“No, it’s meant for teething. It will numb his gums.”

This kid shit was more than I wanted to think about.

“Where’s Rush?”

“He went running on the beach. He’ll be back soon. He’s been gone for an hour. Now, back to Harlow,” she said, reaching into the fridge to retrieve food that didn’t look appealing at all. “She forgave you and let you off the hook and you’re pissed because she didn’t put up a fight and is now going out with Adam.”

Not exactly. She made it sound like I was being selfish.

“I just . . . wanted to talk about it more.”

Blaire looked up at me from where she was slicing a tomato. “Really? That’s what you wanted? Because most of the time when a guy is trying to give a girl the brush-off he wants no drama. Sounds like Harlow gave you the easy out.”

“I wasn’t brushing her off,” I said defensively as Nate threw his frozen blue thing onto the floor and began clapping as if he had just done something fantastic.

Blaire smirked. “He wants you to pick it up. Be warned, this is his favorite game. He’ll treat you like a dog. He will keep doing it as long as you fetch it.”

I raised my eyebrows. “Well what the he— I mean, heck do I do then?”

She shrugged. “Be his favorite uncle and pick it up or be the party poopero and ignore his game.”


Dammit. I reached down and got it and handed it to him and he beamed at me as if I was the most wonderful person in the world. The kid was cute. And at the moment I felt pretty damn special . . . until he threw it on the floor again and began clapping.

“He’s a manipulator,” I told her as I bent down to get it.

“Or you’re a sucker,” Rush said as he opened the back door and stepped inside. He smirked at me, then went over to Blaire to kiss her openly right there in front of me and the kid.

“I need help. Let her face go, you’re gonna eat it off,” I grumbled.

Rush went a little longer on the kiss just to be an ass, then shot a look over at me. “This about Harlow again?”

“Yes,” Blaire said, pressing one last kiss to his lips before going back to the tomato.

“Dadadadada,” Nate said happily, and Blaire and Rush both froze. Blaire dropped her knife on the bar and covered her mouth.

Rush stared at his son with an emotion I didn’t understand.

“Dadadadada,” Nate said again.

“Ohmygod he did say it,” Blaire said as tears filled her eyes and she laughed out loud.

Rush walked around the bar and took Nate from me as if I wasn’t even standing there. “Hey, buddy,” he said with awe in his voice. Nate patted Rush’s chest. “Dadadadadada,” he said again.

Blaire made another happy cry sound and Rush grinned. “That’s right, buddy. You can say it now, can’t you?”

I looked over at Blaire and I realized this had to be Nate’s first word. I was witnessing a special family moment and I needed to leave. This was their time with their son. I would talk to Blaire later.

Blaire ran around the counter and wrapped her arms around Rush’s back. “Who is this, Nate?” she asked, and once again he happily answered.

I didn’t say anything as I slipped out the door and headed for my truck. I quickly sent Rush a text.

“Tell Nate I said congrats on his first word. I’ll talk to y’all later. That was a moment y’all needed to enjoy alone.”

It was after eight and all I could think about was Harlow’s f**king date. Why? I had let her go. I had told her I couldn’t commit to her. No dating. No nothing. I just had one damn good memory to cherish. The best. Now I had to move on. If I was scared to be involved in more than a shallow relationship then I needed to embrace my fate. I just wasn’t going to be shallow with Nan. That was too f**ked up.

Harlow was looking for more. I was looking for less. So, I headed to the closest honky-tonk. I’d find a hot little number who just wanted a good time and take her home. I didn’t want the strings of a girl from the club. They were all f**king looking for more than I wanted to give.

I was familiar with this place. It was go-to when I wanted to get out of Rosemary. They had good cover bands and cold beer. College girls were always in abundance from the local state school.

Walking in, I scanned the place until I saw several promising opportunities then made my way over to the bar. Lynette was bartending tonight. She was a looker for someone old enough to be my mom.

