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“Maybe you should stop listening to that voice in your head and start listening to him.”

“It would be different if he didn’t have a daughter and it was just him that I had to think about,” I admit before taking a sip of coffee.

“Yeah, but he does have a daughter. I get the feeling that he likes having you around her and in their lives.”

“I don’t want her to get hurt if things don’t work out between her dad and me.”

I don’t want to get hurt, either, though. I know losing Lucas would be hard, but I would also be losing Maddi. I don’t know if my heart would be able to handle the loss of both of them.

“I’m sorry to say this, babe, but in life you can’t protect children from everything. If things between you and Lucas don’t work out, it’s going to suck, but she’s a kid. She will bounce back. So will Lucas, and so will you. I think you know that firsthand.”

“I do,” I agree with a heavy sigh.

“Don’t run from this to protect yourself, because you’ll actually end up causing yourself pain. Enjoy it, take it one day at a time, and see where it goes,” she says.

I think about the weekend. I think about how happy I was with Lucas and Maddi, and then I think about the fact that I really want more weekends just like that.

“When did you join Team Lucas?”

She looks thoughtful for a moment before answering. “He’s good for you. I really like how he looks at you.”

“How he looks at me?” I frown, and she grins in return.

“Yeah. Like he wants to toss you over his shoulder and carry you away to his cave, where he will protect you with his life and give you everything you could ever want.”

“He doesn’t look at me like that,” I say as my heart starts to pound against my rib cage.

“Yeah, babe. He does.” She holds my gaze.

I lick my bottom lip, not sure what to do with that information. I only know that I like hearing it a lot. Maybe too much.

“We should get to work,” I finally say.

Abby laughs. “Yeah, let’s do that. Right after you tell me when you’re seeing him again.”

“I’m not sure,” I admit.

Just then my cell beeps, so I make my way to my bag to grab it.

“He didn’t make plans with you?” she asks.

I shrug. “We didn’t make plans after last night, but I assume I’ll see him at some point this week.”

I look at my phone and see a message from Lucas on my screen. My stomach does a little dip as I read.

Maddi in her whirlwind morning decided we should have tacos tonight.

Is he telling me because he wants me to join them?

I really want to join him and Maddi for tacos.

I don’t blame her. Tacos are awesome.

After I press “Send,” I hold my breath. The little bubble appears on the screen, telling me he’s already replying.

Does dinner at six work for you?

I reply yes immediately, then wonder if I should have waited for a few minutes. I instantly forget my doubt when I see his reply come through.

Good, baby, see you tonight. Have a good day.

“What is it?” Abby asks.

I lift my head after dropping my phone back into my bag.

“I’m having tacos with Lucas and Maddi tonight.”

“That smile on your face right now is the reason I like him,” Abby says.

I touch my lips with the tips of my fingers. I didn’t even know I was smiling.

After knocking on Lucas’s apartment door, I rub the top of Merida’s head. She wiggles impatiently at my side. I don’t know who’s more excited to be here—me or her. As soon as I got off work, I went to the store to pick up stuff for dessert before I went home to change and pick her up. She was happy to see me, and I was happy to find out that she could be left alone and not destroy everything in sight. When I told her that we were going to see Maddi and Lucas, I swear she understood me. It was as if she couldn’t wait to get out of the apartment.

“Hey, baby,” Lucas greets me as soon as he opens the door.

I smile up at him. I don’t know how it’s possible to have missed him—it’s really only been a few hours since I saw him last—but I have. Lucas always looks hot, and today he’s wearing a dark-red button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows and a pair of gray dress slacks.

“Hey,” I breathe against his lips as he brushes his mouth against mine. I feel him smile.

“Missed you.” He kisses me again, and my stomach does a flip.

“Me too,” I admit.

His smile broadens as he steps back to let me into the apartment. Taking Merida’s leash from me, he unhooks her. I watch her run off toward Maddi’s room and use her nose to push the door open and her way inside.

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