“I don’t think I can move. I think you broke all of my bones.”
He chuckled, a hand smoothing down my back, but he only pulled me closer. “I had to come see you, and then I saw you, and I had to eat you.”
I laughed. “Nice. Well, I loved it, every second of it, so feel free whenever the urge hits you.”
He laughed. His hand went back to smoothing up and down my back. “I have to tell you something.”
“Oh.” I tensed and pulled back to see his face. He was still inside me. “If you are going to say any words that rhyme with friends, Logan, Taylor, or Duke—I don’t want to hear it.”
He frowned, tracing a strand of hair down the side of my face. He moved it back, his fingers trailing over my neck and down my arm. “How’d you know about your dad?”
I groaned, lying back on him. I pressed my forehead into his shoulder. Nova liked to do this, and I could understand it, but I had no idea why. “He called.”
Nate tensed. “He did?”
I nodded, still pressed into his neck. “He told me that he saw you, and he was beyond disappointed in my choice of bedmate. He said I could do so much better, and once I woke up and returned to his estate, he’d consider who he thought might be willing to be his future son-in-law.”
Nate was like cement now.
Then he exploded. “Are you kidding me?!”
I leaned back, my arms curling around his neck. Loosely. “Why are you upset? I actually think it’s a good thing that he’s calling. Now I know what his move is, stupid lectures. He has to feel like he still has some sort of control over me. I’d rather know what he’s doing than what he’s planning. You know?”
“You’re not taking any more calls from him.”
“Nate.” I frowned. “I know what my dad is like. His words aren’t hurting me. A few months ago, I would’ve been devastated. Not anymore. I’m making a lot of progress. I feel like half a human now.”
He was quiet, but he was still so tense.
He shoved up to his feet, and I let out a yell because he took me with him.
My legs tightened around his waist when he wasn’t going to let me stand on my own. His hands went under my ass, grabbing two handfuls, and he hoisted me higher. I readjusted, much closer than I had been on his lap.
His eyes were grilling right into mine.
“If I talked to Nova like that?”
Everything wilted inside me.
He saw it. “Exactly. If I called her and said any of the shit that he’s said to you? That’d be okay?”
“Of course not.” My chest was hurting just thinking about that.
“Then do me a favor and don’t let him talk to you that way.”
He didn’t get it. If Duke was doing this, then he wasn’t plotting to hurt me in another way.
But I got what he was saying. I’d kill him before I let anyone talk to my daughter like that.
Not—I meant Valerie’s daughter. My goddaughter.
Some of the fight faded, and he rested his forehead against mine, still holding me. His fingers flexed in my ass. “I don’t want him to hurt anyone I care about.”
Pleasure flooded over me, centering right where my heart was.
“That shit could leak to Nova in ways you couldn't even think of. None of this can touch Nova.”
Right. Cold reality crashed back into me.
I couldn’t let Duke hurt me, and somehow that could get through to Nova. I understood what he was saying, and he was right.
He was being the dad to Nova that my dad never was to me.
I missed the Quince.
“You’ll stop taking calls from him?”
I nodded. “I will.” I pressed a soft kiss to his lips. “Thank you for being a good parent to Nova.”
The fight completely left him.
“She’s not the only one I care about here.” He was staring right at me.
My heart squeezed.
Did I dare feel… Of course, he cared about me. We had magical sex nights together. There was a whole bunch of caring going on there.
I tightened my arms around his neck. “Back at you, you know.”
He grinned, his eyes soft. “I think Logan would cover another hour.”
His hands were flexing over my ass again, and he began rolling me over him.
I tightened my legs, grinding with him, and soon neither of us cared.
Logan’s girlfriend was gorgeous. Her hair looked smack on the line between dark blond and a caramel light-dark color. When she turned her head one way, I saw blond. The other way, caramel. It was pulled in a messy fish-braid, and I loved it.
She also had sparkling warm eyes and a warm aura that oozed from her. I liked her immediately.
I’d started to feel comfortable with Logan. He flew out so much, and after he helped against Duke, meeting his girlfriend was a big deal to me. She’d been at the surprise baby shower and around the day after, but there were so many of them. Nate and I weren’t together together, or together how we were together now, so they all seemed like a cohesive “them,” and I was not one of “them.”
Now I didn’t know what I was, but I felt more “in” than I had been before. I wasn’t all the way. Maybe an arm. Or a hand. Or an elbow.
One of those.
Maybe an ankle.
Yes. I felt like I had an ankle in.
And tonight, I felt like I was getting a shin in, too, or half of my calf muscle. Just one, though. Not both.
We were at Keela. The atmosphere was private, and elegant, and romantic.
I was trying not to think about the romantic part because I didn’t want to get ahead of myself. Nate and I were sleeping together, but he’d not said anything about a relationship status. I was operating on the assumption that we were sleeping together, and that was it. My priorities were Nova, dancing, and Nate’s bed. I was fine keeping with that status quo unless something changed.
“Logan mentioned you’re in a dance production now?”
We’d been seated. Logan and Nate were conferring over the drink menu, but I’d eaten dinner enough with both of them to know they were probably talking about anything but what kind of wine to order. They were like two giggly boys at times. When I focused on Taylor, she was holding back a smile, and I had a feeling she knew instantly what I’d been thinking.