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And found Jeremiah’s bed surrounded by Blake and a handful of other teenaged boys. Dani glanced at Tyler, who seemed pretty surprised to see them.

“Hey, what are you all doing here?” Tyler asked.

“Having Thanksgiving with this kid,” Blake said.

“And you brought these troublemakers? I bet the nurses are thrilled,” Tyler said, setting the plate they brought down on the counter. “This is from us. We’ve even got a separate container of dessert for you.”

“Thanks, Sarge,” the boy in the bed—obviously Jeremiah—said.

Dani took a few steps forward, releasing her hand from Tyler’s and holding it out to Jeremiah with a wide smile. “It’s nice to meet you, Jeremiah. I’ve heard so much about you.”

“This is my girlfriend, Dani,” Tyler offered from behind her.

Jeremiah took her hand shyly. “Nice to meet you. Thanks for the food.”

“We already brought the goods, Sarge. Cook made us a whole meal to bring over and eat with Jeremiah, so he wouldn’t be alone,” one of the other boys said to Tyler, and Dani could see the admiration on their faces.

“Dani, you know Blake, but these pains in the asses are Dwayne Harlow, Olsen Myers, Jamie Platt, and Hank Osbourne.”

“Nice to meet you, ma’am,” they all chorused.

“So nice to finally meet you. Tyler talks about you guys a lot.”

They all shot him a look, as if wondering what he said, so she added, “All good things, I promise.”

The boys relaxed.

“She’s lying; I complain about you constantly.”

Dani rolled her eyes. “Sure, you never tell me how fast Dwayne is or how hard Jamie works with his dog. Or that Hank is really smart and Olsen is a born leader. Nope, he never says anything nice about you.”

All the boys were beaming now, and Olsen said, “I like you. If the Sarge ever breaks up with you, just wait for me.”

“I saw her first,” Jeremiah said, surprisingly, a wide grin on his face.

Dani’s cheeks burned, and Tyler came up behind her, placing his hands on her shoulders. “Both of you are shit out of luck. She’s all mine.”

And as all the boys started chattering, each vying for Tyler’s attention, Dani leaned back into him and just enjoyed being his.

Chapter Twenty-Nine

THE EARLY DECEMBER air nipped at them as they climbed the steps to Eve and Oliver’s place for their holiday party, their hands interlaced as Tyler pressed the button.

Dani should have been used to Tyler’s friends after nearly six weeks together, but they still seemed to stare at her as if she was some kind of exotic creature. As if they still couldn’t believe Tyler hadn’t dumped her for a bar wench.

Eve threw open the door. “Hey, come on in, guys. Everyone is just meandering. Can I get you anything to drink? Wine? Beer? Eggnog and brandy?”

“We’ll get it ourselves, Eve, thanks,” Tyler said.

“Sure. Feel free to make yourselves at home.”

“Hey, Best.” Kline clapped him on the back, and Dani noticed he wobbled a little.

“What’s up, buddy? Started the party early, I see.” Tyler was frowning at his friend, and Dani wondered if Blake didn’t usually drink.

“I just needed a little pick-me-up. You know how it is around the holidays. They suck balls.”

Dani and Tyler laughed a little awkwardly.