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Posts tagged kladstone:

A little rough, and I definitely want to fix it up a little, but I'm glad to finally be writing the scene where Gavin comes out to Dale ;u; Dale hesitates for all of 5 seconds before his Good Dad Insticts kick in.


Things had been going so perfectly since his birthday that Dale could barely believe it. He couldn’t believe Talia had said yes. Especially when he’d only asked her twice, and on the same day.

But that second time... it had just felt right to him. And he supposed it had to her, as well.

She’d cried on the way up the stairs that day.

It was strange, how things had turned out. Everything was so different— But also, so much the same.

The biggest difference, really, was that Talia had been happier.

Their relationship hadn’t been a magical fix and she was still having a lot of trouble being open with him.... But she was definitely happier. And right now, that was all he could ask for.

This was only the second time she’d let him stay over in the three months since they gotten together. He’d have stayed over every night, if she’d let him. Or had her stay at his house— Which she still wasn’t comfortable with.

Dale was distracted from his thoughts as Talia stretched and stole the blanket, and he had to bite back his laugh as he stole it back. He tugged her close against his chest, catching a glimpse of the alarm on her bedside table and quietly cursing that he only had another ten minutes with her before it went off. Though, as he heard Gavin’s feet hit the floor in the other room, he realised he wasn’t going to get it.

Dale had barely let out his sigh before Talia’s door creaked open and the light from the hall shone in.

‘Gav, it’s not even seven yet,’ Dale muttered. ‘Don’t you want to sleep a little longer?’

‘No, I’m awake,’ Gavin replied. ‘I.... I want to talk to you about something, Dale. It’s important.’

‘Alright,’ Dale took a deep, throaty breath, and forced himself out of bed. He stretched, then stumbled down the hall after Gavin. ‘Guess I’ll make breakfast for everyone, huh?’

‘That’d be nice,’ Gavin said, pulling a chair from the table to the kitchen. ‘And we can talk while you do?’

‘Yeah, course,’ Dale yawned as he went through the cupboards. ‘Bacon and eggs?’

‘Yes please. Scrambled?’

‘Sure,’ Dale pulled out what he needed and, with another yawn, started cooking. ‘So, what did you want to talk to me about?’

‘Well... it’s about...’ he hesitated. Then sighed. ‘Dale, you had a lot of girlfriends before my mum, right?’

‘Yeah, a few,’ Dale replied. ‘Why?’

‘Well... I want to know.... How do you ask someone out?’

Dale felt himself chuckling. ‘You have a crush?’

Gavin gave a nod, a blush creeping over his cheeks as he looked to his feet and kicked out at the wall. ‘I’ve been watching you and mum, and I think how I feel is the same.’

‘Ah,’ Dale gave his own nod. ‘I see.... That’s cool. What’s her name?’

‘No— Not a girl,’ Gavin admitted. ‘It’s Jacob.’

‘Jacob?’ Dale paused. ‘Connor?’

Gavin nodded, though he still didn’t meet Dale’s eye.

‘Oh, well, that’s fine,’ Dale shrugged, and quickly scraped the food out of the pan and onto a plate. He headed to the table, ruffling Gavin’s hair as he passed. ‘Jacob’s pretty cool, isn’t he?’

‘Yeah,’ Gavin gave a smile, and finally looked to Dale as he dragged his chair back to where it belonged and started serving himself breakfast. ‘Yeah he’s cool.... Do you think I should ask him out?’

‘Why not?’ Dale turned to the hall as he heard Talia’s alarm go off. ‘He seems nice, what have you got to lose— Hey, save some eggs for your mum, right? She’s mean when she’s hungry.’

‘She’s mean anyway,’ Gavin giggled.

‘Yeah, but you’re not spending the day at work with her!’ Dale retorted, gently smacking the boy’s hand away from the food. ‘Eat what you’ve got already, you little brat!’


Hey! Just added chapter 13 to A Man Worth a Million! :D Dale and Talia have FINALLY gotten together!

Ya'll can read the draft so far here: https://cjadewyton.com/my-writing/kladstone-romances/

It was good to hear him laugh so much.

And just as she thought about it, she heard him start laughing, and wondered what joke she’d missed as Dale turned into the apartment’s parking lot and slotted into one of the spots.

