#ASMSG #BYNR Free Read: The V-Day Aversion, Chapter One


For a limited time I am going to post The V-Day Aversion (Dom & Kate #2), chapter by chapter every Saturday. If you haven’t read Bird Day Battalion (Dom & Kate #1), grab a free copy in any digital format at these retailers:
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The V-Day Aversion

by Genevieve Dewey

valentinescover

Copyright 2013 by Genevieve Dewey. All Rights Reserved.
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the copyright owner.

CHAPTER ONE

Out of all the ways Katelyn Anderson had planned to spend the evening, hiding behind a giant juniper bush hadn’t even ranked in the top twenty.

This was taking procrastination to new levels, the tiny voice inside her head mocked.

You’re just being a good sister, the other voice enabled.

“This has seriously got to be the dumbest thing you have ever convinced me to do,” Katelyn said while trying to prevent a branch from poking her in the rear.

“Yeah, well, we’ve established you need to get out more,” Kandace replied, unfazed.

Kandy scooted a little further down along the house behind the shrub. Kate gritted her teeth and tried to follow her. It was extremely awkward since she refused to get on her hands and knees like Kandace. Instead, she sort of duck walked in her bulky snow gear after her older sister.

“Kandy,” Katelyn whispered. “Kandy, do you at least have a general time frame in which we can expect his arrival? Because I am freezing my ass off and Dom said he was going to come over, so I should at least call him and cancel—”

“Shhhh,” Kandace hissed and waved her hand at Katelyn to silence her.

She ended up smacking Kate in the face with her dirt and snow covered glove. Katelyn stared in exasperation at her profile and reminded herself how many times Kandace had her back over the years. She turned her head to try and see what Kandace was shushing her about.

A car door slammed and she heard the clack-clomp of high heeled boots on cement.

“Well, that was certainly an adventure. I appreciate you going with me,” a male voice was saying from the general proximity of the front porch.

“Oh, no problem, Steve,” a high pitched, breathlessly sweet voice chirped out. It was followed by a quick giggle. “It was really my pleasure.”

Then another quick giggle.

Katelyn had no idea who the girl was, but she hated her already. It wasn’t just because the other voice belonged to her currently suspected of cheating brother-in-law. Perky, effusive people bothered Katelyn on principle alone, and doubly so on chilly February nights when she could be sitting in front of a fire with her not-at-all-insanely-perky boyfriend. Just the thought of Dominic’s large, calloused hands holding her warmed her a bit.

She smiled until she remembered she was currently avoiding him. Not because he’d done anything wrong, unless being practically perfect in the boyfriend category was a crime, she just didn’t trust her will-power around him. Sort of like avoiding the snack aisle while one was PMSing; less chance of giving in to temptation leading to regret, but sadly… less pleasure.

Katelyn’s thoughts were interrupted by a sort of growling, mewling sound. When she realized it was her sister making that sound she thought,

Oh God, please no, I didn’t bring any bail money…

Katelyn grabbed Kandace’s arm and yanked her until she turned her face to look at Katelyn. The hurt and brewing tears in Kandy’s eyes had Katelyn letting out a defeated breath. She grimaced in commiseration.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, then,” Steve said and they could hear the jangle of his keys.

The girl clomped away in an almost skipping manner.

Katelyn tried to move some branches aside to get a better look at the supposed interloper. All she could see in the dark was that the girl was wearing a wool pea coat, a short skirt, and high heeled platform boots. In February. In Nebraska. Katelyn’s insta-hate ratcheted up a notch. People who had no regard for proper seasonal dress also bothered Katelyn. Her sister’s potential competition was a perky, skipping, flaunter of the rules. In other words, Kandace 2.0, with an extra side of bouncy.

Katelyn reached up and absentmindedly ran her hand up and down Kandace’s back in sympathy.

“Well, that doesn’t prove anything. I mean…” Katelyn’s whisper trailed off as Kandace sent her a death glare.

Kandace started pushing through the rest of the shrub towards the front porch. Katelyn frantically tried to stop her, but her glove covered fingers couldn’t get a grip on the back of Kandace’s parka. Kandace came out the end just as they heard the bolt snick on the front door.

Katelyn fell out of the edge of the bush and tackled her sister before she could make it to the steps.

“No! No, you can’t.”

“Katie, butt out!”

“Butt out? Are you kidding me? You’re the one who dragged me here! And it is my duty as your sister to stop you from doing something stupid right now. This isn’t proof of anything,” Katelyn hissed in a fervent whisper.

Kandace’s mouth dropped open and she stared at Katelyn incredulously. She put her hands on her hips.

“I’m serious, Kandy,” Katelyn continued. “If it was a date, wouldn’t he be dropping her off, instead of the other way around?”

