Kendra’s impossibly huge eyes widened even farther, and her mouth fell open.
Pink had come in behind Becca. “We don’t have any money,” she said.
“I’m not selling it,” Olivia told her. “I’m giving it to her.”
Pink let out a joyous whoop, jumped up and down, and then grabbed Kendra and spun her around. “You hear that?” she asked her twin. “You get to be Cinderella for Halloween, just like you’ve always wished for! That means wishes come true. And that means that maybe we’ll get our other wish!”
“What’s your other wish?” Olivia asked.
“That Santa comes for Daddy this year and brings him what we hear him asking for on the phone sometimes.”
“And what’s that, honey?” Becca asked.
“Something called credit so he can buy us a house.”
The lump in Olivia’s throat was back. “Well,” she finally said softly, “I’m betting Santa will do his absolute best.”
Pink nodded and reached for Kendra’s hand. “Come on, Sissy, we gotta go. The others are waiting.”
“You’re forgetting something,” Olivia said to Pink. “Your costume.”
Pink’s eyes got as big as Kendra’s. “Wow, I get one too?”
“Of course you do,” Olivia said, choked up anew at the thought that Pink had actually believed that she and Kendra couldn’t possibly be lucky enough to each get a costume. “Your pick.”
Pink threw herself at Olivia and hugged her around the waist tight. “I hope Santa comes for you too,” she whispered fiercely.
And then they ran out of the back room into the front, right past Cole standing in the doorway, holding two to-go coffee cups. He smiled at each of the twins, exchanged a quiet, familiar greeting with Becca, and then, when they were all gone, he handed Olivia one of the cups.
“I like watching you with the kids,” he said. He stepped closer and put his mouth to her ear. “Admit it, you’re just a big softie.”
She pulled back and met his gaze. “Am not.”
Leaning in again, he kissed her jaw, working his way back to her ear. “Softie.”
Her knees were wobbly and she was breathing erratically, but she tried to keep her cool. “Bite your tongue,” she said.
Instead, he nipped her ear, making her quiver all the more. “You gave them costumes from your trunk, the one you so carefully keep separate from your usual stock because the things in there mean something to you.”
She sucked in a breath. “How do you know?”
“Because you almost took my finger off when I touched it the other night.”
Well, he had her there. “I’m not a softie,” she repeated.
He just smiled.
“Am I that transparent?”
“No,” he said. “You’re actually hard as hell to read. You don’t give away much.” He paused, waiting until she met his gaze. “I just happen to know you now. I’m guessing I know you more than you usually allow.”
She sucked in a breath, getting a good lungful of his scent while she was at it, which had her body doing a repeat on the quiver. “You think you know me?”
He grinned a confident, alpha grin that said why yes, he thought he knew her well. “Just because we’ve done…it,” she said, “doesn’t mean—”
“We discussed your sexual vocabulary. ‘It’ is not on the list of acceptable descriptions for what we did.”
“Fine,” she said. “We had wild monkey sex that ruined me for all other men. Happy?”
“Getting there.” He moved in close. Real close. “Tell me more,” he said.
She rolled her eyes, pushed him away, and sipped her coffee. “Thanks for this, by the way,” she said, studying him over the steaming rim. He wasn’t dressed in his usual cargoes today, but in basketball shorts and a T-shirt. “What brings you by?”
He shrugged. “On my way home from a run.”
“How’s your shoulder? Your doctor okay with you running?”
He rolled his shoulder. “It’s great.”
“Is that what your doctor says?”
He flashed a small smile. “Okay, so the great part’s my own personal opinion.”
“And the professional opinion?”
“A few more days before I’m one hundred percent,” he said. Paused. “Maybe a week or two.”
Her breath shuddered out and she set down the coffee. “Oh, Cole. I’m so sorry.”
“It’s no big deal,” he said. “I’ve got plenty to do while Sam and Tanner take over. I could watch paint dry, for instance. Or—”
“Bring me coffee,” she said with a smile.
“Yeah. And I’m looking at that hanging dress display,” he said, his gaze on the contraption she’d created the day before to show off some vintage designer dresses. “No offense, but it looks like you jury-rigged it with…yarn and silk ties?” He shook his head. “It’s about two minutes from falling on someone’s head.”
“I know,” she said. “I’ve got to take it down before I kill someone.”
“I can fix it.”
“No one can fix it,” she said. “It was a whim, and it’s a disaster.”
She looked at him, startled. “What?”