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“Do you not trust them?”

“Swayze …” I roll my eyes up at her. “Not. Your. Problem.”

She frowns. “Goodnight.”

I should say something. Stop her from leaving. Reassure her that I’m not upset with her—but I don’t. We’ve had plenty of conversations lately. I’m surprised and a little disappointed she didn’t mention or remind me of this before now.

The front door closes.

“We’re in a real pickle, baby girl.”

Morgan grins again, destined to spend most of her childhood laughing at my mistakes. Her mom sure did.

*

Nate is upset with me. I want to help him, but that would make Griffin mad at me. Every day it gets harder to treat my time with Morgan as just a job. My worry about who will watch Morgan may not be the same as Nate’s, but it’s close.

She’s not just a job. And that little fact could be very bad for me.

“Griff?”

“In the bedroom.”

His house smells like pot roast. My stomach growls in response.

“Hey.”

“Swayz.” He turns from the small pile of neatly folded clothes on his bed, giving me the once-over.

“Griff.” My eyes make the same quick inspection of him.

We both grin. It’s sexy. It’s just … us.

“Tell me about your day.” He turns back to his bed and fills a bag with his folded clothes.

“They scanned my brain early this morning.”

“And?” He glances over his shoulder, concern marring his beautiful face.

“Preliminary results looked good. My doctor called this afternoon to confirm it.”

Griffin’s body melts into relief. I suppose it’s a relief, but it still doesn’t explain how I know Nate so well.

“Morgan giggled for the first time. I felt bad that the professor missed her first giggle, but I think parents who work full time have to expect they’ll miss a lot of firsts. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll shove her down when she takes her first steps or if I’ll let it happen and gloat.”

“You’ll gloat.” He chuckles.

“You think? I don’t know. If Jenna were still alive and they were both working full time to maintain their high standard of living, I might gloat. But Nate’s just trying to survive as a single parent. You know?”

“I suppose. Have you started packing?”

“You could say that.” I plop down on his bed next to his bag.

He eyes me. “And how would you say it?”

“I have my dirty clothes by the door to take down to wash when I get home.”

“You’re dragging your feet. Do you not want to go?” His lips pull into a tight line like the ones next to his eyes as he focuses on packing.

“I want to go with you.”

“With me?”

“Yes. Anywhere with you.”

“It’s not a cabin in the woods for a romantic weekend. I asked you to ride on the back of a motorcycle for a twelve hour trip to a motorcycle rally.”

“True. You need to work on your romantic getaway ideas.”

“If you don’t want to go—”

“I’m going. What do you want me to say?” Flopping back on his pillow, I cover my face and laugh. “I realize you’re—we’re—going because these guys you met through work invited you. But they are in their forties and fifties. You’re twenty-four.”

“I like riding with them. Age shouldn’t matter.”

“True. But you said you haven’t been to this rally before. So I searched it up online and read some blogs from people who have attended it.”

“You can’t believe everything you read online.”

Lacing my fingers behind my head, I grunt. “I hope not because it sounds like a mix of vulgarity, old people mourning their youth, beer chugging, loud noise, and pole dancing.”

“Then don’t go.”

I sit up. “I’m going even if it’s not my crowd.”

He stills his hands, studying me for a few seconds. “It could be fun.”

It could be, if you’re into pot-bellied men acting like chauvinistic assholes, making crude comments to women in body paint and pasties.

“It could be.” Biting my lips together, I nod. “I smell pot roast.”

“In the oven. My mom dropped off leftovers.”

I leap off the bed. “Did you eat?”

“Yeah.”

“Good, so the rest is mine. Do you have bread?”

“In the freezer.”

“Ugh … that sprouted grain crap?” I grumble on the way to the kitchen.

“It’s pot roast. Why do you need bread?”

I shove a knife through the frozen pieces of sprouted grain crap to break them apart.

