“You think he sent them anyway?”
“Yeah. I do.”
“To make a point?”
I gave him a look, eyebrows up. “It’s something your father would do.”
Logan whistled. “You’re right. He’d do it to let her know that he can send cops to her new front door.”
He grunted. “More like emotional abuse.”
He was eyeing me, a dark look passing over his gaze. “Maybe I should stay longer than we talked about?”
“No. I need time with Nova and with Quincey to sort everything out.”
“You sure? I can have Taylor come here. She’d have no problem with that. They’re pretty flexible about covering shifts at her job.”
“I know, but I’m good.” He didn’t know that I was giving him and Aspen one week, and then both were being sent back to their respective loved ones. What I said, I meant.
I was going to take this time to bond with my daughter and figure Quincey out. I still hadn’t decided what role she would play in my daughter’s life, despite what I said verbally in our meeting.
We went inside, and I noticed Logan glancing at me. “What?”
He smiled. “You become a different beast when it comes to your daughter. I like it.”
I just shook my head. With Logan, I didn’t know if that was a good thing.
“Go and call your woman. I know you’re missing her.”
He smirked at me but headed upstairs right away.
Aspen was waiting inside, watching out the window. She sighed, turning back to me. “Are they going to be a problem for you?”
I went over to her. “No.” I pulled my sister to me, hugging her. “Thank you for being here.”
She hugged me back. “Anything. I love you, big brother.”
I caught the back of her head, pressing a kiss to her forehead. “I love you, too.”
The first night’s battle was done. And we were victorious. I knew another one was coming, but first, I went in search of my daughter. I was needing some Nova hugs the most.
We were here.
We were doing this.
Why was I asking myself?
It was done.
Here. Both of us.
And I couldn’t sleep. Like zero, zilch, nada. Not a wink of it.
One in the morning, and I went to the bathroom. I peeked on Nova, and she was good. Curled on her side, sucking her thumb still. So freaking cute. Her penguin clutched under her arm, her little ass in the air. I almost chuckled but clamped it down.
I didn’t want to wake her.
Two in the morning, and I was getting water from the kitchen. Then I peeked on Nova again.
I needed to stop. I was going to be the reason she woke up, but the little bug was sleeping soundly.
Good. That was very good.
I kept trying to reassure myself as I went back to my room, climbed into bed, and closed my eyes.
Three in the morning—was that a noise from Nova’s room?
I sat upright, the cover thrown off, and I was hurrying over, more like scurrying. If she was sleeping, again, I did not want to wake her up. She had serious pipes on her when she needed to rally. Oh boy, could she rally.
I tiptoed in, and then stopped in my tracks.
Nate was on the floor next to her, sitting with his knees drawn up and resting his arms loosely around them. His legs were spread wide, his head turned so he could still see her.
She was sleeping, her blanket pulled up through her arms. Miss Penguin had been kicked to the side and a little snore was coming from her.
Maybe I made a sound? I didn’t know, but he turned and his eyes caught mine.
I almost stepped back.
I wasn’t prepared. Stark panic was in his gaze and he didn’t hide it from me.
I waited, expecting the mask to slam back in its place.
It never did.
He continued to stare at me.
Feeling a pull, I took a step forward.
Nova was asleep so in a way, it was just us two in the room.
He held my gaze the whole time.
Awareness spread through me, making every cell in my body alert.
The air in the room was… it was… I couldn’t place it, but it felt more. It felt beyond us, as if something were wrapping around both of us, bringing us together.
Or maybe that was just me being foolish?
The moonlight was bright outside, shining through the curtains and spilling into the room, casting us both in light and shadow at the same time.
I shivered, not a bad one, but not a good one. Just an aware one.
He continued to stare at me, his eyes intense, piercing into me.
I moved forward again and slowly lowered myself down so I was sitting facing him. I pulled my knees up, my arms resting loosely around them. We were mirroring each other, and because he still hadn’t put a wall between us, neither did I.
Not this night, not our first night all of us were here.
My breath was short. My chest was rising. I felt my nipples harden as I took him in, all of him.
He was in only sweatpants. No shirt. No socks. Just his pants.
The moonlight hit him in the exact right light, showcasing defined shoulders and arms. His chest. The shadow tapered down over his stomach, and I couldn’t see it. That was in darkness, but his side showed not an ounce of fat.
Feeling a breeze that moved over the back of my neck, I lifted my eyes and almost gasped again. He’d been watching me watching him, and a whole other awareness passed between us.
Lust filled his gaze, and it was hungry.
I felt it match a need inside of me. My mouth was suddenly dry. My throat parched.
Then it was his turn.
His eyes trailed down me, over my tank top, lingering on my skin, my breasts. My shirt was made of soft material and it bunched at my waist, showing my sleeping shorts’ waistband. The side of my stomach was exposed and then he moved further, his gaze going over my thighs, my knees, my calves, my feet, and back up.
I felt touched by him.
I should’ve been repulsed.
A throb had started and it only intensified as his eyes went to my lips, up to my eyes. He held my gaze, then dipped back and stayed on my mouth.
That same lust was washing through me, hitting my insides like angry waves against a cliff’s edge. It felt violent, but desperate at the same time.