She’d only half-undone her seatbelt before Gavin leant over the seat and planted a kiss on her cheek.

‘I’ll meet you inside!’ he decided, reaching into Talia’s pocket for her keys. She didn’t have time to suggest otherwise before he was out of the car and halfway into the stairwell.

‘Gavin wai— Ugh,’ Talia leant back in her seat as her son disappeared.

‘There he goes,’ Dale’s voice floated into the car as he pulled open Talia’s door for her. ‘Fast little bugger, isn’t he? Nyoom.’

‘Nyoom,’ Talia repeated, though a little flatter than Dale had said it. ‘Sometimes I wish he’d slow down. Just a little bit.’

‘Aw, but then he wouldn’t be Gavin, would he?’ joked Dale. Then he offered Talia his hand. ‘Come on. You alright?’

‘Yeah, I...’ Talia hesitated, then took his hand and let him pull her up. ‘I’m fine. I just....’

She lost her train of thought.

And when Dale waited patiently for her to continue she felt her cheeks start to burn, and she looked away and pulled her hand back.

‘Talia?’ Dale’s voice was soft as his hand took hers again and gave it a squeeze that trapped butterflies in her stomach. ‘Hey.... Look at me?’

She dared to turn back, and as she met his soft, kind eyes she felt the butterflies trying to push out of her throat.

‘Talia,’ Dale managed, his voice cracking with the same emotions that had paralysed Talia. ‘Please be my girlfriend?’

And the butterflies escaped her as a laugh.

She didn’t mean them to.

But they escaped her, and she found herself choking on giggle after giggle as she collapsed back into the car and covered her mouth with her hands.

She had known that the question was coming, but she hadn’t expected it to sound like that out loud. She hadn’t thought he would say it like that.

So simple.

So straightforward.

She couldn’t breathe.

It was too much.

‘Yes!’ she managed. ‘Yes! Yes! Yes, Dale! Yes!’


‘You want to talk about what happened?’

‘I don’t know,’ said Talia. ‘I guess we have to, don’t we?’

‘I suppose we do,’ Dale replied. ‘Well.... First things first; do you like me?’

Talia looked away, focusing her gaze on the school yard and scanning the building for signs of students. ‘Yes.’

‘Do you want to date me?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘You don’t know?’ Dale asked, his fingers tapping on the wheel again.

‘I’ve been trying to decide all day,’ Talia admitted. ‘That’s why I didn’t want to talk about it sooner. Because I’m just not sure. It’s... overwhelming. And I’m sorry. I wish I had an answer.’

‘Hey, it’s alright,’ Dale replied, and she felt his hand rest on hers. When she turned, his gaze was soft, and kind, and full of love, and it made her heart wrench sideways and upside down. ‘You don’t have to be sure, yet. You can think about it.’

‘You’d wait for an answer?’ Talia almost scoffed. ‘That’s.... I don’t know how long it’ll take me. What if it takes me a week to decide?’

Dale shrugged. ‘Then I’ll wait a week for the answer.’

‘God, I want to strangle you! Stop being so sweet!’ Talia groaned. She caught a glimpse of Dale’s grin as she turned and dropped her head against the window with a huff. They both sat for a while, staring at the nearby buildings, before Talia let out an exasperated breath and turned back. ‘Dale?’

‘Yeah?’

‘Thanks,’ she managed. ‘For being patient with me. I appreciate it.’

‘It’s alright,’ he replied.

Then the bell rang, and less than a minute later students were pouring out the doors into the yard.

‘Here they come,’ Dale said.

‘Oh, no, is that Jacob?’ Talia groaned— And then felt herself relax as Jacob waved goodbye and veered off in another direction. ‘Oh thank god. I did not want him being involved in this conversion.’

‘Yeah, talk about awkward,’ Dale gave a half-hearted laugh, which became much more genuine as Gavin pulled open the car door and leapt in. ‘Hey, Gav, how was school?’

‘Was alright,’ Gavin replied, throwing his bag in the foot-well and pulling on his belt. ‘What were you doing in mum’s bed last night?’

For god’s sake, Gavin! Talia almost screamed as she watched her son through the rear-view mirror. Have some tact!

Thankfully, Dale chuckled. Though it was awkward. ‘Just chilling.’

Gavin’s brow furrowed, and he looked confused as he stared at Dale. ‘Chilling?

