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Make You Mine: A Small Town Age Gap Romance

Make You Mine: A Small Town Age Gap Romance PDF

Author: Laura Pavlov

Publisher: Independently published


Publish Date: August 23, 2022


Pages: 310

File Type: Epub, PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface

Greg, Chase & Hannah…you are the reason that I continue to chase my dreams every day. I love you more than I could ever put into words. Thank you for always supporting me and believing in me. I love you forever!

Willow, I could not begin to thank you for being such a bright light in my life! Thank you for reading my words, for sprinting with me, for making me laugh and for always being there. I am so grateful to be on this journey with you. Love you!

Catherine, I am so thankful for YOU! Thank you for talking me through all the things, for making me laugh and for being there during the “spiraling moments.” Love you so!!

Nina, I’m not sure how I functioned before you—and I am forever grateful to be on this journey with you! Thank you for your guidance, your encouragement and your friendship!! It means the world to me!

Christine Miller, I cannot thank you enough for all that you do for me. I am so thankful for YOU!

Kim Cermak, Thank you for keeping everything organized when I’m certain that I don’t make that easy for you!! Thank you for keeping all the dates straight and staying on me when needed!! I am so grateful for YOU!!

Sarah Norris, Thank you for the gorgeous graphics and for all that you do to make my releases extra special! It means the world to me!

Megan Corbett, Thank you so much for helping to get my books out there on TikTok and being so supportive and patient! I am so grateful!

Kelley Beckham, Thank you so much for all that you do to help me get my books out there! I am truly so thankful!

Valentine Grinstead, I absolutely adore you!! I am so happy to be on this journey with you! Cheers to many years of working together!

Doo, Annette, Abi, Pathi, Natalie, Caroline, Jennifer and Lara, thank you for being the BEST beta readers EVER! Your feedback means the world to me. I am so thankful for you!!

Hang Le, thank you for bringing Jace and Ashlan’s story to life. This cover captures them so well, and I am so grateful for YOU!

Sue Grimshaw (Edits by Sue), I love being on this journey with you. I would be completely lost without you. I love your feedback and talking through all the things with you!! I am so grateful for your support and encouragement.

Ellie (My Brothers Editor), I am so thankful for you!! I love being on this journey with you, and I am so grateful for all that you do for me. Love you!

Christine Estevez, thank you for all that you do to support me! It truly means the world to me! Love you!

Mom, thank you for your love and support and for reading all of my words! Ride or die!! Love you!

Dad, you really are the reason that I keep chasing my dreams!! Thank you for teaching me to never give up. Love you!

Sandy, thank you for reading and supporting me throughout this journey! Love you!

Pathi, I am so thankful for you! You are the reason I even started this journey. Thank you for believing in me!! I love and appreciate you more than I can say!! Thank you for your friendship!! Love you!

Natalie (Head in the Clouds, Nose in a Book), Thank you for supporting me through it all! I appreciate all that you do for me from beta reading to the newsletter to just absolutely being the most supportive friend!! I am so thankful for you!! Love you!

Sammi, I am so thankful for your support and your friendship!! Love you!

Marni, I love you forever and I am endlessly thankful for your friendship!! Xo

Jenn, I cannot put into words how much I appreciate you! Thank you for the gorgeous book bibles that help me keep it all straight!! Thank you for talking through issues and always being there when I need you!! It truly means the world to me!! Love you! Xo

To the JKL WILLOWS… I am forever grateful to you for your support and encouragement! I treasure your friendship and love you all so much!! Xo

To all the bloggers and bookstagrammers who have posted, shared, and supported me—I can’t begin to tell you how much it means to me. I love seeing the graphics that you make and the gorgeous posts that you share. I am forever grateful for your support!

To all the readers who take the time to pick up my books and take a chance on my words…THANK YOU for helping to make my dreams come true!!


I sat across from Jace at his kitchen table as he pulled out a notebook and cleared his throat.

“I can’t thank you enough for doing this. And I mean it when I say that when you find what you want to do with your life, I’ll understand that it’s not this. I know this is temporary. Just give me a couple weeks’ notice when you want to bail, all right?”

“Of course. But I’m planning to stay for a while if you’ll have me,” I said over an embarrassing giggle. I mean, this man was something straight out of a sexy firefighter calendar. He was tall with broad shoulders, glistening tan skin, and every inch of him was chiseled and hard. Well, I couldn’t technically speak for every inch of him. “Is it hot in here?”

