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Friendship Blooms in Honey Grove

Friendship Blooms in Honey Grove

A Braxton Brothers Romance, Book 2

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I'm terrible at love. Everyone knows it. So when my latest boyfriend dumps be the week before my cousin's wedding, I need a stand in and fast.

Good thing my best friend, Jonathan is home. He can be my date. After all, he's just a friend. Nothing could go wrong.

Right?

MAIN TROPES

  • Best Friend to Lovers
  • Terrible at Love
  • Wedding Date
  • They Both Fall First
  • Returning Home
  • Family

Synopsis

Jonathan is back home in Honey Grove. He’s ready to forget the stresses of his job and the fact that everyone around him is finding love, except him.

Tiffany can’t seem to hold onto any relationship. Thankfully, Jonathan is the only constant guy in her life and someone she never has to worry about losing.

Now dateless for her cousin’s wedding, it only makes sense to go with someone safe—Jonathan.

A fake relationship between the two of them started out as a way to keep themselves protected…until the feelings between them begin to feel real.

Chapter One Look Inside

Jonathan

The roaring sound of Jonathan’s Jaguar faded into the night as he
pulled into his parents’ driveway and killed the engine. After taking a deep
breath, he glanced out the windshield and up at the familiar white house with
red shutters and a porch that wrapped all the way around.

Well, not much had changed here.

And really, that was true of all of Honey Grove, SC.

It never changed.

Even shirtless Dan was still wandering the streets of the
neighborhood. Jonathan had passed by him as he drove to his parent’s house. He
was harmless, but age hadn’t done him any favors with his gut spilling over the
top of his pants.

Dan waved his walking stick as he walked behind Jonathan’s car,
tapping the trunk with his hand.

Jonathan lifted his hand and gave him a small wave.

“Welcome home, Jonny!” Dan said in his familiar, gravely voice.

“Yep,” Jonathan said, wincing at the nickname he’d grown up with.
Then he sighed.

Welcome home.

He was back.

He slipped his keys from his ignition and got out. After slamming
the door, he went to the trunk and grabbed his duffel bag.

It was going to be nice to spend a few months at home. July was
his off-season, and after hanging out in Atlanta for a while with his friend
Zach, Jonathan was ready to come home. Things in his life were rocky, and some
familiarity would do him some good.

He threw his keys into the air as he passed by his oldest
brother’s truck. He tapped the truck’s body, excitement brewing in his stomach.
It’d been a long time since he’d seen his brother Josh and his nephew, Jordan.
Josh recently returned home to Honey Grove after a messy divorce that left him
with nothing except his five-year-old son and a broken heart.

Jonathan jogged up the back-porch steps and tried the door handle.
To his relief, the door was open. He turned the handle and stepped into the
kitchen that he’d grown up in. The familiar smell of cookies lingered in the
air. Smiling, Jonathan shut the door behind him and slipped his duffel bag from
his shoulder to the floor. He made his way to the Snoopy cookie jar that his
mom kept on the counter. It was faded from years of use, but it was a staple in
the Braxton household. If his mom ever got rid of it, she’d have a mutiny on her
hands. 

The lid clinked as he returned it to the jar.

“I should have known it was you,” Sondra Braxton said as she
emerged from the hallway that fed into the kitchen. She wore a robe, and her
greying black hair was pulled up into curlers. The smile on her face hadn’t
changed. It was still warm and inviting and caused the sides of her eyes to
crinkle.

“Ma,” Jonathan said as he reached out his arms and engulfed her in
a hug.

She laughed as she pulled back and squeezed his biceps. “Holy cow,
child of mine. These are getting a bit out of hand.”

Jonathan dropped his arms and felt his muscles. “They are not. I
work hard on these babies.”

Sondra raised her eyebrows. “They’re almost as big as your head.”

Jonathan shrugged as he shoved a cookie into his mouth and then
grabbed six more.

“Slow down,” his mom chided. “You’ll get sick.”