“Maybe they’re taking turns driving,” Kandace said with her chin in the air, but looking a little less certain. “If it wasn’t a date, how come he left the kids with his mom when he knew I was available?”

“I don’t know, but if it was a date, wouldn’t he have invited her inside? And it’s barely past suppertime. Usually dates don’t end until much later.”

Kandace started wringing her hands and looking back and forth between the now dark porch and the street.

“Maybe he just wasn’t ready to introduce her to his mom. I mean, you’ve met her. Darth Vader has a more charming personality.”

Katelyn expelled a quick huff of amusement then she sobered.

“Kandace, I don’t want to be cruel here, but you’re the one who moved out. If you want to know what he’s doing and who he’s doing it with, maybe you should consider moving back in with him. Technically, it’s not cheating if it happens after you’ve left him,” Katelyn said.

“Uh, duh, yeah, it is!” Kandace hissed and started angrily walking towards the sidewalk. “We aren’t divorced yet, and my kids are in that house! I have every right to be concerned about who he’s bringing around them.”

Katelyn tried to hurry after her, but it felt like each of her toes had turned into miniature popsicles. Her breath plumed out in front of her as she spoke to her sister’s rapidly moving back.

“Kandace, like I said five times on the walk over here, and at least twelve times on the phone since you left him last month, I sincerely doubt he’s going to bring anyone around your kids when you haven’t even formally divorced.”

Kandace abruptly stopped walking and turned around. Tears were running down her face and her eyes sparkled in the faint light of the street lights.

“That didn’t stop him from cheating the first time, did it?” she squeaked.

Katelyn sighed and reached out for Kandace’s gloves. Their hands slid out from each other at first, and they both let out a slight laugh at it. Katelyn smiled a bolstering smile.

“Kandy, you only suspected him of cheating. You have no real proof, and it was his idea to go to marriage counseling with you. That’s not the sign of a guy wanting out.”

“Says the woman who didn’t even notice her best friend was pining for her for years. The hottest guy in town, no less. Gee, it really sucks to be you,” Kandace said.

Katelyn didn’t take it personally. If there was anyone in the Anderson family that could outdo Katelyn in the fine art of deflection, it was Kandace.

“At the risk of sounding like a broken record, you moved out, not the other way around,” Katelyn said.

“I moved out because my husband spent more time on business trips – where he did God knows what with God knows whom – than he did at home with me and the kids. And believe me, I tried to kick him out, but as he so kindly pointed out, the house belongs to him. The car belongs to him. The credit cards belong to him. The damned dog belongs to him. Well I don’t belong to him!” Kandace practically screamed the last sentence out.

A light went on in a room across the street and a dog started barking. Katelyn grabbed Kandace’s arm as best she could with her gloved hand and dragged her down the street quickly. They didn’t speak anymore even after they got into Kandace’s mom-mobile parked two blocks over.

Halfway down the interstate drive to her house, Katelyn dared to bring up the Forbidden Topic.

“Ok, again, Kandy, I don’t want to be cruel or anything, but, can I just point out—”

“No.”

“Kandace—”

“No!”

Katelyn sighed a frustrated, long, pointedly drawn out sigh.

“We don’t know if he cheated for sure but we do know you did,” Katelyn said it anyway.

Kandace growled a bit and sent her sister a furious glare.

“I spent the night at Brian’s house once and after I found lipstick on Steve’s shirt. What am I supposed to assume? He’s always gone—”

“The lipstick could have been from his mother, and he’s always traveled a lot—”

“And he said he wanted a trial separation if I didn’t pick a career and stick with it—”

“Well, that is a little harsh as far as ultimatums go, but, Kaden is already in kindergarten so I can see why he would want to encourage—”

“Then he took the kids and stayed two whole weeks at his parents without me—”

“But wasn’t that Thanksgiving trip your idea?”

“Why are you taking his side?!” Kandace screamed.

Katelyn winced as it reverberated in the car.

“I’m not,” she countered softly. “I’m just trying to play devil’s advocate. That’s all. I’m one-hundred percent on your side. I promise.”

Kandace started sobbing and Katelyn dug a tissue out of the console.

“I know I screwed up, OK? I don’t need reminding I’m a screw up. A jobless, husbandless, flighty, stupid, screw up! It’s two days from Valentine’s Day and he’s already got a new woman to spend it with, and I’m going to be all alone! I don’t even have my kids. Errr!” Kandy squealed out at the end.

“You’re not a screw up and you’re not stupid, come on,” Katelyn started to say.

“I’m a Beauty school, Nursing school, and Interior Decorating school dropout!”

“Well… but, again, you got straight A’s in all those classes,” Katelyn parried with a wobbly smile. “And, technically, you haven’t dropped out of Culinary school yet.”