Oh my gawd. Did I just say that out loud?

He chuckled this sexy, gruff sound that sent chills down my spine. “Let me check the thermostat. It is hot as hell outside today.”

He moved to the wall beside the kitchen, and I quickly fanned my face frantically with my hand while his back was to me. He’d become a good family friend since he’d started working at the firehouse with my dad, and he’d been coming to our Sunday night dinners for the past few years. But lately, every time I was around him, I was a swoony fool. I didn’t know what the hell was going on with me.

He was hot. Definitely hot.

And I was human.

“I’ve been setting up the guesthouse all day, so I’m probably overheated.” I tried to make light of it, but the truth was—it could be snowing outside, and I’d be warm if I were sitting close to this man.

I wasn’t proud of the thoughts I’d had lately, but I knew it would pass. I’d ended things with Henry, the guy I’d dated for a few months toward the end of school. It just wasn’t going anywhere—he wanted to get serious, and I wasn’t feeling it. So, I’d graduated from college and made my way back home to Honey Mountain.

I was going to write the book I’d had playing in my head for the past few years, and I’d taken a job to nanny for the two cutest girls on the planet, Paisley and Hadley King, while I pursued my dream.

Secretly crushing on my new boss was not a sin.

Was it?

Jace sat back down. His muscles strained against his white tee and my mouth went dry. He had blue eyes that were the lightest blue I’d ever seen. His brown hair always looked like he’d been tugging at it and managed to look sexy as hell with very little effort.

“Hawk and Niko helped me get a fresh coat of paint on the walls a few weeks ago. Looks like you and your sisters got everything moved and settled in there, yeah?”

Hawk and Niko were my sisters’ husbands, and they were also good friends with Jace, so that didn’t surprise me one bit that they’d helped out.

I nodded as I stared at his plump lips before clearing my throat. “Yeah. Thanks for letting me stay there. It’s such a cute place.”

“Well, you’re saving my ass. Since Karla left, the girls haven’t had any consistency. We’ve had more nannies come and go than I can count. A firefighter’s hours aren’t always the easiest for people to accommodate. This will be really good for the girls. They were thrilled when I said you’d taken the job.”

Karla was his ex-wife who’d skipped town with some random guy and left her girls and Jace behind. I admired the way he stepped up for his daughters. My dad was an amazing father and it hurt like hell that we’d lost our mama to cancer, but I couldn’t imagine how much it would hurt if she’d chosen to leave. But Jace took it all in stride.

“You know I love your girls. And honestly, I’m happy to have my own place and not have to move back in with my dad. It just makes me feel like I’m somewhat of a grown-up, you know?” I’d seen them interact at Dad’s Sunday dinners, and although Hadley seemed a little shy and limited on her vocabulary, Paisley was more of an old soul. I’m sure their mom leaving them had an impact on them both.

The corners of his lips turned up and my stomach fluttered. Jace was a serious guy, and after all he’d been through, I didn’t see him smile all that often.

But when he did… I liked it.

Probably too much.

“Well, it’s not much of a home with it being so small. But I’m glad you’re happy with it. You know you can come over here any time if you want to cook in a larger kitchen.” He slid over a set of keys. “These are to the main house. You’ll stay here with the girls when I’m on duty at the firehouse, which is usually three nights a week. You know the drill, growing up with your dad. And then you’ll have four nights to yourself. I may occasionally ask if you’d be willing to babysit a night here or there so I can go meet the guys for a beer or do a little work on one of the houses I’m renovating. But only if it works for you, and I’d pay you separately for that.”

Did he date? My mind was spinning with questions that were too inappropriate to ask.

“Of course. You can ask me any time. And you’re paying me plenty with the salary and the living accommodations.” I knew Jace made money off of his house flipping side business that he did, which my brother-in-law, Niko, was now involved in as well. They were both talented when it came to renovating spaces, and apparently Jace King was doing quite well between flipping homes and being a firefighter, because this house was gorgeous.

“Well, I appreciate it. But I want to pay you for your time. My mom will watch the girls on the weekends for a few hours so I can work on whatever house we’ve got going at the time, but I don’t like taking advantage of that. Hell, the girls are pretty good about chilling when I need them to in short doses. So, when you have to catch a shower or use the restroom, you just tell them to stay put until you come out. I usually put a show on in their playroom and they’ll give you a quick fifteen minutes of peace. Just tell Paisley to keep Hadley with her.”

