“Why would we? We know how you are. You’re stubborn and have always had to figure things out for yourself. Telling you we didn’t like Chris for you wouldn’t have changed anything. All it would’ve done was just create tension.”

“Maybe you’re right,” I mutter. The truth is I’ve always had to learn by fire.

“I’m just letting you know that we approve of Tyler.”

“You’ve had one meal with him,” I say, and something seeps into his expression that I’ve never seen before.

“I watched him with you, watched the way he looked at you and the way he looked after you. I also saw him win over Dad—who’s easy to get along with but not easy to win over. He’s cool. I like him.”

“I like him too. A lot,” I whisper. It’s becoming more and more clear that Tyler is just who he appears to be, and I really do like him.

“If things work out, I’ll be happy for you. If they don’t, I might still keep him as a friend.” He grins and I laugh.

“Whatever. You should probably go help your wife pack up your sons so she doesn’t lose her glow.”

“You’re probably right.” He kisses the top of my head before disappearing down the hall.

I start to gather all the food off the coffee table, and I carry it into the kitchen. When Tyler sees me step through the doorway, he smiles, and my heart flips. Yes, I really like him. I drop the stuff in my hands on the counter, then go back to the living room to get the rest. When I reach the kitchen again, he’s putting stuff away while still talking on the phone. I dump the leftover pizza crusts in the garbage and rinse off the plates. I start to place them in the dishwasher just as he hangs up on his call.

“Everything okay?” I glance in his direction before I close the door on the dishwasher.

“Yeah, that was Scott. He’s the friend I told you about, the one who offered me the job.” I nod, remembering him telling me about him. “He wanted to make sure we’re still on track to finish the church this week.”

“He doesn’t come to check on things while you’re working?”

“No.” He smiles. “He trusts me to get the job done. He flips houses—that’s his main gig. This business was a side gig. He didn’t expect it to take off like it did, but with the boom in the economy, he had jobs lining up. That’s why he called me. He didn’t want to turn down money, and he knew I wasn’t happy where I was.”

“Why weren’t you happy?” I lean against the counter, and he gets close to me, placing his hand on my hip.

“I worked construction in Tennessee. I did it for years. My boss had promised me that he was going to move me up to foreman, but it never happened. I was in charge, but I wasn’t making the money I should’ve been making for the time I was putting in or the work I was doing.”

“That sucks.”

“It worked out in the end,” he says, using his hand on my hip to pull me against him. “I’m not going to complain about the way things turned out.”

My belly dips, and I start to lean up to kiss him but stop when I hear “Aunt Leah!” shouted by two different voices.

I step around Tyler and stumble backward as Isaac runs into me, wrapping his arms around my waist. “Thank you. We had so much fun! Can we come back soon?”

I slide my fingers into his hair and smile into his happy face. “Yes, anytime you want.”

“Yes!” he shouts, jumping away from me and throwing his arms in the air.

“Thank you, Aunt Leah,” Owen says, coming toward me. I hold my arms open, and he rolls his eyes before he wraps his arms around my waist. “It was fun.”

“Duh, dude. Who’s the coolest aunt in the world?”

“You are.” He rolls his eyes again, like You’re a dork, and I smile before leaning down to kiss his forehead and then his cheeks just to annoy him. When I finally let him go, he goes to his dad, who wraps a hand around his shoulder.

“Thanks, sis.” Noah looks at me, then addresses Tyler. “Will we see you next Sunday?”

“Yeah,” Tyler answers, sliding his hand around my waist, and I catch Angie’s wide-eyed look, but I don’t acknowledge it even with a look of my own.

“See you both then,” Noah says, and he looks down at his boys. “Who wants Steak ’n Shake for dinner?” Both boys yell in happiness before saying goodbye and rushing to get out of the house.

“I don’t know how either of them are hungry,” I say, looking at Angie.

“They are bottomless pits. I don’t know where they put the food they consume on a daily basis. All I know is that my grocery bill would give most people heart palpitations.”

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