Taken Hard (The Hard Boys Book 2) by Sam Crescent

“Honey, I won’t tell anyone. Your father and I will talk, you know that. We don’t have any secrets, but he’ll know not to tell your brothers. Why don’t you want them to know?”

“It’s James and Rome. They’ll love this. You know that.”

Jane never got to respond as Rome walked into the kitchen and slumped down on the seat.

“How long have you been here?” Jane asked.

Rome hadn’t come from the yard, but from inside the house.

“Since last night. I couldn’t be bothered to head on home.”

His little brother used to live with him, but that hadn’t lasted. Rome didn’t like all the women Caleb had brought home and even said he couldn’t get a whole lot of sleep.

“What are we talking about?” Rome asked, yawning.

“Parties,” Jane said.

Caleb thanked his mother for not saying anything. He wasn’t embarrassed by his feelings for Lilly, but he didn’t want his brothers to ruin anything.

Jane got started on breakfast, and sure enough, the moment the bacon was on, their dad, Theodore, joined them, kissing his wife before stealing a slice of toast and taking a seat.

Eliza, James, and Aunt Betty arrived. The moment they entered the kitchen, Caleb was on his feet, taking his second favorite female in the whole world into his arms. Little baby Darla.

He absolutely adored her. She was so adorable even when she was awake. Right now, she slept.

“I’m surprised you haven’t asked to walk up and down the town square carrying her,” Eliza said. “Women would be all over you.”

“I wouldn’t use my niece in such a way.” He pressed a kiss to her head.

“Yeah, as if that boy needs any encouragement with those women. If I was ten years younger, I’d have myself a toy boy,” Aunt Betty said.

Caleb winked at the older woman, and everyone laughed. Eliza, of course, groaned.

“You have to do it, don’t you?” Eliza asked.

“I can’t help it.”

“Where’s Lilly?” Caleb asked, changing the conversation.

The kitchen went silent, and he glanced up.


“Lilly didn’t want to come. I think she likes her Sunday mornings in front of that laptop of hers. It’s the only day she doesn’t work her ass off. I can’t believe how much she works. Nearly twenty-three years old, she doesn’t date, but she works.”

“Speaking of nearing twenty-three,” Jane said. “How about we throw her a birthday party?”

Aunt Betty smiled. “You know, I think that would cheer the girl up. Just the other day I asked her what she wanted, and she told me not to worry. She didn’t celebrate her birthday. Her mother has never gotten her a birthday cake. There were presents for a short time, but nothing to really make her birthday pop.”

“Then we’ve got to get her here. I’ll make a cake from scratch. You can do some flowers, Betty. We can allow that girl to have a birthday surrounded by all of us,” Jane said.

“We can get gifts,” Rome said. “Do we know what she likes?”

They turned toward Eliza.

“Nope, don’t look at me. When I babysat for her, she loved to study and read. She was always a hard worker. That’s about as much as I know when it comes to her.”

Caleb didn’t like that, but he was determined to find out everything he could about her. It wasn’t like it was a challenge. He spent most of his days thinking about her, wondering what she was doing. She was an obsession.

What Betty had said surprised him. “She doesn’t date?” Caleb asked, drawing the attention back toward him. “What? I’m only asking in case we need to invite him.”

Betty chuckled. “No, she doesn’t date. Never been on a single one.”

Chapter Two

Lilly slid the history books back into the right selection. Some people had amazing taste when it came to the books they picked out. She loved this part of the job, taking all the books that had been returned and placing them back on their shelf. She stroked the spine and then saw there was one on the occult.

She loved to learn.

Moving toward their spiritual section, she found the place among the real ghost stories and hauntings. She put the book right back in. Her trolley now empty, she made her way back downstairs, putting it near the reception desk and seeing a small pile of books already waiting.