‘Yeah, chilling!’ Dale repeated. ‘Nothing wrong with two people just, you know, hanging out!’

‘In bed together?’

‘Yeah!’ said Dale, his voice cracking as he blushed. ‘Just two good friends. Hanging out.’

Gavin looked at his mother. Then to Dale. Then back and forth again before he rolled his eyes. ‘You asked her out, didn’t you?’

‘Yes,’ Dale admitted.

‘Like you said you would.’

‘Yes.’


Pretty sure I've posted this before, but I think it was back with the old post types and I'm gonna guess the formatting is all messed up so 😅 just gonna repost instead of looking for it!

A sadder scene from my book


‘I didn’t want this,’ she managed.

‘I know,’ Dale replied. ‘I’m sorry.’

‘I didn’t want Gavin,’ the words just came out, and she felt so guilty as she heard what she was saying... but she couldn’t stop as she continued, ‘I wanted— I tried— My parents didn’t let me get an abortion! And then— When Evan— When he broke up with me they said— They didn’t— Want— An unmarried mother in their— Their house—’

‘—Breathe, Talia,’ Dale reminded her.

I’m a terrible mother!’ she blurted.

‘No you’re not,’ said Dale.

‘I almost gave him away!’ Talia sobbed. ‘I was— I was going to give him away! But then I saw— I saw his face and I— I couldn’t! I couldn’t....’

Breathe,’ his voice was so soft Talia wasn’t sure he’d actually said anything. ‘You’re okay. You’ve done a good job.’

‘I haven’t.’

‘You have.’

‘But I—’

‘—Talia, listen to me,’ Dale interrupted. ‘You’re a good mother.’

She didn’t believe him. ‘But I was going to give him up.’

‘That doesn’t make you a bad mother,’ Dale replied. ‘Even if you had given him up. It wouldn’t have made you a bad mother.’

She swallowed, and rubbed her eyes. ‘I just.... After Evan left I didn’t know what to do.’


‘Whoa,’ Gavin leant back against the car seat. ‘There’s a lot about dating I don’t know yet.’

‘Well, you’re only eleven,’ Dale comforted. ‘Give it some time, and you’ll figure it out. No reason to rush.’

‘Right, you’ve had a lot of practice, haven’t you?’

‘Yep.’

‘Good,’ said Gavin. ‘You can teach my mum, then! She’s never dated anyone! Not since she had me! So she’s not very good at it and will need a lot of help.’

‘Gavin—’ Talia cut off with a sigh and eyed her son through the rear-view mirror. ‘Honey. Please. I’m not completely useless.’

Mmm,’ Gavin pulled a face, and Talia wasn’t sure whether or not she should have been offended. ‘When it comes to dating you kinda are.’

‘Honey—’

‘—I think you’re just bad at talking to people,’ Gavin continued. ‘Like. In general? It’s not something you’re very good at. Even with Trish and Anna you can get kinda weird and mean.’

‘Hey, Gav, keep the roasts for dinner,’ Dale cut in. Then he eyed Talia and gave her a cheeky grin. ‘Just because something’s true doesn’t mean you need to say it.’

‘Dale!’ Talia snapped, feeling her cheeks flush hot. ‘You boys— I swear to god! I will get out of this car right now and walk home if you don’t watch your mouths!’

‘We’re on the highway,’ Dale commented. ‘I’m going eighty.’

‘You think that’ll stop me?’ Talia put her hand on her seatbelt buckle and raised her brow. ‘You think I’m afraid to prove a point?’

Dale didn’t reply. Instead, he reached for the dashboard— And Talia heard the car doors lock as he pressed one of the buttons under the radio.

‘Smart choice,’ Talia commented, resting her hands on her knees.

‘Well, I want you alive,’ Dale chuckled. ‘You know. On account of the whole, loving you thing.’


A quick exerpt from chapter 13 of A Man Worth a Million! Dale and Talia are FINALLY getting together!

This is one of my favourite scene changes in the book so far shdhd.

500 words


‘So...’ Dale glanced to his office. He didn’t want to go in. He didn’t want to spend the day with a wall between them, when there was so much to say instead. ‘Work, huh?’

‘Mm,’ Talia tapped her foot anxiously, her eyes still on her paperwork as her hands found their way behind her back and her glasses slipped forward to the end of her nose. ‘Work.’

