“Because kids are crazy. They test your limits, their boundaries, and push your buttons on a regular basis.”

“Sounds like you could use some help. Have you thought about hiring a nanny?” I ask, knowing Viola never intended on being a stay-at-home mom. I know she loves being a mom, but with Travis running his own marketing firm and working long hours, she ends up alone with the kids a lot.

“Yes, but honestly I’d probably just follow the nanny around to make sure she didn’t hurt my babies.”

“Well, they have those nanny cams,” I suggest. “I just worry about you is all. I miss you.”

She sighs. “I know. I miss you, too. Now that James is walking, he gets into everything. Ginny is the pack leader and together they outnumber me.”

“Okay, how about this? One of these nights after work I’ll make you and Travis dinner and watch the kids for a bit while you two eat. Drew will be at work and it’ll give me something to do besides bake muffins all night long.”

“Oh my God, Court,” she moans into the phone. “That sounds amazing. Seriously.”

“You guys need it,” I say. “I’ll even bring some of my muffin stash I keep in the freezer. But only if you come with me tonight! We need a little girl time.”

“Dammit, I should’ve known you’d have an ulterior motive.” She groans with a laugh.

“Just a little one,” I quip. “So, tell Travis he’s on dad duty tonight and meet us at the salon at 6:15. I’m bringing coffee.”

“Okay, I’ll be there! You know what kind of coffee I like.”

Shutting my computer down at 5:45, I send Drew a quick text before heading out.

C: I miss you, baby! The girls and I are getting pedicures tonight but I should be home before 9 if you want to call me on your break.

D: Miss you too, sweetheart. Working with Logan today. I’ll call you around 9. Love you!

C: Love you, too. Be safe!

Hearing him say—and reading—those three magic words never gets old. It still feels like a dream sometimes. When he looks me in the eyes and tells me how much I mean to him and how much he loves me, it’s surreal. Never did I imagine he’d have the same feelings for me as I have for him and as our relationship becomes more serious, the fear of losing him gets even stronger.

I swing by Starbucks and order two skinny lattes for the girls and a large black coffee for myself. Driving to the nail salon, I smile at the thought of seeing Viola and Kayla again. We don’t normally get this much time to catch up, so I’m taking full advantage. After everything that’s happened this week, another girl’s night out is just what I need.



This morning I kissed Courtney goodbye before she left for work knowing we’d finally get to spend the next few days together. Working twelve-hour shifts for four consecutive days messes up my sleep schedule, but on Thursdays I catch up on sleep while she’s at work for the day.

Once she leaves, I fall back asleep and once I wake up, I head out to the gym for a few hours. Afterward, I make a protein smoothie and take a shower. Just as I finish dressing, Courtney walks through the front door and before she can sit down, I pull her into my arms and press my lips against hers.

She sighs against my mouth and smiles. “What’s that for?”

“I’m just happy to see you.”

Wrapping her arms around my neck, I slide my arms around her waist.

“I’m happy to see you, too,” she says, setting her purse down on the table.

“Don’t get comfortable. We’re leaving right away.”

She stares up at me with a cute little smirk on her lips and asks, “To where?” She arches her brow, trying to read me. “What are you up to, Deputy?”

“It’s a surprise.” I flash her a devilish grin and she continues looking curiously at me.

I grab her hand and lead her out the door. We get in the truck and drive down the street, and she asks me questions, trying to put all the pieces together.

“Okay, I give up.” She drops her shoulders. “Where the heck are we going?”

I decide to take the long way, back streets and all, so she won’t immediately figure it out. I slowly turn onto Main Street and pull into a parking lot. She gasps as she sees the building for the Sacramento Animal Shelter.

“What?” she shouts, sitting up in her seat. “Seriously?” The smile that covers her face is infectious.

I grab her hand and press my lips against her knuckles. “Yup. I figure it’s a good time.”

She practically bolts out of the truck before I can put it into park. Kayla pushes the front door open as soon as she sees Courtney running toward the building. I catch up with them just before they head inside.

Tags: Kennedy Fox The Checkmate Duet Erotic
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