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My heart crashed beneath my ribcage as I drank in the sight of her.

“Fuck,” I rasped. “You look…”

“Do you like it?” Madison asked, flipping her wavy blonde hair over one shoulder, letting me get a better look at her in my jersey.

My fucking number.

“Like? I fucking love it.” I went to get up but she wagged her finger.

“I need you to sit right there for a minute.”

“Madison, come—“

Music filled her room, some slow sexy base that made lust swim in my veins.

“I’ve been thinking about what you said to me that one time. About wishing I could dance at O’Shea’s.”

“Oh yeah?” I cocked my head, letting my gaze sweep over her sexy-as-fuck body again. Her long smooth legs peeked out of my jersey as she wound it around her fist to give me a glimpse of her little black lace panties. 

Holy shit.

I swallowed hard. 

I wanted to touch her. To kneel at her feet and lick my way up her legs, along the curve of her knee and up between the soft flesh of her thighs.

I wanted—

“You’re right,” she said. “I want to dance, Austin. But I don’t want to dance for anyone but you.”

“You want to dance for me, pretty girl?” I asked, and she nodded, licking her lips.

“Then dance.” I placed my hands flat on the bed behind me and tried to think of anything but my raging hard-on. 

Control yourself, Hart. Or you’ll come faster than a teenage boy watching his first porn movie.

Madison began moving her body. Rolling and popping her hips to the beat.

I loved her like this. Confident and sexy and willing to put herself out there for me.

She swayed closer, pushing my jersey up her stomach and over her tits. 

“Fuck, Madi. That’s so fucking hot.”

She teased me a few seconds longer then let the material fall back in place as she spun away from me, giving me the perfect view of her ass. 

A low groan vibrated in my chest.

How the fuck did I get this lucky?

“We need to buy your parents a gift,” I said, my skin burning up as she continued to dance for me.

“My parents?” She flashed me a questioning look as she ran her hands up through her hair and wove them high above her head. 

“For taking Immy tonight.”

Her soft laughter was like music to my fucking ears. “She’ll be back bright and early.”

“Then we should probably make the most of it.” 

Done waiting, I hooked my arm around her waist and pulled her between my legs.

“Austin,” she shrieked. “I wasn’t done.”

“If I don’t get my hands on you right now, I’m not sure I’ll survive.”

“Ahw is my big broody hockey player feeling a little needy.” She ran her fingers through my hair and leaned down to kiss me.

I wrested control though, plunging my tongue deep into her mouth as I pulled her down on the bed and rolled her beneath me.

“Austin, that isn’t fair.”

“Pretty sure you’ll be thanking me in about ten seconds.” I slid off the bed, letting my knees hit the carpet.

“What—oh. Oh god,” she breathed as I buried my face in her lace-covered pussy.

“You were saying?”

Madison fisted my hair and shoved my head back down. “Less talking, more licking.”

Now there was a plan I could get on board with. 




“Mommy, Austins.” Imogen came barreling through the door but before I could catch her in my arms, she veered around me and headed straight for Austin.

“Good morning, princess.” He scooped her up and dropped a kiss on her head. “How was your sleepover with Grammy and Pops?”

“Grammy said it’s too soons for us to live togethers. Are we gonna lives together?”

“Oh dear,” Mom turned beet red as my heart dropped to my toes. “I didn’t think—“

I glanced at Austin and he grinned. “Behave,” I mouthed.

We hadn’t even talked about moving in together but Austin loved any excuse to make my mom squirm. 

“I don’t know, princess. Your mom and I haven’t talked about it… yet,” he said. 

“You already stay overs all the time,” Imogen replied.

“You’re right, I do.”

“Yes, well.” Mom cleared her throat. “Your father and I wondered if you would like to come over for dinner Sunday?”

“Oh, I’m not sure—“

“That sounds great, Cara.” Austin gave her a megawatt smile. “Thanks”. 


I gave him a pleading look but he only grinned again. 

“We’ll see you, Sunday then.” She gave him a tight smile.

To say things were still strained between me and my mom was an understatement. She liked Austin, I knew that. But she still had reservations about our relationship. 

It wasn’t enough for her that he’d decided to stay in Lakeshore, or that he’d come to the rescue when Warren came back. 

It was enough for me though.

I’d never been so happy, and Imogen absolutely adored him.

“Thanks again for watching her,” I said.

“Honestly, Madison, she’s our granddaughter. It isn’t any trouble.”

“Say bye to Grammy,” Austin added.

“Bye Grammy.”

“Bye.” Mom left and I breathed a sigh of relief.

“You’ve got to cut her some slack,” Austin said.


“Why don’t you go set up the tea party,” he said to Imogen, lowering her to the floor. “And I’ll be there in a minute.”

