“Fine, you nosy fuck,” I snarl at him. “Yes… I’m seeing Trista and I want to keep seeing her. I don’t want anyone else, and I want more time to spend with her. Are you happy?”

“Deliriously so,” Kynan says dryly as he lines up to make his putt. I keep my mouth shut, giving him quiet, but I grind my teeth because I know I’m going to take a ton of ribbing from him over this.

To my surprise, from a good twenty feet away, Kynan sinks his putt easily. Content to finish this out, Kynan doesn’t say a word but waits for me to go. I’m only about three feet from the hole and can do this with my eyes closed.

I line up, take a few short putting swings, and then step forward. I look from hole to ball and back, then give it a tiny tap. The ball veers slightly to the right, catching the rim of the cup. I watch as it shoots around and then out again.

“Fuck,” I growl, and Kynan snickers. He’s totally thrown me off my game.

My ball is only about three inches from the hole so I do nothing but reach down and pick it up. It’s a “gimme”.

It’s not until we put our clubs in our bags and start walking along the path to the next tee when Kynan starts in on me. “So… this is real with Trista, huh?”

“Seems so,” I say casually, although what I’m doing feels anything but casual.

“Isn’t she still under your contract period?” he quizzes.

“Four days left, but we’re past that shit,” I tell him. “I’ll give her the money now if she wants it to pay off that loan shark. And by the way, I’ve offered her a full-time job at The Jameson Group so part of the buyout will demand you keep her on board.”

“Seriously, Jerico,” Kynan drawls. “Do you even know if she has the job skills for this?”

“She’d make the perfect receptionist,” I tell him as we reach the tee. “She’s got plenty of experience.”

“But you already have a receptionist,” Kynan points out.

I grimace at the reminder. “Yeah… but I’m going to fire her. She’s always trying to get in everyone’s pants.”

“You’re fucking right she does,” Kynan says, and then points out for his benefit alone, “and she’s gotten into mine several times.”

And mine… but only once, and I don’t do repeats except in select situations with someone like Helena with her husband involved. But still, I don’t really care for her and her work is mediocre. Since I fucked her one time over my desk, she seems to think it gave her the right to be perpetually late to work.

When Kynan realizes I’m not going to give in on this, he switches tactics, and I know this is really what he’s been gunning for. “I can assume then that you’ve given up on that ludicrous idea to show those photos and tapes to Jayce, right?”

“Yeah,” I tell him, realizing how much weight came off my shoulders when I made that decision earlier this week. “Tossed it in my shred bin.”

“I’m glad,” Kynan says softly. “I know you wanted to strike out at Jayce, but that wasn’t the way, man.”

I finally turn to lock eyes with him. “I didn’t know that at first. Trista was nothing to me and I didn’t really care. But that’s changed now.”

“Got yourself a winner there, I think,” Kynan says.

I think of Trista and her great qualities. Her sass and stubbornness, her quick wit and intelligence, but most of all, her humanity. The things she’s done for her niece blow me away, and she’ll make an amazing mother one day.

God, that fucking appeals to me. I’d all but given up on having children after what Michelle and Jayce did, and I know that’s thinking way too far into the future with Trista, but I can see it. I believe we could have something that strong. I think we already do.

“Yeah, I got a winner,” I agree.

His hand comes down on my shoulder, and he gives a squeeze. “I’m glad you’re letting that shit go. Not just the revenge on Jayce, but on letting the betrayal go so you can open yourself up again. I’m glad you’re willing to trust again.”

And that’s really what it boils down to. It’s been almost a month since I’ve met Trista, but I know without a doubt I can trust her. She is just genuinely a good human being. I’m lucky to have found her.

The funny thing is… I’m glad I didn’t open myself up before because I think I was waiting for Trista to come along. After Michelle cheated on me and then aborted our baby, I quite unfairly set her as the standard by which I measured other women, when really… Trista is the standard. She’s what all women should aspire to be, and what all men should hope to have one day.

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