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“So it turns out, the woman who won me wants a date with her and her dude,” he says as we round the reservoir.

My ears are burning even more than my lungs. “It’s like you walked into your greatest fantasy,” I say.

“You’re telling me.”

I clear my throat dramatically. “Hello. Tell me. Tell me, please.”

Cruz flashes me a wolfish smile. “Let’s hope there’s something to tell.”

As we run, he regales me with their plans for this weekend, finishing with, “I figure I’ll get this out of my system before training camp. One last hurrah.”

“Then you’re shutting it down?” I ask.

He gives a long, exaggerated nod. “I don’t fuck around during the season.”

Huh. I didn’t realize that. But he had a killer last season. Maybe he’s onto something.

“Yeah, I hear ya,” I say.

As we fall silent for a stretch, I noodle on his mantra. If he’s not messing around in the fall, I probably shouldn’t either. I picture the season I want to have and the things I want to do for my mom and sister. How I want to be the man they rely on to help with bills and debt and life. The things my dad never did.

“What about you?” he asks as we slow our pace near the end of the park.

Huh? “What about me?”

“You and Tanner. Did you have your date?” He asks it with a quirk in his lips. A curious spark in his eyes. He’s dying for dirty deets.

But nope. Those are just mine. Just ours. No one will know that I’m counting down the hours till I see Tanner. That I’ve mapped out a long list of things I want to do to him, with him, for him. That I even picked out my clothes for our next meetup. Or that our plans for tonight feel a little different.

And it’s a good different.

A very good different. It can’t last, but I intend to enjoy it in every way while I can.

I slap on my poker face. “Tonight. And we’re just friends,” I add.

Cruz smiles, like he’s caught me in the act. “I didn’t ask if you were friends, Remington. I asked if you’d had your date.”

Oh, shit.

I’ve got to do better.

Things I never thought I’d think—my toes look damn good for my hot sex date tonight.

That afternoon, I’m nestled into a big-ass pedicure chair at Nailed It, Mom’s favorite nail salon in Chelsea. The Remington ladies are here with me. Mom converted me to pedicures a few years ago and it’s a family thing now—the three of us get them on the reg.

“Can’t believe you dragged me here again,” I mutter to Mom.

“I’d hardly say she dragged you,” Lucy says from the seat next to me. “You did that paraffin dip last time.”

“And it felt good,” I say as I cross my arms defiantly, even though the memory of that warm wax on my toes is a good one. “But she still dragged me.”

Mom stretches a hand across the space between our chairs, patting my arm. “Your tough guy cred is safe with me. If anyone asks, I’ll pretend you have cracked, dry feet that prove how strong you are.”

“Thanks, Mom. I’d appreciate that,” I say as the woman buffing the bottom of my feet laughs. She’s the salon owner and a friend of Mom’s.

“I’m telling you. Half my clientele is men now,” the salon owner says, a hint of Russian still in her accent.

Lucy sighs in over-the-top frustration. “First they came for the bath bombs. Now they’ve come for the pampering. What will men take from us next?”

“Men,” my mom says dryly.

I snort. “Well, you’re right on that count.”

Lucy chuckles, then dips her voice. “Speaking of…”

I go on high alert, shaking my head. “Nope. Not here.”

My sister rolls her eyes. “I wasn’t going to ask about you, Mister Self-Centered. I was going to tell you about this new guy I met on the apps.”

“Oh. Carry on,” I say, properly put in my place.

“He’s a single dad and so cute,” Lucy says, then tells us more about her date as we finish up. When we’re done, I pay for the pedis, then we head to a nearby juice bar and grab smoothies.

At a quiet table in the corner, my mom takes a sip of her mango smoothie, then shoots me a curious stare. “But speaking of you this time…do I have to listen to Silas Talks Sports to hear about your love life?”

I sit up straight, alarm bells blasting at full volume. “What are you talking about?”

“He said you went to Tanner’s game last night and seemed to be enjoying watching him.” There’s delight in her voice, like she wants it to be true.

But it can’t be true. It just can’t.

“Seriously? Do they have nothing better to write about than me going to a fucking baseball game?”

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