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Authors: Brenda Jackson

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She had felt like she belonged in his arms and the firm breasts that had been pressed against his chest had felt like they were meant to touch him that way. More than once he had been tempted to ease his hand under her blouse and cup her breasts, massage them, lift her blouse and lower his head and actually taste them.

The only reason he had finally lifted his mouth from hers had been to breathe in some air. He had heard the car behind them blowing the horn but he would have stayed right there and ignored the sound if he hadn’t needed to breathe. What he’d told her was true. She was one responsive woman but he
hadn’t meant it as a bad thing. He was beginning to realize that everything about Kylie Hagan was all good.

He glanced over at the clock. It was a few minutes past eleven. He wondered if she was still awake. He reached for the phone, deciding there was only one way to find out.


Trying to get to sleep that night was torture for Kylie. The vivid memory of their kiss in Chance’s truck, her sitting in his lap while his tongue stroked her mouth into sweet heaven, kept her wide awake.

She remembered the feel of her breasts, their fullness, their sensitivity, and how at one point she had wanted his lips to bestow the same magic on them that he was giving her mouth. Then there was the feel of his body growing hard beneath her bottom. She would have given anything to feel that same erection cradled into the
of her thighs.

Feeling frustrated in the worst possible way, she was about to get out of bed when her telephone rang. She reached over and picked it up. “Hello.”

“I just wanted to hear your voice one more time tonight.”

Kylie breathed deeply at the seductiveness of
Chance’s tone. She had wanted to hear his voice again, too, but hadn’t had the nerve to call him. He was definitely bolder than she.


She swallowed hard before saying, “I’m here.”

“Yes, but I wish you were here.”

She shook her head. “That’s not a good idea.”

“Your opinion and not mine.”

“We all have opinions.”

“Yes, and we all have the capability of getting a good night’s sleep. At least some of us do.”

She lifted her eyebrows. Was he having trouble sleeping as well? “Try counting sheep.”

“I tried that and it didn’t work. Any more suggestions?”

She pulled herself up in bed and relaxed against the huge pillow. “We could talk.”

“About what?”

“Anything you want to talk about—except what happened this afternoon.”

There was a pause, and then he said, “Okay, fair enough. I’ll let you choose the topic.”

“All right. Tell me about Marcus. Whenever I ask Tiffany about him the only words she can fix her mouth to say are, ‘Oh, he’s simply wonderful.’”

Chance chuckled. “Hey, I’m the kid’s father. Do
you expect me to admit to any of his flaws? If she thinks he’s wonderful, then who am I to disagree?”

“Be serious, Chance.”

Evidently there was something he sensed in her voice that let him know she needed to know about Marcus before actually meeting him on Sunday.

“On a scale of one to ten with ten being exceptional, I’ll give Marcus a nine. He isn’t perfect but for the past sixteen years he has been a son any father would be proud to claim. He’s smart, and he’s also sensitive, something he inherited from his mother. Cyndi was a warm, loving and sensitive person.”

The undisguised love she heard in his voice let her know that he had cared for his wife very much. “How old was Marcus when his mother died?”

“He was nine and he took her death hard. Thankfully, he had my parents, Cyndi’s parents and my brothers and cousins. Still, there were times when I worried about him. I made Cyndi a promise the day before she died that I would do everything within my power to make sure that Marcus had all the opportunities that we either didn’t have or didn’t take advantage of, especially when it came to college.”

She nodded. No wonder he was so intense about his son staying focused to get into a good university.

“Marcus knew of his mother’s dreams for him and after she died it was as if he was trying to honor her memory by doing everything that she’d wanted. He was always at the top of his class, and I never had to remind him to do homework. He tried so hard to please me because I think in his mind, pleasing me meant pleasing his mom as well.”

“And then here comes Miss Tiffany….”

Chance chuckled again and in her mind she could actually see a smile lighting up his eyes. “Ahh, yes, here comes Miss Tiffany. But before Tiffany came football. I hadn’t wanted him to play. I had played in school and I knew how grueling practice could be. I wasn’t sure Marcus could handle it and still keep his grades up. I think that was the first time the two of us butted heads.”

After a pause he said, “Luckily he had his uncles on his side. It took my brothers to make me see that I was being unrealistic and that it wasn’t all about making good grades. Marcus had a few more years in high school to go, and kids these days need to be well-rounded and I was keeping him from being that.”

“So he started playing football?”

“Yes, and the girls started calling…and calling and calling. My phone was a regular hotline. But I
think they annoyed him more than captivated his interest. At least until Tiffany.”

“Tiffany used to call your house all the time?” Kylie asked, somewhat surprised.

“No, and that’s what’s so strange. I can’t recall her ever calling. That’s why I was taken aback when I found that note and was stumped further when Marcus told me, in no uncertain terms, just how he felt about her. It was as if she appeared one day out of the clear blue sky.”

