Page 17 of Naughty Girl

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With a chuckle, I step toward her. “No nudes. Though if you want to give me a second gift, we can definitely make it happen later.”

She narrows her eyes at me. “So no nudes, but you still get texts?”

“I get texts from friends.” Granted, I have barely opened my inbox or have gone through my feed ever since the day started. “You can take a look if you want.” I hand her my phone.

She looks at it then makes this sweet face. “Aww. That’s cute. You’d do that?”

“Not usually, but if it’ll make you feel better.”

She hands me my phone back without looking at it. “Thanks. I don’t need it.”

I pull her to me. “You’re an intriguing one, Riley.”

She kisses my cheek. “And you just earned yourself a nude.”

My pulse skitters. I don’t want this day to ever end…



One day at a time.

I’ve been repeating this mantra all morning, but the first day back to the office is already testing my sanity.

We arrived yesterday, and she was dropped at her friend Lily’s. I offered for her to stay at my place, but she said she’d go to her old apartment with the cheating roommate, and grab her things and stay with Lily for a while.

I don’t like that she’s had to move from her place because she caught her roommate fooling around with Alex. But I can’t think about that a lot, or I’ll only keep feeding this resentment toward my son.

Have I failed him so much as a father, as a male figure? I never cheated on his mother, or anyone. But maybe not having remarried and shown what a healthy lifelong relationship was like is on me. They say kids learn by example, right? And I didn’t give him one in that department. Neither did his mother, since she didn’t remarry.

Is it too late now?

The irony almost makes me choke.

What a great example it’d be to marry his ex-girlfriend. I snort.

Though I can’t see myself being married to anyone else.

Riley evokes something inside me, and she gets me in a way that no one else has. Even when I was her age, dating people her age. It’s hard to explain.

I snort again. What am I thinking? Marriage? She’d probably roll her beautiful blue eyes at me.

Though what if she didn’t though? We don’t have to make it official right away. We can keep it a secret for now, until Alex is happily dating and we find a good way to break it to him and also at work. There’s no need to rush an announcement. Just a private proposal, to give her what I never imagined I’d ever give anyone again. The idea takes root in my brain, and a warm glow of joy expands in my chest.

What if she—

“Rhett,” my assistant Beth calls. “Your birthday event on Saturday.”

I run my fingers down my face. Ah. Every year I throw a party to reconnect with some business partners, and meet friends and family. It really started as an easy way out of seeing them individually and instead meet them all at once after I returned from my trips. “Yes.”

Beth fixes her sleek reading glasses. “I meant to tell you all looks good. I emailed Riley and she’s even set up a back-up plan for the band if it rains. She got the latest RSVP list from her assistant.”


Hearing her name is like listening to the simple answer to a very complex equation. How does she feel, organizing my birthday which Alex will attend? Has he talked to her? I look at my desk, at my screen, and shake my head. I won’t focus on anything else if I don’t check in with her. I clear my throat. “Riley. I need to talk to her.”

Beth tilts her head to the side, confused. “No need. I already took care of it.”

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