I walk out to the sink and wash my face, thinking about the path that’s stretching in front of me. If this is possible, then what else could be? I finish drying my hands and suddenly an image of Captain and me together forms in my mind. Would this be possible, too? Could I have a life with him despite my past?

Walking out to my desk, I see McCoy, Grant and Sheppard are already in their seats, and I hear Jordan making coffee in the break room off to the side.

Captain’s chair is empty, and I’m reminded that he’s with Mallory this morning. I wonder how it’s going and think about texting Mallory, but realize she probably needs to pay attention. Dropping my bag and sitting down in my chair, I decide to text Captain instead.

Me: I do not snore.

Immediately the chat bubble pops up, like he’s been waiting all morning for me to text. Something about that makes me smile, and I feel that little butterfly again.

Captain: I’ve got video evidence.

I cover my mouth with my hand, and I think he’s got to be lying.

Me: Bullshit.

Captain: Does this look like the face of a guy who lies?

He sends a pic of himself, and I can’t help the goofy grin that spreads across my face. God, what this man does to me. Then I see the attached video and my mouth pops open. That fucker recorded me sleeping, and he’s right, I do snore.

Me: Oh, you’re dead meat. You wait and see. Payback is a bitch with red hair.

Captain: I look forward to it. How about tonight? I got passes to the new brewery that opened up in Chelsea.

Me: If you’re trying to bribe me with beer, it won’t work.

Captain: They have hot dogs, too.

Damn it.

Me: Fine. You win.

Captain: Always do. See you after lunch. X

The kiss on the end of the text feels silly. But at the same time I reach out and touch it, like he actually sent a kiss. I put the phone down and then drop my face in my hands. This isn’t supposed to be happening. I’m not supposed to be falling for him like this. None of this is part of the plan.

I wish someone would tell that to my heart.

Chapter Thirteen


* * *

“YOU GOING TO get this shit out of here?” I ask Mal as I prop my ass up against the counter in the kitchen, looking over at the bridal explosion that is my living room.

“Are you going to tell me what’s up with this little number?” Mal drops one of the bridal books she’s holding and runs her eyes over my outfit as she joins me in the kitchen.

I have on a pair of white shorts, ankle boots and a dark purple crop top, which if I move just right will show a little bit of my stomach. It’s not something I’d normally wear, but I find I’m doing a lot of things lately I don’t normally do. Besides, my new favorite thing is to get Captain worked up. I like seeing how far I can push him before he snaps. Get him to use that dirty mouth of his on me. When he doesn’t hold back his emotions, I don’t have to decide if I should give in and enjoy our time, or if I should stay as far away as possible. When I’m not the one holding the power, it leaves the decision up to him. It’s a useless game, because I know what choice I’m going to make. But apparently I still like playing the game.

I shrug, trying to downplay it. “Going for a few beers.”

“I miss beer.” She puts on this fake little frown, making me roll my eyes. She’s been pregnant five minutes. How can she miss anything?

“Yeah, you look real broken up about it.” She places her hand on her stomach, and her face lights up. It’s been like that for the past few days. She only pretends to pout, so I bet it works on Miles. Speaking of which… “Where is your shadow? I find it hard to believe he’s let you out twice in one day.”

She waves her hand as if Miles is nothing to worry about. “Back to beers.” She wiggles her eyebrows. “Captain?”

“Yeah, he suckered me in with beers and hot dogs. How can a girl say no to that?” I do a fake swoon, but Mal smiles bigger, knowing it’s probably the perfect date to ask me on.

“Maybe you should have a snack or something. I mean, this is a date, and sometimes when you eat you get a little…” She chomps her teeth together like she’s trying to make an animal face.

“What are you doing?”

“You know, like a crazy tiger.” She brings her hands up, doing some swiping motions, the worst tiger impression I’ve ever seen.

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