Tanner nodded. “That’s what I’m telling you. So you in or out?”
“In,” Troy said. “All the way in.”
“Me too,” Tanner said.
Troy turned his head and met his dad’s gaze. A long beat went by, during which time it seemed that Troy was searching for the truth in Tanner’s simple statement.
Tanner waited for it to sink in.
Finally Troy nodded. They were both all the way in. For better or worse.
It was nice but Tanner wasn’t fooled. There would be worse. But they’d handle it. Together. And for the first time he actually believed that there’d be a chance to do just that.
Callie did her best to distract herself from memories of the most sensuous, erotic night of her life. It wasn’t easy. She had questions. Such as did Tanner have regrets? Did he feel differently about her now that he’d had his merry way with her, several times over?
Work helped. She was on crazy bride alert for several clients and their upcoming weddings. She spent an entire day talking brides off the ledge. One lost her venue to a flood, and Callie had to find another with twenty-four hours’ notice. Another lost her groom to cold feet. Callie had way too much experience there as well.
That night she fell into bed early and was fantasizing about Tanner showing up to strip her out of her PJs and show her some new “stuff” when a knock sounded at her door.
She peeked through the peephole and went still. Speaking of the devil.
When she pulled open the door, he was arms up on the doorjamb, head down.
“Hey,” she said a little breathlessly.
He lifted his head. “Hey. You busy?”
She had a choice here. The safe choice—which was to say yes. It would keep her heart protected.
And there was the unsafe choice. The scary choice. The one that would keep her up all night and give her multiple orgasms. “Not busy at all,” she said. “Where’s Troy?”
“In bed. In his dark purple room.”
“You left him alone?”
“He’s fifteen. Plus Sam came over to play on our Xbox. I’ve got an hour. Or two.” He stepped toward her, and she lifted her face, expecting a scorching-hot kiss to kick off their hour or two.
Instead he ran a hand down her hair and then just pulled her in and hugged her, pressing a kiss to her temple, letting out a long sigh.
He wasn’t here just for a booty call, she realized. He was here for…comfort?
He’d certainly given her comfort, more than a few times now. But he’d never sought it from her before. Until now.
Her heart swelled and she pulled him in further so she could shut the door. “You okay?”
“Yeah,” he said.
Liar. She could feel his exhaustion and worry. “You hungry?”
He lifted a shoulder. Just like a man. She took him by the hand to her kitchen and made them French toast.
He ate every bite.
“Tell me what’s wrong, Tanner,” she said softly, running a hand up his arm, past his rock-hard bicep to the nape of his neck. When her fingers glided into his hair, he let out a rough groan of pleasure and dropped his head forward to give her better access. “Is it Troy?” she asked quietly, massaging his scalp and neck.
“Something’s up with him,” he said. “Can’t get him to ’fess up.”
“Like father, like son,” she said with a quiet smile.
He gave a low laugh. “You might be right.”
“What can I do?” she asked.
Lifting his head, he met her gaze. “You’re doing it.”
She took him to her bed. She would give him the comfort he sought. She’d give him whatever she could.
That last thought was just a little too far outside her comfort zone so she shoved it to the dim recesses of her mind, to a compartment labeled “future worries.”
A week later, Callie was exhausted from long days working on some new wedding site designs. And also, maybe, from deliciously long nights in Tanner’s arms.
He usually showed up late, after Troy was in bed, and stayed a few hours. Long enough for a talk over a late snack and some laughs, and then…
She sighed dreamily. The “and thens” had been amazing. Her musings on this were disrupted by a Skype call from another distraught bride.
“It’s black tie,” she wailed. “And my mother-in-law wants to wear a pantsuit. You just know it’ll be in some horrid shade of green that will clash with the chartreuse bridesmaid dresses.”
Not for the first time, Callie reminded herself that most brides went off the rails at some point and she’d been there herself, so no judgment. “I’ll call her for you,” Callie said, fingers pounding away on her laptop. “I’ve got two bridal shops within five miles of her house. We’ll get her in something off the rack that works, no worries.”
When she disconnected, her stomach growled and she realized it was late afternoon and she’d skipped lunch. She texted her grandma: Hungry?
Callie grabbed her purse and hit the road. She was on her way to her grandma’s house when she saw Troy walking along the highway. She pulled over and rolled down her window. “Hey,” she said. “No bus?”
“Need a ride?”
He hesitated and then shook his head.
“What’s up?” she asked.
“Uh-huh,” she said. “And I’m the Easter Bunny.”