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He was grateful for her understanding. “Am I still your favorite client?”

“No,” she said with a laugh. “Take care, Trent, and if you’re in the market again, reach out anytime.”

“Thanks, Meredith. I appreciate it.” He disconnected the call and headed into the back stock room, where Angel and Max were busy doing inventory.

At least that’s what they were supposed to be doing.

Trent cleared his throat loudly, and his two employees in the middle of a make-out session broke apart abruptly. Angel’s expression held a flushed, guilty look, but Max was grinning from ear to ear.

“Oh, hey, Trent. We were just…”

He held up a hand. “I’m going to pretend I didn’t see it.” He was honestly thrilled for them, and he had no policies about staff not dating at the bar. But right now, his employees fooling around was the least of his concerns. “Can you two keep an eye on the bar for a while? I have to run out.”

Angel nodded over her clipboard. “Sure. No problem. If it’s not busy, I can teach Max some things,” she said.

“Oh, you can, can you?” Max teased.

Angel shot him a look that saidcool it, but then a small grin crept onto her face.

“Thanks,” Trent said.

“Everything okay?” Angel asked. “I couldn’t help but overhear Whitney out there just now.”

Trent nodded. “She had a rough day.” That’s all he’d say. He’d realized that maybe he did share too much personal information with his bar manager, and maybe he shouldn’t be as forthcoming about private matters at home. “She’ll be okay.”

“Good,” Angel said, gesturing for Max to quit staring at her ass and get back to work.

Grabbing his jacket, Trent left the bar. A moment later, he jumped into his Jeep and cranked the music, feeling so much lighter at having made this decision as he headed toward Rejuvenation.


Trent walked up the front steps toward Whitney’s family home, then turned and headed back toward his Jeep as sweat pooled on his lower back. He’d been in the house a dozen times; he’d met Whitney’s mother—had dinner with her, played cards with her—but this visit was different. He paced in the driveway, the temptation to jump into his Jeep and drive away strong.

Nope. He couldn’t chicken out. This was important, and he didn’t want to put it off any longer.

But did he really need to do this? It was the twenty-first century. He didn’t need permission to ask the woman he loved to marry him, but he did want it.

But was it too soon? Would Lydia approve?

He swallowed hard as a million thoughts and emotions spiraled like a whirlwind through him, and he took several deep breaths of contemplation. They’d only been dating a short while—but he knew how he felt. He was certain of how Whitney felt, too. They’d talked about the future. They’d talked about their goals and dreams. They were on the same page, and Trent couldn’t imagine his life without Whitney in it.

And her mother was a huge part of her life—theirlives. It was the respectful thing to do.

Squaring his shoulders, he took the steps two at a time and knocked on the front door before he could change his mind.

He ran a shaky hand through his hair as he waited.

Lydia answered the door a moment later, dressed in her usual baking apron and fuzzy slippers they’d given her for her birthday. Her hair in rollers meant she planned on going to bingo at the community center that evening. “Trent! What a nice surprise.” She gave him a quick hug and looked past him. “Whitney’s not with you?”

He cleared his throat as he shook his head. “I…uh…actually wanted to ask you something.”

Realization dawned on the older woman’s face, and Trent held his breath as he waited for any sign of encouragement. Would she be okay with this? Would she approve?

It felt as though there was so much on the line in that moment. His future happiness…

A slow smile formed on her expression, and his shoulders relaxed.

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