“Hey, handsome. Haven’t seen you all week. Thought you might have left town again.”

I flashed her a smile that I knew wouldn’t make her blush. She was too hardcore, but I knew she still liked being flirted with. “Can’t leave you for too long,” I replied.

“Bullshit.” She grinned and set a tall mug in front of me. “That’s the best we got on tap tonight.”

“Thanks, sexy,” I replied and winked.

Lynette let out a bark of laughter then walked over to help someone else. I turned to look out over the room. Two pretty blondes with matching black halter tops and red leather miniskirts were sending me flirty little smiles. They weren’t twins but they were trying real hard to be. The matching outfits were a nice touch. Not to mention they had some killer legs. They weren’t in Harlow’s league, though . . .

No! Fuck no! I interrupted my own thoughts. I wasn’t going to compare girls to Harlow. Those two were hot. They had nice plump tits about to fall out of their barely there tops. And the spiked heels were doing it for me. I shoved off from the bar.

“Figured those two would get your attention,” I heard Lynette say in an amused tone.

I glanced back at her. “You know me well.”

She just shook her head and fixed another drink.

Both girls tried to strike sexy poses as I approached them. They wanted it. This would be too damn easy. I needed easy tonight.

“You two here all alone? Looking like that?” I asked then took a sip of my drink. I wasn’t going to give them any dumbass lines.

They giggled and glanced at each other. “Yes,” they both replied.

So they were doing the answer at the same time thing. They had this twins bit perfected. I was impressed.

The band began to pump out a deep, heavy, sexy sound and I set my beer down. “Dance with me,” I said and walked past them onto the floor. I didn’t have to look back to know they were following me.

I wanted to see how good these two really were. They were promising a lot with those bodies and the way they were dressed, but their dance moves would tell me if they were worth my night. Besides, I wasn’t drunk yet. I needed more alcohol for this.

“I’m Carly,” the one with dark brown eyes said as she moved her body close enough that it pressed her tits out over her top even more.

“I’m Casey,” the other one said as her body pressed against my back.

They had even chosen names that matched. Cute.

“Show me what you got, girls,” I said as I slid one hand on the hip of the girl in front and took the girl’s hand from behind me and wrapped it around my waist.

This was what I was telling myself I wanted. So I needed to f**king learn how to enjoy it again. Casey moved her hand down to rest over my dick and rub it as she moved her body against my back. I slipped my hand down over Carly’s ass and let two fingers tuck underneath the hemline and tease the bare skin just under there. She had nice skin. Her br**sts were pressed just under my mouth and with each move of our bodies I let myself focus on how good it would be to suck on those nipples. My c**k started stiffening under my jeans as Casey kept rubbing.

I moved my legs farther apart and let her slip her hand down and grab my balls through my jeans. These two could give me some relief tonight.

“Feel good?” Casey asked in my ear.

“When your mouth’s on it it’ll feel better,” I replied.

“I like it on my knees,” Carly replied, licking her lips.

Yeah, these two would do.


Adam had been polite and attentive during dinner. He hadn’t mentioned my dad or Mase once, which was a relief. It helped wash that worry away. Old habits die hard, and I was good at putting up walls when I was suspicious of guys using me to get to my dad.

We had watched an action movie because we both liked them. It was nice not to be “on” and worried about conversation for two hours. Then he had taken me home. Nan’s car was gone and so was Mase’s truck. I could invite him in, I guessed. Was that what I was supposed to do?

“I had a good time tonight,” I told him as we walked toward the door.

“Me, too. I’m hoping we can do it again,” he said with sincerity in his voice.

“I’d like that,” I answered honestly. Because it was true. I had been nervous but the date had been easy. It had also given me something to do tonight.

I reached into my purse and pulled out the keys. “Would you like to come in for a drink? I have coffee,” I suggested, not sure if I should be offering something stronger.

Adam grinned. “Yeah, I would. I wasn’t really ready to say good-bye just yet.”

