Story Excerpt
Sunshine's Kiss

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Sam passed by the main house and drove around back, parking his little car in front of his mom's house. He knew she would be inside the main house right now but that gave him time to get settled in before the questions began. He needed that time to figure out what he was going to say to his mom. Explaining away the last five years wasn't going to be easy.

Sam climbed out of his car then went to the trunk to grab his stuff. There wasn't much. He hadn't taken the time to grab more than the basics before fleeing. With one wrist in a cast, he had to make three trips to get everything inside. After stacking everything in the corner of his room, he sat down on the side of the bed.

He hadn't expected his room to look the same as the day he had left. He had been hoping to maybe just stay on the couch or something until he could get on his feet. Sam flopped back on the bed and covered his eyes with his arm. This had been unexpected. He didn't know what to think. It was like his mom expected him back at any time.

That was a good thing, right?


Sam smiled when he heard the front door open and close and his mom's voice calling out to him. He jumped up off the bed and raced out into the living room. He stopped at the end of the hallway and just stared at his mom, the woman he hadn't laid eyes on in five years.

"Damn, you just get more beautiful with age don't you?" He grinned when a soft rosy flush filled his mom's cheeks. Gods, he loved the woman. "I hope that's a trait I get from you when I'm older."


Sam didn't try and suppress the tears that came to his eyes this time as he rushed across the room and into the arms his mom held out to him. He buried his face in her neck and inhaled as deeply as he could. Everything in his world settled as the sweet scent of lavender filled his senses.

"I missed you, Son."

"I missed you too, Mom."

Sarah Bishop leaned back and ran her hand down the side of Sam's face, her eyes searching his. "How long are you home, Son?"

Sam shrugged, glancing away. "I'm not sure, Mom. I have some thinking to do before I make any decisions."

Sarah nodded. "Does Jesse know you're home?"

"Jesse?" Sam frowned. That was the same thing that Gabe had asked him. Why was everyone so interested in whether Jesse McCaffrey knew he was home or not? "No, why would he?"

Sarah's mouth pressed together for a moment, a pensive look wrinkling her forehead, and then she shook her head. "You need to let Jesse know you're home, Son. He runs the place now."

"I'm not here to see Jesse, Mom."


He wasn't.

"You still need to let him know that you're back, Son. He's going to want to know."



Sam knew that tone. It was the one that said mom was putting her foot down. He could argue with her until his face turned blue but it wouldn't do him any good. "Fine." Sam sighed deeply. "I'll go tell Jesse that I'm home."

Sam didn't understand why everyone was so all fired up about him telling Jesse that he was home but if it would get everyone off his back, he'd do it. Right after he got done throwing up from the butterflies swimming around in his stomach at the thought of seeing the man again.

"He's out on the range right now but he should be back soon." Sarah patted Sam's arm. "Why don't you go wait for him on the front porch of the main house? I'm sure he will want to see you the moment he gets back."

Sam seriously doubted that but who was he to argue. Sam leaned in and gave his mom a small kiss on her cheek then walked out of the front door. His stomach was clenching and his palms felt damp and clammy.

Maybe coming home wasn't such a good idea. He had intended to avoid Jesse at all costs. Now, it looked like everyone was doing everything they could to make sure he was placed right in Jesse's path.

Sam's steps slowed as he rounded the front of the house. He stopped at the edge and looked toward the front of the house. His eyes settled on the long porch that ran the length of the front of the house. His memories of the place were good and bad.

The wide stone front steps that led up to the thick double doors were where Jesse had kissed Sam for the very first—and last— time. The steps were also the place Jesse had been standing the last time Sam ever saw him.

Sam's feet felt like lead weights as he walked toward the steps. He could think of a million different places he would rather be than right here. Well, he didn't mind being home so much. He just didn't want to be in the crosshairs of Jesse McCaffrey.

That scared him more than Desmond did.

Sam walked to the edge of the steps then climbed up to the top. He turned and sat down, resting injured wrist on his thighs. He didn't know what Jesse did around the ranch anymore so he didn't know how long he had to wait.

The cloud of dust coming up the driveway at a break neck speed was a big clue. Sam swallowed hard and pressed his cast against his stomach as he tried to quell his nerves and hold it together long enough to get away without losing his composure.

Jesse McCaffrey was coming for him.

And he looked pissed.