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“Why are you here?” she snapped. “You obviously have no problem meeting girls.”

“I was bribed, but we were talking about you. Why do your parents feel the need to set you up when you can obviously find your own man?”

Dani wasn’t sure how much to say to him, so she chose a little vague honesty. “I don’t exactly have the best track record with picking men and don’t really trust my own judgment. Especially since I have Noah to consider. So, I just figure it’s easier to not date than to make a mistake.”

Tyler leaned over the table, his expression seductive. “And what’s your judgment say about me?”

Her answer popped out before she could stop herself. “That you’re a player and I’d be smart to get my ass up and walk out.”

Tyler’s eyes sparkled with humor. “I wouldn’t use the word player . . . ”

“Then what word would you use?”


“Your body?” Holy shit, had she really just asked that?

“No, but if you want to find out—”

“I don’t.” She knew she was red all the way down her neck, but there was nothing for it. “You shouldn’t tease me, especially since I’m not your type.”

His smile dissolved. “What makes you think you aren’t my type?”

“Well, I have a child, for one thing. I noticed the way you reacted after you saw his picture on my phone. It’s okay. Most guys run for the hills once they find out you’re a single mom.”

“Only because they know they can’t handle the responsibility and don’t want to waste your time,” he said.

Her hand gripped her coffee cup so hard she felt it start to give. “My son is more than a responsibility. He’s my light, my joy, and my world.” Taking a drink of her coffee to hide her anger, she added, “Any man who looked at Noah as a chore he didn’t think he could handle wouldn’t be worth my time anyway.”

Tyler stared at her so hard and long that she started to squirm. What was he thinking? That she had a big mouth? Or that she was just being defensive again?

“You’re right. That’s exactly how my mom felt before she married my stepdad.”

He’d been raised by a single mom? Interesting.

“How old were you?” she asked.

“About eight. I was lucky, though; my dad always treated me the same as my half brother and sister. Some kids aren’t so fortunate.”

That was her constant fear. That she’d let someone in their lives who wouldn’t love Noah as his own. She’d rather be alone forever than have her son hurt by another man’s rejection.

“That’s exactly why I don’t date,” she said.

Uncomfortable silence stretched between them, and finally she broke it by asking, “How’s the dog? Did you ever rename him?”

“I’m calling him Duke.”

“Duke. It’s a good name.”

“I just picked him up from the vet a couple of hours ago, so I need to get back soon.”

“Oh, of course.”

He seemed to hesitate before asking, “Okay, I know you barely know me, and I promise, I have no nefarious plans afoot, but if you want to see him, you’re more than welcome to come over. I’m just in Natomas, about ten minutes up the freeway.”

Going back to the house of a man she barely knew? What a ludicrous idea.

“Sure. I’d like to see him.”

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