I laughed. His girls were adorable. Well-behaved and sweet. “Okay. That sounds easy enough.”

He handed me a piece of paper with a schedule on it. I have to say, I was impressed. It had everything laid out for me. What time they woke up, what time they napped, what they liked to eat. A lot of this stuff I’d already known because I’d spent a lot of time with them over the years, but I guessed this cheat sheet would come in handy when it came down to all the details. He had the pediatrician’s information at the bottom, along with his parents’ phone number in case of emergency.

“So, a few things you should know that you probably aren’t aware of from the time you’ve spent with them.” His tone turned serious and when I met his light blue gaze, my chest squeezed at the concern I saw there.

“Okay,” I said softly.

“Paisley is anxious about starting kindergarten for whatever reason. She’s been in preschool and pre-K for the past two years, but she keeps talking about how scared she is for school to start in the fall. I don’t know what’s up with that, but let me know if she opens up to you about it.”

“Got it. I think I was super nervous to start kindergarten too. It’s all normal. You’re doing a great job with your girls, Jace.”

His smile was forced, and I saw it all in his gaze. The doubt. The worry. Maybe even some guilt about the fact that he was doing it on his own, trying to compensate for being a single parent.

“Thanks. I’m not sure how much damage her leaving will do to them, but I’m doing my best to give them a good life. As much as a grumpy firefighter can, at least.” He shrugged and there was tease in his voice, but there was honesty too. “Anyway, Paisley will help out as much as you need her to. You know that. She’s a go-with-the-flow type of kid. But she’s got her quirks.”

“Which are?” I hadn’t noticed anything in all the time I’d spent with her. She was super polite and sweet and a ball of energy. Always helpful with little Hadley.

“She, uh, strips her clothes off when she goes to the bathroom.” He barked out a laugh now. “Apparently, she takes them all off and folds them in a neat little pile by the door because she doesn’t want her clothes to smell like poop.”

My head fell back in laughter. I hadn’t realized that’s what she did, but it did make sense. “I did notice she takes quite a while in the bathroom, so now I understand why.”

“Yeah. Her pre-K teacher was unimpressed about the little habit because a line was forming outside the bathroom every time she took her turn.”

“Well, no one should be rushed when it comes to doing their business,” I said with a laugh.

“Touché. Couldn’t agree more. What I wouldn’t give to have a few minutes alone in the shitter now and then. I have to practically bribe them to give me ten minutes in the shower.”

Jace King in the shower must be a sight. Visions of him washing his golden, naked body under a hot spray of water… there I go again.

I’d blame it on the fact that I’d been reading a lot of romance books lately as I geared up to start writing my own book.

And I’d possibly had a few sexy dreams about this man in the shower over the past few months. But I couldn’t control what my subconscious did while I slept, right?

“Yeah. I’m sure. And where would you like me to sleep when I stay here at the main house?”

“So, when Mrs. Tusley was with the girls for those last few weeks of school, she stayed in the guest room. The problem is, both girls have occasional nightmares, and they like to climb into my bed. The guest room bed is small, and Mrs. Tusley was not a believer in letting the girls come into bed with her, and I don’t know…” He scrubbed the back of his neck. “Maybe I’m fucking them up by letting them come in when they’re scared.”

“No. My sisters and I always went into our parents’ room when we were young and had a nightmare. That’s when you need to be comforted. I don’t mind if they come to bed with me at all. Heck, for the longest time I used to take turns sleeping with all my sisters after my mom died. I welcome the company.”

He raised a brow and I realized what I’d said.

“I mean, the girls’ company. I hardly have any company in my bed ever. I mean, not that I’ve never…” Please, make it stop. “The girls are welcome to come in if they get scared.”

I reached for the glass of water that he’d given me and took a long sip, trying to regain my composure.

“I knew what you meant. And you’re welcome to sleep in my room if you want. I’ll make sure the sheets are clean for you. That way, if they come in, you’ll still be able to get some sleep because the bed is plenty big.”

“Okay. That sounds like a plan.”

