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Shit, he was losing it.

His phone alerted him of another message, and he had to read it twice.

You’re sweet.

No, he wasn’t. He was a jerk. A jackass. A douche bag.

But he liked that she thought so.

What are you doing right now?

Did that sound pushy? Damn, he was not used to being the insecure one.

Actually, I’m drinking alone and watching Netflix. Pretty pathetic, right?

Glancing down at the mess of beer bottles from the guys earlier, he responded.

No, sometimes we need to drink. Want some company?

Well, fuck, he’d done it. He had put himself out there for rejection, and he wished he could take it back.

And then his phone dinged.

Sure, but I gotta warn you, it’s not pretty.

His normal response would have been something cheesy like You’re always pretty, but it didn’t feel right, using something trite on Dani.

I’m on my way.

Tyler grabbed Duke and was loading him up just as his phone rang. He looked down and saw Dani’s number flashing.

“Hey, what’s up?”

“Maybe this is a bad idea,” she said.

Tyler paused in the door of his Tahoe, stunned. “What?”

“Us. Doing this. I mean, you aren’t even sure you want to get involved, and after today, with your friends hating me, and Noah—”

“My friends don’t hate you. They were pissed at me. They thought I was taking advantage of you.”

“Well, I don’t think that, but I’m worried about Noah—”

“Wait, wait. I am not going to hurt Noah. In fact, I thought we decided we were going to wait for me to spend time with Noah until we were sure?”

“We were, but this is more about you distracting me from Noah.”

What the hell did he say to that? An easy quip sat on the tip of his tongue, waiting to be used.

Instead, he stood silent. Had he ever been at a loss for words?

First time for everything.

“Are you still there?” she asked.

He cleared his throat before speaking. “Yeah, look, Dani, if you don’t want me to come over, that’s fine. I get you not wanting to get involved.” He hated how twisted up he was over this girl. “But I don’t think you should use me getting between you and Noah as an excuse. No matter how things go between us, Noah will always come first with you; I get that. Just like today. I will never fault you for putting your son before everything. In fact, I admire you for it.”

This time, he thought she had hung up, it got so quiet on the line.

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