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His smile widened, and I had a deep desire to kiss those grinning lips of his.

“Probably more depending on who’s playing. All the bartenders share their tips. Meaning it doesn’t matter which bar you work, we all share.”

I could feel my pulse quicken. I felt as though I’d been running way too fast and needed to slow down.

“You’re serious, aren’t you?”

“As a shark attack.”

I couldn’t react for a moment. I merely stared at him. The concept of having more than enough money to live on had been a dream of mine ever since I decided to have my baby. And now, through no fault of my own, that dream would be coming true. It felt as if some sort of weight had been lifted from my heart, a weight I’d been carrying around ever since I first took that pregnancy test and started down this path. “I’ve never made that kind of money in my life.”

I decided that I needed to thank my aunt and uncle more. After all, if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t have this job.

“Well, you’ll be making it now. How do you think Colt bought that house he’s living in? Mine isn’t quite as big, but it’s close. Believe me, this is only the beginning for you. You still play guitar?”

“How’d you know about that?” I barely said two words to Scotty when we were growing up. How the heck did he know I played guitar?

“I remember the summer Daryl bought you a guitar and lessons from my mom.”

Either I was the stupidest kid around, or I simply didn’t pay attention to details back then.

“Miss Nancy was your mom? How didn’t I know that?”

“I lived with my dad. My parents got divorced when I was thirteen.”

“Thanks for clarifying. She was the best all-around teacher I’ve ever had. Her students loved her.”

I remembered how patient and kind she was. I’ve thought of her often and wondered whatever happened to her. She was pretty, too. I remembered her thick, long, deep-brown hair and how I wanted hair like that when I grew up. I tried dying my red hair once and made a mess of it. I went back to my natural color as soon as I could. Some changes just didn’t work, and that was one of them.

“Still do, and she still gives lessons if you need a refresher course. She’s over in Cricket now, but it’s only about an hour away. I’m sure she’d love to see you. That’s if you’re still playing.”

I hesitated for a moment, not wanting to tell him. Thing was, Colt already knew, and if Colt knew, everyone would soon know, so there was no point in my keeping it a secret.

“I wasn’t going to tell anyone, but ever since Darci was born, I started playing again. Colt knows because he saw me playing last night, but I don’t want anyone else to know. Darci seems to like the music. Puts her to sleep better than a story. Doesn’t keep her asleep, though, but it gives me a few hours for myself.”

I loved playing music for my baby girl. She was the best audience ever. All she did was smile at me. Nothing better.

“Tammy loves girls with guitars.”

“Like the song by the Judds?”

“Yep. Before you know it, you’ll be joining her up on stage.”

The idea of playing in front of people caused my stomach to cinch and my throat to tighten. I certainly wasn’t good enough to play in front of anyone but my daughter, and I didn’t intend to ever play in front of anyone but my daughter.

“That’s never going to happen,” I told him, and I meant it. I hoped he’d let it go, but I knew better.

“Didn’t your mamma ever teach you to never say never?”

“No, but Aunt Donna did. I must’ve forgotten all about that lesson. Still, it’s never going to happen.”

He wasn’t getting it. No way would I get up on a stage. Not now anyway. When I was younger, it was all I dreamed of, but I’m older now, and I’ve got a responsibility to my daughter to provide for her. Yes, I dreamt about having a career in music, but I knew better. Still, I longed for exactly that, but I wouldn’t admit it to Scotty or anyone… at least not yet. Not while I was still raising Darci. That kind of dream took too much work and time away from Darci. I wasn’t willing to do that, especially not now when she needed her mommy.

“I wouldn’t be so sure. Tammy has a way of getting you to do whatever she wants. She’s a charming force. Sure as I’m standing in this crib aisle, you’re gonna be up on that stage with Tammy, playing your guitar. Now pick out the bed you want for Darci and whatever else you need, and let’s get out of here. We still have to stop at Daryl’s ranch, and I have to go to work in a few hours, so we better get a move on. One thing that Tammy can’t abide is anyone being late for their shift.”

“Good to know. Did anyone ever tell you how annoying you are?” I was kidding, of course, but it felt good to be on that kind of level with him. I could tell that Scotty would be an easy friend, and I liked that… and liked him… probably more than I should.

“Almost everybody I know.” He chuckled and at once, I was back to thinking dirty thoughts about him. He was simply too damn handsome for his own good.