Jonathan ignored her and made his way to the cupboard to find a
cup. Then he grabbed the milk jug from the fridge and filled up his glass.
After the cookies and milk were demolished, he set the glass down next to the
sink, only to hear the tsking of his mom.

“Okay, okay,” he said, as he rinsed the cup and stuck it in the
dishwasher. He turned, folding his arms across his chest and leaning against
the counter. “Some things never change.” He gave her a wink.

Sondra was watching him in her normal, prying-mom way. Her
eyebrows were raised and her lips pursed.

“What?” Jonathan asked. For some reason, he got the feeling that
his mom already knew everything he was trying to hide.

Sondra just shrugged. “How’s Zach?”

Jonathan pushed his hands through his hair and shrugged. “He’s
good. Engaged.”

Sondra’s eyes widened. “Before you?”

Realizing that he wasn’t going to get through a single
conversation with his mom without her bringing up the fact that all of her
children were still single, he sighed and grabbed his duffel bag. “It’s not a
competition, Ma.”

Sondra snorted and followed him up the stairs. “It’s not now.
He’s got you beat. I thought you two were always competing. How can you let him
win at this?”

Jonathan let out a loud groan, hoping his mom would pick up on his
tone. But from the expectant look on her face, she didn’t. Or, if she did, she
didn’t care. She stepped in front of him with her arms folded.

“I want more grandbabies,” she said, her voice low and
threatening.

Jonathan stopped and stared down at her. It was comical that she
thought he would be intimidated by her when she stood barely five-foot three.
But her small stature didn’t change the look in her eye, and, in that moment, he
felt like a little kid staring up at his mom again.

He’d been on the receiving end of her wrath a few times as a kid.
He knew what lurked beneath her sweet smile. “You’ve got four other kids to
help you with that.”

Sondra sighed, blowing a piece of graying hair from her face.
“Trust me, the next time I see them, I’m going to let them know. Josh is living
in the apartment above the garage, and I’ve already got plans for him.”

Jonathan dipped down and gave her a quick kiss on the top of her
head. He needed to stop this before she could continue. “Love you, Mom, but I’m
beat. Can we pick up this conversation tomorrow?”

Sondra studied him and then nodded, reaching up to pat him on the
cheek. “I only say these things because I love you. I don’t want any of my
babies to be alone.”

A strange, yet all too familiar feeling rose up in Jonathan’s
throat as his mom’s words settled around him. Truth was, he’d been feeling more
and more alone lately. Especially when it seemed like everyone around him had
someone.

Why couldn’t he find that one girl? The one who set his heart and
soul on fire?

Not wanting to break down in front of him mom, Jonathan just
smiled and headed toward the stairs. “I’ll see you in the morning,” he called
over his shoulder.

“Dad’s got things set up at the site for you. He’ll be waking you
up early.”

“Okay,” Jonathan shouted as he walked down the hallway toward his
old bedroom.

After shoving his clothes into the dresser drawers, he climbed
into his bed and pulled the covers over his shoulder. He let out his breath as
he sunk into the old mattress.

It felt good to be home. He was ready for a change, and coming
back to the beginning felt like the perfect place to start over.

*
* *

“Get up.”

Jonathan jolted up from the dead of sleep to find his dad hovering
over him. Jimmy wasn’t a slight man, and, even though his skin had wrinkled
more and his hair had thinned, he was still the formidable man that Jonathan
remembered as a kid.

A smile broke out over his face. “Hey, Dad,” he said.

Jimmy grunted. “Shower and come downstairs. We don’t want to be
late.”

Jonathan yawned and pulled off the covers. With both feet firmly
planted on the ground, he rubbed his face, hoping it would wake him up. “I’m
up. I’ll be down in a minute.”

After a quick shower, he dried off and dressed in a t-shirt and
jeans. Once he slipped on his socks, he made his way downstairs to find his mom
had made a gigantic breakfast.

“Really, Ma? Who are you expecting this morning? An army?”

