Straight Up Love (The Boys of Jackson Harbor #2)(2)

Teagan shrugs. “Why not just ask for some sperm from a friend? The turkey baster works the same way if the sperm is free, you know.”

Free sperm from a friend? “That’s a thing?”

“Sure,” Teagan says. “My cousin did it. She was like you—wanted a baby, didn’t want to wait—so she just asked her best friend for some sperm, and he filled a cup for her. Nine months later, voila! A baby of her own who she knows has no rubber-glove fetish gene.”

“That would definitely be ideal.” Honestly, a simple call to the sperm bank was awkward for me, and with my track record, I don’t expect this to be a one-and-done kind of situation. “But how do you even decide who to ask?”

“Well,” Veronica says, “not that I get to choose, since I already made my bad decision.” She grimaces, and I feel a stab of pity for her. She effed up royally when she fooled around with her sister’s ex-fiancé, but she eventually saw his true colors and has spent the last four months doing everything she can to get back in her twin’s good graces while preparing herself to raise her baby on her own. There’s a mischievous gleam in her eye when she says, “But if I were you, I’d definitely go after some Jackson genes.”

“They do make some good-looking boys,” Nic says. “And they’re all brains, too.”

There’s no denying that the Jacksons are all in possession of sublime genetics. But weird. “I’ve been friends with the Jacksons all my life.” They were literally the boys next door when I grew up. “Levi’s probably the hottest,” I say, referring to the youngest Jackson brother, “and he’s easygoing and stuff, but I’m pretty sure that conversation would be awkward even with him.” I lower my voice and look around to make sure no one is eavesdropping. “And I think he might secretly have a thing for my friend Ellie.”

“And he’d want to actually fuck you,” Veronica says. “No turkey baster.”

Levi isn’t the kind of guy who’d pass up an excuse to get a woman in bed, but I think these ladies underestimate the “sister” vibe I have going with all the Jacksons.

“Jake’s your best friend, isn’t he?” Teagan says. “What about him? I bet he’d do it for you.”

I make a face. Jake? “It’s kind of weird, isn’t it?” I instinctively search the crowd, and my gaze lands on Jake behind the bar, his dark hair and the eyes the girls say are so dreamy. The broad shoulders they drool over, and the ink peeking out under the sleeves of his fitted shirt. Jake would do anything for me. Never mind the fact that he’s a really good guy. Wouldn’t it be a relief to know my kid came from that kind of genetic stock?

Teagan slides my glass closer to my hand. “Finish this and ask him to fill a cup for you.”

There’s a flutter in my stomach. Could it be this simple?

I don’t want to think about it. When I think about things, I freeze. I just want to make this happen. “I guess it is my birthday. It can’t hurt to ask, right?” I swallow hard. “Here goes nothing.”


Ava McKinley meets my gaze from her table at the back of Jackson Brews, and there’s such an intensity in her eyes that my gut tightens. For a beat, I can imagine those dark eyes on me in a very different context. Maybe right here after last call, when she’s seated on the polished walnut bar and watching me with hunger in her eyes. I’d step between her legs and untie the wrap dress that’s been taunting me all night. I’d lower my head to her perfect breasts and tease her nipples with my tongue until she begged me for more.

Dream the fuck on, Jackson.

I can’t fault myself for the fantasy, though. What man wouldn’t imagine all that and more? Ava’s easily the most gorgeous woman in this bar. Add in the fact that she has a wicked sense of humor and loves my cooking almost as much as she loves my beer, and it’s no freaking wonder I can’t keep my eyes off her.

Never mind that she’s your best friend and one hundred percent off-limits.

She slides out of the booth with her glass in hand, leaving her group of friends behind as she marches straight toward me. The slight sway in her step reminds me she’s been drinking. Nevertheless, I recognize a woman on a mission. Anticipation races down my spine before I can shake the feeling away or remind myself of the enormous divide between fantasy and reality.

Cindy nudges me. We’re both working behind the bar tonight—me because it’s Friday, and I like to keep an eye on the place on the busiest nights of the week, and Cindy because she’s filling in for Ava, who I insisted take the night off for her birthday. “Are you in trouble or something?” she asks.

“I . . . don’t think so?” Ava’s been celebrating with her friends all night, and I’m glad to see it. She works too much, and having a group of girlfriends who won’t let her sit at home and grade papers is the best thing that could have happened to her.

Tonight, for her thirtieth, she’s really been letting loose. The table she’s been sitting at with Nicole, Veronica, and Teagan is littered with now-empty glasses formerly full of Long Island iced tea and beer.

“Good luck,” Cindy says, sneaking away just as Ava comes behind the bar to stand with me.

Ava stutters to a stop in front of me and puts her empty glass on the bar. Her proximity makes longing whip through my gut, sharp and impossible to ignore. She’s always been beautiful, with dark hair, tight curves, and deep brown eyes that can put a man in his place without her ever having to speak a word, but lately, the old angst of wanting what I can’t have has been hitting me hard. I blame my brother Ethan and his newfound happiness with his girlfriend, Nic.

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