“I haven’t run into him.” Violet sipped her tea. “Clare?”
The traitor shook her head. “Nope.”
“Well, the Kyle train has left the station and I was not on board. I don’t plan to be on board.” Grace drained her glass of wine and motioned for another one the moment the waitress glanced her way. Wow, was it hot in here, and she was so thirsty. “Kyle Wade is the strong, silent type, and I need a man who can open his mouth occasionally to tell me what I mean to him. If that’s not happening, I’m not happening. But it doesn’t matter because nothing is going on with us. He’s trying to be a father and I’m working to figure out how to let him. That’s it.”
All at once, she realized she’d already made up her mind about his fitness as a parent. Kyle was trying. She’d seen it over and over. What could she possibly object to in his bid for custody? Nothing. Any objections would be strictly due to hurt feelings over something that happened a decade ago. It was time to embrace the concept of bygones and move on.
“Men are nothing but trouble,” Violet muttered darkly.
“That’s not true,” Clare corrected. “The right man is priceless.”
“Parker is one in a million and he’s taken. Unless you’re willing to share?” Grace teased, and tried really hard to shut down the uncomfortable squeeze of jealousy surrounding her heart.
Clare had met her Dr. McDreamy. Grace had nothing. A great big void where Kyle used to be, and nothing had come along in ten years that could fill it. Well, except for the one man whom she suspected would fill that hole perfectly. She just had no desire to let him try, no matter how much she wanted a husband and family of her own.
Eyebrows raised, Clare cocked her head at Grace. “So you’re sticking by your single-girl status, huh?”
She didn’t sound so convinced, as if maybe Grace had been kidding when she’d vowed to be a Professional Single Girl from now on.
“I’ve been telling you so for months,” Grace insisted. “There’s nothing wrong with high standards and until I find someone who can spell standards, it’s better to be on my own.”
Actually, her standards weren’t all that high—a run-of-the-mill swept-off-her-feet romance would do just fine. If she was pregnant and in love with a man who desperately loved her in return, she’d consider her life complete.
“Hear, hear.” Violet raised her mug of hot tea to click it against Grace’s wineglass. “I’ll join your single girl club.”
“Everyone is welcome. Except Clare.” Grace grinned to cover the heaviness that had settled over her heart all at once. There wasn’t anything on her horizon that looked like a fairy-tale romance. Just another meeting with a man who was driving her crazy.
* * *
Grace drove to Wade Ranch the next day without calling and without an appointment.
She didn’t want to give Kyle any sort of heads-up that she was coming or that she’d made a decision. Hopefully, that meant she could get and keep the upper hand.
No more sunset conversations that ended with her wrapped up in Kyle’s very strong, very capable arms.
No matter what. No matter how much she’d been arguing with herself that maybe Kyle had changed. Maybe she had changed. Maybe another kiss, exactly like that first one, would be what the doctor ordered, and then she would find out he’d morphed into her Prince Charming.
Yeah, none of that mattered.
Kyle and his daughters—that was what mattered. That morning she’d spent two hours in a room with her supervisor, Megan, going over her recommendation that Kyle be awarded full and uncontested custody of his children. With Megan’s stamp of approval on the report, Grace’s role in this long, drawn-out issue had come to a close.
Hadley answered the door at Wade House and asked after Grace’s parents, then let Grace hold the babies without Grace having to beg too much. She inhaled their fresh powder scent—it was the best smell in the world. Out of nowhere, the prick of tears at her eyes warned her that she hadn’t fully shut down the emotions from her conversation with Clare and Violet last night.
If this meeting went as intended, this might be her last interaction with Kyle. And the babies. They were so precious and the thought of only seeing them again in passing shot through her heart.
“I’m here to see Kyle,” she told Hadley as she passed the babies back reluctantly. She had a job to do, and it wasn’t anyone’s fault except hers that she didn’t have a baby of her own.