Sondra shot him a look as she raised her spatula in the air. “Hey,
sometimes old habits die hard. Besides, last time we had you in the house, you
were bulking up.”

Jimmy was sitting at the table, drinking his coffee and reading
the paper. “Bulking up, woman?” he asked, peeking at Jonathan over his readers.
“If Jonathan bulked up any more, he’d burst.”

Jonathan chuckled as he filled a mug of coffee and joined his dad.
Just as his butt hit the seat, Sondra appeared with a plate full of eggs,
bacon, and pancakes.

“Mom—” Jonathan started, only to have his mom shush him.

“You need to keep up your strength. How would the team feel if you
let yourself go on the off-season?” she asked as she drizzled his pancakes with
syrup. Like he was a kid at risk of spilling all over the table if left to do
it alone.

“Let the boy serve himself, Sondra,” Jimmy said in his gruff voice
full of affection.

Sondra handed over a fork, completely ignoring him. “It’s fine.
I’m just helping.”

Jimmy scoffed as he turned back to his paper. “Were you just
‘helping’ Josh when you suggested that Beth nanny for him?”

Jonathan was mid-chew when his dad’s words settled in around him.
“Beth’s back?” He’d graduated high school with her and Tiffany. They’d been
like the three musketeers.

Jimmy nodded and let the corner of his newspaper fall. “Yes. But
your mother’s got a plan.”

Sondra reached over and swatted Jimmy with a hand towel. “Don’t go
spoiling it now, or all my hard work will be for nothing.”

Jimmy just chuckled as he straightened the paper and focused back
on whatever article he was reading.

“Well, I’m good, Mom. Do what you want with Josh, but I’m not
really interested in finding anyone right now.”

“I know,” Sondra sang out in her I’m listening, but not really
voice.

Jonathan decided it was better to focus on his food than to argue
with his mom about his love life. Nothing good ever came of that.

Once breakfast was finished, Jimmy announced that it was time to
go. Jonathan slipped on his work boots and headed out the door behind his dad.
After climbing into the truck, Jimmy pulled out of the driveway.

The fifteen-minute drive to Braxton Construction brought back so
many memories. Honey Grove was starting to update the city, but it was slow
going, which Jonathan was almost grateful for. It was nice to know that he
could come back to his childhood town and everything would basically be the
same.

Jimmy pulled into the gravel parking lot of their building and
killed the engine. Jonathan noticed that Josh’s truck was parked on the far end
of the lot. He pulled open his door and climbed out. He was excited to see his
brother again. It had really been too long since they last spoke.

Jonathan followed after his dad as they walked to the front door
of their building. Cool air hit Jonathan as he entered.

A very familiar squeal sounded from the front desk, and Tiffany
appeared right in front of him. She wrapped her arms around him and leapt up,
knowing he’d catch her.

“You’re finally back,” she exclaimed—right in his ear.

Jonathan pulled her into a huge bear hug and spun her around. Then
he set her down and stuck his finger in his ear as he winced. “Geez, Tiff.
Trying to deafen me?”

Tiffany giggled as she swatted his arm. “It was not that loud.”
Then her expression stilled. “I can’t believe you’re back.”

Jonathan shoved his hands into his front pockets and shrugged. “It
was about time.”

Her dark brown eyes danced with enthusiasm as she nodded. “Yeah,
it was. It’s been too long since I last saw you. It’s hard to be Leia when I
don’t have my Luke.”

Jonathan winced. They’d been obsessed with Star Wars growing up.
“Don’t remind me,” he said.

Tiffany’s face fell. “Wait a minute. You’re telling me that I
bought these for nothing?” She disappeared behind her desk and emerged with two
lightsabers.

“Oh, man. Seriously?” Jonathan held out his hand for the blue one.
“Well, it wasn’t a total mistake,” he said as he steadied his stance.

“It’s on.” Tiffany lunged forward and began to make the humming
sound from the movies.

It wasn’t until Jonathan had Tiffany pinned against the wall that
Josh came walking out of Jimmy’s office. His eyebrows rose as his gaze landed
on them.

