record, which the way he was going seemed almost impossible.

“Clean your room,” she instructed as she made her way back through the mess, even though she knew it was pointless.

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