I take long, slow breaths to calm myself down. I want to storm out and slam the door behind me so that he knows I’ve heard what he said, but I know Deacon really needs a babysitter and I’m not about to bail.

I grab a towel off the top of the stack and go back to the stairs, making plenty of noise so that they can hear me. Sam walks down the stairs, glaring at me when he passes. I keep my expression neutral so I don’t show my loathing for him. This is his house after all and I’m not trying to make things difficult for Deacon. I don’t want to give Sam a real reason to kick me out and not let me come back.

I try to put a smile on my face when I look at Deacon, but I know it looks fake as hell. Deacon gives me an apologetic smile.

“I’m sorry about my brother,” he says. “He worries about me.”

“Is everything okay?” I ask.

“Everything’s great.”

I bend down to clean up the juice mess.

“Here, let me do that,” Deacon says.

He bends down to help. When he reaches for the towel, our fingers touch and he leans back as if the feel of my skin has shocked him somehow. When I look up at him, his mouth is open and he’s staring right at my chest. Glancing down at my shirt, I realize it’s hanging wide open, the tops of my breasts spilling out of my bra, bared to him. My nipples are just barely hidden, but the pinks of my areolas are showing.

I hurry and sit back. I’m just glad Sam wasn’t here to see it or he would’ve said I did it on purpose.

Deacon stands and won’t make eye contact with me. The bulge in his pants is undeniable. He quickly covers it. I pretend not to notice. But I can’t help the stirring it causes between my legs. From the looks of it, he’s hung. Not that I’m an expert on size. I’ve never actually had sex with a man before. I’ve gone down on boyfriends in the past, but they weren’t nearly as big as Deacon looks.

“Do you want to meet Bailey?” he says, flushed.

“I’d love to,” I say.

We go into Bailey’s room and try to pretend nothing happened. I hear a car door slam. Looking out the window, I see Sam’s car speeding off. At least I don’t have to deal with him anymore.


Bailey is asleep in a playpen. The room is a makeshift nursery. It must’ve been Sam’s office before Deacon arrived. There’s a large desk and papers everywhere, books on rare birds and tax law.

Bailey is as cute as she can be, about a year old, curly blonde hair, and rosy cheeks from the heat. There’s a pacifier in her mouth and a blanket clutched in her little hands.

“She’s adorable,” I say.

When I look up at Deacon, he’s staring at me again. It’s a different look than he’d given me before, as if he’s actually just noticing me for the first time. Almost like he’s studying me, trying to figure me out like I’m some complicated puzzle needing to be pieced together. He’s looking at me the way I’d always wished he would when I was younger.

Was it seeing my breasts that gave him this change of heart? Or maybe it has something to do with what Sam had said. Maybe Deacon’s trying to make comparisons between me and his ex-wife. But I don’t think so. If that were the case, I don’t think his eyes would be as open and curious as they are right now. He’d probably look at me with resentment.

No, it’s something else. It could be that he’s checking to see if I really am infatuated with him like Sam had said. If that’s the case, I’m making it kind of obvious. When our eyes lock, I can’t seem to look away. He’s everything. Gorgeous, sweet, polite, and a great dad to his kid. I mean, what’s not to swoon over?

Finally, he breaks eye contact. He spreads his fingers apart, then balls them into fists, over and over again, a nervous tic. When he speaks, there’s a slight tremor in his voice. “Um, when Bailey wakes up, she’ll probably need to be changed, and she’ll be hungry. I have her food labeled in the fridge.”

“Okay,” I say. “We’ll be fine. I’ve spent every summer since I was fourteen babysitting for my mom’s friends. I’m great with kids. No need to worry.”

His eyes widen. “I’m not worried.”

“Oh, I thought you might be. You look really nervous right now.”

He shakes his head. “No, it’s just this new job has my stomach twisted. Not sure what to expect.”

I nod even though I’m pretty sure he’s not being entirely truthful. I think he’s nervous and it has something to do with me. He’s been looking at me strangely ever since his argument with Sam.

Babysitting is pretty boring. Bailey is asleep so I read most of the time. I don’t want to watch TV downstairs for fear she’ll wake up and I won't hear her.

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