‘Work,’ Dale repeated. Then he gave a shrug and turned to his office. ‘Well, then. I guess I’ll just....’

He’d barely taken two steps before Talia’s hand found his arm and he turned back, just in time for her to lift herself onto her toes and peck him on the lips. He felt his entire body stiffen as she dropped back down and looked away again.

‘We’ll talk after work,’ she muttered. ‘I just need some time to think about things.’

‘Yeah,’ Dale gave her a nod. His knees were so weak he thought he might collapse as he swallowed and licked his lips— Tasting that lipstick again. ‘I understand. Just... after work, right?’

‘Right.’

‘Right,’ it took all of Dale’s effort to turn back to his office. And his heart stopped when he saw Aiden standing awkwardly in his doorway, half-filled bag of garbage in one hand, broom in the other.

‘Oh... Uh,’ Aiden looked past Dale, and Dale could only guess that Talia was glaring daggers at him as he blushed and rushed to the elevator. He pressed the button too many times, both while waiting for it to arrive and waiting for the doors to close.... And then, as they were closing, Dale saw him drop his things and pull out his phone.

Probably to gossip to Meg. Who would tell Trish. Who would call Talia.... And who knew how that would go?

Dale certainly didn’t— So he hurried into his office and closed the door.

~~~~

Talia was furious at Aiden. The bastard had slunk off home after telling Meg about the kiss, and Talia hadn’t been able to strangle him to death in the break room like she’d been hoping to after she’d gotten off the phone with Trish.

Smart idea he had, fucking off after a stunt like that.... But he had to come back to work someday, and when he did.... She was going to kill him.

Dale pulled up into the pickup bay of Gavin’s school and Talia let out a heavy sigh. She knew it was coming. He hadn’t said anything the whole drive, and they had to talk about it before they picked up Gavin.... He’d ask questions about that morning. And Talia had no idea how to answer any of them.

Dale’s fingers rapped against the steering wheel for a moment before he leant back in his seat and let out a sigh of his own.

‘So,’ he started.

‘So....’

‘You want to talk about what happened?’

‘I don’t know,’ said Talia. ‘I guess we have to, don’t we?’


I know I need to do more editing on chapter 12, but I'm just REALLY excited for chapter 13, and wrote the opening scene for it. Now it's somehow 4am, but I'm feeling fulfilled after struggling so much with the last chapter.

Talia and Dale *finally* have that wonderful moment.

970 words


It had been a long night. Talia could barely keep her eyes open as she rocked in the passenger seat of Dale’s car.

It was calming, looking out the window at the dark, wet road. It reminded her of when she was young, and things were simpler. Easier.

She almost wished it didn’t. She didn’t want to remember her parents talking in the front seat as they drove around the block in an effort to lull her to sleep. Like they actually cared about her, or something. ...

She glanced into the rear view mirror with weary eyes and couldn’t help but smile when she saw Trish brush the hair away from Anna’s face before stealing a kiss. ... And Dale missed it as he glanced into his blind spot to turn.

Of course he would miss it, Talia felt herself laugh. It was weak, and tired, but it found its way from her chest to her nose and she felt the urge to cover her mouth as Dale pulled into the apartment’s parking lot.

‘Something funny?’ Dale asked.

‘Just ... nothing,’ Talia muttered, resting her head against the window again.

Gavin would be in bed by now. That was a relief. She didn’t think she’d be able to put him in bed if he wasn’t. ... But as Dale had said before, he always seemed to listen to Richard.

Talia was snapped back awake by the sound of Dale pulling on the hand-break. She didn’t think she’d fallen asleep, but she must have. Just for a moment or two as Dale had parked the car. ... Had she?

God, she was tired.

‘Hey, wake up, hon,’ Trish gently shook Anna until she let out a yawn and mumbled herself conscious again. ‘We’re home. Come on, I’ll tuck you in with the heated blanket and rub your feet.’

The girls climbed out of the car and wearily stumbled through the lot to the stairwell door.

