Tempting Love - Haley & Eddie (Crossroads #5)

By: Melanie Shawn


That was the part of the night he looked forward to now. That he played over and over again in his head. The few hours when Em was in bed and he and Haley would just hang out. Talk. Laugh. Just be…alone.

Getting out of the shower, Eddie grabbed the towel that was hanging on the hook and quickly dried off. He didn’t want to put too much thought into what that meant; why a few totally platonic hours alone with Haley felt more intimate, more real, more fulfilling, than spending hours in bed naked with someone else.

Nope, Eddie thought as he shook out his wet hair. Not going there.

He’d been wild in his teens and early twenties and he’d paid for it. Now that he was an adult and a single dad, he lived by an unbending set of rules. That was how he kept order and structure in his life.

There were other reasons too. Where women were concerned, rule numero uno was if you hadn’t attended high school within the same years he had…you were too young. Haley had been a sixth grader when he was a senior in high school. She might have been an adult now, but that didn’t mean that she wasn’t still too young.

Also, she was the closest thing that his best friend Riley had to a little sister. She was his little cousin. Sure, Riley had impregnated and married Eddie’s baby sister, Chelle, but that didn’t mean that Eddie would do the same.

Rule number two was you don’t mess with your friend’s sisters, cousins, or exes. That was just guy code 101.

Emily pounded on the bathroom door. “Daddy! I’m hungry!”

“Be right out.” Eddie quickly got dressed, put on deodorant, and splashed on a little cologne.

Opening the door, he found a small female with her arms folded, wearing an expression that said she was not too happy.

“What?” he asked defensively as he crossed in front of her to grab his socks out of the top drawer.

He could feel Emily’s eyes boring into the back of his head as he sat down to put on his socks.

“Are you going on a date?” she asked.

“I’m seeing a friend.”

“A girlfriend?”

“A friend.” He turned and looked down at his four foot six interrogator. Her big brown eyes were searching his as he stared down at her.

She wasn’t going to break him. Nope. She was seven. He was thirty-four. He didn’t owe her any explanations for his life.

Still, he had to admit that her assessing stare was making him feel a little bit uneasy.

Then, speaking in a very adult, slightly accusatory tone, Emily over-punctuated each word as she said, “Mandy Pollack’s mom says that you don’t have a girlfriend because you don’t know a good thing when it’s standing right in front of you.”

Mandy Pollack’s mom had only said that because she’d shown up at his door butt-ass naked when Emily and Mandy had been at a sleepover at Sierra Swanson’s house. It hadn’t played out as he was assuming she’d hoped it would. He’d shut the door on her.

“Well Mandy Pollack’s mom doesn’t know what she’s talking about,” Eddie said as he slipped on his shoes and headed downstairs.

Emily continued telling him about not only what Mandy Pollack’s mom thought, but also what all of her other friends’ moms who had opinions about his love life thought. As he made dinner, he tuned his daughter out. Those women had no idea what they were talking about.

Eddie had loved one woman in his life—Lacey, Emily’s mom. And look how that’d turned out. She’d taken off on not just him, but Em too.

There was no way he was entering into that ring again. The first time had almost been a TKO. And this time it wouldn’t just be him going down. It would also be Emily.

He was fine by himself. Em was the only girl he needed in his life.

“So can I?” Emily’s voice was high, the way it got when she was really excited about something.

“Can you what?” Eddie asked as he scooped some mac and cheese into Em’s favorite pink bowl for her.

She sighed dramatically, obviously upset that he hadn’t been paying attention. “Can I get a bra?”

Eddie felt the bowl of cheesy noodles slip from his hands and heard as it crashed to the floor. “What?” he asked as he grabbed a roll of paper towels off the counter and stooped to clean it up.

Emily kneeled down and helped him wipe up the mess. “Stacy and Arianna both have bras. I need one too.”

Eddie knew that these questions would be coming. He just hadn’t thought they’d be coming when his daughter was in second grade.

“No,” he answered as he rinsed out the bowl that had fallen and got another one out of the cabinet.

“Why not?” Emily whined.

“You don’t need one,” Eddie stated firmly, turning back towards her.

“Bu—”

His daughter stopped mid “but” when she saw the look in his eye. Then, shoulders slumped, she turned and walked to the table like someone had just run over her dog.

Eddie knew that this little episode was nothing compared to what he would face when Emily became a teenager, hell, probably even what he would face when she was a pre-teen.

He was in serious trouble.





Chapter Two