My breath hitched.
I licked my lips.
I sat and watched him. He sat and watched me.
Neither of us spoke. Neither of us moved. Not an inch.
But I wanted him.
Then Nova rolled over, a snore left her, and it did nothing to break the mood.
I still wanted him, but neither of us did a thing about it. That night was a truce in our war.
We’d go back to hating each other in the morning. Hating, but needing.
I wasn’t sure what I had expected, but over the past three weeks, it wasn’t what happened.
And that was a big nothing.
There was no drama.
There were no more police visits.
No calls from my father.
I had expected some drama with Nate, but there was zilch on that front, too.
He seemed to sense when I wanted time with Nova—when I wanted to feed her, hug her, play with her, change her diapers, chase after her. And the times when I was tired, he sensed that, too. He stepped in, and even as I would start going to her room, I’d hear his low croons, which were usually followed by her laughter.
Nova was generally a happy baby, thank goodness. Then again, that should’ve been expected if I was just going off Valerie.
Val was the happy one. Not me. If Nova had come from my loins, that kid would be screaming more than not. And judging by Nate, well, I couldn’t judge that. He’d been an alpha dick when I first met him, and I had to give him credit. I understood.
Yet since I moved in, he was the opposite.
I hadn’t expected him and his people to step up how they had.
They took up my fight. I guess it was his fight, too, but it still seemed as though they had rallied around me. Especially Aspen.
Before he left, he told me to call him if my father made any moves. I wasn’t totally sure what he meant because I was getting a sense he wasn’t just talking about legal moves, but I let it go. After Aspen and Logan left, Emily started up again. Nate mentioned his Miss Sandy was an option as well, but I liked the schedule we had.
Once Emily started, things really did settle down.
She and I already had a schedule sorted. We both helped with feeding Nova. When she went down for a nap, I began using Nate’s pool house as a dance studio. There was hardly any furniture in there since he’d just moved in, and the glass doors and mostly floor-to-ceiling windows felt eerily similar to my old studio.
After a long dance, I came back to the house and helped Emily with feeding Nova again.
It was the afternoons when I started to get restless.
Emily left around five or some days at six. We both traded off just being around Nova.
It was nice, and I knew it wasn’t a normal situation.
Nate had started spending more time in his office. Then he began leaving for business meetings. In his file, Carl had noted that Nate came to the city for investment properties, so I assumed Nate was off doing that sort of work. If he was around during the day, he spent time with Nova, but he was usually around in the evenings, and that was when he really stepped in.
He fed Nova.
He played with Nova.
He held her, sat with her.
He was obsessed with her.
So, since I got her during the day, I started giving them time in the evenings.
And because I had the time, I’d go back into the studio.
I was used to dancing for hours, on and off, all day long. And then the shows. Sometimes, we did two shows a day. Sometimes. Not always.
I missed those days.
“Have you thought about returning?”
I was stretching, my head by my toes, when Nate spoke up.
Startled, I whipped up. My heart leaped up in my throat, but then I relaxed when I spotted him. He was in the doorway, holding Nova. Both were quiet and watching me.
Seeing me looking at her, Nova started shaking her arms around. “Penna! Mebgggme. Sloof.”
Miss Sloth had replaced Miss Penguin. She was waving the sloth all around, and her little legs began pumping.
Nate knelt, placing her on her feet, and he stood back, letting her go.
She ran to me, her chunky little body weaving a bit.
Nate chuckled. “It’s sheer stubbornness that keeps her going. She runs with that sloth, and it’s too big for her, but she won’t let it go. She’d go down with the ship before she’d drop that thing.”
I grinned, scooping her up and giving her a big kiss on her stomach. She shrieked again, but it wasn’t long before her body was twisting. She wanted to run. So I let her go, and as Nate and I both followed her, both sticking to our sides, I remembered his initial question.
He looked up, those eyes so steady on me.
Flushing, for some reason, I ran a hand over my hair. “Thought about going back, I mean.”
“Not that I’m opposed to it, though.”
Why was I still talking?
He probably didn’t really care. Nova might’ve seen me, wanted to see me, and he brought her out to the pool house. He was making conversation and being polite. That was all.
Was that all?
Why was I questioning it?
“Why do you ask?”
I had to know.
Why did I have to know?
What was going on with me?
I was acting like I was in high school talking to the popular quarterback.
“Did you play football in high school?”
He had settled down on the ground because Nova found some of the toys I stashed for her over in the corner. She was putting those big blocky puzzles together or just banging the pieces against each other.
I was being so weird.
I frowned, scratching at my forehead. Crap. I just loosened some of my hair. I scowled but started fixing my bun. “Why were you asking about me going back to dancing?”
“Uh.” He stared at me a moment, his hand automatically catching Nova before she fell backward. He righted her, answering, “You have time now, and I noticed that you spend a lot of time in here dancing. It’s what you did before, you know.” He nodded at Nova, and seeing she was watching him, he gave her a wide smile. She immediately lit up.
She loved him already, so much.
I can’t compete with him.
I tensed up, not knowing where that thought came from.