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Page 20


Mr. Blaine gave him an approving nod. "That's a very good school. Several of my clients' children attend." He turned his attention to Haley. "Perhaps you should think about applying for a position there, Haley."

Before Jason could open his mouth and ask the man what the hell he was talking about, Haley smiled tightly and said, "That's a great idea, Dad. I'll send my resume in next week."

"I think that's a smart move," her father said, oblivious to the deep blush spreading over Haley's face as she once again shifted her gaze back to her napkin.

"Doesn't she have to have a special degree to teach high school kids?" Martha demanded in a bored tone that pretty much said she really didn't care. "She teaches preschool, doesn't she? I really don't think they're going to hire her to teach teenagers."

"I'll look into that tomorrow," Haley said, not bothering to look up from her napkin.

What in the hell was going on here?

This had to be a f**king joke, he thought as he leaned back in his seat and discretely looked around the expensively decorated room for hidden cameras. There was just no way his sweet little grasshopper came from such a cold family.

"If you're thinking of going back to college, perhaps you should look into a real career," Mrs. Blaine said, sending him an apologetic smile that really said she didn't care one bit that she'd just insulted him, "I'm sure your father would be more than happy to pay for law school or medical school."

"Of course," her father said absently as he checked his PDA. "Just make sure you send my secretary the tuition bill like you did last time you attended."

Haley's hand stilled halfway to her water glass and Jason had to frown. He knew from her grandmother's bragging that Haley worked three jobs to put herself through college and that she absolutely refused any help from her family. He never understood that until now.

"Perhaps she should apply to wherever Mr. Bradford attended if she wishes to teach high school. What college did you attend, Mr. Bradford?" Mrs. Blaine asked as she sent a small wave to someone at another table.

"Harvard," he said, looking around at the table and noting the bored expressions. This family dinner was like nothing he'd ever experienced. He was used to large meals with warm welcoming expressions and fights over seconds. This dinner was cold and clinical and he couldn't help but think that Haley didn't belong. She was warm, sweet, and full of life.

Mr. Blaine grinned. "A fellow alumni," he said, holding his drink up in salute. "Your father wouldn't happen to be Richard Bradford, would he? He and I attended law school together. Brilliant man."

Jason took a sip of his water and shook his head. "No, my father's name is Jared. He owns a construction company in Meddletown.

Mr. Blaine frowned slightly. "Well, I suppose your father's company does quite well if he could afford to send you to Harvard."

"Yes, he does well, but I actually attended on a football scholarship," Jason said, not surprised when Mr. Blaine's expression turned back to disapproving.

As a scholarship student he'd been treated little better than the hired help. He'd received gratitude, gifts and slaps on the back when he scored a touchdown. When he wasn't scoring touchdowns he was expected to work his ass off and do what he was told without complaint.

They hadn't expected much from him academically. He doubted they even expected him to attend class, but he had. He worked his ass off to graduate a year and a half early, pissing the alumni right the hell off. They'd been hell bent on getting four years of football out of him, but he hadn't cared. He made damn sure he got his education as quickly as he could since he knew if he got f**ked up on the football field and couldn't play any longer that they wouldn't hesitate in throwing his ass out the door.

"I think she should think about settling down," Rose, at least he thought the one next to him was Rose, said, making him sweat. Christ, from the looks they'd been sending him since he sat down it was obvious that they all thought he was her boyfriend. Did they really think that she brought him because they were serious? Him married with children?

Hell no.

Maybe he should just-

"I'm sure Edward can think of several men who would be interested in our Haley," Rose suggested.

"I think that's an excellent idea," Mr. Blaine agreed wholeheartedly.

Wait, what?

"John probably knows some men that would be interested as well. Don't you John?" Martha? asked.

John looked away from another's waitresses' ass and nodded. "I'm sure I can think of several men who would like to meet her." As soon as he answered his eyes were back on another woman's ass.

Was he the only one that realized that he'd been insulted here? This was bullshit. He was a f**king great catch. Plenty of women, much to his horror, wanted to marry him. He was just about to tell them that when something caught his attention.

A little snort of laughter.

He turned his glare on the Haley as she shook with silent laughter. They were disrespecting his manliness and she was laughing at him? What the hell?

"Haley dear, are you alright?" Mrs. Blaine asked.

Haley it seemed could only nod.

"Oh, I just had a wonderful idea!" Martha, Rose or whatever the hell her name said excitedly. "Robert's here. Why don't we invite him to join us? You know how fond he is of Haley."

Who the hell was Robert? Jason wondered as he followed Mr. Blaine's eyes to the table they'd passed earlier and landed on the blond bastard who'd smile at Haley. He had perfect blonde hair, an average face and wore an expensive tailored suit that probably cost more than all Jason's clothes put together. When the man sent a warm smile in Haley's direction he decided he hated the bastard.

"Let me get a server to ask him to join us," Mr. Blaine said, already gesturing for a waiter.

Judging by Robert's suddenly smug smile he knew exactly what was going on.

"No, Dad, that's okay," Haley said, all humor gone as obvious terror took over. "He looks busy."

"Nonsense," Mrs. Blaine said. "You know Robert always makes time for you. He's such a sweet man. For the life of me I don't understand why you ended things with him."

"If you had listened to me years ago you'd be married and settled and not wasting your time on foolish pursuits," Mrs. Blaine added, making Jason's jaw clench.

"She'll never do better than Robert. That's for certain," Martha said, sending him a bored glance before turning her attention back to Robert.

"I'm not interested in Robert," Haley said quickly, watching as the waiter walked towards her father. "Dad, I-"

Mr. Blaine waved off her concerns. "I think this is the best thing for you, Haley," he said before giving the waiter the message for Robert.

He realized that Haley truly did not want Robert to join them. That knowledge somewhat appeased him. Somewhat. These people were the biggest snobs he'd ever met in his life and not just because they looked down their noses at him, but because they looked down their noses at Haley. She didn't deserve any of this.

"Dad, I wish you hadn't done that," Haley said as the waiter walked away. "I'm not interested in Robert. I've told you that before."

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