Читать онлайн "Just Play" автора Hart Taylor - RuLit - Страница 6

 
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He didn’t need this. “And you’ve never done anything wrong?” he challenged.

Standing back up, she flat out laughed. “Of course I have, I was engaged to a cheater. That was my first mistake.” Her eyes hardened.

“Right.” His voice softened.

For a second, he could have sworn she was fighting tears. Then she threw him a steely glare. “You don’t get to know my personal life.”

“Fine.” He swept faster, making sure to get all the corners. Sam had always been fastidious about cleaning. Yes, he had a cleaning lady, but he’d gone through quite a few before settling on his current one, who kept things up to his standards. At this moment, he honed in on his compulsiveness for cleaning.

The home, he calculated, was about three thousand square feet on the main level alone and was all tile and wood flooring. He methodically moved across the floor.

They were both silent for a few minutes. He had refused to look at her. He would have to call Roman and tell him to send her away. Something. This wasn’t going to work with her here. But then he thought of how much Maddy smiled with her and how, even now, she’d settled down right after her bath and was quietly dozing to the sound of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” coming out of the swing.

“I guess you do have one redeeming quality,” she said, shocking him. “You do know how to wield a broom.”

Sam looked up at her, sweeping up the last of the piles of food from the kitchen floor. He wished a warm feeling hadn’t started in the center of his chest and dispersed into chills as he met her eyes. He gave her a half grin. “Well, don’t give me too much credit yet.”

“Oh, I won’t,” she quickly responded.

Shaking his head, he emptied the crumbs into the trash and put the broom back behind the pantry door. This woman was frustrating. “You haven’t told me your name still, ya know?” He turned back to see her drying all the little cups and bowls and silverware.

“I know.”

This made him chug out a laugh.

Giving him a narrow look, she gently put down the pan and walked around the kitchen island, sticking out her hand. “I’m only telling you because I’m impressed you stayed this long…Tiffany,” she said it flatly.

He took her hand, trying not to notice how electric it felt to touch her. He also refused to think about the vanilla smell that wafted off of her. “No last name?”

After tugging her hand back, a look of annoyance slipped onto her features. Then she pursed her lips together. “Chance.”

The moment felt awkward. This truce between them felt…fragile.

She didn’t move, looking him up and down. He’d put the baby food stained shirt back on. She rolled her eyes. “Do you want me to wash that shirt? I’m starting a load of Maddy’s things.”

He hadn’t been expecting the offer, but he was grateful. “Uh, sure.” He started to take it off.

“Whoa.” Putting her hand up to shield her eyes like she’d just witnessed something horrific, she moved toward the stairs. “Keep it on. I’ll go get you one of Roman’s shirts.” She jogged up the steps.

Usually, that was not the reaction from women when he took his shirt off. Frowning, he moved to the swing where Maddy’s head was now drooping and her eyes were half closed. She perked up and gave him a sleepy grin. Squatting down, he lightly touched her soft red hair. “Maddy Young, what can I say? I think we just might become friends.” He kept his voice a whisper. “But the jury’s still out on the blonde.”

He touched Maddy’s soft hand, keeping his hand on hers and liking the protective way he felt about her. “I never met anyone who could get me so messy so fast.” He grinned.

He positioned her head so it wouldn’t conk the metal rod holding the swing together. Something warm flooded through him. He hadn’t realized that he’d actually been jealous of Roman for all the wrong things—like his football prowess and the way he was a media darling. Now he realized he was far more jealous of the little princess right in front of him.

Tiffany’s steps thudded down the stairs. She emerged holding a load of laundry. She moved to the laundry room and threw a shirt at him. It landed on the couch. “Watch out, Dumont, you actually look like you might not live up to all the bad PR after all.”

Watching her walk to the laundry room, irritation stirred inside of him. He decided he didn’t care how beautiful she was, or how much Maddy liked her, she didn’t seem like the kind of woman that believed in redemption, and he didn’t need people like that in his life.

5

When Sam awoke the next morning to the sound of a baby crying, he jumped out of bed like a zombie and headed from the guest room to Maddy’s princess room down the hallway. He’d finally gotten his wish late last night when Tiffany had gone home to sleep, promising to return in the morning. She’d helped transfer Maddy to her crib, and then she’d left him detailed instructions on what he was to do if she woke up, needed a change, or wanted a bottle. The list had been kind of long, and Sam almost changed his mind and asked her to stay, but he’d wanted to be able to do this on his own. His mind flashed to the fact he hadn’t had heaviness in his chest or panicky feelings or anything for the last twelve hours—that was a bonus.

Of course his cell phone buzzed at the exact moment he pulled Maddy out of the crib. She’d been up three times, wanting a bottle and then having one wet diaper and one poopy diaper. The last had almost made him gag, but he’d held it back.

He jogged down the stairs to the high chair and quickly grabbed for the little bowl of cheerios that Tiffany had put out for him to start her with in the morning. He was grateful Tiffany had taught him how to adjust the high chair and how to buckle her in.

By the time he reached for the phone, he was too late. It said he had a missed call from Roman.

Immediately, he called him back.

“Hey.” Roman picked up quickly.

“How’s your son?” Honestly, Sam could not remember what his name was.

Roman let out a long breath and Sam could sense his frustration. “He’s okay. He has a concussion, and they want to keep us another day and run more tests.”

“I’m glad he’s okay,” Sam said for lack of anything better to say. “Really glad.”

“Yeah, listen, I just talked to Katie. She’s in Europe this week with one of our friends, but she wants to come back. I…I told her everything’s fine and that you got everything handled. Right?”

“Of course.” He answered instantly and telling himself it was the truth.

“Are you sure?”

“Absolutely.” Sam kept shoveling food into the hungry baby and she gulped and opened, then gulped and opened. “How did Josh fall?” Sam asked, not wanting to give Roman a chance to think of someone else to care for Maddy.

He sighed. “They were tossing the ball around up in his bedroom, and he dove for it and clonked his head against the hard wood of his bed frame.”

Sam’s heart sank, feeling bad for the boy. And for Roman. He hadn’t realized how much Roman had to juggle having a family. He’d only been doing it less than twenty-four hours, and he was already exhausted. Not to mention that was just one child. “What else can I do for you?” he offered, really meaning it.

Roman’s voice caught. “I…it really means a lot to me that you’re there, Sam. Tiffany called last night. She said you had things under control and that she would come back in the morning.”

At the mention of Tiffany’s name, and that she would be back, nervous energy filled his stomach. He moved to the fridge, swinging open the door. He searched for more food. “She said that? Hey, where’s more baby food?”

     

 

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