Kylie nodded. It was as if Marcus had appeared out of the clear blue sky as well. He’d definitely been one well-kept secret.

“Now it’s your turn.”

“My turn?” Kylie echoed.

“Yes, to tell me all about Tiffany so I can be prepared.”

Kylie’s lips tilted into a smile. “I don’t think anyone can ever get fully prepared for Tiffany. She’s smart, funny and extremely outgoing. An extrovert if you’ve ever seen one. I think that’s why she’s having trouble making friends at school since we moved here. I don’t think the kids know how to take her. They see her genuinely exuberant nature as being insincere and phony.”

Kylie’s smile then widened. “There is, however, something that I do think you should know.”


“I told Tiffany that as Marcus’s father you would want what was best for him.”


And she feels certain that you’re going to like her when the two of you meet because she is definitely the best.”

Chance laughed. “Sounds like a person with a lot of confidence.”

“A little too much at times. It comes from her dad’s side of the family.”

“Hey, there’s nothing wrong with having an overabundance of confidence.”

“Remember you said that when you meet her on Sunday.”

There was a hint of amusement in Chance’s voice when he said, “I will. And by the way, is there anything you need for me to bring?”

“Yes, a lot of prayer just in case Tiffany and Marcus don’t want to go along with our plans for them.”



“Marcus, are you awake?”

Marcus clutched the phone as he buried his head back underneath his pillow. “Tiffany, it’s Saturday morning. Nobody gets up before eight on Saturdays.”

“I do. Some of us have chores to do and the earlier they get done the better. I only called this time of the morning because you said your dad always plays basketball every Saturday morning with his brothers, and you told me to call if I had anything to report.”

Marcus removed the pillow. She had gotten his attention. “And you have something to report?”

“Yes. Your dad called here last night. And it was late.”

Marcus lifted a curious eyebrow. “How do you know?”

“Your phone number showed up on our caller ID this morning and it showed the time as close to midnight. That means our parents are talking after-hours. That’s a good sign.”

“But what if he just called to get directions to your house or something?”

“At midnight? Think positive, Marcus.”

“Okay. But we should be able to tell if anything is going on when we see them together tomorrow, right?”

“I hope so, Marcus.”

“Yeah, I hope so, too, considering how much of a pain in the butt I’ve been to my dad over the past week.”

Chapter 5

y the time Chance and Marcus arrived at Kylie’s home on Sunday evening, Chance was chomping at the bit to see her again.

The moment they pulled into her driveway, he saw her standing in the backyard in front of a barbecue grill. Kylie looked up the moment she heard his truck and their gazes connected. His gut clenched when an irrepressible smile lit her face.

“Wow! Tiffany was right. Her mom is a knockout,” Marcus said with such profound amazement that Chance sharply turned his head to look at his son.

Marcus’s gaze was glued to Kylie, so Chance let himself stare at her, too, letting his eyes roam over her features. Kylie was a beautiful woman, and that was the main reason he—a man known to have good self-control—had been in such a bad way since meeting her. She was wearing a sundress and the turquoise color flattered her.

“Isn’t she pretty, Dad?”

Chance swallowed. In his book she was more than pretty, or beautiful or even gorgeous. There wasn’t a word he had to define just what she was, although the word
came pretty close. And not for the first time he wondered how she’d succeeded in keeping men at bay all these years.


He knew his son was waiting on his response but he dared not look at Marcus for fear of him recognizing the lust in his eyes. “Yes, she’s pretty.”

Moments later, Marcus asked, “Aren’t we going to get out?”

Feeling a lot more confident that he had regained a semblance of control, Chance glanced over at Marcus. “You sound rather anxious.”

Marcus chuckled. “I am. I want you to meet Tiffany. She’s really something else.”

Chance nodded as he opened the door to the
truck, thinking that, evidently, it ran in the family, because he thought Kylie was something else as well.


As Kylie watched Chance get out of the truck, she could no more stop the flash of desire and excitement that raced through her body than she could have denied her next breath. And to make matters worse, Chance’s eyes were glued to her and she knew he was remembering their kiss as much as she was.

She had thought about it a dozen times since it had happened. Her response to him had surprised her, overwhelmed her, until she’d come to grips with the fact that Chance Steele wasn’t your typical man.

Today he was wearing a pair of jeans and a crisp white shirt, and it was the first time she’d seen him dressed in anything other than a suit. He looked the epitome of masculinity, fine and sexy.

She forced her gaze from him to the young man walking by his side. So this was Marcus, the potential root of her troubles. He favored Chance and was almost as tall. He had the look of youth, but like his father, Marcus’s features were sharp and well-defined. And she was glad to see that he eschewed the popular baggy pants and was dressed neatly in a pair
of shorts and a shirt. It wasn’t lost on her that he was checking her out with as much curiosity as she was him.