“Here. You’re going to cut off a finger or ram the knife into my counter.” He separates two slices and puts them in the toaster.

“I like pot roast on bread, lots of ketchup.” I pull the pot roast out of the oven and toss the hot pads aside.”

He pins me to the counter. “I like you in my bed, lots of begging.”

“Don’t distract me. I’m starving.”

“Me too.” His head dips to my neck.

I close my eyes as his tongue trails up to my ear. “Griff …” Everything south of my stomach wants sex right here, right now. But my stomach craves pot roast on bread, dripping with ketchup.

My toast pops up.

“Five minutes. Just let me eat first.” I rest my hands on his chest to push him away.

He adjusts himself, taking a step back. “I can’t compete with pot roast.”

“You know I would choose you over pot roast.” I fork the tender meat onto the toast and squeeze a moderate to heavy amount of ketchup on it. “But why would you make me choose?”

Ketchup drips onto the plate as I take a huge bite.

“You can sit at the table.” He chuckles.

I shake my head. “This is fine.”

“I’ll throw some clothes in a bag. We should go back to your place and get your laundry going first.” He heads down the hall toward the bedroom.

I inhale the rest of the sandwich, mopping up every drip of ketchup with the crappy sprouted grain bread. “Make sure to tell your mom she makes the best pot roast ever. Then make sure to never say those same words to my mom.”

“Got it.”

As I wash off the plate, my phone rings. It’s probably my mom. She has creepy timing. I retrieve the phone from my bag. It’s not my mom.

“Hey, Professor.”

A shrill scream sounds, clenching my heart. It’s Morgan.

“Sorry to bother you, but she’s…” distress bleeds from his voice “…colicky or something. It’s never been this bad. I don’t want to be the overreacting parent that calls the pediatrician, but I’m …”

“Okay, just … I don’t know. Maybe she’s teething?”

“I looked that up. It seems a bit early, but … shh …” He tries to soothe her. “It’s like something is hurting her.”

“It could be gas pains. I really don’t know. There’s no shame in calling her doctor.”

The line goes silent for a few seconds, but then another scream pierces my ear.

“Did you call your mom?”

“Yeah, she … she said it was probably colic. Stupid catch-all. But she won’t stop crying. She was just fine an hour ago. God … I don’t know what to do.”

“How long has she been crying?”

“I … I don’t know. Ten minutes. Thirty. An hour. I don’t know. It feels like forever.”

“Do you need me to come over?” I hate offering. It’s not going to sit well with Griffin.

“No. Yes. I don’t know. I can’t think.”

“I’ll be over in a bit.”

“Thanks.” The defeat in his voice tugs at my heart.

“Who’s that?” Griffin carries his overnight bag into the living room.

I cringe. “It was Nate. Morgan won’t stop crying. He’s a little distressed.”

“Did you tell him to call a doctor?”

“Yes. I think he’s afraid to call the doctor. His mom thinks it’s colic and it probably is, but he’s just … not able to think straight.”

Griffin shakes his head, flipping off the lights. “Did you tell him you’re off duty right now?” He opens the back door as I grab my purse.

“I uh … told him I’d be over in a bit.”

Thunk.

He drops his bag to the floor and flips back on the light. “You’re fucking kidding me.”

“Griff, I won’t be long.”

“How do you know that? Do you have some magical pill to give her? Is that all you’re doing? Driving over there to deliver the magic pill and then coming right back home?”

I don’t know what I’m going to do. But I need to go because I won’t be able to think about anything else except the shrill cries and distressed pleas.

“Don’t be mad.”

“You’re choosing him over me.”

“Knock it off!”

His eyes narrow with my outburst.

“It’s not a competition—not between you and a sandwich and not between you and Nate. I’m going over there because it feels like the right thing to do. This isn’t any different than the time you skipped out on me to help a friend whose bike broke down an hour north of town. I didn’t accuse you of choosing him over me. He needed your help more. That’s it.”

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