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Come on over.

Yet here he stood, not even tempted to make a move.

“Here ya go, man.” The bartender took Tyler’s money, and Tyler headed back downstairs, not giving the woman at the bar a second thought.

“Holy shit, he came back! Isn’t this the time of night where you’re ditching us for some chick?” Kline asked.

Yes, it usually was, and he’d had a clear-cut invitation upstairs. So why hadn’t he taken it?

Maybe because she wasn’t Dani?

Tyler set the beer down with a hard thunk of irritation and picked up his cue stick. “I told you. I can’t leave until I kick your ass.”

“Whoa, what’s got you in a mood? You strike out or something?” Sparks asked.

“No, I didn’t. Now shut the fuck up so I can concentrate.”

Chapter Eleven

“MOM, I TOLD you, I’m on vacation, so you don’t have to take Noah.” Dani stood in the kitchen just after five thirty in the evening, gripping the back of a chair to keep a rein on her temper. She’d taken Thursday to Thursday off for two straight weeks of fun with Noah and had even reminded her mom about it. Every other weekend, her parents took Noah; they told Dani it was so she could go out and socialize, but Dani suspected her mom hoped she’d finally take them up on dating one of the men they kept throwing at her.

“Well, I’m already here, so why don’t you just enjoy? Sleep in, read a book . . . maybe call one of those numbers I gave you?”

“Mom . . . ”

“Really, Dani, I am sorry I forgot, but I drove all the way over here. At least let me take my grandson for the night. He loves spending time with his Mapa.”

By the way her son had his arms wrapped around her mom’s leg, there was no arguing that point.

“Ugh, fine, let me go pack a bag.”

“No need, I’ve got everything. I bought more diapers this week and some clothes to keep at my house, so you don’t have to do a thing.” Her mom bent over to pick Noah up, exaggerating a groan. “Oh man, you need to stop growing or Mapa won’t be able to carry you anymore.”

Dani released the chair and walked over to give her mom a kiss on the cheek. She really was lucky that her mom genuinely wanted to spend time with her grandkid. “Thanks, Mom.” Laying a smacking kiss on her son’s cheek next, she said, “Have a good time, handsome.”

“Say, ‘You, too, Mommy.’ ” Leveling Dani with a serious expression, she added, “Really, Dani, why don’t you go shower, put some makeup on, and go out with a friend? Be young for a night.” To her surprise, her mom patted her cheek. “You are such a good mom, but you aren’t just a mom.”

Most of the time, Dani thought she was screwing everything up, but here her mom was, giving her praise.


As Dani watched her mom buckle Noah into her car through the window, she ran her thumb over the screen of her phone, scrolling through the names until she landed on Tyler’s.

It was a Friday night. He probably had plans . . .

Before she realized what she was doing, she’d tapped the call button.

“Shit.” Bringing the phone to her ea

r, she listened to the ring, whispering out loud, “This is so fucking stupid.”

“Sergeant Best.”

His deep voice sent a shiver along her skin, raising gooseflesh. “Hi, Tyler, it’s . . . it’s Dani. Noah’s mom.” Oh, geez, as if he doesn’t know who you are.

“Hey, how are you?”

He sounded happy to hear from her, didn’t he? “I’m good. How are you?”