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Authors: Kaylee Ryan

Tempting Tatum (24 page)

BOOK: Tempting Tatum
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She pulls her leg up on the couch and rests her head on her knees. “It’s hard, but at the same time, I’m so fucking proud of all three of them. They save lives. What they do is dangerous and heroic, but I thank God every day there are men and women just like them. You just have to remember they are trained professionals.”

She raises her eyes to meet mine. “Life inevitably throws us curve balls blazing with unexpected circumstances. Living life, taking risks.” She shrugs. “It’s something we all have to do in order to understand the miracle of it all; only then do true miracles happen. The best things in life are truly unexpected.”

“Not always,” I whisper. “Losing my parents was unexpected,” I reply.

Ember’s eyes mist with emotion. “I’m so sorry you lost them. I’m here if you ever want to talk. We don’t know what the greater plan is, and yes, some things, tragedy and death, are unexpected and cause pain. However, that pain brought you here, to my family. You are quickly becoming my closest friend and my brother’s in love with you.”

I scoff at that. She laughs.

“Okay, my brother is falling in love with you. That pain brought you to us, and you bring so much happiness into our lives.” She reaches over and wraps her arms around me. “I’m glad you’re here,” she tells me.

As she releases me, my phone vibrates.

On my way back to you.

A grin spreads across my face at his words. I hear Ember sigh. I look up to see she’s looking at my phone. “I told you so,” she says with a cocky smile that reminds me so much of Blaise.

: I’m back at the apartment.
When and where?
My place. I’ll pick you up in ten.

I scramble off the couch, running to my room to change. I drop my phone in the process. Ember must have read the messages from Blaise because she starts singing, “Blaise and Tatum sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g.” That’s as far as she gets before she stops to yell, “I told you so,” at the top of her lungs.




I told Tatum ten minutes when really I was only a couple minutes from pulling into her building. She said it wouldn’t feel right staying at my place without me there, so I headed here instead.

I reach the apartment door and hear Ember bust out in song. I smile at my little sister. She has a great personality. The song she’s singing is one we used to taunt our friends with on the playground; it’s obvious Ember is a kindergarten teacher.

I knock on the door, but they evidently don’t hear. I reach into my pocket and pull out my keys. Asher and I both have a spare, as Ember does for our place. I slide the key in the lock and walk in just in time to hear Ember yell, “I told you so.”

“Who did you tell what?” I ask, startling her.

She flips her head around and a huge grin lights up her face. “Well hello there, big brother. I thought your ETA was ten minutes,” she chides me.

I chuckle. “I might have already been enroute and didn’t want to sound too eager,” I tell her. It’s not like she hasn’t already figured out I want Tatum to be mine.

“Did you not think showing up two minutes later would be a dead giveaway?” she asks.

“Honestly, I didn’t think about it, and I don’t care. I just didn’t want to scare her into changing her mind about having dinner at my place,” I tell her. “Who did you tell what?” I repeat my earlier question.

“I told Tatum you were falling hard for her. The last ten minutes proves I’m right,” she says smirking.

I give her my “duh” look. “It’s not like I’m trying to hide it,” I say.

Before Ember can respond, Tatum walks in the room pulling her hair up into a mop of messy sexiness on top of her head. “Em, I need my…” she trails off once she looks up and her eyes find mine.

I’m at her side in two long steps. I place my hand on her hip and pull her against me, kissing her temple. “Hey you,” I say softly.

“Hey, you got here fast,” she says, green eyes sparkling.

“I may have already been just around the corner,” I tell her. “You ready to head out?”

“Yes, I just need my phone,” she says, holding her hand out to my sister.

Ember throws her head back and laughs as she places Tatum’s phone in her hand.

Tatum slides the phone in her back pocket. “Wait, we’re just hanging out at your place, right?” she asks me as she looks down at her outfit. She’s wearing short blue jean shorts, a white tank top, and white flip-flops. Her hair is pulled up in bundled mess on top of her head and she looks sexy as hell.

“Yes, I was just going to throw some steaks on the grill, but we can do whatever you want,” I say.

“Okay, good. I guess I’m all set. I can drive though, so you don’t have to bring me home.”

“Who say’s you’ll be back tonight?” Ember says under her breath, but loud enough we both hear her.

My hand falls from her hip and finds her hand. I lace our fingers together. “I can bring you home or you can stay. It’s your choice, but I will be driving you. I want to spend as much time with you as I can,” I tell her. I sound like a fucking pansy, and I’ve given Asher hell over being the same exact way with Grace. Now I get it. I understand what it feels like to not give a fuck what it sounds like or who’s riding your ass about it as long as it has my girl’s face lighting up like it is at this exact moment.

We say goodbye to Ember and I lead her outside to my truck. I lift her inside and wait until she’s safely buckled in before shutting her door.