Kandace laughed in a shaky, self-deprecating manner and looked down at her hands.

“Besides, you’re not employed because you’ve been a stay at home mom for the better part of a decade which is not the same as being jobless,” Katelyn continued with a cheerful smile. “As far as the kids go, you still see Kaden and Alex almost every day. And Valentine’s Day is way overrated anyway. It’s a completely manufactured holiday designed to support the greeting card industry and jewelry stores. It’s for suckers and lovesick fools.”

Katelyn’s phone buzzed on the console. Kandace released a tear-filled chuckle as Katelyn looked at the read out on her phone. Dom’s abs showed on the screen. Kandace raised her eyebrows and Katelyn flushed. Dominic had put that on her phone the last time he’d stolen it and she couldn’t figure out how to fix it.

“You shouldn’t talk and drive, y’know,” Kandace mumbled as she reached for the phone.

“Well, I think it’s slightly less dangerous than you driving in your state,” she answered as she swatted her sister’s hand.

She pressed speaker phone to answer it. Kandace made a ‘tuh’ sound.

“Hey, little girl,” Dominic voice filled the car, all deep and sexy. “Wanna get in my van? I got candy if you show me your underwear…”

“Dom, honestly, what if someone else answered my phone?!” Katelyn asked.

She sent her sister a reproving look as Kandace covered her mouth to muffle her laughter.

Dom chuckled and Katelyn couldn’t help grinning in return.

“They’d learn their lesson, wouldn’t they? And why would someone else answer your phone? Seriously, Skate, where are you? Thought we were going to order Chinese and mock MacGyver together at your place.”

She winced and glanced at Kandace again. Kandy raised her eyebrow.

“I’m sorry, Dom! I was running errands downtown this afternoon and I thought I’d pop in and visit Kellie and it took longer than I expected before I got to see her. My own sister! You’d think she was the Pope or something the way her secretaries block for her. I’m just leaving Omaha now.”

Out of the corner of her eye, Kate could see Kandace’s mouth drop open at this blatant lie.

“It’s cool. You can just stop at my place on your way—”

“Ahh, can’t, I just passed the exit and I forgot I have to stop by Mom’s.”

“Okaay,” Dom drawled out. “We’ll do it another night then. But as your boyfriend and oldest friend, I feel compelled to point out you’re getting to be almost as flighty as Kandace the last few weeks.”

Katelyn winced and sent another guilty glance in her sister’s direction. Kandace rolled her eyes, but she didn’t look offended.

“Hey! You don’t get to call her flighty. I get to call her flighty, because she’s my sister, but my boyfriend does not get to call her flighty,” Katelyn said in a falsely cheerful tone.

“I think I’m exempt from the boyfriend clause because we’ve known each other our whole lives. We’re all practically family.”

“Ha! I don’t let family members do to me what you do,” Katelyn paused as his deep laughter filled the car. “And if we’re ‘family’ then you won’t mind when I say I’m throwing out the stinky socks you keep leaving at my place. Leaving them with me does not automatically equate with me washing them.”

Dominic’s laughter turned into a chuckle.

“I resent the implication I would be so underhanded,” he replied in good humor. “If I wanted someone to wash my stinky socks I’d drop them off next door to you at my mother’s. Besides, I wouldn’t have to remember to search for my socks if you lived—”

“Ah… hold on I have to merge in traffic. I better call you back,” she cut him off quickly, and hit off.

She swallowed the guilt as Kandace stared at her in open mouthed confusion.

“You gonna to tell me what that’s about?” Kandace asked.

“Nope.”

“So, I’m supposed to listen to you poke in my life, but I don’t get to know why you’re lying to Dominic about where you were, or why you got off the phone so fast?”

“Ok, let me first point out – again – that you dragged me out to Lincoln to spy on your husband, not the other way around. And what am I supposed to say? I’ve just been lurking in bushes spying on my not-at-all-flighty sister’s husband like a teenaged stalker?”

“That might be an excuse I’d buy for lying about where you were, but not for getting off the phone so quickly,” Kandace pointed out. “You were all keen about him coming over earlier tonight and now you’re avoiding him.”

Katelyn sighed.

“He’s been hinting rather heavily lately about me moving in with him.”

Kandace moved in her seat abruptly to better face Katelyn.

“That’s great, Katie! Wait… isn’t it? Why is that not great?”

“Well… I just didn’t want to be all happy when you’re going through your troubles because no one likes it when you’re unhappy and someone is all in your face with their cheerfulness.”

“Like Tits McGee back there on my front porch? It’s not the same, Katie! We’re family and you know what a huge supporter I am of you and Dom as a couple. Need I remind you if it weren’t for me, you might not even have gotten together at Thanksgiving?”

