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Too Sweet: Chapter 7



It’s a thing. I googled the phenomenon because it bothered me that suddenly Mia appears wherever I go.

Even though Newport Beach isn’t big, I hadn’t seen her once before the Spring Break party, but since then, I’ve already seen her a dozen times.

She’s everywhere. Rushing down the street with a cup of coffee in hand; collecting takeout from a restaurant I’m getting food from; in the café by Toby’s studio; on the back seat of a cab when I stop at the lights.

Turns out, I’m not going mad, and it’s not a freak coincidence. It’s just how our brain works. Once we’ve noticed something the first time, we see it more often, leading us to believe it’s a high-frequency occurrence.

It’s not. I notice Mia because I met her. I probably saw her a hundred times before but never noticed because my brain wasn’t looking.

Now it’s on the lookout non-stop. I see her… and whenever I do, I drive myself crazier because I don’t fucking want to see her. I don’t want to think about her.

She’s a college chick. A teen.




Granted: pretty with great taste in music, clever, and unreasonably adorable, which isn’t something I ever found attractive, but here we are.

Despite seeing her almost every day, I don’t engage unless I bump into her somewhere where there’s no choice, like Rave. Although that’s not the best example considering I shot out of my seat the second I spotted her in the crowd, leaving my friends with deep lines creasing their foreheads.

But… I don’t stop the car when I see her out in the street, even though I really, really want to.

That’s got to count for something.

Her playlist plays in my car, office, and ear non-stop, fueling my intense craving for the pretty little blonde.

My brothers don’t help, unknowingly reminding me I’m an asshole. Whenever Colt or Conor ask Cody how he’s doing with Mia, I hate myself more. The fact he made zero progress doesn’t help. I hope the obsessive thoughts will cease once she’s officially his, but he’s not moving forward.

“She’s like a doe, Nico. I’ll scare her off if I make one false move. I need to tread lightly.”

She’ll never be his with that attitude. Mia’s shy, awkward, and gullible, which is why she needs a man who’ll take control. Cody tiptoes too much. He’s overly careful like he’s dealing with a mythical creature that’ll disappear in a puff of smoke. He needs a few lessons, but I can’t find the words when I try giving him pointers.

That’s a lie.

I can find the words just fine, but I don’t want to because I’m a selfish bastard, and I don’t want to help him.

It’s finally Friday today. Last day of the week. I deserve a prize considering I’ve successfully talked myself out of finishing work early to drive to college under some idiotic pretext to get a glimpse of Mia.

Fucking ridiculous.

I’m only hooked because I can’t have her.

Yeah, that’s it. She’s out of my reach. Unavailable. Claimed by my brother, and I don’t do well when I’m not allowed.

Never touch your brother’s girl is one of the top rules among the Hayes. Mia’s not technically Cody’s, but I’ll be damned if I’m the reason he doesn’t get the girl he wants.

No dibs on chicks is in the rules, too, but it only applies if we met her at the same time.

We didn’t.

He was first.

The last time I saw Mia was Monday when she got a mouthful and dress-full of coffee from my client’s daughter outside college. I thought shit like that only went down in high school. It did when I was a teenager.

Looks like a lot has changed since then.

I don’t need drama. My life’s already overwhelming, fast-paced, and challenging. I hardly ever stop working. If I’m not at the office, I deal with emergencies, manage Q, the Country Club, my restaurant, and four cocktail bars. I solve issues with vendors and contractors. I deal with employees, clients, and partners. On top of that, I have six brothers, three of which live in my house. They all need me, be it for help, advice, or a chat.

And then there’s my mother.

After Logan got Cassidy pregnant, she changed her tune from ‘I don’t want any women stealing my sons to all my sons should make many, many babies so I can spoil them rotten.’ I’m dodging her cupid alter ego at every turn.

It’s exhausting. I’m running on fumes and desperately need a vacation before my brain melts, but I don’t trust anyone enough to leave them in charge while I switch my phone off for a week or so. What’s the point in taking time off if I can’t relax?

I’ve got enough on my plate, but fuck seeing Mia sprint inside the building, her pretty face a gnarly shade of pale green, made me feel about as calm and comfortable as a father waiting for his teenage daughter on prom night. If Cody hadn’t followed her inside, I’d have been there, holding her hair while she puked.

Later that day, I almost called Blair’s father to tell him he should take his business elsewhere or teach his daughter not to be such a bitch, but I talked myself out of it. Whatever the deal between Mia and Blair, it’s not my fucking problem.

My assistant, Jasmine, enters my office around five in the afternoon to give me an end-of-the-week run-down. I’m thankful for the distraction. I can’t focus on anything other than Mia lately.

The attraction grew so swiftly that I missed when it became an idiotic obsession. Erotic fantasies turned more vivid since the self-defense class instructor Nico Hayes taught in his living room last week. I can’t stop recalling how perfectly her sweet-smelling body molded into me.

She’s Cody’s! I school myself, not for the first time. Not even the hundredth.

If anyone asks how fucked I am on a scale of one to ten, with one being not at all and ten being incredibly fucked, I’m around forty-seven.

This is wrong. The thoughts that plague me, the inappropriate dreams that have me slamming my phone to snooze the alarm and spend a little longer watching Mia writhe beneath me as I drive into her.

The cold, harsh truth is that I’d break her five different ways if she let me close.

It’s time to get off my ass and find a distraction.


“What’s going through that head of yours?” Logan asks, snapping me out of my thoughts and back to reality. Back into my house, packed with family and friends.

It’s my birthday today. The last hurrah. Three hundred and sixty-five days from now, I’ll no longer be twenty-something. I’ll be thirty.

