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Proving Paul’s Promise

January 15th, 2017
Author: Tammy Falkner     Series: The Reed Brothers #5

He has watched her from afar…

Paul Reed has been raising children since he was a child himself, but he wouldn’t change his life, even if given an opportunity. That is, until one of his brothers says four little words that shake the foundation of his world. “She’s not a lesbian,” shouldn’t be quite so earth shattering, but suddenly the woman he loves is available, and he’ll do whatever it takes to win her over.

They call her Friday, and she’s hiding more than just her name…

Friday has worked in the Reeds’ tattoo parlor for four years. She’s become more than just an employee, and she loves being in the middle of something so wonderful. She treasures the way the Reeds live for one another, and she adores the way they take care of their family. She would do just about anything to be part of it, if not for the fact that she doesn’t deserve a family of her own. Or does she? Friday is punishing herself for her past, and by doing so, she pushes away the one man who could truly love her.

Separately, they’re strong. Together, they’re vulnerable. As a team, they rock.

This book may contain explicit intimate scenes, so if you are not 18+ then I probably wouldn’t recommend it for younger readers.
My Review

Just as I was with Matt’s story, I was excited to start Paul’s. He is the oldest Reed brother, the one whom takes care and oversees his younger brothers since their mom died and dad left. You might as well say he is the reason the other Reed brothers turned out like they did.

Sometimes he drives me up the wall, particularly when he sulks. Other times, he makes me laugh until my stomach hurts. And the way that he loves his family… That makes me ache inside. All those Reed boys together—they embody everything that I would want if I had been lucky enough to have a family. I watch Paul with his daughter and I almost melt into a puddle on the floor, because I know there’s nothing that Hayley could ever do to make him not love her. She could dance naked in the street. She could fall in with the wrong crowd. She could discover drugs and alcohol. Okay, so he would wring her neck for that, but he would still love her. She could even get pregnant at fifteen, and he would still love her. He would stand by her no matter what. That’s something I never had.
“Hell, you knew she had baggage. Layers. You told me you wanted to find out everything about her. Find out why she doesn’t have a family. Find out why she’s all alone in New York. Find out why she’s living in Pete’s spare room until tomorrow.” I spin to face him. “She’s living with Pete and Reagan?” I didn’t know about that. “Why?” He shrugs. “She had to move out of the dorm after graduation. They had an empty room. But Reagan’s parents are coming to stay for two weeks, so she’s going somewhere else.” “Where?” I ask quickly. He shrugs. “Does it matter?” But he’s grinning. Fuck yeah, it matters. “Is she going to stay with one of the douchebags?” “What douchebags?” Matt scratches his head. “Never mind,” I say. Hope swells within me. I shouldn’t let it, but it does. I get out a piece of paper and write on it in magic marker: ROOM FOR RENT PRICE NEGOTIABLE ONLY BEAUTIFUL LITTLE BOMBSHELLS NEED APPLY PREFERABLY ONES NAMED FRIDAY I walk out of the back room and go to the bulletin board. I stick a thumbtack in the “advertisement” and walk away. I hear a snicker from behind me and turn to grin at Logan. You’re a d-o-o-f-u-s, he signs, fingerspelling the last word because there’s no sign for something so stupid. I know, I sign back. He looks a little worried for me, but I don’t care. I can’t get where I want to go if I don’t take a first step. Regardless of whether or not she’s pregnant, she needs a place to stay and I have two empty rooms. And she’s family, for Christ’s sake. I’ve never wanted to eat out a member of my family, though. I scratch my head. I should probably stop thinking like that. I whistle to myself as I walk to my office. I have some paperwork to do before my first appointment arrives. And I need to give Friday time to find my ad.

Paul has had a thing for Friday, one of the reed Tattoo shop works for nigh onto 5 years. Friday is described as resembling Katy Perry but with a 1950’s pinup girl vibe, and shes also covered in tattoos – just like like the Reeds. Her tattoos tells her life story, her struggles, her joy, and her heartbreak. Paul would love to be more than friends with her, but there is one problem, he thinks she is a lesbian, which she doesn’t correct his assumptions as it is the only way she can keep him at a distance. Paul soon finds out that she isn’t one, he decides now is the time to make his move.

