A Father's Name
Author:Holly Jacobs

Chapter SEVEN

TUCKER FELT AS IF SHE were playing some strange tug-of-war with herself…and with Tyler.

One moment they were kissing with fireworks crashing overhead and the next moment he was treating her as if that kiss that had blown her socks off had never happened. As if she were a bosom buddy as they dealt with Jace’s needs.

Two weeks of it.

Tyler would pick up Jace from her each day after work and practically sprint to his car. He’d hand off Jace the next morning minutes before he needed to start work, leaving no time for any uncomfortable conversations.

She looked down at the T-shirt she’d found on her workbench this afternoon. A long haired man in a black robe on a motorcycle with the words I Ride, Therefore I Am emblazoned on it. Underneath the main caption was a tiny caption that read, What Descartes Would Have Said if He Had a Harley.

Tyler had left it with a simple Post-it. “Saw this and thought of you. It’s a small thank you for all your help with Jace.”

The T-shirt was perfect—the Post-it was generic.

Tucker sighed as she fingered the soft cotton shirt. Tyler treated her as if she had the plague, but knew her well enough to know how much she’d love a T-shirt that combined motorcycles with philosophy.

The only meaningful conversations they’d had since the Fourth were about Jace and the business. Tyler was building a new set of online templates that were supposed to speed up the process.

Her father had never changed his methods since she was small. Tyler was bringing Tucker’s Garage’s books into the twenty-first century. He waxed poetic about the Excel program he’d set up.

She looked at the T-shirt in her hand. He’d seen it and thought of her?

She wondered if he thought of her as often as she thought of him. She was making herself crazy behaving like some lovesick teen. Not that she was a teen or anyone had said anything about love.

Now, lust, that was an entirely different matter. No one had said anything about that either, but she knew she had an acute case.

She stared at the delivery van that sat in the center of her paint room.

It was done. A stylized mural for a local bakery. Cakes, pies and cookies that looked almost real enough to eat. She’d painted a lot of things, but never food and she was pretty pleased with her results. She had a motorcycle that was due next week, but it was only a howling wolf on the tank and some pinstriping. Nothing taxing. She didn’t need to start it tonight.

She’d caught up on her paperwork. Well, not caught up exactly, but she wasn’t so far behind that she needed to keep at it into the wee hours. She could go home and veg in front of the television and watch shows that she enjoyed since Bart wouldn’t be in until late.

Owning the remote should be a treat, but instead she sighed. Bart coming in late was pretty standard this summer. He worked as a lifeguard at the Sunrise Foundation’s daycamp a few days a week, helped with Jace on his days off, and every evening he disappeared with friends. They drove into Erie and went to the peninsula, or the mall.

She got that. In fact, she encouraged that. She remembered that feeling of exhilaration when she graduated from high school. She would have loved running around with her friends that summer, but she’d had Bart. She’d grown up quick and while she didn’t regret anything to do with her son, she wanted him to have it easier, so she didn’t mind his having a great senior summer. She simply missed him.

Okay, so no Bart to distract her from thoughts of Tyler this evening.

She couldn’t even go out with Pops. He was out with Marilyn. Again.

Too bad Jace was with Tyler. She could have loaded him into the stroller and taken a walk.

Maybe she should get a dog.

Her thoughts skittered from one option to another, but no matter what kind of distraction she came up with for her evening, what she really wanted to do was see Tyler and Jace.

No. Tyler and Jace were out. She could call Eli. She discarded that idea as well. Eli had a family now. Zac, Ebony and Johnny.

With no clear plans, Tucker started shutting up the shop. She turned out the lights in her paint room, then headed into the main garage. A light was burning at Tyler’s work station.

She walked over to turn it out, too, and spotted a piece of garbage tucked behind a toolbox at the back of the work table. She’d expect to see debris on Lou’s bench, or even North’s or Joe’s, but Tyler was meticulous, about himself, and his tools. The balled up paper seemed incongruous. She picked it up to throw it in the trash, and realized it was an envelope.

A certified envelope.

Tucker laid it on the work bench and flattened it out.

It was an unopened, certified letter addressed to Tyler.

Maybe it was something important and he’d forgotten it.

The polite thing would be to take it over to him, right? And her father had always taught her to be polite.