‘Trish seems like a great friend,’ Dale commented as the girls started up the stairs.

Talia was too tired to think of something mean to say. She could barely muster up the energy to think about how stupid he was.

Stupid and charming.

It scared her, how much she liked him. ... How much she’d enjoyed the kiss. She had loved it. And although she’d spent all night trying, she couldn’t seem to convince herself otherwise.

She’d had the perfect excuse for it, too. And Dale never had to know that it had been something she’d been wanting to do. That it was a type of intimacy she’d been craving for so long she hadn’t even realised just how much she’d needed it before it was over.

Maybe he enjoyed it too?

Wishful thinking, she told herself.

Though. ... He’d licked his lips all night. Long after the lipstick mark had disappeared. Like he was hoping for the feeling to come back, just like she was.

Maybe she should say something. ...

No. She couldn’t.

Why not?

Because—

Because. ...

Because she had to go to bed.

Yeah.

She had to go to bed.

Bed. ...

And she realised she was already in bed, and Dale was halfway out her bedroom door.

‘Dale?’ she muttered. Had he carried her up the stairs again?

‘Yeah?’ he paused to let her speak, his form silhouetted by the hallway light that spilled into the room and cast yellow-black shadows along the walls.

A hundred thoughts tried to find their way out of her head. But in the end, a weak, ‘Stay?’ was all she could manage.

Dale let go of the door and made his way across the room, each step letting more of the light into the room— But his shadow never pulling away from Talia’s face. Even when he sat beside her, he shielded her eyes from the harsh yellow light.

Talia lifted herself onto an elbow and took a deep breath.

She had to say something.

About her feelings. About her fears.

She had to tell him how much she wanted him.

She had to.

Tell him.

Tell him!

‘I’m sorry,’ she muttered. ‘I’m sorry I’m always so ... so me. I’m trying not to be. To be a better person. ... It’s hard.’

Dale’s hand met hers, and she felt a shiver crawl from her toes to her ears as their eyes met.

He didn’t say anything else as he lifted her blanket and slipped underneath it.

And she felt warm, and wasn’t sure if it was her blush or if it was Dale’s arms around her as his fingers ran through her hair and his lips slowly ... so, so slowly ... pressed against hers for the second time that night.

It was so perfect.

So wonderful.

Nothing could ever. ...

Nothing could ever disturb this. ...

Could it?

Talia closed her eyes and took in a deep breath.

Then she jolted awake as a shape with the weight of an eleven-year-old boy leapt onto her legs and shouted that it was late for school.

School?

Oh no— Gavin!

She’d slept in!

Talia tried to clamber out of bed, but tripped on Dale.

Dale?

She half-processed the thought before she heard her son’s feet hit the floor and her brain started to bounce between the two boys in her bedroom.

Gavin—

School—

Dale—

Kiss—

Gavin—

Dale—

Gavin—

‘Talia?’

‘School!’

She climbed over the top of Dale to reach her bedside table, and fumbled with Gavin’s medicine.

‘School?’ Dale echoed. ‘Oh, shit— Gavin!’

He fell out of bed after Talia and bolted into the kitchen with enough force to almost demolish it. Talia grabbed his keys as they fell to the floor behind him and practically threw Gavin’s medicine into his mouth.

‘Keys!’ she exclaimed. ‘Medicine!’

‘Lunch!’ Dale responded. ‘Car!’

‘Downstairs! Hurry! Go! Go! Now!’

The door slammed behind them with a bang, and the apartment was left to fall silent.


She's a lesbian, Dale.

490 words


‘We know Zoey,’ Anna chimed in. ‘Trish and her went to uni together.’

‘Oh, perfect!’ Ashleigh put an arm around Penny and grinned. ‘So nobody is without a buddy!’

‘Some of us are a bit more than buddies,’ Trish elbowed Anna in the side before wrapping an arm around her and pulling her into a tight hug.

Dale’s heart skipped a beat.

Was Trish talking about him and Talia? No. She couldn’t be. There was no way for her to know he liked her— Unless Gavin had told her? But … Gavin had promised he hadn’t told anyone. And Dale trusted him with that. Besides, he was almost completely sure that if Trish found out about his crush, Talia would know within the day.

