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Page 16


Maybe a night away from his apartment with a beautiful woman that wasn’t expecting anything more than a good meal and a good time was just what he needed. He looked down at the pillow that he’d shared with Tinkerbelle and nodded. Maybe it was time to move on and let go of the past and he couldn’t do that by hiding in his apartment, mooning over a woman that hated his guts.


“Who says thank you with meatloaf?” she mumbled with disgust as she looked down at the plate overflowing with meatloaf, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, corn, homemade honey butter and a thick slice of chocolate cake with fudge frosting on a smaller plate in her other hand.

“Someone too broke to buy a decent thank you gift, that’s who,” she answered her own question with a shake of her head.

Deciding to get this over with, she opened her door and walked out into the hall, wishing that she could be anywhere else, doing anything else, but she didn’t have much of a choice in the matter. Danny had taken care of her not once, but twice and she had yet to thank him properly. As embarrassed as she was about the whole situation, and God was she embarrassed, she couldn’t pretend that it never happened. Her parents hadn’t raised her that way.

She shifted the smaller plate onto her other arm, raised her hand to knock and nearly dropped both plates when the door suddenly opened and a vaguely familiar, handsome man with a beautiful brunette by his side stepped out into the hallway.

“How are you feeling?” he asked with a warm smile and real concern in his expression as he quickly looked her over, his gaze pausing on the light pink streaks marking her arms and face.

“I’m fine,” she answered, forcing a smile as she wracked her brain trying to figure out who this man was.

“Good,” he said, nodding approvingly as he stepped out into the hall with the pretty woman and made room for-

“Tinkerbelle?” Danny said, stepping into the hall with a beautiful blonde by his side, somehow making this moment more painful than that moment she had to step in front of the church and announce to a group of strangers that they’d showed up for nothing.

“Umm, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt. I just wanted to thank you for everything and, so umm, I made you dinner, but I can see that you’re going out so I’ll just put this back in the fridge,” she rambled on, somehow managing to stop herself at the end there before she made a complete ass out of herself. With a tight smile, she turned around to-

“You made me dinner?” Danny asked, sounding surprised.

Nodding, she turned around to answer him when she suddenly found her arms empty.

“What did she make?” the vaguely familiar man asked, stepping closer to Danny, seeming to forget the beautiful brunette by his side to peer down at the dishes in Danny’s hands.

“It’s nothing special,” she said, watching as Danny tore back the aluminum foil. “It’s just a meatloaf dinner.”


“-God,” Vaguely familiar man said, finishing for Danny as both men stared down at the plate of food, licking their lips and looking as though they were in heaven.

She looked down at the plate and sighed. She’d forgot the biscuits. “Look, I didn’t mean to interrupt your night. I just wanted to say thank you for everything that you did for me. Let me just run back into my apartment and get the biscuits and I’ll leave you to enjoy your evening.”

When nobody spoke, she took it as her cue to make her escape back into her apartment. She rushed into her kitchen, grabbed the basket of biscuits, turned around and nearly tripped over her own two feet when she spotted Danny sitting at her kitchen table, digging into his food and groaning in rapture.

“This is so good,” he said, around a large bite of meatloaf.

A little more than stunned, she opened her mouth to ask him if he wanted a biscuit when the banging started.

“You selfish bastard!” vaguely familiar man yelled as the pounding on the door continued.

“Just ignore him,” Danny said, reaching for a biscuit. “He’ll eventually go away.”

“Alright then,” she said, because really, what else was there to say?

Chapter 10

“You’re pink,” Matthew said, studying her with a tilt of his head as he placed the lollipop back in his mouth.

“And you found my stash,” she said with a mock glare and a growl as she reached up and grabbed the large bag of lollipops by his side, pausing with the bag long enough for the boy to grab a few more lollipops before she carried it around her desk to put it back in the-

“Your checkbook is unbalanced,” Matthew announced with a bored sigh as he raised his legs and swirled around so that he was facing her with his feet on her desk. “I balanced it for you,” he said with a shrug as he focused back on his lollipop.

“You went through my purse?” she asked, although really, by this point nothing this kid said or did or any of the Bradford children did for that matter, should really surprise her. She narrowed her eyes on Trevor’s youngest son as she asked, “Did you break into my computer again?”

“Yup,” he said, letting the word pop around his lollipop. “And you still haven’t told me why you’re pink.”

“That’s because you never asked,” she muttered absently as she dropped her lunch bag on the desk and the bag of lollipops back in the bottom desk drawer. She picked up her checkbook only to bite back a groan.

“You’re off by sixty-two dollars. You might want to transfer some money into that account before it bounces,” Matthew said conversationally as he leaned forward and pointed at the column that he’d fixed.

“You do realize that you’re only six, right?” she pointed out instead of admitting that there wasn’t any money to transfer. This was it, which was pretty sad because it wasn’t a hell of a lot.

She was going to have to run across the street during her lunch break and see if Mary could cut her a check a few days early. She’d planned on working through her lunch break to get things settled for the renovation, but now it looked like she was going to be spending it standing in line at City Hall and then at the bank. It also meant that she was going to have to stay an hour extra tonight to make up for the loss.

“You gonna tell me why you’re covered with pink streaks?” Matthew asked, studying her curiously.

“I’m part alien,” she said with a sigh, trying not to think about the twenty-five dollar overdraft fee that she was going to have to pay now.

“I see,” Matthew murmured thoughtfully, studying her for a moment longer before he abruptly nodded and turned around on the counter and jumped off.

“Where are you going?” she asked, looking up in time to see the precocious little boy who was secretly one of her favorites, head for the children’s section, which instantly put her on alert.

“To play with the other kids,” Matthew said with another one of those careless shrugs that made her nervous and for good reason. “And to tell them that you’re an alien out to steal their brains.”

“Wait? What?” she asked, the sad state of her finances instantly forgotten as she rushed to go after the little boy before it was too late.


“What the hell happened to your hands?”

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