“You turned her down?” When Matt finally spoke, his tone was incredulous.

TJ didn’t think it was an outrageous decision. He thought it was a prudent decision. It was a responsible decision. “What would you have done?”


“If my sexy, beautiful wife suggested we sleep together?”

“You know it’s not that simple.”

“Simple or not, I would never have insulted her by saying no.”

TJ opened his mouth to counter the statement, but nothing came to his mind.

* * *

August moved along, and Sage began to think about the upcoming school year. Both Eli and Heidi were now healthy and happy. Heidi still had her sad moments, but the children were making friends and joining in on activities. Eli was playing baseball, while Heidi had decided to join a kids’ art club. She loved painting, and the group spent a lot of time with their easels in the park painting landscapes.

While working on the seaside festival, Sage had grown curious about TJ’s other charitable causes. He was a stalwart contributor to Highside Hospital, and she wondered if he might also consider supporting St. Bea’s. Gerry Carter, the chief accountant, had given her access to part of Tide Rush Investment’s accounting system, and she discovered TJ’s contributions to philanthropic organizations had fallen off in recent years.

She also came across hundreds of requests that had been submitted through the company website and in letters. She’d sorted through them all, entering them into a spreadsheet that tracked organizations, dates, amounts and causes. Then she added who and what it would benefit, thinking that would be helpful information.

Now she heard the front door close, and she glanced guiltily at the time. It was nearly ten in the evening. TJ often worked late, and she tried to keep to the upstairs while he was at home. They were polite to each other, but their relationship had never really recovered from her suggestion that they sleep together.

It had been an impulsive thing to do, and she regretted it. But she knew she couldn’t go any further with her philanthropic ideas without talking to him. She steeled herself and left the office, finding TJ in the kitchen.

He looked up from the refrigerator as she entered, his expression telling her he was surprised to see her.

“Hi, TJ.” She moved closer, keeping the breakfast island between them.

“You’re up,” he said as he selected a soft drink.

“I was using the office computer.” She held up a sheaf of papers as evidence.

“Thirsty?” He kept the fridge door open.

She shook her head. Then she thought better of her answer. She wanted this to be a friendly conversation. “Sure. Whatever you’re having.”

He filled two glasses with ice from the dispenser and split the soda between them.

“I’ve been looking at the philanthropic accounts,” she told him.

A micro expression flicked across his face. If she had to guess, she’d say she’d annoyed him. But she was going to ignore it.

“You’ve received a lot of requests.”

He set one of the glasses in front of her. “There are a lot of good causes.”

She slid up onto a stool and put the papers on the island countertop. “I notice you’ve favored health and educational causes in the past.”

“I suppose,” he said.

“Other than Highside Hospital and Invo North College, you’ve mostly donated to national organizations.”

His gaze flicked to the papers.

She took the opportunity to turn them to face him. “I’ve sorted and organized the requests.”

He seemed surprised. He flipped over the first few pages. “This was a lot of work.”

“There were hundreds of requests. I have some ideas, well, some recommendations on what you might want to consider supporting.”

“We,” he said. “What we might want to consider supporting.”

She met his gaze, feeling a familiar shaft of attraction. It took her a minute to form the word. “We.”

“Whatever you want,” he said, setting down the report and heading for the family room.

She scrambled to follow. “I don’t want to do it that way.”

“I don’t have time to help. There’s a lot going on at the office.”

“So I gathered,” she said. Her tone came out as a rebuke.

He sat down on the sofa, setting the drink in front of him. “That’s how I make my money.”

“You don’t seem very happy about it.”

He glared at her for a moment.

She told herself not to be intimidated. She sat down next to him, this time putting the report on the coffee table. “I was thinking about keeping things local, or maybe statewide. There’s a lot of good that can be done by focusing your contributions.”

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