After she’d dropped off Tyler’s letter, she could see if he’d mind her borrowing Jace for a walk. She used to love walking Bart through Whedon on dusky summer evenings. More often than not, he was sound asleep before she got back to the house.

Tyler would probably love having someone else put Jace to sleep.

Even though she knew that the envelope was a weak excuse, she felt better than she had all day. Showing up on Tyler’s porch because her house was too quiet was lame. Showing up because she wanted to kiss him again, lamer yet. But dropping off a letter that could very well have some kind of significance, well, that was simply a kind gesture and not lame in the least.

She made the drive to his house in record time.

As always, she was struck again by the incongruence of the house he lived in and the house she’d always imagined him living in. Although it was a bit rundown, it was as neat as everything else about him. Everything but the letter that she was taking to him.

Now that she was here, showing up on his doorstep uninvited, she felt awkward. Then she glanced at the letter in her hand and knocked on the door.

It took a little longer than she’d anticipated for him to open it. “Angelina?”

“Tucker,” she reminded him, though she didn’t know why she bothered. He might remember for a minute, but he’d forget and revert to referring to her as Angelina soon enough. It would bother her if it were someone else. But for some reason, she didn’t mind that Tyler called her by her given name, and only corrected him out of habit.

“I found this at the garage.” She held the wrinkled envelope out to him. “It looked important, so I brought it over.”

Tyler turned and walked into the house and she assumed that was an invitation and followed. “Where’s Jace?”

“Sleeping. Bart and your dad had him out fishing this afternoon and he didn’t get his nap. He was so tired he fell asleep in his spaghetti. I took a picture before I cleaned him up and tucked him in. I figured you’d like it.”

“I would. I have a picture of Bart when he was about that age. He fell asleep while eating a chocolate ice cream cone.” A sense of wistfulness struck her anew. Her son was no longer a toddler who fell asleep in his food. He was an adult who was building his own life—one that didn’t revolve around her.

“I was going to ask to take Jace for a walk, but guess not.” She realized she was still holding the envelope and held it out to him again.

He didn’t take it.

“Is it important?” she asked.

“No,” was his monosyllabic response.

And his denial told her the opposite. “Do you want to talk about it?”

“No.” And as if suddenly recalling his manners, he added a very formal, “Thank you.”

She didn’t know what to do with the envelope, so she simply set it on the small table by the doorway.

“Tyler, what’s with you? One minute we’re buddy-buddy, then we’re kissing on the bluff, and then you’re treating me like…” She shrugged, not sure how to define the wall he’d put between them. “Did I do something?”

“Your father made it clear he doesn’t want us dating.”

“Here’s a news flash—my father doesn’t make my decisions.”

“Maybe he should, because you should want more than I’d be able to give you. You deserve the whole nine yards. Hell, you deserve…”

Tyler let the sentence fade as he stared at Tucker as she closed the distance between them.

So close. She was so close to him, but she still felt the distance he’d worked so hard to maintain the last two weeks. She wasn’t sure why it bothered her so much, but it did. She was tired of being held at arm’s length when all she wanted to do was get closer.

She was tired of her father and Tyler telling her what she should want. What was best for her.

Tucker wasn’t accustomed to taking orders from anyone. She’d forgotten that for a moment, but she remembered now. She reached up, locked her fingers behind Tyler’s neck and gently pulled him down so that his lips were an inch away from hers. She heard him sigh and sensed whatever war he’d been fighting with himself was over. He met her lips with his own.

The other kisses they’d shared, even the hot one on the Fourth, suddenly seemed chaste when compared with this one. This kiss was something so much more and it went on and on, which was fine with Tucker.

She could have stood forever, locked in this embrace. But obviously Tyler couldn’t. He pulled back and then took a couple steps to separate them. “Walk away, Angel. This is all I can offer you.”

“What? A kiss that about blew my mind. I don’t think something like that is settling.”

“It is, because for you it should be more than sex. And I can’t give you more than that. Friendship, yes. That’s already yours. But nothing more. I’m an ex-con with a kid. You’ve been a single mother your entire adult life and when Bart leaves for school in a few weeks, you’re finally going to have a chance to be on your own. To explore what you want out of life. To do what you want when you want. You deserve that.”