“I hope we aren’t too early,” Chance said, breaking into Kylie’s thoughts when they reached her.

early; a good thirty minutes to be exact, but she didn’t have any complaints. “No, Mr. Steele, you’re right on time,” she said, addressing him formally. They had decided not to let the kids know they had been in constant communication with each other. They didn’t want to run the risk of Marcus and Tiffany thinking they were gaming and plotting behind their backs, even if they were.

“Tiffany is inside getting dressed and I was setting up the grill. I hope hamburgers and hot dogs sound okay.”

Chance chuckled. “You aren’t trying to pay me back with the hamburgers, are you?”

“Pay you back for what?” Marcus asked.

Both Chance and Kylie glanced at him. “Nothing,” Chance said quickly, clearing his throat. She knew he hadn’t meant to let that slip.

“You must be Marcus,” she said and then gave him her full attention and offered him her hand.

His grin was unrepentant as he took it. “Yes,
ma’am. And you’ve got to be Tiffany’s mom. You’re pretty just like her.”

Kylie smiled. This kid was a real charmer and before the evening was over she intended to see if his charm was the real thing or not. “Thanks.”

“Do you need our help with anything, Ms. Hagan?” Chance asked, glancing around at her big backyard.

Kylie looked up at him and smiled. “I think it would be fitting if you called me Kylie, that is if you don’t mind me calling you Chance.”

He smiled. “No, I don’t mind at all.”

“In that case, Chance, there is this one little thing I might need help with. Tiffany thought it would be a good idea to put up the volleyball net in case anyone was interested in playing after dinner. If I can get you and Marcus to set it up, that would be wonderful.”

“Consider it done. Just tell us where it is and where you want it to go.”

“It’s over there and I think that would be a good spot,” she said, turning to point to an area of her yard.

“I think so, too. That should be fun. I haven’t played volleyball in years.”

“Should I be worried about that, Dad? I don’t think we have anything for sore, aching muscles at home,” Marcus said, grinning.

Chance’s mouth curved into a smile as he glanced over at his son. “I might be a lot older than you, Marcus Pharis Steele, but I think I can still manage to hit a ball or two over a net.”

That’s not all he’s capable of doing, Kylie thought, shifting her gaze from Chance to Marcus. No matter what disagreements they might have had since Tiffany had appeared on the scene, it was rather obvious that Chance and his son had a close relationship.

“You’re going to have to prove that big-time, Dad.”

“Hey, kid, you’re on,” Chance countered and then turned his attention to Kylie. “What do you think?”

“I think that this I got to see,” she told him, laughing.

“You’ll more than see it. I want your participation as well. The young against what this pup considers as ‘the old’. I think we need to show our children just what we’re made of. How about it, Kylie?”

She grinned. “I’m game if you are.”


“Mr. Steele?”

Chance cast a quick glance over his shoulder, blinked and did a double take. He turned around and blinked again, shaking his head in disbelief. He looked into the face of what had to be a younger
version of Kylie. Her daughter looked so much like her it was uncanny. He watched as her mouth curved into the same type of smile Kylie wore.

He automatically smiled back. “Yes, and you must be Tiffany,” he said, taking the hand she offered. “Marcus has told me a lot about you.”

“And it was all good, right?”

Chance chuckled, remembering what Kylie had said about her daughter’s high confidence level. “Yes, it was all good.”

She glanced around. “And where is Marcus?”

“I sent him to the store to pick up some more sodas.”

“Oh. Mom told me to tell you that she’ll be back outside in a minute. She’s finishing up the potato salad and thought I should come out and keep you company.”

He smiled. “That would be nice since I’d like to get to know you. So what are your plans for the future?” he asked as he leaned against the stone post holding up the covered patio. Kylie had assigned him the task of cooking the hamburgers and hot dogs, something he had convinced her he was pretty good at.

Tiffany laughed. “You don’t have to worry about me and Marcus rushing off doing anything stupid when we become of age, like getting married or something.”

Chance grimaced. God, he hoped not. “That’s good to hear. What about the two of you making plans to cut school again?”

She grinned. “Okay, I admit that wasn’t a smart idea, but like I told Mom, our last two periods of the day are boring.”

Chance folded his arms across his chest and regarded her directly. “And I’m sure your mom told you that it doesn’t matter how boring the classes are, you and Marcus belong in school.”

Tiffany’s expressive eyes filled with remorse. “Yes, sir, and Marcus and I talked about it. We didn’t intend to get you and my mom upset with us, but Mom thinks I’m too young to start dating and you—”

When it seemed that she had encountered some difficulty in finishing what she was about to say, Chance lifted an eyebrow. “I’m what?”