“How did it go?” she asks as soon as we are on the road.

Keeping my eyes on the road and my hands tightly gripping the wheel. “Good. Old man Sampson was trying to burn some boxes and caught his yard on fire.”

“I hope everyone’s okay.”

Not able to control it any longer, I reach over and grab her hand. “No one was hurt. We were able to easily extinguish the fire.”

Tatum’s chewing on her lip. “Hey, you okay?” I ask her.

She nods her head. “It’s just, what you do, it’s scary.”

“Yes, at times. I’ve had extensive training, and I like being able to help people.” I glance over and see she’s staring out the window. Was she worried about me?

I pull into my drive and turn off the truck. I release her hand and quickly walk to her side to help her down. I lift her and hold her by the hips mid-air so we are eye level. “Hey you,” I say. That earns me a smile. I slowly settle her feet on the ground. Placing my finger under her chin, I lift her eyes to meet mine. “I’m okay.”

Tatum nods and wraps her arms around my waist. I feel something shift inside me. This girl wrecks me. “Let’s get you fed.”

I lead her into the house. “Make yourself at home. I’m going to fire up the grill.”

“What can I do to help?”

I stop and turn to face her. I wait for her eyes to lock with mine. “You being here is all I need.” No words have ever been truer.

Tate smiles and my heart sputters. She’s beautiful. “What else are we having?” she asks.

“I thought I would pull together a salad and throw a couple of potatoes on with the steaks,” I say as I open the patio door to light the grill that’s on the back deck.

As I’m lighting the grill, I hear the patio door open. Tatum steps up beside me holding two platters. One has the steaks seasoned and ready to place on the grill, the other is holding three baked potatoes wrapped in aluminum foil.

I lean down and place a kiss on her forehead. “Thank you, sweets.” I take the dishes from her and get busy making dinner.

I stand outside with the grill; I’m nervous. I know I have no reason to be, but I want everything perfect. I don’t want her to regret her time here. The door sliding open catches my attention. I turn and watch as Tatum walks toward me. Her feet are now bare. She scrunches her nose a little as they touch the hot deck surface. The sun is starting to set, but it was hot today. When she reaches me she hands me a beer. “Here, thought you could use this.” She pulls her hand back. “Wait, are you still on call?” she asks.

Could this girl be any more amazing? “No, my shift ended at five. I was only covering for one of the full timers for a few hours.”

Tatum walks to the end of the deck and rests her arms on the railing looking out over the backyard. When I started looking at houses, I had planned on proposing to Beth. Once she dropped her dirty laundry all over the place, I continued to look. I was no longer getting married, but I wanted a home. This place has ten acres and a pond in the backyard. Tatum stares off in the distance, watching the sun slowly set.

I set my beer on the table and walk to her. I slowly step behind her. She glances over her shoulder and smiles. “Great view,” she says, turning back toward the sunset.

I close the short distance between us, place my arms around her waist, pulling her back against my chest. I bury my face in her neck and breathe her in. Her sweet smell surrounds me. “You smell so fucking good.”

She chuckles lightly. “It’s the steak you smell.”

“Yeah, the food smells great, but that’s not it. Your sweet scent, a mix of vanilla and something uniquely you, is intoxicating.”

Reluctantly, I pull away. I walk back to the grill and adjust myself as I do. There is no way she didn’t feel what she does to me.

“Are we eating out here or inside?” she asks.

“I’m good either way; it’s up to you.”

Tatum nods her head and walks back into the house.

I remove the steaks and the potatoes from the grill and take them inside. I assume since Tatum didn’t come back out that she wants to eat in here. I make my way in the kitchen and the table is set with everything we need. She’s just sitting a bowl of salad in the middle of the table. “I figured since you worked out in the heat today, not to mention the heat from the fire, I thought you might like to just enjoy being in the air,” she says as she walks back to the fridge and pulls out a gallon of tea. I raise my eyebrows because I didn’t have any tea.

She pours two tall glasses and brings them to the table. “I made tea. I hope that’s okay.”

I nod my head. “I want you to feel comfortable here. Whatever you want, it’s yours.”

We both make our plates and dig in. We’re quiet for the most part, but it’s not uncomfortable. We are both obviously starving. Tate does manage to tell me how good it is between bites. It doesn’t take us long to devour our meal. I stand to clean up as does she. “You go sit down and relax; I got this.”

“Yeah, not gonna happen. You cooked, it’s the least I can do,” she fires back.

“You’re my guest. It won’t take but a few minutes. Really, go sit down.”

“Well, just think about how fast we’ll get it done if we do it together?” she says as she snaps the lid back on the butter and places it in the fridge.

I don’t want to argue with her. I want to take care of her; she deserves nothing less. I decide to choose my battles and let her help, and she’s right, we’re done in no time.


BOOK: Tempting Tatum
6.05Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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