“Do you really want to give me what I deserve?” she asked. When he nodded, she said, “Then let’s take this into your bedroom, please.”

“Angel, I…”

At first, she thought he was going to say no, but then he took her hand and led her up the stairs.

AN HOUR AND A HALF LATER, Tyler wondered about the woman sleeping on the other side of the bed.

What the hell had he done?

Angelina deserved so much more than he could give her—he’d said as much repeatedly to himself, and to her—and yet, here they were. He watched her and wished more than anything that things were different. That he wasn’t turning into everything he hated about his father.

An ex-con, for all intents and purposes, a single parent, a mechanic and a man who saw nothing wrong with using women.

His father had been a user. Tyler lost track of the number of women his father brought home in a drunken haze. Nameless women who his father discarded with no thought or remorse.

Tyler had never done that.

Any woman he dated understood he wasn’t interested in a long-term relationship.

That’s what he’d intended back when he’d asked Angelina out. Two people having a good time. And if she’d said yes back then, maybe that would have been all they had. Maybe not. But now, he knew that she wasn’t like that. Despite what she’d said downstairs, she wasn’t the type of woman who could separate sex and love.

Not that he was conceited enough to think she loved him. But he knew that she cared for him, and this was part of their lovemaking.

What the hell had he done?

Jace squawked in the next room. Thankful for an excuse to get out of bed, Tyler rolled to his side, but Angelina stopped him. “Let me, please? I think that’s one of the things I miss the most. Getting a baby in the night.”

“Sure,” he said and kept his gaze on her as she got out of bed and reached for her panties and her ever-present T-shirt, then hurried next door.

He laid back in the bed and listened to her murmur to the baby. He couldn’t make out what she was saying, but Jace was quiet.

About ten minutes later, Tyler got up, slipped on his jeans without fastening them and padded next door. Jace’s bedroom door was ajar and he peeked in.

In the soft glow of the small lamp, Tyler could make out Angelina sitting in the rocking chair, the once-again sleeping baby in her arms. His legs hung over the arm of the chair, and his one arm draped over the other end, but Angelina didn’t seem to notice. She rocked and stroked Jace’s white blond curls, singing so softly Tyler couldn’t make out the song.

She looked up and smiled at him and Tyler realized how big a mistake he’d made by making love to Angelina.

He’d worried about her feelings. He’d worried that she couldn’t separate and compartmentalize having sex and keep it from spilling into deeper emotions. And now he realized it wasn’t Angelina with the problem. It was him.

He couldn’t separate his feelings from making love with her.

It was love.

Pure and simple.

Well, not simple. Not simple at all. He stood there lost in watching her cuddle Jace and though he couldn’t regret losing everything when he went to jail because he’d had to do it, at this moment he wished it had never happened. He wished he’d grown up with the Matthews family, and not with his drunken abusive father. He wished that he was standing here a man without all the emotional baggage, able to give Angelina Tucker everything she was due.

“Ty?” she whispered.

“I was checking on the two of you. I’ll be downstairs when you put him back down.”

He padded barefoot down the stairs and into the kitchen. If he was a drinking man, he’d pour himself a glass of something about now. But he didn’t. Not ever. His father’s example was too much of a deterrent. He settled for making some coffee. Normally he wouldn’t think of his favorite brew this late at night, but he knew he wouldn’t be sleeping anyway.

He listened to the coffee perk and stared out the window. The fireflies that had been so prevalent this summer blinked on and off merrily in the yard under the huge silver maple that only allowed the merest of dappled moonlight to shine through.

He loved the peace of this farmhouse. It was the first place he’d felt at home since that brief time he’d spent at the Matthews’ at the end of high school.

He could hear himself think here.

What he was thinking tonight was that he was a fool to act on his desire for Angelina.

He heard her come into the room, but still stared at the backyard.

“Penny for your thoughts,” she finally said, repeating his line from the Fourth of July.

“They’re not even worth half that much,” he assured her without turning around. Maybe if he didn’t look at her he could end this here and now—end it without her knowing that it was the last thing he wanted to do.

“Maybe they’re worth a lot more than that to me. Talk to me, Tyler.” She stepped between him and the window, forcing him to look at her. “Talk to me.”