Maybe she just meant that her and Anna were roommates? Or— Ah! It was probably because they were best friends!

‘Earth to Dale!’

A pillow slammed into Dale’s face and he was tugged back to reality. ‘What?’

‘I said “Happy Birthday”!’ Zoey threw another pillow, though Dale caught this one. ‘Twenty-eight! You’re so old!’

‘Twenty-eight isn’t old!’ Talia huffed and rolled her eyes, though Dale could see her grin. ‘I’m twenty-eight!’

‘Exactly. You’re old,’ Trish replied. ‘Pretty sure you’re the oldest one here!’

‘Actually, Penny’s thirty,’ Ashleigh corrected.

‘WHAT! No way!’

‘Y-Yeah, I am,’ Penny managed, pulling one of the thick, heavy blankets over herself. She glanced around the other girls before shrugging. ‘I have a good skin-care routine, that’s all. … So, party games?’

‘Party games!’ Ashleigh echoed. ‘Yes! What do we start with?’

‘I’d suggest paper, scissors, rock, but I always end up picking scissors because, well,’ Trish winked at Anna. ‘You know.’

‘Nasty!’ Zoey threw another pillow, this time hitting Trish so hard she toppled backwards out of the nest of blankets she’d made herself. ‘Dis-GUST-ing!’

‘Hey, come on,’ Dale raised a hand. ‘There’s nothing wrong with having a preference! I always pick rock. I know it’s a losing strategy but that’s just part of the fun.’

Zoey hesitated. Then glanced to Anna and mouthed something Dale couldn’t make out. Then, when Anna shook her head, Zoey let out a laugh that was even louder than Trish’s and flopped onto her side.

‘Am I missing something?’ Dale asked. ‘Because it feels like I’m missing something.’

‘Nobody tell him,’ said Trish. ‘He’s gotta figure it out himself.’

‘Figure what out?’ Dale asked, much to the amusement of the party. ‘What am I missing?’

‘You’ll get it one day,’ Ashleigh pet Dale’s shoulder and grinned before turning back to the others. ‘What about truth or dare?’

‘Oh, FUCK yes!’ Trish exclaimed. ‘I LOVE truth or dare! Zoe, pass us that bottle!’

The girls all began to shuffle into a circle, clearing the blankets from the centre of the floor, and Dale was left sitting in stunned silence.

What was he supposed to be figuring out himself?


A bit rough so I'll have to go over it and do some more editing, but I FINALLY started working on A Man Worth a Million again! Here's some of what I did earlier today :3

400 words


Talia let out a groan as Trish kicked the back of her chair again, then unclipped her seatbelt and clambered out of the car before Dale had managed to fully park.

‘Talia!’ Dale exclaimed, hitting the breaks as she stepped onto the road. ‘Jesus, Talia!’

‘Yeah, she’s like that,’ Trish replied. ‘She stands up on the bus before it parks and is at the door before it’s open. Impatient, isn’t she?’

‘She might’ve be more patient if you stopped kicking her,’ Dale sighed and took his foot off the break again and slid into reverse so he could park properly.

‘Mmmhmmm,’ Anna took another loud slurp of her drink, which now sounded mostly empty, before following Talia.

‘Hey! Anna!’ Dale felt the car jolt as he stopped it again. ‘Anna!’

Trish let out a loud snort-laugh and clambered out after Anna.

‘TRISH! At least shut the door, Trish!’ Dale called after the girl.

She ignored Dale, instead blowing a loud raspberry and following Talia and Anna into the house.

All Dale could do was let out a loud sigh and roll his eyes as he reversed into place and then shut off the car. He climbed out to close Trish’s door before making his way through the yard to his house— Which was locked.

‘You’re kidding me!’ he called through the door, shaking his head and grinning when he heard a chorus of laughter from his lounge room. He knocked on his door. ‘Parcel delivery!’

‘Ooh, I’ll get it!’ a familiar voice moved from the lounge to the hall and the door was yanked open by a tall, blonde woman. ‘Hello, where’s this parcel?’

‘Ashleigh, nice to see you again,’ Dale gave a nod, then held out his hands as if passing her something. ‘Sign here.’

‘Oh, but of course!’ Ashleigh took the air that Dale had offered her and mocked signing it before handing it back. ‘Now, the parcel?’

‘Right here,’ Dale pointed to himself.

‘Aw, dang,’ Ashleigh sighed dramatically and rolled her eyes. ‘They got my order wrong! I ordered a completely different model!’

