One Percent of You
Michelle Gross
Publication date: May 5th 2019
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Make no mistakes about it. I know what I look like to others. Young, government-aided, pregnant mom. They see Lucy on my hip, and they see a mistake. I mean, why else would someone have a child so young, right? They couldn’t be more wrong. I’m too busy most days between parenting, work, and finishing up my last year of nursing school to let their judging gaze tear me down until he moves in the vacant house next to the apartments I live in.

His cold, blunt observation of us doesn’t differ from any other stranger. He doesn’t know me, but he’s already painting a picture of who he thinks I am in his mind. He judges my very round belly, Lucy’s inability to leave him alone, the bags under my eyes, and the fact that I can care less what I look like anymore.

He’s a rude guy. Stays that way for months too. Then something happens, I’m not even sure what. Judgmental Guy decides Lucy and me—as well as baby Eli, are worth his friendship.

Turns out, Judgmental Guy isn’t too mean—okay, he kind of still is. But he graduates to Elijah. I build an unlikely friendship with him which deems it necessary for him to start smiling around me and my kids.

I’m wrong again. Elijah isn’t rude. He’s terrifying. His strange acts of kindness are unraveling me. Elijah is only my friend.

Right?

Oh, fudge. I think I’m wrong. Again.

–full-length single mom slow burn romance

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

There was a moment of panic. For a second, I couldn’t see any Funyuns. I realized why. There was only one bag left, and it was partially hidden by all the Lay’s chips next to it. I nodded and smiled as if to say, “It’s all good” when two little hands shot up and snatched the bag before I could.

“Whoa,” I said, staring down at the blonde pigtails.

She slowly turned, peered up, and arched her brow at me curiously. “Are you talking to me?” The kid couldn’t be more than three and there she was completely alone and stealing my damn Funyuns!

“How about you give me those Funyuns?” I asked nicely.

She stared down at the chips in her tiny grip—those were mine—then looked back up. “No. Get your own.” She turned to walk off.

“Where’re your parents? Little shits shouldn’t be all alone even if they’re becoming lil’thieves at such a young age.”

She scowled, her tiny nose wrinkling up. “She’s right where I left her.” She pointed to a blonde head leaned over one of the freezer sections. The little girl was inspecting me when I glanced back down at her. I saw the way her eyes rolled over my arms before she frowned. “My papaw always tells my mom that tattoos are ugly on women.”

“Oh?” I tilted my head. “Your papaw sounds ugly.”

Her mouth fell open. “You have demons on your arms ’cause you’re one.”

I jumped and hissed. She startled, dropped the Funyuns, and ran screaming to her mom. I bent down, picked up my chips, and chuckled as I walked over to the next aisle and grabbed a pizza—something I could at least heat up easily—then went to the checkout where ugly grandpa’s evil thief helped her mom unload their shopping cart items.

Lil’ Thief gazed up, eyes widening then hardening as tough as one could look at her age. She saw the bag of chips in my hand and tapped her Mom’s side “Mom, mom,” she started.

“What is it, Lucy?” Her mother asked as she grabbed her purse and wheeled the cart forward as the cashier rung up her items. I took in the greasy blonde hair tucked into a messy bun. It probably had been a day or two since she shampooed it. From her chipped nails to her pale, tired face without makeup it was obvious she didn’t give two shits about her appearance. The longer I watched her, the more she irked me. I exhaled loudly as I imagined her living off the government. In a matter of minutes, she’d slide an EBT card through the slot to pay for her items.

Guilt washed over me. My ma had been in this shape while raising me, and most of the food on our table before she met Hank came from food stamps, yet I saw more people abuse the system, so my disdain was real every time I saw people like this one in a store.

No one was like Ma. She was her own breed, and she’d hang me for my petty thoughts, but I couldn’t stop myself.

“That demon worshipper stole my chips.”

Fucking hell. I went from the dude with demons on my arm to demon worshipper real quick. I’d hate to see what this child would have to say about my shops—creepy, demon portraits everywhere. The horror!

The mother’s head snapped up from her purse at her child’s voice. She peered around to where her daughter pointed—at me—before turning a pitiful shade of red. Her eyes were the brightest shade of blue I’d ever seen, or maybe it was because she was so pale and sickly looking. She blushed so hard it made her extremely noticeable.

“Lucy, that’s not nice! Why would you say that?” She wiped her face and tried hard not to stare at me as she spoke to her daughter.

“He stole my Funyuns!” Her daughter’s face was red too. Quite the match, the two of them.

The mom raised up, face squinted in pain as she placed her palm on her back, and that was when I noticed—holy, why hadn’t I noticed before? The woman was very pregnant. Just what society needed—another little terror running wild. She gestured toward the small chip bags beside me. “Grab a bag so I can pay. And apologize for saying that.”

The little girl scooted around the shopping cart and snatched a small bag of Funyuns before turning around to me. “Sorry.” She stuck out her tongue as she glared up at me from a perfect angle where her mom couldn’t see it. Sneaky.