“Can we have a breakfast tea party? With pancakes.”

“Hell yeah, we can.” He held up his hand and she gave him a high five.

“Don’t be wongs,” she called, skipping off down the hall.

“It’s official.” I pouted. “She loves you more than me.”

“I am pretty awesome.” Austin came over and wrapped his arms around me. “If you don’t want to go to your parents on Sunday, we don’t have to go.”

“No, we can go. It’s just… I don’t want her to ruin this for us.” My fingers curled into his t-shirt. 

I was so freaking grateful it was spring. Austin had finally traded his Lakeshore U hoodies for t-shirts that hugged his muscles in ways that made me salivate. 

“Never going to happen, Madi.” He gazed down at me. “I love you and I love that amazing little girl of yours. I’m not going anywhere, I promise.”

“And about what my mom said, us living together, I’m not—“

“We move at your pace, remember?” He touched his head to mine. “I know I’m over all the time but I still have my place. And this will always be your place.”

“I think I might want to, one day. But it’s a big step for me and this is still so new.”

“We have time, Madi. We have all the time in the world.”

Austin kissed me, his hands sliding down my spine to grab my ass. “You were so fucking hot last night. I can’t stop thinking about it.” 

“I don’t think I’ve ever come so hard,” I admitted. “That thing you did with your—“

“Mommy, Austins. The tea is getting colds.”

Austin let out a soft chuckle. “We probably shouldn’t keep the princess waiting.”

He went to walk away but I grabbed him.

“I love you, Austin.”

“I love you too, Madi. So fucking much.”




“Feel okay?” I asked Imogen as I tightened the belt on her floatation vest. 

“Feels okay.” She grinned. “Will I gets to drive the boat?” 

“I’m not sure about that, princess. But we’re going to have lots of fun. 

“Look at you,” Dayna said. “Are you excited?”

“So excited. Can I sit with you and Rora?”

“Of course, princess. Come on.” Dayna held out her hand and Imogen went off with her. 

“Need any help?” I asked Austin.

“Nah, I’m good. There’s beer in the cooler and Dayna packed a bunch of snacks.”

“This was a good idea,” Noah said, joining us.

“Yeah. It’s a shame Connor and Mason couldn’t make it though,” I said.

“It’s going to be difficult getting us all together now.”

Graduation was around the corner. Connor and Ella were already spending more and more weekends in Philadelphia, and Harper and Mason were helping out at the center more. 

Our lives were moving in different directions. But the thought didn’t fill me with dread anymore because I had all I needed right here.

My eyes landed on Madison and Imogen talking to Rory and Dayna.

“It still gets me every time,” Noah said with a hint of amusement.

“What does?”

“The way you look at them.”

“Don’t start with this shit again.” An exasperated sigh rolled through me.

“It’s not a bad thing,” he argued. 

“Will you tell him?” I asked Aiden, but he only smirked.

“Holden has a point.”

“Oh fuck off, both of you.” 

“She called you daddy yet?”

“The fuck?” I glared at Aiden, and Noah exploded with laughter. 

“Shit, that came out wrong. I meant, Imogen. Has she called you—“

“No, she hasn’t called me daddy, what kind of question is that?”

She had a daddy, albeit a piece of shit who had lost his right to be her father the second he held Madison at knifepoint.

“It happens all the time”. Aiden shrugged like he hadn’t just landed a bombshell at my feet. “Young kids latch onto the new boyfriend and before you know it, they’re calling them daddy.”

“This conversation is really weird,” I said. 

But now that he’d said it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

The same way I couldn’t stop thinking about what Cara said about us moving in together.

I would never pressure Madison into anything she wasn’t ready for.

But I was ready.

I’d been ready for a while.

I hated being away from my girls. Hated staying at the house on my own, waking up all alone.

“Oh shit.” Noah clapped me on the back. “You’re totally thinking about it, aren’t you?”  

“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” I muttered, shoving past him to go to Madison.

Her eyes lit up as I approached and slid onto the bench beside her. 

“She loves it,” she said, leaning into me as we watched Imogen with Dayna and Rory.

“I knew she would.”

My little princess loved an adventure.

“This is all because of you, you know.”

“Oh, I don’t know about that.”

“I do.” Madison kissed my jaw. “You’ve given us so much to look forward to Austin.”

Silence settled over us as the boat cut through the water, and Imogen’s excited shrieks only got louder as Austin went faster.

“She’s so brave,” Madison mused.

“Just like her mom.”

“I don’t feel very brave right about now,” she chuckled.

“Good thing I’ll always be here to protect you then.” I tightened my arm around her waist and rested my chin on her shoulder. 

“You promise?” she whispered.

“I promise, pretty girl.”


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