Make Me Yours Page 2

“Aunt Blair is coming too.” Mariah tilted her head. “You think it’s okay to call her that even though she hasn’t married Uncle Griffin yet?”

“I think it’s fine. In fact, I bet she likes it.” I leaned a little closer to examine Mariah’s heart-shaped face, which resembled her mother’s more every year, although she had my blue eyes and light brown hair. “Did you have something chocolate for dessert tonight?”

She licked her lips. “Moose Tracks ice cream.”

“Well, you’ve got a Moose-stache, just like in that book you used to make me read every night. Go wash your face.”

Giggling, she put her hands over her mouth. “Okay.”

When she’d gone, I turned to my mom. “Listen, don’t scare her out of the idea of us moving out. I’ve been thinking about it for a while, and I feel like now’s the time. I don’t have all the details worked out yet, but I’m asking for your support.”

She held up her hands. “Of course you have my support, darling. You’re always welcome here, but I understand wanting your own space. I think it’s a good thing. A healthy step in the right direction.”

“Thank you.”

She smiled, tucking her silvery bob behind her ears. “Now about that outfit . . .”

“My clothes are not up for discussion,” I said, switching off the light and heading out of my room.

“But it’s a party,” she said, hot on my heels. “How about a nice shirt and tie?”

I started down the stairs. “I’m just meeting my friends at the pub, Mom. The same guys I’ve been hanging out with since grade school. They won’t care what I have on.”

“But there will be other people there too. Maybe you could meet someone new.”

And there it is, I thought. The real reason she cares what I’m wearing—the “right direction” she’d been referring to.

My mother, like nearly everyone else in my life, seemed to be on some kind of endless quest to convince me to find a replacement wife. No matter how many times I told them I wasn’t interested in getting remarried, they never gave up.

“I’m good being single, Mom,” I said, heading into the kitchen.

“You say that, but—”

“I say that because it’s true.” Double-checking for my wallet and phone in my pockets, I grabbed my keys off the counter. “I don’t know why everyone thinks I’m so unhappy on my own. I’m not.”

“It’s not that we think you’re unhappy, sweetheart. We just think you’re, you know . . .” She groped for the right words.

“Go ahead and say it.”

“Stuck,” she blurted, twisting her hands together.

I widened my stance, folding my arms across my chest. “That’s ridiculous,” I said.

“Is it? You haven’t dated anyone seriously in nine years, Cole.”

“Because I’m not interested in serious dating. That doesn’t mean I’m stuck.”

“But you’re choosing to be lonely.”

“I’m choosing to be a good, present father to my daughter.”

“Plenty of single dads get remarried! Don’t you think Trisha would have wanted that for you?”

I lowered my voice. “What matters is what Mariah wants—and doesn’t want. My getting remarried is something that scares her. She’s been very honest about that in the past.”

“Mariah is a child. Yes, she worries about losing you, but she’d come around. You need to move on, Cole.”

I took a deep breath, the way I always did whenever my mother or anyone else tried to tell me what Trisha would have wanted, what was best for our daughter, or what I needed to do. I didn’t have a bad temper, but I didn’t like being told how to run my life. I was a grown man, and I knew what I wanted.

“Look,” I said. “I appreciate your concern, but you’re wrong—I have moved on, Mom. I’ve accepted that I’m single, I’ve accepted that I’m going to raise my daughter alone, and I’ve accepted that life doesn’t always go the way we plan. Now you need to accept it too.”

She shook her head. “You’re not even giving yourself the chance to fall in love again.”

“The truth is, Mom, that’s never going to happen.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“Because lightning never strikes the same place twice.”

A knock at the back door made us both jump. Through the glass panes, I saw Cheyenne smile and wave.

“Come on in, honey,” my mother called.

Cheyenne pulled the door open and stepped inside the kitchen. A chilly breeze came with her, bringing with it the scent of dead leaves and burning wood, as if someone in the neighborhood had their fireplace going. Her cheeks were pink from the cold, and her blond hair was pulled back into a ponytail, but it seemed like half of it had escaped in the wind and blown around her face.

“Hey,” she said brightly. “I just came to see if Mariah wanted to run to the store with me and pick out some snacks for our girls’ night.”

“Oh, she’d love that,” my mother said. “I’ll go get her.”

When we were alone, Cheyenne turned to me and smiled. “How’s it going, Cole?”


“What’s wrong?”

I shook my head and muttered, “My mother.”

“Oh.” She held up her hands. “Believe me, I get it. Living with your mother when you’re over thirty is a special kind of torture.”

“I’m moving out,” I announced, making the final decision right then and there.

Her eyebrows rose. “Are you?”

“Yeah. I’ve been thinking about it for a while, but I feel like now’s the time.” I paused. “As long as Mariah is okay with it.”

She nodded slowly, chewing on her full lower lip. “You think you’ll stay local?”

“Yeah. Unless I put in for a transfer to a different police department or something, I have to. And I doubt Mariah would enjoy being yanked out of her school, taken away from the only friends she’s ever known, or away from family.”

“Right.” She sighed. “I can’t wait to move out. But I promised myself I wouldn’t until I paid off all my student loans and credit card debt.”

“That’s smart. How long will it take you?”

She shrugged, her fuzzy, peach-colored cardigan slipping off one shoulder. Beneath it she wore a white lacy thing that looked like a bra and a shirt combined. It sent a tiny jolt of electricity to my crotch, and I immediately averted my eyes. “Originally I thought it would take me two years,” she went on, “but I’m super motivated, so maybe just a few more months.” Then she laughed. “I love my mother, but she drives me crazy.”


“If she would just mind her own business, I’d be fine.”


“Like, I get it, she had life all figured out by the time she was my age—the husband, the house, the kids—but some of us are still working on it. Anyway.” She shook her head and smiled at me. “So, you heading over to the Bulldog for Griff’s party?”

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