Home > Down on Me (Man of the Month #1)(8)

Down on Me (Man of the Month #1)(8)
Author: J. Kenner


"You're fading fast," Brent said, a chuckle in his voice.

"I need sleep. But can I see Faith first? If you don't think we'll wake her?"

A tender smile touched Brent's lips, and she felt her heart squeeze. He'd sacrificed so much for that little girl, and never even thought twice about it.

She rinsed her mug, then put it in the drainer before following him to the smaller of the two bedrooms in the house. He turned the knob slowly, then pushed the door partway open.

A pink night-light cast just enough glow for Jenna to see the little girl sprawled on her back, her sheet and blanket having been kicked off. She hugged a stuffed tiger with one arm, and the other thumb was in her mouth. Jenna could hear the sucking noise from where they stood and felt tears prick her eyes. It was good to be back in Austin with her friends.

"I can't believe she's already five," Jenna said once Brent had closed the door. "I feel like I missed years."

"She's growing fast." Pride laced his voice. He hesitated, then looked her in the eyes. "And even though I'm sorry about your job, I'm glad you're back."

"I was just thinking that," she admitted as they headed into the bedroom. "I'm nervous about money—the job market's crappy. But I'm glad I'm back, too."

"You'll be fine," he said, easing his arm around her. She leaned against him, and it was comfortable. Easy. Nothing at all like it would be if she were leaning against Reece.

If that were the case, her pulse would be pounding like crazy, and her entire body would have so much energy coursing through it that she could personally light up all of Central Texas.

Clearing her throat, she took what she hoped was a casual step back. If Brent noticed anything off, he didn't comment. Instead, he opened the dresser drawer, took out a pair of pajama bottoms and a plain T-shirt, then headed for the bathroom. "Back in a sec," he said, shutting the door behind him.

She perched on the edge of the bed, exhaustion warring with restlessness. "What do you think of Megan?" she called after a moment.

"Who?"

Unexpected relief swept over her; if Brent didn't know who Megan was, that meant it wasn't serious between her and Reece.

"Megan," she repeated. "I knew her in LA. I think maybe she's dating Reece."

"Yeah?" He stepped out of the bathroom, now in PJs. "Let me scrounge up a blanket, and then I'll bring your suitcase in here for you."

"You didn't know? Must not be that serious."

He bent to open a wooden trunk, but glanced up, his brow furrowed. "Don't you like her?"

"What? Of course I like her," she said quickly, wondering what exactly her tone of voice had revealed. Because she did like Megan. She just didn't want her dating Reece. Which was stupid, because she wanted both Reece and Brent to be happy. With wives and families and picket fences.

"About time, if you ask me," Brent said, interrupting her thoughts.

"What do you mean?

He stood, a bundle of blankets and sheets in his arms. "Well, you know our guy. Date, get serious, break up. As regular as the phases of the moon. Or it was. He hasn't dated in months. Not even hookups, as far as I know." He headed out the door, his voice coming back from the living room. "But now there's a new woman. Even better, she's one you can vouch for. I'd say it's a good sign. Don't you?" he added, returning with her suitcase and plunking it down by the foot of the bed.

"Yeah. Of course." She cleared her throat, hating how weak her voice sounded. "Speaking of, who have you been seeing?"

"Ah, that would be the stunning Miss Not Yet In The Picture." He spoke in a fake British accent, and she laughed, knowing that he was referencing—badly—Monty Python and the Holy Grail, one of the movies the three of them had watched as kids, convinced they were watching something risqué and wildly inappropriate.

"You should date more. Find someone. Faith needs—"

"Don't tell me Faith needs a mom." There was steel in his voice. "Faith has a mom. She definitely doesn't need two of that breed."

"Don't lump all women in with Olivia," Jenna said, wishing she'd kept her mouth shut.

For a second, she thought he was going to ignore her. Then he drew a breath and shook his head. "No," he said with a soft smile. "I wouldn't dream of it." He reached out and gently stroked her cheek. "Maybe we should just run off to Vegas. You'd be a great mom."

"You better believe I would," she retorted. "I'm good in bed, too."

"Well, we have that in common," he countered, making her laugh. She knew he wasn't even remotely serious—and she wasn't even remotely tempted—so there was no weirdness twisting in her gut.

"Of course, that would be breaking our oath," he teased.

She made a B in sign language with her fingers and put it up on her forehead, the supposedly secret sign they'd come up with the summer she'd turned eleven. "Best friends forever, right? The Three Musketeers."

"Or three blind mice, depending on your point of view. But yeah. An oath is an oath."

"Hell yeah," she said softy. She looked at Brent, but her mind was on a different guy.

"And call me crazy, but I want to marry for love. And sex. But mostly love."

She pressed a hand to her heart in mock indignation. "Are you saying you don't love me?"

"I love you to the moon and back. But not like that."

"I know." She drew in a breath, then yawned. "Me, too."

"You're exhausted." He kissed her forehead. "Now go to sleep. It's past three, and Reece will be here early."

He headed out then, shutting the door behind him, and Jenna was left staring around the room, which was illuminated by the faint glow of a streetlight seeping in around the curtains. She wanted to curl up in bed and crash. Half an hour ago, she would have. Hell, even five minutes ago. She'd been tired, then. Completely drained.

And then Brent had gone and mentioned Reece, and now her body was purring, forbidden memories sliding up to tease her senses.

And then he'd mentioned friendship and oaths, and she wished she could pry all those decadent, unwanted thoughts and feelings from her mind.

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