“What’s this one?” I ask. I point to a deck of cards with a clown on the front. There’s a full house showing on the card faces. “Life’s a gamble.” “And this one?” I start to paint over her sailboat. “Someday,” she says quietly, “I’ll sail into the sunset.” “There are wedding rings on the sail?” “Yes.” “You want to be married.” “Yes.” My heart kicks in my chest. “My back is my hopes and dreams. My front is my reality as I saw it at the time. Because I can face anything, as long as I let what happened to me push me forward.” […] I lift her leg and rest her foot on my knee. I can see the inside of her thigh where her son’s footprints are, along with his date of birth. I lean forward and kiss her there.
“What’s this?” he asks, sitting forward. I remove the top off the box and take out a pile of pictures. I hand him one. “This is Jacob,” I say. My eyes fill with tears, and I don’t even try to blink them back. I let them fall over my lashes and onto my cheeks. Paul brushes them away, but I really don’t want him to. I want to feel all of this because I have forced myself not to feel it for so very long. “This is when he was born.” I point to the squirmy little ball of red skin and dark hair. Paul looks from me to it. “He looks like you,” he says. I shake my head. “He looks more like his dad, I think.” These fucking tears keep falling. I’m not crying. It’s like someone opened an emotional dam in me and I can’t get it to close. I don’t want it to. “What happened to his dad?” Paul asks. “He died,” I say. I have to stop and clear my throat. “Drug overdose a few years after Jacob was born. I read about it in the paper.” “I’m so sorry.” I sniff. “I am, too.” I feel like I need to explain, and for the first time ever, I want to. “We were young, and we played around with marijuana and stuff. But I cut it all out when I found out I was pregnant with Jacob. He didn’t. He wasn’t able. It was really sad when I couldn’t be with him anymore. I didn’t have anyone else. But I didn’t really have him, either. The drugs had him, you know?” He nods. I hand him more pictures, and he flips through them. I have looked at them so much that they’re dog-eared in places. He holds one up from when Jacob was about three. “You can’t tell me he doesn’t look like you. Look at those eyes! He’s so handsome.” My eyes fill with tears again, but I smile through them. He is perfect. And I should be able to hear someone say so. “Look at that smirk!” Paul cries when he sees the most recent one. “That is so you!” I grin. I guess he’s right. “Where is your family, Friday?” he asks. “I don’t know,” I tell him. I lay my head on his shoulder and watch as he takes in the photos over and over, poring through the stack so he can point out ways that Jacob looks like me. “They kicked me out when I got pregnant. Terminated their rights.” Paul presses his lips to my forehead and doesn’t say anything. “I thought I knew everything back then.” I laugh and wipe my eyes with the hem of my dress. “Turns out I didn’t know shit.” “Do you ever think about looking for them?” I shake my head. “No. Never.” I point to special pictures of my son. “His mom—her name is Jill—she sometimes sends me special milestone pictures. This is his first tooth he got and the first tooth he lost. And this one is from his first step. That wasn’t even part of the agreement. She just does it because she wants me to know how he’s doing.” I try to grin through the tears. “He’s doing so great. He’s smart. And they can send him to college and to special schools. He takes piano, and he plays sports. And Jill says he likes to paint.” My voice cracks, and I don’t hate that it does. I just let it. “Of course, he does. You’re his mother.” “I just wanted to do what was best for him, you know?” This time, I use Paul’s sleeve to wipe my eyes. I blink hard trying to clear my vision. “That’s what parents do. We do what’s in the best interest of our children.” He kisses me softly. “Thank you for showing me these.”

Friday doesn’t let anyone get close to her as she feels undeserving due to what happened to her in life as a teen. She knows Paul has feelings for her, but she tries her best to resist him. But lets face it, when it comes to Paul, Friday has a hard time ignoring her hidden feelings for the man.

He squeezes my hand. “This okay?” he asks. I nod and grin at him. He has the most adorable dimples, and he gives me a crooked smile, showing them off. “Aren’t you afraid someone will get the wrong idea about us?” I ask. “What idea are you worried about?” I shrug. “That they’ll think we’re a thing.” “We are a thing,” he says. He starts to swing my hand in his between us. “We are totally a thing.”

Paul is very persistent man, there is nothing he wont do to make Friday his Even though he is the tough older brother and acts like it the biggest part of the time, I love how sweet, caring, and affectionate he was with Friday. He was patient with her, doing his best to get her to trust him with her heart.

