Backing toward his car slowly, he decided any sudden movements might lead him down a rabbit hole of stupidity. “Yeah, you can follow.”
DANI SAT AT the outside table with Noah and all three dogs, staring in the window at Tyler ordering their food. The young barista behind the counter smiled at him with definite interest, and Dani wished it didn’t bother her so much.
“Game?” Noah asked.
Knowing what Noah was asking for, Dani prodded, “What do you say?”
Dani bent into the diaper bag and pulled out his LeapFrog tablet. She didn’t let him have it often, mostly for trips in the car, but it was a nice little distraction.
Tyler came outside holding a drink carrier and a white food bag. “All right, I’ve got the good stuff.” As he sat down, he placed cups in front of all of them. Before Noah could reach for his cup, Dani took it and tasted it, making sure it wasn’t too hot. With a smile, she handed it back to Noah. “Perfect.”
“I told them it was for a little kid and not to make it too hot.”
“Thank you.” Dani took a sip of the chai latte he’d bought her with a sigh. “This is heaven.”
“Wow, your pleasure bar is set pretty low,” Tyler said teasingly.
Dani’s cheeks burned at the term pleasure. “Considering I’ve been working fifty hours a week or more for the last three weeks, I haven’t had a lot of time to enjoy the little things.”
“Does that mean I crashed a mother and son date?” Tyler pulled out half a muffin and set it on a napkin for Noah. “I could have gotten a whole one for each of you.”
She’d told him they’d split a muffin and was happy he’d listened. “He won’t eat it all. And no, you didn’t crash the date. Noah and I have two weeks of fun planned.”
“Oh yeah, you on vacation or something?”
“Yeah, we can never really afford to go anywhere, so I just take my two weeks and we do day trips. The beach, the zoo, Apple Hill. . . things I think he’ll enjoy.”
“That’s good. Quality time is important.”
She raised her eyebrow at him. “I thought you didn’t know a lot about kids.”
“I don’t, but I have a great mom. She worked full time until she married my dad, well stepdad, but before that, she always spent her days off with me. It meant a lot, and I never questioned that she loved me.”
Hearing Tyler speak so openly and warmly about his mom made her heart stutter.
“Oh man, I blew it, huh? You think I’m a mama’s boy now.”
“No! No, I think it’s sweet.” Running her hand over Noah’s soft curls, she admitted, “I hope someday that Noah talks about me like that.”
Tyler handed her the other half of the muffin. “He will, trust me.”
And then he pulled out two foil-wrapped croissant sandwiches.
“Are those both for you?” she asked.
With a wink, he opened one up and took a bite. “I’m a big guy with a healthy appetite.”
“Hey now, it isn’t nice to call someone a pig.”
Her cheeks burned. “I didn’t!”