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“It’s okay,” he said, and he meant it. He was just content that she was actually taking time to eat. Didn’t matter that it wasn’t the meal he’d brought or that she was enjoying it with her coworker. He wasn’t at all jealous or intimidated by Scott. He had all the trust in Whitney and their relationship. He just felt slightly disappointed that what he’d hoped was a nice gesture had ultimately only made her feel bad.

That certainly hadn’t been the intent.

“No, really, I am,” she said. “I should have called or texted, but we were just wrapped up in this…”

“I get it. I was just worried about you, and you need to eat. I’m happy to see you were.” He touched her shoulders and gave her a sincere smile that he hoped conveyed that he really wasn’t at all upset.

“You can stay.”

She didn’t mean that. Whitney had always separated work from home life. The only time the two intersected was when she was working on promo for his bar.

Huh, maybethatwas something he could use to bring them together again.

He’d been worried about adding more to her plate by telling her about the new location and asking for her help with a new marketing campaign, but now he couldn’t sign on the dotted line and finalize things on the new location soon enough. “I’ll just be in the way,” he said. “Enjoy the food if you get hungry again later. Try not to work too late. I’ll see you in the morning.”

“In the morning?” She frowned.

“I’m going to head into the bar, finish up some paperwork.” Sign the real estate agreement on the new building and hope to give the two of them something to work on together. “I’ll probably stay to close up.”

She nodded. “Okay…see you in the morning.”

Trent kissed her quickly again and started to leave as she returned to her office.

“This chicken is delicious. If you don’t marry him soon, I will,” he heard Scott say, and Trent grinned as the door closed behind him and he headed back to his Jeep.

In his office at the bar, hours later, Trent reviewed the last page of the real estate contract, then signed the bottom of the page. He knew in his gut this was the right decision. But he’d never actually bought a new place before without mentioning the plan to Whitney. He hesitated before he stood and slipped the pages into the feeder of the printer.

He wouldn’t second-guess this. Whitney would be happy when she found out. He’d have told her already if there had been an opportunity…a time when she wasn’t already preoccupied with her own stress and work obligations. He hated to add more to her plate. He could handle this on his own.

Angel popped her head into the office. “You’re still here? I thought you left hours ago.”

He checked his watch. It was after two a.m. He’d meant to leave earlier, but he’d wanted to really comb through the details of the contract. Read all the fine print and make sure there were clauses in there that allowed him to back out, pending an inspection. Of course, he knew the place needed a lot of work, but in case there were bigger issues like electrical or plumbing that he hadn’t been able to see by just touring the place.

He felt better knowing Wes hadn’t noticed anything serious when the two of them had driven out to look at the place the week before. He’d asked Wes to keep the news that he was planning to expand to himself for now, until Trent had finalized everything and officially announced it.

“I’ll be leaving soon,” he said, running a hand over his tired face. “You can take off if you want. I’ll lock up.”

She hesitated. “You sure?”

“Absolutely. Get home to the boys. How’s that going, by the way?”

She smiled. “Better. Really, the transformation in Eddie since he joined the football team is incredible. He even watched a movie with Liam and me the other night. I mean, he was texting his old friends on his cell phone, but he was at least sitting in the same room doing it.”

“Good. I’m glad to hear it.” The more he’d gotten to know Eddie and Liam at football practice the last few weeks, the more confirmation he got that they were actually really great kids, just struggling to adjust. Angel had raised them to be polite and respectful and hardworking. They were fitting in with the boys on the team, and Trent had seen Eddie hanging out at the arcade with several of his teammates when he worked the bar at the Game Room. No more fighting or causing trouble. “They are great kids.”

“Too bad my ex is such an asshole,” Angel said, a note of bitterness in her tone.

Trent frowned. “Still giving you trouble over the divorce settlement?”

She sighed, entering the office. “I wish it was just about the settlement. I actually don’t give a shit about the money.” She paused. “He’s starting to contest the custody situation.” She looked pained as she said it. “The boys don’t know it yet, but he’s filing an application to have them with him full-time in L.A.”

“Thought the kids were cramping his newfound freedom?”

“Me too. Turns out his new girlfriend has three kids of her own and thinks him being a father is wonderful. She wants to meet the boys, have them integrate into their new blended family.” She rubbed her forehead.

“That’s not fair to the boys. They’re just getting settled here, and they should be with you.”

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