“But Dani doesn’t seem upset with you, and that boy’s face lights up every time he sees you, so I’m sure it’s not as bad as all that.” His mother laced him with a stern look. “But if you’re really not sure about a future with that girl and her son, then you need to break it off now.”
Tyler leaned back against the counter and shook his head. “I know, Mom, but I care about her, and I adore that kid. When it’s just us, I feel like they’re . . . as if they belong with me. Like they were meant to be mine, but I’m afraid that’s crazy.”
“Absolutely not. Your dad said almost the exact thing to me when he proposed, that it was as if we’d been waiting for him.” His mom took his hand and squeezed. “I am so happy for you, baby.”
“I’m not a baby, Mom.”
“You’ll always be my baby.”
DANI STOOD OUTSIDE the kitchen, her heart hammering as she listened to mother and son talk. She didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but when she’d heard her name, she couldn’t help pausing to catch what Tyler was saying.
She couldn’t even describe her elation and joy when Tyler had said that Noah and she felt like his.
Because she had been thinking the exact same thing about him and was afraid she’d ruined it today.
Tyler’s mother told him to go outside and play with the kids, and Dani soon heard the back glass door slide open and close.
“You can come in now, Dani,” Gloria called.
Dani nearly banged her head against the door with a groan, but with no other choice, she pushed through. “I am so sorry; I shouldn’t have listened in on your conversation.”
“I always listen in on interesting conversations. It’s how I learn the things my children don’t want me to know about.” She waved her hand to the square table in the dining room off the kitchen. “Come have a
seat, and we can talk as the kids play.”
Dani did as she requested, her hands sweating buckets.
“Now, it’s none of my business, and you can tell me to butt out, but as a mother, I need to know.” Leveling Dani with the same deep blue eyes her son had, she asked, “What are your intentions with my boy?”
Dani choked on a laugh. “My intentions?”
“Yes. Are you serious about him?”
The older woman’s face softened. “So, you’re not upset with him?”
“No. Well, I was a little irritated that he didn’t ask, but then I just couldn’t stop thinking about how for a guy who is constantly saying he isn’t good with children, he had no problem sharing his ice cream with Noah. He’s just so comfortable and good with Noah. He’s constantly surprising me.”
“Don’t let him fool you; he has always had a way with kids. He was ten and twelve when his brother and sister were born, and he used to love playing with them. Feeding them. He probably doesn’t even remember begging to learn how to change a diaper.”
“No way!” Dani laughed.
“Oh yes, he loved being a big brother . . . up until he discovered girls, that is. To be honest, I was a little worried about him. I know he’s only twenty-eight but he never seemed to have any desire to get serious. Until you.”
Dani’s cheeks warmed with pleasure as she looked out the window. Tyler had Noah in his arms and was chasing after one of his cousins. His hat was turned backward, so nothing was obscuring his wide smile.
“You know, Gloria, if you don’t mind, I think I’d like to go play with the kids.”
Gloria patted her hand and stood up. “And I’m going to make sure that my husband hasn’t conned poor Chris into getting him another beer. He knows he needs to lay off the alcohol and red meat, but Chris adores Gareth and will do anything for him.”
Dani stood up and went outside just as Tyler set Noah down. Her son took off after Dereck, who ran backward at a slow pace, laughing.
“Man, this kid is fast. I think he’s going to be a sprinter someday,” Dereck said.
Dani wrapped her arms around Tyler’s waist, and she felt him start.
“Hey, I didn’t even hear you come out.”