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“This is cool.” She touches the screen, then examines the price tag taped to the front. “I’m not sure that I need it, though.” She turns to face me. “Do you have anything else in mind that doesn’t cost so much?”

I’m honestly a little taken aback by her question. Most of my clients want the best of the best, regardless of cost. I know from her overall budget that she can afford this fridge—hell, she could probably afford one that’s cast in gold. Her being conscientious of what she’s spending makes me even more curious about her.

“There’s a lot to choose from. We can look around. If you see something you like, I’ll just take down the information and change it out.”

“Perfect,” she agrees.

The rest of our time at the warehouse goes pretty much the same: I show her the things I picked out; she picks out items that cost a little less. Before I’m ready, our time is up and we are leaving.

“Do you have a ride?” I ask once we’re outside.

“I was just going to call a cab,” she tells me, pulling out her cell phone. Wanting to spend even a few more minutes with her, I cover her phone and hand with mine.

“We can ride back together, maybe get lunch once we reach the city?” I suggest.

She studies me for what feels like forever, and a million emotions seem to play behind her gaze.

“Yeah, okay. Lunch sounds good,” she finally agrees. “Let me just call my boss to let her know.”

Five minutes later, we are both getting into the back seat of a cab. My cell rings just as we are heading over the George Washington Bridge. It’s Madeline’s school.


“Mr. Fremont? This is Jane, the nurse at Ark Elementary School.”

“Is Maddi okay?” I ask before she can say more.

“She threw up in class. I just took her temperature, and it’s a hundred and two. She’s resting, but she should really be at home. Someone needs to pick her up.”

“Shit. I’m on my way. I should be there in”—I look around to see where we are—“about twenty minutes, tops.”

“Take your time. She’s lying down now,” she tells me, but that does nothing to ease the worry in the pit of my stomach.

“Tell her I’m on my way,” I say, ending the call.

“Is everything okay?” Courtney asks, worry etched into the skin around her eyes.

“Madeline got sick in class and has a temperature. Sorry, but I’m going to have to drop you off and then go to her.”

“Don’t worry about me.” She shakes her head, then asks, “Where is her school?”

After I tell her, she leans forward and directs the driver to go there. Then she looks at me once more. “I’ll just get on the train once we get there.”

“Thank you.” I let out a long breath.

“No problem. I really hope she’s okay. Was she sick this morning?”

“No, she seemed fine.” Guilt hits me hard as I wonder if I missed something.

“I’m sure she will be all right.” Her hand covers and squeezes mine, which is resting on my thigh. “I think I heard on the news that there is a stomach bug going around. She probably just caught it.”

“Yeah,” I agree, not liking that my baby isn’t feeling good and I’m so far away.

When we reach the school, I check in and then head to the nurse’s office. I don’t even bat an eye when Courtney comes in with me. As soon as I walk through the door, I see Madeline asleep on a small cot tucked against the wall. A blanket is pulled up to her shoulders.

“Mr. Fremont?” I nod as the nurse walks toward me. “I took her temp about five minutes ago, and it’s down to a hundred and one, but you will probably want to give her some Tylenol once you get her home.”

“I’ll do that.” I thank her before going to my baby and getting down on my haunches. I run my fingers over the top of her head, and she turns toward my touch before her eyes blink open.

“Daddy . . . ,” she says, sounding tired. Her eyes slide closed.

“I’m here, baby.” I carefully scoop her up in my arms. “Let’s get you home.”

“I don’t feel good.”

“I know you don’t.” I kiss her head and turn with her in my arms. I watch the nurse give Courtney Madeline’s pink-and-purple polka dot backpack and a white piece of paper.

“Feel better, Madeline,” Nurse Jane says as Madeline tucks her face against my chest.

Holding her, I walk out and stop on the sidewalk. Without a word Courtney puts out a hand for a cab; when it stops, she opens the door for me.

“Thank you.”

“No problem. I . . . Do you need anything? Do you have stuff for her at your house?” I realize that I don’t have anything at our place, that the Tylenol I do have has probably expired. She must see exactly what I’m thinking, because she grabs my arm and pushes me into the cab before getting in with us. “I’ll ride with you, help you inside, then run to the store and get what you need so that you can stay with her.”

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