Katelyn rolled her eyes. Kandace was always taking credit for anything positive that ever happened in Katelyn’s life.

“And also, I’m not buying for one second the reason you’re avoiding Dom is because I’m staying the night tonight,” Kandace continued. “Please tell me you’re not torturing the man again with that bad habit you have of changing your mind every two minutes? For a woman that likes lists and rules so much, you sure are fond of indecision.”

Katelyn sighed again and glared at her sister.

“It’s… complicated.”

Kandace snorted.

“No, Steve and I are complicated. You and Dom are an open book. You’re both single, no kids, and crazy about each other. The only true wrinkle in your relationship is you live a town away from each other. At some point in time it would be inevitable that one of you would move in with the other.”

“Well, why does it have to be me that moves in with him? I just got that job at MWAC in Lincoln. Ashland is closer to Lincoln than Gretna—”

“Oh my God, by like, a handful of minutes! Are you kidding me?” Kandace argued with an eye roll.

“Why are you always mocking me?”

“Why are you always saying stupid things?”

Katelyn stuck her tongue out.

“Oh wow, are you two years old? For real?” Kandace laughed.

Katelyn smirked because at least her sister was smiling and laughing again. Then she allowed herself an irritated huff.

“He’s been trying to get me to go out with him for Valentine’s Day,” Katelyn said in disgust.

“Gasp! The horror,” Kandace drawled mockingly. Katelyn shot her another dirty look.

“You know I hate that holiday. He should know I hate that holiday and yet he’s insisting on asking me every two second what I want, where should we go out, etcetera, and I just know it’s so he can officially ask me to move in with him!”

“Again… the horror,” Kandace said.

“Earlier, I figured if you were there he wouldn’t bring it up, but now I’m not so sure.”

“First, that really was dumb of you since everyone knows I’m all Team Dom & Kate For Evah,” Kandace said in a teeny bopper voice.

Katelyn snorted and rolled her eyes.

Kandace continued in her normal voice, “Second, no one in the family takes your ‘I hate V-Day’ thing seriously, so why should he? You only say that because you’ve never had a boyfriend in February before.”

“I do not!” Katelyn replied fervently. “Even if I had had a boyfriend I would hate the commercial exploitation of romantic relationships for the sole purpose of selling things!”

“Which is what dateless shut-ins all over the world tell themselves to make themselves feel better that they’re home alone watching the Lifetime Channel and eating candies they bought themselves.”

Katelyn glared at Kandace again. Kandace just grinned unabashedly. She turned full in her seat and ticked off points with her finger on her palm:

“So, Dreamy Valentini is choosing to ignore your inexplicable hatred of the lover’s holiday and shower you with attention. Instead of tolerating this show of affection, you’ve decided it has to be because he wants you to move in with him – which, again, I’m failing to see the problem with – and, instead of just dealing with this, you’ve decided to give the man mental whiplash while you avoid a confrontation. As usual.”

“Kandace,” Katelyn smacked the steering wheel. “I like living in Mom and Dad’s house. I just took out a mortgage on that place. Responsible people don’t just bail in the first year of their mortgage. And I like our small town feel. Gretna is practically like living inside Omaha these days. I don’t want to give Dominic an opportunity to officially ask me because then I’ll have to say no, and it will make things awkward between us. You know I fear the awkward. Honestly, you’re going to sprain an eye muscle if you keep rolling your eyes, Kandy.”

“Whine, whine, whine, avoid, avoid, avoid…”

“For crying out loud, I was all on your side with this Steve business. The least you could do is…” Katelyn trailed off as she recognized their mom’s car in front of her house.

Katelyn and Kandace shared a quick look.

When they walked through the door, they saw their mother sitting on the couch with packed bags next to her. Katelyn’s heart jumped to her throat.

“Oh my God, don’t tell me you left Dad!”

Bridgette blinked in confusion then scoffed.

“Of course not, these are Kandy’s bags. If she’s going to carry on with this tom-foolery then she can stay with you. We simply don’t have the room at our retirement village,” Bridgette stopped and turned to an opened mouth Kandace. “I’m sorry sweetheart, when you first showed up we thought it would just be for a few days. It’s been almost a month. Don’t you think you ought to at least try and patch things up with Steve? There’s children to consider.”

Their mom smiled a fond, though slightly condescending smile. Kandace’s mouth remained open but her eyes narrowed. No one spoke. After a long moment of pointed silence, Kandace walked forward, grabbed her suitcases, and marched down the hall.

They heard a door slam loudly and Katelyn met her mother’s chagrined eyes.

“Oh, you’re joking, right?” Katelyn said to no one in particular.

–Copyright 2013, Genevieve Dewey.

Read more… CHAPTER TWO.

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