Be My Hero(9)

By: Linda Kage

Chapter 1


Five Years After Eva's Prologue—Present Day

All men were bastards.

As I watched my cousin's boyfriend begin to lose his temper, I rubbed my swollen belly, relieved the baby inside me was a girl.

Okay, fine. I would've loved her no matter what gender she was. I think it was impossible not to love this thing growing in there that wiggled around day and night and got hiccups at the oddest hours, or jumped when a loud sound startled her. But at least I was relieved I wouldn't have to watch her grow up to become one of the bastards.

"I'm just saying," Mason gritted out from between clenched teeth as he gripped handfuls of his hair and paced the small kitchen. "We can't afford to keep buying all this baby crap for Eva. Why does she need a changing table anyway? Why can't she change a damn diaper on the floor, or the bed, or hell . . . anywhere?"

I'd give him this; he'd lasted longer than I'd expected he would. But eventually, every guy had a breaking point where he couldn't hold it in any longer. He had to let his bastard side out. Couldn't hide it forever.

Crossing my arms over my chest, I glared at him while Reese—my cousin, best friend, personal hero, and Mason's girlfriend—sat at the kitchen table, looking guilty as spit while she huddled in her chair, hugging herself. I hated how bad he was making her feel when I'd been the culprit and begged Reese to buy me that stupid changing table in the first place, because it had matched the crib they'd gotten me, and I . . . damn it, I just wanted the best for my baby.

But I kept forgetting I wasn't a spoiled little rich girl anymore, and the money in this household didn't flow like water as it had back home. It was going to take me time to realize I no longer had Daddy's blackmail money to squander. Except I wished I could hurry up the pace and straighten myself out because I hated watching Reese take the blame for my spendthrift transgressions.

I opened my mouth to defend her, but she sliced me a quick, threatening glance. I'd promised before moving in that I would never interfere in any fight she had with her boyfriend, which hadn't been all that hard of a promise to keep up until now, because usually Reese and Mason were disgustingly happy together. It didn't seem normal that they rarely fought.

And that's why I trusted Mason least of all. Just like my father, he could put on a good front. He could smile and bat his pretty boy eyelashes, and people adored him. Out in public, he could do no wrong. Even Reese freaking worshiped him as if he were some kind of saint.

But I knew he had to have a bastard hiding in there somewhere. He had a dick; it was inevitable. And since he was so good at hiding his rotten core, I was extra cautious around him.

He'd even been a complete gentleman to me one night at a party a year back when I'd tried to get into his pants . . . way before Reese had ever met him, of course.

I'd heard the rumors. People said he was a gigolo, he had sex with women for money. That alone lit him up on my radar as a candidate to take me to my safe, numb place. But then he'd turned me down, and he'd been freaking nice about it. He'd told me I'd been drinking too much, and he'd even offered to drive me home. That's when I knew he was worse than most of them. He was just another Bradshaw Mercer—a bastard hiding under the façade of a gentleman.

I'd been living here with Reese and Mason for three months now. And every night, I'd stayed up late, waiting for that inevitable moment when Mason would try to sneak into my room and get handsy. Just like my father had. I'd even piled empty soda cans in front of my bedroom door so it'd make a racket and wake Reese. She could catch him in the act and finally boot his bastard ass out.

But he'd never once done anything against me.

After three months of occupying the same apartment with him where he didn't try a damn thing, I was beginning to wonder if maybe, possibly, there were actually a few good guys in the world after all.

But then tonight happened. When Mason opened the credit card bill, he totally lost it, and now he was moments away from revealing his inner jerk. Once he did, everything would be right with the world again. I could go back to knowing I was dead-on: all men were bastards.

"I'm sorry," Reese said, her blue eyes swimming with misery as she looked up at him. "We can return it, I swear. I just got carried away. I wanted her baby to have everything and be spoiled rotten."

There was another reason I loved Reese. She already adored my little girl as much as I did.

"But it's not our baby," Mason muttered. "It's hers." He sent me a contemptuous glare, and I could feel just how much he resented having me around.

How Reese had ever talked him into letting me move into their snug, two-bedroom duplex apartment in the first place, I'll never know. He'd never made me feel welcome, not that I blamed him. I had completely invaded his love nest and fucked up his happily ever after. I'd resent me too. I would ignore me whenever possible. And when I was forced to talk to me, I'd probably treat me with cool disdain as well.

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