“I’m actually glad you brought it up. I, uh, I was hoping you’d understand if I asked that you not have any boyfriends stay over at the house when I’m on duty. Obviously, what you do in your free time in the guesthouse is your business, but I want the girls to feel safe when you’re staying here with them. I’ve never allowed anyone to stay in my bed since Karla left, and I plan to keep it that way.”

My face heated at his words, and I shook my head. “I would never do that.”

“Fuck, I’m not trying to make you uncomfortable. Just needed to say it. You’re young. I’m sure you have a million dudes chasing after you. But I just don’t want to confuse the girls while you’re with them. Obviously, you’re welcome to have your sisters or a friend over any time. Just no strange guys.” He chuckled.

My mind was still reeling that he’d just admitted he didn’t bring women home. What did that mean? Did he just not have sex?

“I completely agree. That won’t be an issue. I’m single.” I held up my hands and fluttered them around like a crazy person. “I plan on writing when I’m not working.”

“Yeah? I think that’s great, Ash. What are you writing?”

I’m leaning toward writing about a sexy firefighter and his nanny.

Just kidding.

Not really.

“Um, it’s a romance.” I swallowed hard just as little Hadley came waddling over and walked right past her dad and over to me, holding her pudgy little arms up in the air for me to pick her up.

“Hey, sweetie pie. I’m excited that we’re going to be spending lots of time together.” I settled her on my lap, and she nuzzled her head beneath my neck. She smelled like sunshine and baby powder. Her light brown wild waves danced all around her face, and her hair didn’t look like it had been brushed yet today. I knew Jace was doing the best that he could and the fact that he even attempted to do their hair was impressive to me.

“She still isn’t speaking much, so maybe you can get her talking a little bit,” Jace said, his voice low as he watched her with concern.

“Of course. I think we’ll be just fine.”

“Well, it’s summer break, so they’re going to be with you all day. You may be changing your tune here soon. A young girl like you probably wants to be hanging out at the lake with her friends, not hanging out with two little kids.”

Young girl?

He’d pointed out my age twice now. I wasn’t that young. I was twenty-two years old, turning twenty-three in a couple weeks. My mama always said I was an old soul. I never cared much for partying down by the lake or going out and getting crazy. Maybe it was because I’d lost my mother at a young age that I’d just become a homebody. I liked the comfort of being with my family. Always had.

“Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine. I prefer staying home over going to Beer Mountain any day.” I shrugged. It was the truth. And I was looking forward to getting lost in my words. “So, I’ll stay in your room when I’m here, and we’ll see how it goes.”

“All right. I’ve been having some plumbing issues in my master bathroom lately, but I have a guy coming over later today to get it fixed.”

“Great. I’ll just spend the rest of the day getting my place set up. I have a few pictures to hang, and Vivian made me some cute curtains.”

He studied me. “Look at you. Making it all homey. I hope that’s a sign you won’t be quitting in a week.”

“Not a chance.”

Hadley squirmed to get down, and I pushed to my feet as the little angel wrapped her arms around my leg and kissed my knee which made me chuckle.

Paisley came walking into the kitchen wearing a princess dress with a tiara on top of her head. Her long brown hair ran down her back and she had her daddy’s blue eyes. Both girls resembled Jace more than Karla, but Hadley had her daddy’s coloring with big dark brown eyes and long lashes.

“Daddy, can Ashlan come over for pizza tonight?” Paisley asked as she stepped beside me and leaned her cheek against my side.

Be still my heart.

I’d always known I wanted to be a mother someday, and I couldn’t wait for that to happen. I just hadn’t found anyone I liked enough to date longer than six months.

“Not tonight, sweetheart. This is her night off.”

Hadley moved toward her father and he plopped her on his lap and kissed the top of her head.

“Do you have another job?” Paisley asked me.

“I’m going to start writing a book,” I said, and her eyes watered, her bottom lip quivering like I’d just broken her heart. “But I sure don’t need to start that tonight. And pizza is my favorite.”

Jace smirked, and his hand grazed over the beard that covered his jaw. “Don’t let them be working you all the time, Ash. My girls may look sweet, but I swear they’re little sharks.”

“Well, seeing as tomorrow is our first day together, I think it would be fun to hang out a little tonight and they can show me some of their nighttime routine.”

Jace smiled, and his face relaxed as he nodded. “If you’re sure you don’t mind.”

“I’m sure,” I said.

And just like that, my new life was getting started.

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