She leaned in closer and squinted her eyes against the smoke coming from the grill. “Don’t take this personally, Mr. Steele, and Marcus says you’re a nice dad and everything, but at times you can be too overbearing where his education is concerned.”

Chance couldn’t help but laugh. He was being told that he was overbearing by a fifteen-year-old girl! She might have inherited her high confidence
level from her father but her directness had definitely come from her mother. “Marcus thinks I’m overbearing, does he?”

“Yes, and you don’t have to be, you know. Marcus is one of the smartest guys I know. In fact, the way we became such good friends is because the teacher had him help me on a class assignment that I was having problems with. He wants to go to the best college one day, just like you want him to. You’re just going to have to trust him to do the right thing. And he will because he wants those things for himself as well as for you.”

Chance’s smile widened. Tiffany’s expressive eyes had gone from being filled with remorse to being filled with sincerity and he liked that. He also liked what she was saying, and had to admit that his curiosity was piqued about something. “And where will all this leave you, Tiffany?”


“Yes, you. Where will that leave you when Marcus goes off to college two years from now?” Assuming your relationship lasts that long, he wanted to add.

Tiffany shrugged. “When he leaves I’ll have another year of school to complete and then I’ll be leaving for college myself. I doubt it will be to the
same college Marcus will be attending since my grades aren’t nearly as good as his, but it won’t matter. Marcus and I have decided that the best thing for us to do is to make sure we both get a good college education. Then we will return home afterward and be together.”

Chance’s eyebrows drew together in surprise. The last time he and Marcus had talked, his son had threatened to hang around Charlotte and go to a local college. He released a satisfied sigh. He was certainly glad to hear this recent turn of events and was about to tell her so when they heard his truck pulling into the driveway, which meant Marcus had returned.

“Mr. Steele, Marcus and I can finish cooking if you want to go into the house and keep my mom company. I’m sure she’s bored making the potato salad.”

Thoughts of being inside the house alone with Kylie had his mind reeling. “You think so?”


He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “Have you told your mom what you and Marcus have decided about your futures?”

“No, not yet.”

“Do you mind if I do?”

“No, I don’t mind. It’s not like me and Marcus won’t be girlfriend and boyfriend until he leaves for college, because we will. But we won’t let anything interfere with him going away to a good university, I can assure you of that. We want what’s best for our future.” Then with a smile on her face she said, “I’ll go help Marcus with the sodas.”

Chance watched her walk away, thinking he really liked Tiffany Hagan.


“So what do you think?” Tiffany whispered to Marcus while helping him unload the soda from the truck.

Marcus grinned. “I think my dad likes your mom. In fact I have a feeling that they may have seen each other another time in addition to that day he visited her flower shop.”

“What makes you think that?”

“Because they’re too friendly with each other to have met only that one time. And then there was this private joke they shared.”

“What private joke?”

“It had something to do with hamburgers.”

“Hamburgers?” Tiffany raised a confused brow. “So you think he likes her?”

“He definitely notices that she’s a woman, which
is more attention than he’s given other ladies, including those at church who are always vying for his and my uncle Morgan’s and my uncle Donovan’s attention. They know it’s a lost cause with Uncle Bas since he’s already engaged.”

After placing the soda cans in the cooler, Marcus continued. “When we pulled up today and I saw your mom for the first time, I commented on how pretty she was and he agreed with me. And he kept staring at her with this funny look on his face. He’s been smiling a lot since he got here. I don’t recall ever seeing my dad smile this much.”

Marcus then gave Tiffany a questioning glance. “You do think we’re doing the right thing, don’t you? Making our parents think something is going on between us so we can get them interested in each other?”

Tiffany nodded her head. “Yes, I think we’re doing the right thing. I have to admit that at first I was doing it just to get Mom off my back because I thought she needed a life, but today she was actually humming. She was humming because she’s in a good mood, and I think the reason she’s in a good mood is because of you and your dad’s visit. Seeing her that way made me realize just how lonely my mom probably has been. All she’s
ever had is me. Like I told you, I don’t ever recall her dating anyone. In a few years I’ll be leaving for college and she’ll be all alone if she doesn’t meet someone and get serious about him.”

Marcus nodded. “Yeah, Dad will be all alone when I leave for college, too, in two years. He has his parents and his brothers and cousins but it won’t be the same. He needs to get involved with a nice lady like your mom. I really like her.”

When they reached the backyard, Marcus glanced around. “Speaking of our parents, where are they?”

Tiffany’s face glowed with excitement when she said, “My mom is inside making the potato salad, and I suggested to your dad that he go inside and keep her company, and that you and I were capable of doing the cooking.”

Marcus smiled down at her. “It seems our plan just might be working.”

Tiffany tipped her head back and looked up at him, returning his smile. “Yes, it certainly appears that way. Now it’s going to be up to us to make sure they get to spend more and more time together.”

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