Her Last Goodbye Page 64

Rocket followed Sharp inside.

“My house is a little tight for six people, but we’re making it work.” Lance closed the door. It’s only for a couple of days. The alarm company is updating the entire system.”

Morgan and the girls were staying with Lance until her security rivaled that of the White House.

Gianna, Mia, and Ava were sleeping in Lance’s room. Morgan and Sophie had the guest room. Until Sophie outgrew her night terrors, she couldn’t share a room with her sisters. Lance was bunking on the couch. Even without Sophie’s night terrors, Lance knew there’d be no sleeping together with the kids in the house.

“It’s chaos.” Sharp laughed.

“But a good kind of chaos.” In truth, as crowded as the house was, it felt more like a home than it had in the past. Lance didn’t even mind the clutter of stuffed animals, dolls, and tiny socks. And glitter. Lance had even found silver flakes in his scrambled eggs.

Sharp handed him a brown paper bag. Lance glanced inside. Organic ice cream.

“I don’t know what kids eat.” Sharp stooped to take the leash off Rocket’s collar. The dog trotted into the living room. Snoozer hopped off the couch, and the dogs went through a sniffing and wagging routine.

“They love each other.” Sophie clapped her hands, joining the dogs in a circling frenzy.

“Hold on. I want to tell you something,” Sharp said. “I found out why your mom has been acting differently.”

Lance held his breath.

“She has a boyfriend.” Sharp grinned.

“What?” Of all the things Lance had braced himself to hear, that wasn’t on the list.

“Yep,” Sharp said. “They met in group therapy. He has anxiety issues too. The last week or so, she’d been messaging with him online at night instead of shopping.”

Lance didn’t know how to feel about his mother having an online relationship. “OK.”

“Don’t look so glum.” Sharp slapped him on the shoulder. “This is a good thing for her.”

“Until they break up.” And Lance had to clean up the fallout.

Sharp shook his head. “Don’t borrow trouble. Be happy for her. She’s in a better place than I’ve ever seen. It’s about time she’s had something positive in her life.”

“You’re right.” Lance would be happy for her, but he’d also keep a close eye on her. “Do you want some tea?” Lance asked.

“No. I’m not staying. It looks crowded enough in there.” Sharp backed toward the door. “I just came to drop off the ice cream and the dog.”

“You’re leaving the dog now?” Lance asked.

“Yes.” Sharp chuckled. “Rocket is bored at my place. She belongs with Morgan and the kids.”

Lance glanced into the living room. Rocket had planted herself between Ava and Mia.

What was one more warm body?

“Thanks,” Lance said.

Sharp couldn’t fool him. He’d been worried about them.

“You all have a nice night.” Sharp left.

Lance locked the door behind him. He took the ice cream to the kitchen. Gianna was loading dishes into the dishwasher. Morgan was drying a baking pan, which they’d gone out to buy because Lance’s hadn’t owned one.

He did now.

“Wance.” Sophie tugged on Lance’s hand. “You pwomised to teach me a song.”

Lance crouched to her level. “You know what? I learned a song just for you.”

Her eyes widened. “Yay.”

He let her pull him to the piano bench. He sat next to her, and she watched, rapt as he spread his fingers over the keys and played the opening notes. Her feet swung back and forth, in perfect time. When he started singing “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” she joined in after the first few lines. Her voice soft and surprisingly on key.

By the time they finished the song together, Mia and Ava were peering over their shoulders, singing along.

“Again!” Sophie shouted.

“How about I teach you to play it instead?” Lance plunked out the first few lines of the melody.

Sophie picked the tune up fast, and after fifteen minutes, was content to practice on her own. She played the notes over and over with a determination and patience Lance would not have expected of a three-year-old.

“OK, girls, bath time,” Gianna called.

The room emptied out, and Morgan and Lance spent the next fifteen minutes clearing the clutter. But with so little room and so much stuff, there was only so much they could do.

Lance took advantage of the empty room. He tugged Morgan to him and planted a kiss on her lips.

She wrapped her arms around his neck. “I’ve never heard you play happy music before.”

“I guess I do lean toward the moody and broody when it comes to music.” Lance glanced around at the jumble of pink in his house. “I’m feeling pretty happy.”

He was an only child, and after his father had disappeared, his life had deteriorated. He didn’t remember ever feeling the sense of family that being with Morgan and her girls gave him. The kids added fun and wonder to his life. He was loving every crowded, glitter-bombed moment of having them at his house. The idea of stepping in as a parent to three little girls was daunting, but they were worth the work. His house was going to feel empty when they were gone.

And he couldn’t quantify everything Morgan meant to him without choking up.

Tomorrow, he’d go over to her place and meet with the alarm company to check on the progress. She wanted to be home when her grandfather was released in a few days. There was no way one more person was going to fit in Lance’s two-bedroom ranch.

“You really don’t mind us all invading your house?”

“Not at all.” He wasn’t looking forward to them leaving. If she’d have asked him that question the year before, his answer would have been entirely different. But only because he hadn’t realized what he’d been missing.

“Still, I can’t thank you enough. Stella and Mac’s place is much smaller than yours.”

“It’s fine. I’m enjoying it. Bachelor life is boring.” He silenced her with a kiss.

“This case was so horrible.” Morgan reached for Lance’s hand. “I don’t know how I would have handled it without you.”

Lance closed his fingers around hers. He wanted to say something romantic back, but the words stuck in his throat. He wasn’t skilled at expressing his feelings, especially to her. But he had to get better at that.

“No matter how complicated our personal lives are, we need to prioritize our relationship from now on,” she said. “That is, if you want to.”

Lance smiled down at her. Finding his voice, he said what was in his heart. “There’s nothing I want more.”

He’d been waiting to hear those exact words.

“All right, then.” She rose onto her toes. “From now on, we are officially us.”

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