He grabs the edge of my chair, falls to his knees, and rolls me into him. With one gentle hand on each of my knees, he parts my thighs and wiggles until we’re chest to chest. My breath stalls. He’s an inch from my face when he speaks, and his breath becomes mine. “Because you’re all I can think about. I wake up with you on my mind and go to sleep with you in my dreams. I wouldn’t be having these intense thoughts about you if I were in love with anybody else. I’m not that kind of guy.” He kisses the end of my nose. “I know you already know this about me. I’m a stand-up man, Friday, and I’m loyal.” “I want to tell you I feel the same,” I say. I close my eyes, and he startles me when he places a kiss on each of my eyelids in turn. “What’s stopping you?” “That guy I was with yesterday,” I say. I put a hand on his chest to push him back, but I don’t want him to go anywhere. He leans back on his heels, but he leaves his hands on my knees. I close my legs, because without him there, I just feel…empty. “Is he your boyfriend?” “No.” “Then why was he kissing you?” “So, I could make you jealous,” I blurt out. I cover my face with my hand because I’m mortified to admit that. “Well, fuck. It worked.”

A few favorite parts of this book was how Hayley took to having Friday staying at Paul’s apartment – especially with them playing together with Hayley’s toys and Hayley coming into Paul’s room in the early wee hours of the morning to sleep with him and Friday. When Friday finally trusted Paul to tell him about her son she gave up for adoption at fifteen. Even though she couldn’t keep or take care of him, she still loves him and keeps tabs on him. Friday has never seen her son, just through pictures his adopted parents sends her, so Paul takes it into his own hands to arrange a random meeting at a local park / playground for her to finally meet him. The surprise meetings is emotional for Friday, she is glad to finally meet the son she never got to keep, but at the same time, she is a bit upset and mad at Paul for sneaking behind her back to do so. And the other favorite part that I really liked – some might find it cheesy – and made me have a big cheesy smirk on my face was at the end of the girls ballet recital, all the Reed brothers performing Taylor Swift’s ‘You Belong With Me’. At the end of the song, they all – except Same since he’s not officially taken yet – come waltzing down the isles singing to their lady loves. Cheesy? Yes, but I don’t care, I loved it anyway.

I get up and go to check on Friday and Hayley, but I stumble to a stop when I turn the corner into Hayley’s room. They’re both asleep on the bed on their stomachs with an open book in front of them. Friday has changed into her pajamas and it looks as though she was reading to Hayley when they both fell asleep. But what kills me is that their noses are turned toward one another, so close they’re sharing breaths, and my daughter’s hand is tucked into Friday’s. I take a mental picture, because I never, ever want to forget what this feels like. Click! Click! Click! I cement it in my head, because my heart is so happy it’s ready to burst, and I don’t want to let this moment go. I don’t wake them up. Instead, I pick up some of the toys Hayley has left lying around the room. I put her dolls on the top shelf, and her trucks and matchbox cars go in the bucket at the foot of her bed. I laugh when I see they built a big house out of building blocks and they put one of her male actions figures in there with Barbie. I look closer. Are their faces pressed together? It looks almost like they’re kissing. Leave it to Friday… Friday sat and played with my daughter for two hours, and then she read to her and she fell asleep on her bed. I want to see this every night for the rest of my life.
Her gaze lands on my chest, and she sees the butterfly. “When did you get that?” she asks. “Today.” “Why?” “Because I love you and want to keep you close to my heart.” “The butterfly is not broken.” “Neither are you.”
I feel a tap, tap, tap on the side of my nose and open my eyes to find blue eyes just like Paul’s staring into mine. “Hayley,” I say. I wipe my eyes. The sun is just barely up. Paul sits up on his elbow and looks over me. “Go back to sleep, Hayley,” he says. “The sun is shining,” she says. “No, it’s not,” he tells her. Then he reaches over me, grabs her, and pulls her over my body. She lands between us and snuggles into the spot. She closes her eyes and yawns. “Go back to sleep,” he tells her again. She rolls onto her side, facing me, and she looks at me for a second, her gaze curious but not at all sad or mad or any of the things I had been worried about. Her little-girl breaths are close enough that they fall on my chin and make me feel all warm and melty inside. Paul’s toes tangle with mine, and he pulls my foot to rest between his down at the bottom of the bed. He’s touching me. He wants to touch me. I extend my hand toward his head, and he adjusts my palm to rest beneath his cheek and closes his eyes. There’s a slight smile on his face as he falls back asleep. And there’s one on mine, too. It’s an almost giddy feeling of peacefulness. I never imagined peace to come with quite so much bemusement. But it has. And I like it.
“You got panties with flowers on them,” Hayley says, as she eyes the hip of my undies. She looks up at her dad. “Can I have some panties with flowers on them?” She pulls her pajama pants down at the waist and shows me hers. “Mine just have stripes.” I pull my shirt down over my hips. “What did I tell you about showing your panties to people?” Paul asks. She rolls her eyes at him. “Friday’s a girl,” she says. I bite back my snort because Paul isn’t laughing. I look at him over my shoulder, his eyes meet mine, and they go hot. And so do I. “I know she’s a girl.” His eyes roam up and down my back. “Most definitely a girl.” “We need to get you some waffles,” Hayley says to Paul. “Because you look hungry.” She says it very matter-of-factly, and I can’t keep from laughing this time. Paul shoots me a look of warning, and I throw my hands up. “What?” I cry. “I can’t help it.”

