“Now, would it be right of me to just let you win?”
“No, but it would be nice.”
“All’s fair, baby.”
Blake Kline’s head jerked their way, and Dani whispered, “Are they going to spend the whole day jumping every time we speak?”
“Hard to say.” Suddenly, Tyler let out a whoop and picked up a camouflage-painted tub.
“Hey, you said a tub! You didn’t say it was green!”
“I didn’t know, but even if I did, home-court advantage.”
Crossing her arms over her chest, Dani threw down the gauntlet. “So that’s how you want to play it, huh? All right, Tyler Best, get ready, because it is on like Donkey Kong.”
Tyler grinned at her as he unscrewed the lid. “Bring it on, newb.”
AT AROUND TWO in the afternoon, the group had settled into the outdoor tables at the local In-N-Out Burger. While the guys all went inside to grab food, Dani was left alone with Violet, Eve, Megan, and the dogs. The three women had been nothing but nice to her, but she was still a little nervous.
Especially when they started asking her questions.
“So, Dani, how did you and Tyler meet?” Eve asked.
“I was working at the shelter where he rescued Duke. I’m a vet tech.”
“You guys have been dating for over a month?” This was squeaked by Violet, whose brown eyes appeared to be bugging out of her head.
“No, no, we actually just had our first date last night. Well, technically our first date.”
“What do you mean, technically?” Megan asked.
“Well, I was supposed to have a date with someone else at Alpha Dog, but when he bailed at the last minute, Tyler took his place. Once we realized we already knew each other, he took me back to his house”—Megan flashed Eve a knowing look, and Dani frowned—“so I could check on Duke, but after that, we said good night. Nothing romantic about it.”
“So, what was the turning point?” Violet asked. “When things got romantic?”
“I don’t know . . . I just started to think that maybe he wasn’t the player I’d first thought.” All three women glanced at each other oddly, and Dani’s cheeks burned. They probably all thought
she should have gone with her instincts, that she was just being naïve, but they didn’t see Tyler the way she did.
At least, that is what she told herself.
Thankfully, the guys chose that moment to return, and as Tyler sat down next to her, she couldn’t help relaxing just having him there.
“Your cheeseburger, fries, and root beer,” he said.
“Thank you.” Dani took her food, and Tyler gave her a funny look. Had she sounded upset? She must have, because he was looking around at the other women, who were avoiding his gaze.
Her phone started vibrating in her pocket, and when she pulled it out, the picture of her mom holding Noah flashed across her screen.
“Sorry, I have to take this.” Climbing off the bench, she slid her finger over the answer button. “Hello.”
“Hey, honey, how is your weekend?”
Dani stepped away from the group, heading back toward the car. “Fine, how are you and Dad? Is Noah having fun?”
“Yes, but I noticed his ear seems to be bothering him. I was going to take him to the urgent care, but I wanted to let you know.”