“Fighting again?” Josh asked, distracting Jonathan from his
victory and allowing Tiffany to slip through his grasp and stab the lightsaber
into his back.

“You’re dead,” Tiffany called out.

Jonathan made some dying noises as he collapsed on the ground.
“You distracted me,” he said, shooting a fake angry look at Josh.

Josh just shook his head. “You two are dorks.”

Jonathan popped up and rushed over to his brother to give him a
hug. After they embraced, Josh pulled back and tousled Jonathan’s hair.

“Even though you’re built like a tank now, it doesn’t mean that I
can’t whip your butt.”

Jonathan chuckled. “I’d like to see you try.”

Josh flexed his muscles and then shook his head. “I would, but I
don’t think that the Steeler’s want their star player getting schooled by his
older brother.” Josh reached out and patted Jonathan’s shoulder. “It’s for your
dignity, man.”

Jonathan shook his head as Josh said goodbye to Tiffany and headed
out the door. Jimmy emerged from his office with keys to a company truck and a
list of things that Jonathan needed to do. After giving him a few brief
instructions, Jimmy left to head to the Young remodel, leaving Jonathan and
Tiffany alone.

Jonathan glanced over at Tiffany, who had settled into her chair
behind the desk. Her hair was longer now, falling in thick curls down her back.
She tucked a strand behind her ear as she stared at the computer screen in
front of her.

Being around Tiffany calmed him. Even though he wasn’t sure where
his life was going, seeing her settled him down. She made it seem okay that his
future was a dark room with no lights. Or the fact that he had no answers to
the questions plaguing his mind. A smile played on his lips.

Tiffany must have noticed because she glanced up and her cheeks
flushed. “What are you staring at?” she asked as she rubbed her nose.

Jonathan shrugged. “Nothing. It’s just good to be home.”

Tiffany leaned forward on her elbows and nodded. “It’s good to
have you back.” Her smile was genuine and familiar.

Feeling a little ridiculous just standing there and expressing his
feeling to her, Jonathan lifted the to-do list and tapped it. “I should get
started on this, or Dad will have my head.”

Tiffany nodded as she began clicking keys on the keyboard again.
“Meet me at the Tavern tonight? I’m sure Sean will want to say hi.”

Jonathan was on his way to the door but stopped when he heard
Sean’s name. “You’re dating that tool again? How many guys does that make for
you? Fifteen?”

Tiffany’s fingers stopped moving, and her once warm gaze had
turned stormy. “It has not been that many guys, And, besides, Sean is not a
tool. Don’t tell me that you’re still holding a grudge. That was years ago.”

Jonathan cleared his throat as frustration rose up inside of him.
“He almost broke my leg, Tiff. It would have ruined my career.” Why was she
defending a guy she just started seeing? He had years as Tiffany’s friend, she
should be loyal to him, not guy number 15.

Tiffany was leaning back in her chair with her arms folded. “But
he didn’t, and now you’re the star football player and he’s not.” She leaned
forward with a begging hint to her gaze. “Can you just move on? Please? For
me?”

Jonathan studied her and then sighed. “Fine. I promise to be
pleasant.”

Tiffany nodded as her smile returned. “Thank you. I don’t want to
have to pick between my best friend and boyfriend, so if you two could just get
along, that would make my life so much easier.”

Jonathan dipped into a low bow. “Anything for Princess Leia,” he
said and then straightened, giving her a wink.

Tiffany sat straighter as she nodded, a sudden royal air about
her. “You are dismissed, my loyal subject.”

Jonathan smiled as he pulled open the door and stepped out into
the hot South Carolina air. “I’ll see you tonight,” he said as he pulled the
door closed and headed out to the truck.

Sure, his dad had just assigned him a bunch of busywork, but it
took his mind off the stress in his life, and he was grateful for that.

 

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The Braxton Brothers Series

Fall in love in the small town of Honey Grove where each member of the Braxton family returns and through some meddling of their mother, fall in love and find their happily ever afters.