To be rescued, you have to let someone help you.
Greg has had a crush on tough, resourceful Sue since high school, but getting close to her has proven impossible. She spends so much time dealing with her alcoholic parents that the first chance Greg gets to talk to her is when he’s serving her with foreclosure papers. If he can find a way to keep her from losing her family’s farm, maybe she’ll learn to like him.
But Sue doesn’t believe Greg could care about her. Either he pities her, which is humiliating, or he wants to get into her pants, which is disgusting. If she could just find someone who would love her for who she was and not what she could do for them.
That was too fast. Way too fast for truth. “Greg.”
Greg climbed the stairs, which Sue now realized were also new. “What are you doing here?” he asked again as he stepped onto the porch.
Sue ignored the question. All of this felt really bad. A job out of left field. Suddenly getting into beauty school mid term. Nobody had this kind of luck. Especially not her. And the apartment Greg was lying about. Very, very fishy. “Why are you working on this building?”
“It’s for Lily. She wants to open a coffee shop.”
“I’m not an idiot, Greg.” Sue folded her arms. “You are not. You are rehabbing the apartment and Cora Kohler is asking me what colors I want in my kitchen. Is it for me?” Couldn’t be. Just couldn’t be.
Greg studied the porch planks. “Sue.” He groaned. “It’s for you. Johnny didn’t want us to tell you in case it didn’t work out. Gene Kimball is willing to let you have it at four hundred a month as long as we do the clean up.” He grinned. “It’s coming along great. We’re gonna have it fixed up real—”
“Why?” Gene Kimball. That explained Jade’s outburst in the grocery store parking lot two weeks ago.
Greg’s mouth hung open. “Uh, why what?”
“Why are you doing it?” Why was Greg helping her? Did he like her in some way? Nah, wasn’t possible. Guys like Greg didn’t have romantic feelings for girls like her. They might want to get her into bed, but this was a hellava lot of manual labor for a guy who could pick up any woman he wanted with a lazy smile. He just felt guilty because he was the one to deliver the bad news.
“Come on, Sue.” Greg put the bag down. “We all felt bad. We wanted to help you out.”
“So you got me a job, and you got me into school and you found me a place to live.”
Greg shrugged. “It wasn’t that hard. Everybody in town wanted to help out.”
“Everybody?” Why did that hurt? Because it wasn’t just him? Because it was the whole town pitying her? Poor sad Sue McMannus saddled with alcoholic parents and not enough sense to get out before the ship sank.
“Sure, you should have seen—”
“I don’t need your pity.” Sue clenched her fists.
“I know what you all think of me. Of my family.”
“I know what all of you think of us. The trashy McManus’s on the edge of town. The parents drink too much. Johnny’s a delinquent. Sue’s stupid. Isn’t that right?”
“Of course not! What are you so mad about?”
Sue couldn’t answer him around the ball of tears in her throat, which was good because even in this state she knew her answer wouldn’t make sense. She pushed around him and ran down the stairs. Everybody in town thought she was so hopeless that she couldn’t take care of herself. Arranging everything for her like she was a child.
She dove into her car and twisted the key, grinding the engine. Greg skidded to a stop beside her window. Dropping the car into drive, she jounced over the crumbling rolled asphalt at the edge of the parking lot. In the rear view mirror, she could see Greg staring after her. As she sped through town, it felt like everyone was watching her. Staring out their windows, feeling sorry for her. The only way she was ever going to make them stop was by leaving town. Johnny hadn’t had all that bad an idea all those years ago when he fled.
Because this stupid little town was never ever going to forget and they never let you forget either.
The sins of the father unto the seventh generation.