Colton laughs out loud. The fucker. "Pace is not a nice guy."

Sophie's eyes fly to mine again, and her lips purse out as if she's weighing this information.

"The only reason I'm not going to kill you is because it would upset Sophie," I bit out, glaring at him.

"He's sweet, Colton," she says, as if trying to convince us both.  Her innocence is adorable.

"He's nice to you, sweetness, because he knows I'd kill him otherwise," Colton tells her, planting a kiss on her neck.

"Pace?" she asks.

"Don't listen to him, cupcake. I can be nice. I'll be the first to admit, a lot of the girls I've gone out with in the past have been…temporary playthings."

Sophie's eyebrows dart up.

I shrug. "I'm just speaking the truth. But I understand the difference between that and a quality girl like Kylie."

"Colt, will you give us a minute, darling? I just want to talk to Pace," Sophie says.

He presses his lips to hers, and grunts out a reply. Reluctantly dragging his mouth away from hers, he finally leaves us alone.


Sophie turns back to me, her expression serious. "So you like her?" she asks.

"I do." There's just something about her. Maybe I'm starting to outgrow the sloppy drunken hookups that my weekends usually consist of. Maybe I'm ready for something real.

"So what's the problem? I know you won't let Colton's opinion stand in your way."

"Nah. He'll get over it. I wanted your advice because Kylie doesn't seem interested in me. Which is something quite new for me." I grin crookedly and shrug. I sound like a cocky asshole, but it’s the truth.

"My advice? Honestly? Go get her, tiger." She gives me a playful smirk.

"With all due respect, what the hell do you mean, cupcake?"

"I'm going to let you in on a secret." She pats the stool beside her, indicating I should sit. I do. "A girl likes it when her man goes all alpha male on her ass," she continues.

"What are you saying?"

"Like when Colton refused to accept that I had left. He flew to Italy to win me back."

I remember that trip well. I'd actually tried to talk him out of it. It's great to woo the girl you love, but he was married at the time. I told him he should deal with his baggage first, but his plan had worked. "You're saying I shouldn’t take no for an answer?"

"Exactly. Go win her over. Show her why you two would be great together."

How the hell do I do that? I rub my temples. I picture her and her baby son. An idea takes hold, and refuses to let go.

"I got this, Soph."

She grins at me adoringly. "I always knew you did."

Chapter Five


Today has been exhausting, and it's only noon. With Max's nanny out of town for the next two weeks for a long overdue honeymoon, I know I'm going to have my hands full. We've played trucks, kicked balls around the yard, finger-painted on sheets of construction paper, made up songs, danced, read books and now I'm ready for a nap. Of course Max is still raring to go.

With Max content for a moment to explore the little plastic farm I've set down in front of him, I plop down onto the couch and kick my feet up onto the oversized ottoman.

I can't help my mind drifting back to yesterday and how it felt to see Pace with my son. If there was ever a form of foreplay for a single mom – watching an attractive, attentive man interact with your child was it. Max is my heart, and so observing how careful and sweet Pace was with him made me feel all kinds of things I'd rather not admit.

A knock at the door breaks my little daydream and Max's head pops up. I push myself up off the couch, wondering who it could be as Max races toward it. I need to teach him about stranger danger.

I pull open the door and am momentarily stunned into silence.

It's Pace.

He's standing on my front porch holding an inflated baby pool and a bagful of water toys.

What in the hell?

He's dressed in a simple white t-shirt and dark jeans that hint at the muscle beneath, and a pair of leather flip flops on his long tan feet. His eyes dart from mine down to the baby at my feet and a slow smile overtakes his mouth.

"Hope you don't mind…Sophie mentioned that your nanny is going to be out of town for the next few weeks…I thought maybe you guys could use some company…"

"I…uh…" I'm at a loss for words apparently. Men don't show up at my house with toys. Especially not men this utterly attractive that make my breasts perk up, my nipples pushing against the lace of my bra, demanding attention. Son of bitch!

Pace's eyes wander from mine downward and I cross my arms over my chest. That damn dimple adorns his cheek while his mouth curls into a crooked grin.

Pace's gaze continues down until he reaches Max, who's currently hiding behind my legs.

"Hey little man," Pace says.

All I can think about is the fact that there's a gorgeous man on my porch and I'm unshowered, unshaven, dressed in a tank top that shows my ratty old bra straps and, oh dear God….a pair of maternity shorts I hung onto because they were sooo comfortable. My child is thirteen months old and I'm still in maternity clothes. What is wrong with me? I've lost the baby weight – all except for the last ten pounds and the muffin top that sits at my waistband. I vow here and now to begin a gym regimen soon. Tomorrow. And to throw these damn maternity shorts away. In the three seconds I've taken to ponder all of this, Max has emerged from behind my legs and charges straight at Pace.