As soon as I stepped through the threshold, after ten hours at the office, everyone yelled surprise as if all their cars in the driveway didn’t tip me off.

Out of all my brothers, only Shawn isn’t here yet with his husband, Jack, and their son, Josh, but they’re not why my eyes are drawn toward the door every few seconds. I’m waiting for a particular blonde to get here already so I can get my fix of her pretty face. The triplets organized this party behind my back. I assume she’s been invited.

“Long day,” I lie, taking a Corona out of the fridge. “How’s Cassidy doing? She still want to cut your dick off?”

He chuckles, shaking his head. “Nah, she’s better now. I think she’s starting to forget. Give it another couple of months, and she’ll let me knock her up again.”

“Don’t rush her, Logan. She’s been on bed rest for three months and in labor for three fucking days.”

I spent those three days in the waiting room at the hospital, working on my laptop from the comfort of a blue plastic chair. I was there, serving as Logan’s punching bag, errand boy, and verbal abuse outlet while Cass was in agony for sixty-nine hours, bringing my godson into the world. There were problems with dilation, Noah’s position, and a bunch of other things I didn’t want to hear but can never unhear.

“At least wait until Noah’s crawling and eating something other than her boobs.”

“Don’t,” Logan clips, his tone artificially stern. He’s thirty-one, but you wouldn’t guess it with how the mention of boobs has him biting back a smile. He slaps my shoulder, squeezing hard. “Don’t talk about her boobs.”

“Did I hear boobs?” Theo enters the kitchen with a beer in hand and a high-alert look on his face. The Hayes stop maturing around college graduation. Then we just grow old. “Whose boobs are we talking about?”

“Mine.” Logan proudly points at himself, then chugs half his beer.

“Yeah, I think they’re Noah’s for the time being, bro.” I pat his back. “If you want another kid soon, those boobs won’t be yours for a long time.”

“God, you’re such men.” Thalia rolls her eyes, joining us with Noah cocooned in her arms. “Take him, will you?” she pleads, elbowing Theo’s ribs. “I need to pee really, really badly, and Cass is talking with your mom.”

“Yeah, sure.” He sets his beer aside, scooting little Noah into his arms, cradling the nine-week-old boy to his chest with surprising ease. “I guess I should practice, right?”

Logan and I exchange a dumbfounded glance before we stare at Thalia.

“You’re pregnant?”

She whacks the back of Theo’s head. “You can’t keep your mouth shut to save your life,” she huffs, elbowing him again for good measure. “We were supposed to wait!”

“Wait for what?” I ask. “Why is this family suddenly keeping secrets? First, Logan with Cass, now you with the pregnancy. What’s that about?”

“It’s your birthday, Nico. We didn’t want to steal the spotlight. We’ve been trying since Theo got jealous that Logan beat us to the punch. It was a bit of a shock when we finally saw two pink lines yesterday.”

“Spotlight?” I scoff, pulling her into my arms. “You’re weird, you know that? Congratulations. Dibs on godfather.”

“No fucking way!” Logan booms, shoving me aside and pulling Thalia into a tight hug. He doesn’t pass up the opportunity to glare at me over the mass of her curls. “You’re Noah’s godfather; Theo’s godfather to Josh. My turn.” He pats Theo’s back, grinning from ear to ear. “Don’t you dare have a daughter first. That privilege is mine.”

“As evident by your son in my arms,” Theo coos, running his finger down Noah’s cheek. “He looks like his mommy.”

No, he doesn’t. He’s Logan’s miniature carbon copy, but Theo’s been winding him up since the kid was born.

Logan wraps his arm around Thalia, courageous because he knows Theo won’t punch him while holding the kid. “See, baby? He looks just like you.”

Men,” she mutters again, beaming from ear to ear, then rushes out of the room, suddenly remembering she had to pee.

The news about baby Hayes number three travels around the house like a zap of lightning. Within minutes, Mom’s tearful, hugging Theo and rubbing Thalia’s still-flat tummy.

They’re engulfed by whispered congratulations, so I leave them to enjoy their moment and entertain the crowd for a while, taking a minute here and two there to answer calls. Work never stops.

Another hour passes, and still no sign of Mia.

“Where’s your girl?” I ask Cody, finding him in the hallway. The line sounded much more casual in my head.

“She won’t make it. Her dad flew in with a surprise visit earlier today. They’re having dinner.”

I guess Aisha’s not as close with her father as Mia since she’s here—hanging on Toby’s arm—celebrating my birthday. Fuck knows why. I don’t even like the girl.

“She won’t eat dinner all evening,” I say. My back straightens while my body and mind rebel against the words piling on the tip of my tongue. Grinding my teeth, I force the next sentences out because they’ll benefit me. “If you want her, make an effort. Call her. Pick her up. Spend time with her.”

Cody smirks, chugging from his beer bottle. “No way she’ll ditch her dad. He only flew in for one day. Until he leaves tomorrow, she’s unavailable.”

“Daddy’s girl?”

“Big time,” he chuckles. “And he’s not my biggest fan, so I’m shit out of luck tonight.”

“Why? What did you do?”

“Mia invited us to dinner so we could meet the guy before the season started,” Conor supplies, stopping beside us. “And Cody here, the genius…” He pats his head, “…had one too many drinks and told Jimmy his pit crew sucks. Jimmy’s the—”

“I know who he is,” I cut in, the muscles on my back petrifying. My unwanted crush on Mia suddenly becomes even more disturbing. The pit crew reference is enough to know who her father is. “He’s a friend of mine.”

We met a few years ago at the Country Club. He’s the reason the triplets and I got into F1. I manage his money, and whenever he’s back in Newport, we play golf.

And now I want to fuck his daughter…


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