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“How much would it be?”

I hoped it would be something reasonable. Something I could afford. Living with Colt sounded like a perfect temporary solution, but in the long term, Darci and I needed our own place… our own home where we could put down roots.

“How much can you afford?”

As much as I liked that offer, I had to be realistic about this.

“That’s not how this works. You make the price, and I tell you whether I can afford it or not.”

“Okay, six hundred a month.”

Right off the bat, I knew I couldn’t afford that. Besides, we were friends now… with benefits. That had to mean something.

“For one bedroom? That seems a little high.”

“It’s two bedrooms with your own private bathroom, that has a soaking tub. Like I said, I have a big house. How about four hundred?”

Darci never had her own bedroom. This would be a first. Part of me didn’t want her to leave my room, but I knew it was time for both of us to have our own space.

“A soaking tub?”

He nodded. “With a view of the hills. Plus, your room is already furnished, but you can change that if you wanted to. The room or rooms will be totally yours to decorate however you want.”

The deal seemed too good to be true… too good to pass up.

“You’ve got yourself a deal,” I told him, grinning. “Is there a move-in cost?”

“Yes, and it’s a doozy.”

I giggled at the word doozy. “Okay. What is it?”

“You tell Mickey about Darci.”

“Yeah, right.” I huffed out a laugh, as if that was even a possibility.

He gazed over at me, and I knew he was serious. My laughter faded as reality snapped in once again. I knew I’d eventually have to tell him, but I’d hoped I could put it off for a few more days or weeks or even months.

He continued, “He’s probably figured it out already. If Daryl didn’t out and out tell him. Mickey didn’t punch him for nothing. He must suspect something, and even if he doesn’t, he’s one of my best friends. No way will I keep this from him. He deserves to know he has a kid.”

I sucked in a breath, then slowly let it out. “You’re right. I know you’re right. It’s just hard for me. I don’t want anything from him, and he needs to know that upfront. I don’t want him to feel obligated.”

“Well, he should feel obligated, but I get it. You want it to come naturally to him and not forced.”

“Exactly. I can’t have him resenting Darci. That would affect her entire life, and I refuse to allow that. If he can’t love her and do right by her, I don’t want him anywhere near her. She’s my little sweetheart, and I’ll do anything and everything to protect her.”

He nodded like he understood.

“Mickey might say and do things to sabotage his life, but under all that bravado, he has a good and decent heart. I think he’ll step up and be a good dad. He’ll surprise you, I’m sure.”

I let his words settle in for a couple of beats. After all, this would be a completely new path for me. I’d been working under the assumption that I would be a single parent, and Darci would never know her father at least not until she was much older. If I went along with what Colt was saying, Mickey would be a part of our lives from now on. Was I ready for that?

And more importantly, was Mickey ready to be a daddy?

After the bar fight last night, I didn’t have much confidence in Colt’s words, but at this point, I also didn’t have much choice in the matter.

“You’re right. Mickey should know the truth. How he responds to the truth is up to him. I’ll tell him as soon as I can.”

I wanted to gradually build up to this. To think about what I would say and how I would say it. Then there was where I should tell him. Maybe take him out for dinner? Or a drink? Or maybe at a park during the day?