I sighed with relief. I had done the right thing.

I opened the door and held it for him as he walked inside.

“Come on in,” I said.

He let out a low whistle. I glanced around. The place was kind of impressive for a house on a beach. “Nan has expensive taste,” I explained and set my purse down on the table by the entrance. “Kitchen is this way,” I said before walking toward it.

“You adjusting to living with someone you don’t get along with?” he asked.

“Yes and no. It is what it is. We’re working through it but ignoring each other,” I replied. We entered the kitchen. “You want coffee or something else? Nan has a full bar.”

“I need to drive home so coffee is good,” he said.

I kept myself busy making the coffee and let Adam look around the place as he waited. “Is your brother staying here, too?” His question immediately made me tense. I had to remind myself that he was just trying to make small talk. Talking about Mase did not mean he was interested in my dad.

“He’s staying here while he’s visiting.”

“A family gathering,” he said with a smile.

I wouldn’t think about that. I would not. I had to learn to trust people. Just because he was mentioning my family did not mean he was a fan of my father’s. I had to overcome that insecurity.

“Not exactly,” I replied, and pulled two cups down from the cabinet.

I heard the beep that sounded when an entry door or window opened and I froze. If it was Nan this could be bad. Then I heard her voice laughing and a deeper voice. I felt sick to my stomach. Please, God, don’t let that be Grant. Not right now. I can’t deal with that. I wasn’t ready just yet.

Her heels clacked against the marble as she walked down the hallway. They were headed this way.

“Nan,” I explained to him as I poured a cup of coffee.

“Ah,” he said simply.

“Cream and sugar?” I asked.

“Black is good,” he replied.

I handed him the cup as Nan came staggering into the kitchen on the arm of a tall blond guy with a dark tan. He was dressed in a pale pink polo and a pair of plaid shorts. If he weren’t so attractive the outfit would have looked ridiculous on him.

“Well, hello,” he said, smiling at me in a way that made me uncomfortable. Then his gaze moved to Adam and his eyes widened a bit. “Adam, hey,” he said as Nan looked sourly at both of us.

“What are you doing here?” she snapped.

“I live here, and he’s my company,” I replied, stirring the sugar into my coffee and praying she would just go away.

“Pull in the claws, kitty. It’s your sister and Adam. Be nice.”

“She’s not my sister,” Nan said angrily.

I wasn’t in the mood for her stupid temper tantrums. I was getting sick of it.

“Then you probably should move out of the house my daddy paid for,” I said, and took a sip of my coffee.

The hate sparking off her eyes told me I’d pushed the right buttons. Good. She needed to grow up.

“How dare you!”

“How dare I what, Nan? Remind you that we share a father who owns this house? It’s as much mine as it is yours. If you want to argue, then please call him. I’m sure he’ll clarify that for you.”

The smart mouth was coming from somewhere. I wasn’t sure where; it was as if I’d been possessed and had no control over my words.

The tall blond guy laughed, then patted Nan’s arms as if to soothe her. “She’s your sister, all right. That mouth says it all. Calm your sexy ass and leave her and Adam alone. We aren’t here to drink coffee,” he said, then winked at me as if I wanted to know about his and Nan’s plans. “I’m August, by the way,” he said.

He was the golf pro I had heard about. I was just glad he wasn’t Grant. More glad than I wanted to admit. “Harlow. Nice to meet you,” I replied.

“Don’t talk to her,” Nan spat.

“You get mean when you drink tequila. I told you I was going to stop letting you drink so much,” August said.

“No, she’s mean all the time. Tequila has nothing to do with it,” I assured him.

Adam laughed this time, and I saw August hold back a smile. “I think I’ll stop things before we have a fight on our hands. Come on, Nan, let’s go upstairs.”

The beep sounded again and we all turned to see who was here.

The heavy sound of boots told me it was Mase before he walked into the kitchen.

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