She isn't taking on any new clients. He's a newly single, hockey playing dad.
Will he play the adorable daughter card?
There are so many ways in which Ralph needs Candace, so many ways she enriches his life.
So why does he fire her?
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Was he flirting with me? I look at his retreating back. “Don’t go there,” I say to myself. “Don’t think too much into it.” I grab my phone and make a couple of notes about things to do once I get home, and when I hear him walking into the room, I look up at him. “Is she out?”
“She is,” he says, putting the bottle in the sink. “It smells amazing.”
“I know.” I smirk as I walk to the stove and put the pasta in the boiling water. It’s been boiling for the past four minutes. “How long is she out for?”
“It’s Russian roulette.” He laughs, leaning back on the counter as he watches me stir the pasta. “It could be a ten-minute catnap, or it could be a seven-hour stretch.”
“If she gets up, I can get her,” I say, “so you can eat.”
“I have so much shit to do,” he says, and I look over my shoulder at him.
“Can I help?” The words are out of my mouth before I realize it.
“I mean, unless you know a babysitter.” He rubs his hands over his face.
“I could help out for a bit if you want.” What are you doing? The left side of my brain asks the right side.
“I couldn’t do that to you,” he says, taking a deep breath. “We need to discuss something,” he says. My heart skips a beat, and my hands suddenly start to shake, and I don’t know why. “Jesus,” he says. Putting his hand on the counter, he flexes his arm, and his T-shirt stretches so tight across his chest that I can see the definition of his pecs. “I don’t even know how to start this.”
“Well,” I say softly, looking back at the pasta. “I have been told that you should just say it like you’re ripping off a Band-Aid.”
“Really?” he says, folding his arms over his chest. I can tell he’s nervous about something.
“Really,” I say to him, suddenly afraid of what he is going to say. “Fine,” he finally says. I hold my breath, waiting for him to say the worst thing I can think of—that he doesn’t want me to come over anymore. “I want to fire you.” My mouth flies open. “But I know I need you.”
“Okay,” I say, not sure what to say. “Can I know why you want to fire me?”
“I need you to help me with social media. I need you to help me set up the foundation, and when I read the email you sent me two days ago, I was in awe. You just, you’re amazing,” he says, and the struggle on his face is real.
“So why would you want to fire me?” I ask him, my mouth suddenly dry, and the lump in my throat is forming. Tears sting my eyes, but I blink them away.
“Because,” he says softly, “I want to date you.” The words hit me straight in the heart, and my mouth opens. “I know it’s stupid,” he says, pushing off the counter. “And you don’t have to say anything.” I try to say something, anything, but the words are all stuck in my throat. “And it’ll probably be super awkward now, so you can ignore what I just said.”
“Why?” I ask him, and he just looks at me.
“Why?” he asks me, confused. “Like why do I want to date you, or why do I want you to ignore it?”
“You said that you can’t date anyone,” I remind him of his words.
“Yeah.” He nods, and the stove beeps, telling me that the pasta is ready. I drain the pasta and then put the pot down because my hands are shaking. I’m so confused right now. “Well, for the past ten days, all I did was think of you,” he says. He then comes over to me and grabs me by my hand to pull me to the couch. I walk with him to the couch, his hand sending lightning bolts up my arm. “Sit.” He points at the couch, and I sit just because I don’t think my legs can hold me up much longer. He sits on the table in front of me, and we are face-to-face now. “I tried to tell myself that I couldn’t do it. I tried to tell myself that I couldn’t do it to you. That you deserved much better than a single father who literally feels like he is failing every single day. But . . .” He laughs now. “But then all I could do was think about kissing you.”
My heart speeds up to an unhealthy rate, and I would normally assume I’m having a heart attack, but I know that this is all because of the man sitting in front of me.
“You thought about kissing me?” I point at him and then myself.
“More times than is humanly possible,” he says with a sly smile. “I might have also thought of other things, but . . .” I laugh now, throwing my head back. “Which is why I’m so torn. I don’t want to take advantage of you.” His voice goes low, and he looks down, then up again. “I never want you to think I’m using you.” The fear returns to his eyes. “That is not my intention.”
My hand flies up to his face. Whereas before, I would never cross the line, something in me just won’t stop it, and the words come out in almost a whisper. “I want to date you, too.”
Being traded to Dallas was a dream come true. I had everything I wanted, my game had never been better, and my wife was due to have our baby any day now.
What could go wrong?
I was now raising our baby on my own. After hockey practice and games, I didn't have time to sleep, let alone make sure my social media was up to par.
I never thought I'd get a second chance at love.
When my hotshot brother was drafted in the NHL, he didn't have time to do his social media, so I took over for him. Little did I know it would become my career.
My plate was full with over fifty NHL players, and I wasn't taking on any new clients.
Yet when he showed up on my doorstep with the cutest little girl in the whole world, I couldn't say no.
I was just helping, but it turned into more than that. He's the man I've been waiting for.
All it takes is one touch, one night, one chance, and only one kiss.
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When USA Today Bestselling author Natasha Madison's nose isn't buried in a book, or her fingers flying across a keyboard writing, she's in the kitchen creating gourmet meals. You can find her, in four-inch heels no less, in the car chauffeuring kids, or possibly with her husband scheduling his business trips. It's a good thing her characters do what she says because even her Labrador doesn't listen to her...
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