Home > Boys South of the Mason Dixon (South of the Mason Dixon #1)(2)

Boys South of the Mason Dixon (South of the Mason Dixon #1)(2)
Author: Abbi Glines

I knew I needed to look away. I didn’t want him to catch me staring. Really, it was pathetic. Completely ridiculous and sad. Asher Sutton had destroyed me. I shouldn’t react to him anymore, and I most definitely shouldn’t care anymore that his face was still chiseled perfection and his body that of every woman’s dreams.

Before I could gather my bearings, control my reaction to him, self-preservation kicked in, and I instinctively took a step out of his line of sight. His truck door swung open, long jean-clad legs stepping onto the pavement. The dark hair I used to run my fingers through was cut short, highlighting his stone cut face, the stubble covering his jaw making him appear like a dangerous angel. The flannel shirt he was wearing was faded and tightly joined across his chest. A chest I knew all too well was smooth and paneled with muscle.

“Don’t go there, Dixie.” Scarlet North, my best friend since middle school, whispered in my ear. Her hand clamped around my arm and she tugged me hard, enough to snap me out of my foolish stupor.

“Evil. Remember that, Dixie. That man is evil. He’s more beautiful than any one male has a right to be on the planet. But he’s the devil. You know that. Besides, don’t forget about Steel. You’re now dating Asher’s little brother.” Her last six words were a murmur. Only I could hear what she said.

Gossip in a small town was bad. In Malroy, Alabama, it was worse than bad. The place was a mecca of gossip. Everybody knew everything and everybody was in everyone’s business. There was a very good chance, right there on Main Street, that people were peeking from their windows to see if I would look Asher’s way. There had been enough talk about us in Malroy to last a lifetime and two years of Asher being away at college didn’t change a thing.

“I didn’t know he was coming home,” I said, simply trying to slow down my heart rate from seeing Asher for the very first time in years. He didn’t come home last summer. He stayed in Gainesville, Florida taking summer classes and seemed to have forgotten about Malroy.

“He’s probably just here to see his momma. He’ll leave soon enough, you’ll see. Steel would’ve told you if Asher was coming home for the summer,” Scarlet assured me.

I managed to nod while gripping my scrunched up paper bag in front of me like a shield. Asher was back and I didn’t know how to react. What was I supposed to expect? Would he keep pretending like I didn’t exist? Could he even do that now that I was with his brother? Would Steel tell him? Would Asher care?

No, he wouldn’t. I knew that all too well. Asher wouldn’t care at all. He had made it very clear to the entire town that he didn’t want me anymore. He didn’t care who had me now. He was done with me. I went from being one half of the “golden couple” to the discarded girl who surely must’ve done something horrible for Asher to throw her away and never look back. It happened so quickly, it still made no sense to me.

He had been my safe harbor. I was secure in his love. I gave my innocence to Asher believing in my heart he would be my forever, my one and only. But he blindsided me by leaving me without any explanation whatsoever.

The people I thought were my friends believed it had been my fault, something unforgivable that I did, and quickly turned their backs on me. They all worshiped the football star that had singlehandedly put our town on the map, the boy who led our team to a State Championship two years in a row. He could do no wrong in their eyes. They had wasted no time taking his side. Everyone except Scarlet. She was my only true friend.

“He’s a giant asshole. Full of himself. The great and mighty Sutton,” she snarled his way.

I rolled my eyes and turned to look at her. “Don’t act like being a Sutton boy is a bad thing. You’re so in love with Brent Sutton you can’t see straight,” I pointed out.

She grinned, then shrugged and giggled. “Yeah, well, all Sutton boys ain’t bad. Just that particular one there.”

I agreed with her. The Sutton boys were a part of my life. They always had been and always would be. Our farms sat beside one another and our families remained intertwined.

The tiny diamond on my left hand sparkled in the bright sunlight as I lifted it. “No, they aren’t all bad,” I said. “One or two are decent enough.”

Scarlet released a sigh and shook her head. “Why are you wearing that? I thought you were still thinking about it?”

I glanced back at Asher’s blue truck, unable to pretend like it wasn’t there. My heart twisted painfully in my chest. He still had a crazy hold over me, and no amount of pep talk could do anything about it. “I wanted to see how it felt,” I admitted shyly, before glancing back down at the ring Steel had given me two weeks back. It hadn’t been a traditional proposal. Our relationship was complicated. And that blue truck reminded me why I hadn’t been able to say “yes” to Steel.

“Stop looking,” Scarlet growled in frustration.

“Do you think he’ll care . . . about the ring?” I only let Scarlet see how incredibly vulnerable Asher still made me feel.

“Oh, Dixie,” she sighed and pulled me into a hug. “You know he won’t. It’s been three years. You’ve got to let Asher go for good.”

I closed my eyes and let her hold me, because in that moment, I knew was right. She was always right. “How do I forget him, Scarlet?” The lilt in my voice made Scarlet squeeze a little tighter.

“Let yourself love Steel. He loves you. Be the girl he deserves,” she replied. Scarlet then pulled back to look at me. Both her hands rested on my shoulders. “Asher Sutton broke you. He deserves for you to forget him. Steel Sutton, on the other hand, adores you. And he’s nothing like his big brother. He gave you a ring, sweetie. It’s time your heart let go of the wrong Sutton boy and fell in love with the one that deserves it.”

I knew she was right. I just wasn’t sure where to start. Not when everything still reminded me of the one who didn’t love me back.

I patiently sat in daddy’s truck while he filled the diesel tank with fuel. Jack’s parking lot had begun to fill up. Jack’s was a pool hall, that was also a bar, or maybe it was the other way around. A bar that was also a pool hall. I wasn’t sure because I’d never been in there. If my daddy ever heard I was in there—and he would’ve found out quickly because Jack would’ve called him himself—he’d have thrown a fit.

The only reason I would want to go to Jack’s anyway was because of the faded blue pickup truck that was currently parked outside the place. I’d seen three of the five Sutton boys climb from it and enter the establishment. The only one that mattered to me, however, had been the driver. Asher had sauntered inside like he owned the place. All smiles and too sexy for words in the jeans he’d been wearing.

He had those jeans on today at school. I had noticed them as well as the Malroy Bears Football tee-shirt he’d worn. Every day since the first day of school, Asher made sure to walk with me to at least a few of my classes. I knew he only did it to protect me and it worked. Emily James hadn’t harassed me again, and because of that alone, high school was proving to be a lot easier than middle school had been for me.

The day I’d climbed into his truck in someone else’s stinky, oversized gym clothes had changed me forever. I’d become more confident when dealing with Emily’s cruel pranks and at some point, they simply stopped. The last day of middle school she had tripped me. I was walking down the hallway for the very last time with my arms full of my locker contents. When I fell, notebooks, pencils, and even a few tampons went flying into the air, landing all around me. But that had been it and, seemingly, her final act of cruelty toward me. Now it was October and, in a week, I’d be turning fifteen. Emily had never looked my way again since I’d began high school two months before.

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