“Everyone forgets their fears when they’re distracted. And a magic bag to a three-year-old is very distracting.”

He moves in closer to me, his eyes flicking toward Nolan momentarily. His hand brushes against mine before he grabs it, interlocking our fingers. I try to pull mine out of his but he holds it tighter. “How am I supposed to make you like me if you won’t let go of who I used to be?”

I pull harder, but he moves closer, eliminating all space between us. “I’m… not ready to like you yet.” He smiles, and it is so unexpected that I actually giggle like a complete fool. I slap my free hand over my mouth.

“Yet,” he echoes. His eyes do a quick sweep down my body. “You look really pretty by the way.”

I swallow loudly. Almost uncomfortably as I drop my hand. “Thanks.” It’s suddenly feeling a thousand degrees hotter in here and I need to back up. I need to put some space between us. I need to pull my hand out of his. But for some stupid reason, I can’t. I want to yank my hand away. I want my feet to move. My brain is screaming at me right now to do the right thing here, but my body is overpowering it.

God damn it. Why does it have to feel good to be this close to him? Why can’t he have halitosis or be all fluffy instead of a mountain of muscle with inviting breath? I may not have control over my body right now, but I still have use of my mouth.

Shit. And now I’m thinking about what I could do with my mouth. Shit!

I take in a deep breath and clamp my eyes shut, needing to at least take away the visual of him. “Ben, please back up.”

He laughs softly above me. “Why are your eyes closed?”

“They just are. Can you please back up?”

He laughs again. And damn it, I love his sounds too. “Do you really want me to back up?”


“I’m just making sure.” I feel his thumb brush along the skin of my hand. “You look really pretty, Mia.”

“You already said that.”

“And I’m going to keep saying it.”

I open my eyes and stare up into his. There’s nothing but kindness in them. No underlining lust. No hidden motives or agendas behind those crazy gray eyes. I suppose they’ve always been this amazing to look into, but nine years ago, I avoided them at all costs. Of course nine years ago, he’d never have put himself this close to me. And he definitely wouldn’t have given me a compliment.

He smiles, dropping my hand after giving it a light squeeze. “I mean it. I’m going to keep telling you that. You might as well get used to it.”

I look down at my feet, concealing my flushed cheeks. “Okay.”

He finally steps back and I peek up, seeing him turn away from me. “Come on, buddy. Say goodbye to Princess Mia.”

“Bye, Pwincess Mia.” Nolan waves, tapping Ben’s legs with his sword.

“Bye, Sir Nolan. If I see any dragons, I’ll send them your way.”

I turn and head toward the bedroom. And I know I shouldn’t, I know I’ve had enough of him today, but I look over my shoulder anyway and lock on to Ben’s eyes. It’s as if he is waiting for that last glance, because as soon as he gets it, he’s out the door.

* * *

Chapter Seven


“Goodnight, buddy. Love you.” I squeeze Nolan against my chest, hearing his sleepy yawn. He rubs his face against my shirt before looking up at me, reaching his finger toward my face. I smile as he runs his finger down my nose and he giggles when I do the same to him.

“Nighty, Daddy.” He scrambles down the hallway, Angie following close behind him.

I hate sharing custody of my own kid. I want Nolan with me all the time, not just on days a judge allots. The system isn’t fair to fathers. Angie is a mediocre mom, at best, and she gets primary custody just because she gave birth to him. I hate leaving Nolan with her. She isn’t very attentive to him and that shit eats away at me. She never takes him anywhere, not even outside. Nolan is an easy kid. It doesn’t take much to make him happy. And the thought of her not making him happy nearly kills me.

Now that he’s getting older and figuring things out, he’s beginning to ask questions. Questions I don’t want to answer yet. He wants to know why he can’t spend the night at my house every night, or why I don’t live with him and his mother. I know I’ll eventually have to answer them, but for right now, I am able to get away with changing the subject to something that catches his attention. Like dragons.

And now when I think of dragons, I think of Mia.

She was amazing with him today, and he took to her like she was Tessa, who he also adores. I’ve never been so completely captivated by someone. She knew exactly how to handle Nolan, and God, she was sexy doing it. The way her tongue rubbed the corner of her mouth while she cleaned out his cut. The way her lips rounded out when she blew on his knee. The way her hair fell past her shoulders, tickling her breasts while she wrapped the bandage around his head. She calmed him down immediately, and she’d only met him an hour ago. And the whole knighting thing? Christ, if that wasn’t the sweetest thing anyone’s ever done for him.

I had to touch her, it was killing me not to. So I took her hand and held it like I had that night at the bar. That slight bit of contact was enough for me. Then she gave me a yet, and I felt as if I’d been holding her for years. Pure euphoria washed over me. Adrenaline pumped through my veins, and I finally had hope. Hope that I was slowly tearing down her walls. Hope that she’d eventually come to like me, and maybe even more than that. I could work with a yet.

“Who the hell is Princess Mia?” Angie asks, walking into the kitchen with an irritated expression. “Nolan went on and on about some Princess that he killed dragons for today.”

I stand off my stool and grab my keys, keeping my smile hidden. “She’s Tessa’s best friend who’s visiting for the summer. Nolan met her today when I took him swimming.” I could’ve saved my explanation, because Angie didn’t care for it. She was too busy rubbing me through my shorts. I grab her hand and remove it with a disgusting grunt. “Get the fuck off. I’m not interested.”

“Oh no?” She reaches for me again but I grab her wrist, pressing it against her body. “Jesus. What’s your problem?” Her forehead creases as she stares at me but her face relaxes with her next question. “Does this have anything to do with Princess Mia?”

I don’t answer, because Angie doesn’t need to know about my personal life. It’s not like we are friends and I can share shit with her. We aren’t anything. I brush past her and move toward the door. “Tell Nolan I’ll see him soon.”

“Are you really going to leave with a hard on?”

“What hard on?” I turn, stopping at the front door. “My dick doesn’t want you, Angie. Stop kidding yourself.”

“Well it wanted me last week, when I sucked you off and swallowed what you gave me. Or what about the week before that when I jerked you off on the couch?” She stands with her arms crossed over her chest, trying to come off as cocky and strong, but her face is giving her away. Angie hates rejection more than anything and I’ve been rejecting her for years. “We can make this work, Ben. You know we can.”

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