“Well, looks like I need another glass of holiday cheer. What an oxymoron, right?”
As he stumbled away, Dani leaned close to ask, “Is he okay?”
“I’m not sure. He lost his wife a few years ago, and after the shooting last month, he hasn’t really been himself.”
“Yo, Best, you’re under the mistletoe! Better give that girl a smooch,” Martinez called from across the room.
Tyler reached out to bring her close, but their new law enforcement trainer, Zack Dalton, came up behind Dani and kissed her cheek.
He backed up too quickly for Tyler to catch him, moonwalking backward as he taunted Tyler. “Oh, yeah, Best, I kissed your girl.”
“I’ll fuck you up, Dalton.”
Dani reached up and pulled him down for a real kiss, ignoring the catcalls from the room. When they pulled away slowly, Tyler whispered, “Ready to go yet?”
She laughed and took his hand, leading him over to where Megan Bryce was making a cookie that looked suspiciously as if it had a giant penis.
“Hey, guys,” she said warmly.
“That looks tasty, Bryce,” Tyler said. “Never knew you were a big balls kinda girl.”
“Well, they gotta be bigger than mine.” Her attempt at a joke fell a little flat, and she cleared her throat. “You know, I’m gonna go talk to Eve.”
Once she was out of earshot, Dani asked, “Is it just me or is everyone acting weird tonight?”
“Don’t ask me; I wanted to stay in and do it under the tree. You were the one who saw the invitation and said, ‘Oh, this sounds like fun.’ ” His high, screechy imitation of her made her scowl.
“I don’t have a tree yet.”
He pressed his lips to the side of her neck. “We could have rectified that with a trip to Home Depot.”
“Not without Noah, we couldn’t!”
“I’m teasing, babe,” he said, wrapping his arms around her waist from behind. “Wanna make a cookie together? I bet if we worked together, it would be epic.”
She laughed and leaned back against him as he took her hands in his, manipulating them to spread frosting over the sugar cookie.
Have I ever been this happy before?
The answer was definitely no.
TYLER STOOD WITH his friends several hours later, drinking beer and bullshitting. They’d decorated cookies, done an ornament exchange, and even sung Christmas carols. Tyler was definitely ready to go, but it was the first time he’d seen Dani relax around his social group, and he was loath to pull her away.
“So, Blake, any thoughts to getting back out there?” Martinez asked.
“Nah,” he said, nursing his beer.
“I still can’t get over how Best landed a woman like Dani,” Sparks said.
“You guys are a bunch of assholes, you know that, right?”
“Hell, Best has it good. He’s so fucking pretty, even when he blows women off, they still send him naked titty shots.” Blake’s words carried across the room, and everyone stiffened.
Tyler’s gaze found Dani’s, her face sheet-white.