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“There we go. Used the g word. Shut it down.”

His phone beeped, and the guys crowded close, trying to peek over his shoulder.

She doesn’t have to know.

“Shit, did she send you a titty pic?” Blake asked.

“Fuck off.”

No thanks, lose this number.

Tyler deleted the thread and, after placing his phone back in his pocket, picked up his cue. “Well, are we gonna play some pool or sit around gossiping like a bunch of chicks?”

AROUND NOON SUNDAY, Dani sat in a booth at IHOP with her mother and Noah. Her mom had asked her to lunch after church, since her dad was sick and hadn’t attended.

“What’s wrong with Dad?” Dani asked.

“Football-itis,” her mom grumbled.

“Yeah, I heard that’s going around.”

“Enough about your father’s obsession. I want to know about this man you’re seeing. You’ve hardly said a word about him since I dropped Noah off two weeks ago. Are you still seeing him?”

“Yes, I’m still seeing him.”

When she didn’t offer anything more, her mother waved her hand. “Well, you’re going to have to give me more than that! He’s in the military, right? Have you met his parents?”

“Yes, he took Noah and me to the San Francisco Zoo last Saturday. Afterward, we went to his parents’ home in South San Francisco for his dad’s birthday.”

“Well, that’s nice.” Her tone said the exact opposite. “And why haven’t you brought him by so we can get to know him better?”

“Because I want to continue dating him?” she joked.

Her mom sniffed. “I see. You think we’ll embarrass you.”

“No, although, yes, I know you will, but that isn’t it. We’re just taking things as they come, and I haven’t been ready yet.”

“Have you slept with him yet?”

Dani choked on her water, wheezing as her gaze shot to Noah. “Mom!”

“What, he doesn’t even know what that means.”

“But it’s none of your business.”

“I’m going to interpret that as a yes.”

“You can interpret that any way you want, but I am still not answering that question.”

“Well, I want you to bring him to Thanksgiving,” her mom said as their food arrived.

Noah tried reaching for his pancakes, but she got there first and began cutting them up into bite-size pieces. “Come on, Mom, he probably has plans to go to his parents’ or something.”

“Well, the least you can do is ask, Danielle. Sometimes I don’t know why you make things so much more complicated than they need to be.”

“Fine, I’ll ask him.”

“Call him now.”

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