‘I’m afraid you’ll have to take that up with customer service. Their number redirects overseas, and it takes four hours to get through to them.’

‘Ugh, fine, I suppose you’ll have to do!’ Ashleigh stepped away from the door and threw her hands in the air. ‘I’m sorry, girls! We got the wrong product! Disappointment all around!’

Groans filled the air as Ashleigh disappeared into the lounge. Dale quickly followed her and was greeted by a playful cheer.


‘I think if I’ve learnt anything, it’s that Gavin likes food regardless of flavour,’ Dale joked. ‘I think he’d eat clay if you’d let him.’

‘He used to,’ Talia replied, the edge gone from her voice. ‘He didn’t grow out of it until he was eight. Eight years old and he was eating dirt.’

‘To be fair, I think I can recall you doing the same!’

‘Oh please; it was the worms I was interested in, not the dirt.’


‘Hey, no, Richard can be strict,’ Dale replied. ‘Example: I kept telling Gav not to put his stuff in the walkway. So many times! And still, there it was, in the middle of the hall. Then Dick comes over, and POOF! Gone as if by magic! I don’t know what he said to the kid, but it worked.’

‘Probably “please”,’ Anna piped up. ‘Always works for me.’

Talia shook her head as a loud slurp followed, and Dale peaked in the rear view mirror to catch a glimpse of Anna meeting his eye as she drank her frozen cola.

‘You’re special though,’ he retorted. ‘Gav knows you’ll tell on him if he misbehaves.’

‘What, and you wouldn’t tell me?’ Talia scoffed.

‘I mean, depends on what he did and if he blackmailed me into not telling!’ Dale joked. ‘That kid knows how to dig up dirt.’

‘Ooh, boy, does he ever!’ Trish responded. ‘Big feel though. I don’t report anything back unless I have to.’

‘I can’t believe I let you two watch him,’ Talia rolled her eyes. ‘Well, congratulations. I certainly feel better about him being with Richard now. Not so much about ever leaving him with either of you two again!’

Anna’s next slurp was comically loud, and her shit-eating grin told Dale it was deliberately so. Then her eyes widened. ‘Oh, wow. That’s your house, Dale?’


‘SLUT.’

Dale slammed the breaks on the car, stopping in the middle of the quiet road. ‘Where did you learn that!’

‘Trish said it while babysitting me,’ Gavin beamed. ‘She gave me five dollars not to tell mum.’


‘Hey, I know someone else who knows Trish—’ Dale quickly stepped away, and Talia and Tiffany were left giggling together until he came back with Zoey. ‘This is Zoey, she went to … uni? With Trish. Zoe, this is Tiffany. She’s a friend of mine, and I also found out she’s friends with Trish.’

‘You gay?’ Zoey asked, so suddenly that Dale choked on his drink.

‘Bit bisexual, yeah.’

‘Girls in suits, am I right?’

‘Consider, girls in summer dresses.’

‘Girls in leather jackets are pretty great.’

‘I have a leather jacket.’

They fist-bumped, and then walked off together, chatting.


‘I’m a les-beacon!’ she spread her arms and boomed in a deep voice, ‘I call the gays into my presence just as Jesus summoned the wise men!’


Talia and Dale head to the gym together after Talia’s first day working at Moore for More.

A Man Worth a Million Chapter 9 - Excerpt - 185 words

‘How much do you lift?’ she asked.

‘Just thirty-odd. Sometimes I go closer to forty.’

Talia’s eyes widened. ‘Kilos, you mean?’

‘Yeah?’

‘That’s as much as I weigh,’ she gave a sigh and shook her head. ‘Jesus Christ.’

‘Huh, no wonder you were so easy to get up the stairs!’ Dale laughed as he checked over the weights. ‘Tell you what; I’ll lie down and you can jump into my arms and I’ll bench-press you instead of the weights. That way you won’t feel embarrassed sitting there doing nothing.’

‘Because being hefted into the air like a duffle bag isn’t embarrassing?’ Talia raised her brow. ‘I’ll pass.’

‘Fair. You can spot me then,’ Dale grinned. ‘Let’s go get changed.’

‘How do I do that?’

‘Get changed? It’s easy enough,’ joked Dale. ‘You slip an arm out of your jacket sleeve—’

‘—You know exactly what I meant you bastard,’ Talia interrupted with a huff. ‘Spotting. What is it?’

‘You help me lift—’

‘—Forget it,’ Talia scoffed and crossed her ankles. ‘You go get changed. I’ll sit here and let you do all the work.’


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