One thing I didn’t like and thought it completely odd was the bit about their dad’s death. It just didn’t work for me. I thought it was just randomly thrown in there.

“Will you let me move into your fortress with you?” I blurt out. Her brow furrows, and she looks so damn cute that I want to kiss her, but I know I can’t. “What?” she breathes out. I get up and walk to her. “That fortress where you reside? Will you let me live there with you?” “What the fuck are you talking about?” she asks. She puts her hands on her hips and glares at me. “I don’t want to blow all your walls to bits,” I say. She has a piece of hair stuck to her lips, so I pull it away and tuck it behind her ear. “I just want to live inside them with you. Fuck,” I say, throwing up my hands. “I fucking love your walls. Every single brick. But let me move in. Let me be there with you. Then you can find out if you love me, and you can invite me to stay if you find out that you do. Just let me inside.” I take a deep breath and watch her. “Did you hit your fucking head on the way to work?” she asks. I laugh and rub my forehead. “No, but Logan just slapped some sense into me.” “Then what the fuck is wrong with you?” “I’m in fucking love with you, Friday!” I cry. “I fucking love you, you irritating, obnoxious, sexy-ass woman that I can’t get out of my fucking head.” I hit myself in the head with my fists like I’m knocking. “I’m in love with you.” I drop down onto my knees in front of her, and she steps back, so I inch forward until I can pull her belly to touch my forehead. “I’m in love with you.” I look up at her. “I’m on my knees, and I’m not going to try to get you to marry me or make you do anything you don’t want to do. Just let me in, and I’ll be happy with it.” “So, you don’t want to talk me into marrying you?” I shake my head, staring up at her like a puppy. “You’re not going to hold it over my head and refuse intimacy until I cave to what you want?” “No.” “You’re not going to keep asking me again and again?” “No.” “You’re going to stop being stupid?” I grin. “I don’t know about that one.” “You have testicles,” she says, and she shrugs. “I can’t have it all, can I?” She sinks down onto her knees in front of me. She bites her lower lip and stares at me. “Say it,” I coax. She goes back to glaring at me. “Say what?” “Whatever you’re thinking.” “I’m thinking that my knees are uncomfortable on this fucking floor, and I’m wondering how long you’re going to fucking make me stay down here.” I laugh. God, she’s so contrary! She takes my face in her hands. “Tonight, can I make you dinner?” she asks. My heart does that pitter-patter thing again. “Like a date?” She rocks her head back and forth like she’s weighing her words. “I guess you could call it a date.” “Then yes, I’d love that.” Then I remember. “But I have Hayley tonight.” She brightens. “Good.” She kisses me quickly and grins. “Because that’s about as close to a threesome as you’ll ever get with me.” She points to the floor. “Can I get up now?” she asks. “Get the fuck up,” I growl. I get to my feet, too. She falls against me and wraps her arms around my waist. “So does this mean that you don’t want to marry me?” she asks, her voice muffled against my chest. Her words touch the tattoo I just got, and it stings a little. But I don’t pull back. I don’t want her to see it yet. “I didn’t say that.” “You didn’t say the opposite.” I set her back a little and look down into her upturned face. “Are you telling me you do want to marry me?” She shakes her head and jabs a finger at me. “But I want to leave the door open.” Oh, holy hell. She’s opening a fucking door and I didn’t even have to threaten her or withhold anything or torment her in any way. I might pass out. “Okay,” I say.

Now with Logan, Pete, Matt, and Paul’s story read, I plan to head onto Sam’s and see what’s in store for the final Reed brother.

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