“What do you want me to say, Angel? I was honest when I told you this couldn’t be more than sex.”

“And I was honest when I said I was okay with that.”

How did you fight a crazy woman who didn’t even begin to realize her own worth? “It shouldn’t be okay with you, Angel.”

“Yeah, you keep saying that. But since that’s all you’ll allow, I’ll find some way to settle. I mean, here I was secretly pining for a white gown and wedding ring. You know how I’m very into that kind of froo-froo stuff, but somehow I’ll survive. I’ll cancel my subscription to Bride’s Magazine and—”

He turned away from her again and slammed his open hand on the counter. “Dammit, Angel, this isn’t funny.”

“Oh, and I know this routine. You’re going to tell me how tough you are. How afraid you are that next time I piss you off like magic you’ll turn into your father and smack me.” She closed the gap between them and stood next to him without actually touching him. “Well, here I am, Tyler. Not crying, sobbing and telling you I can’t live if you won’t make an honest woman of me. Not backing up and not backing down. I’m probably upsetting you left and right. And to be sure I am, let me ask again, what was with the registered letter?”

He remembered his mother pulling in on herself when his father came home drunk. Afraid of a wrong step that would set him off. Angelina didn’t have that sort of internal censor. She seemed to revel in pushing him. “What is wrong with you? You’re like half my size. If I did hit you, I’d flatten you.”

“That’s a huge if. To be honest, I don’t really think it’s an if at all. It’s a possibility I don’t believe in. Not for one second. You’ve spent your life worrying you’re going turn into your father, but it won’t happen. Not ever. I know with absolute certainty that I could push you to the edge of reason, and you’d still never hurt me. Ever.” She stood there, fearless and ferocious in her belief in him.

“How can you know that when I don’t?” he asked softly.

“Because you see yourself through a filter…your father stands between you and your true reflection. I simply see you—only you—and you would never hurt me.”

“Angel, you’re nuts.”

“Yeah, I’ve heard that before.” She reached out and wrapped her arms around him and simply held him with the same kind of tenderness she’d held Jace with. “I’m not asking you for anything more than you can give.”

“What if I say I can’t give you the answers you want?”

He felt her shrug as she still embraced him. “Then I’ll wait until you can.”

“And if I never can?”

“Like I said, I’m pretty sure I see you more clearly than you see yourself. I’ll wait.” She snuggled even closer. “But what, oh what, will we do while I’m standing here waiting?” She glanced up at the clock on the microwave. “It’s only nine. Bart’s curfew isn’t until eleven thirty, so I have some time to hang around. That is if you can think of something to do to keep me occupied.”

He planted a kiss on her forehead before he thought about it. “You’re insane, you know that.”

“And you are one smooth talking man whose sugary words could win any woman’s heart.” She stopped and laughed. “Not that you want to win my heart. But maybe I could convince you to try winning my body again before I have to go home?”

The coffee pot sputtered to the end of its cycle, but Tyler could have cared less about that cup he was craving moments ago.

All he could think about was this foolish, trusting woman who wouldn’t see sense. A woman who trusted a man convicted of embezzlement with her business’s books. A woman who believed in him despite all the evidence to the contrary.

Standing there in her classic T-shirt, with sleep-tousled curls, she smiled at him as if she knew she’d already won.

Hell, maybe she did know him better than he thought.

He leaned down, picked her up and started toward the stairway.

“Put me down, you’re going to break something.”

He snorted. “Like I can’t handle a pint-sized woman like you.”

“Pint-sized, my ass.”

“I can handle that, too.”

She laughed. “If you break something, don’t come whining to me.”

Tyler laughed as well, but he realized he was at risk of breaking something. Not anything physical. But when he let Angelina go—and he would have to let her go eventually—he’d be breaking his own heart.

But she should have all those things she’d scoffed at. She should have a ring and a white dress. More than that, she should have a man who would love her and treasure her, and never hurt her. She might think she knew him, but he knew himself better—he wasn’t that guy.

As he took her to his bed for a second time, he vowed it was the last time. Simply, he was saying goodbye.

TWO WEEKS LATER, TYLER was still vowing every time he was with Angelina it would be the last. And if it had been any other woman, he would have made it stick. But Angelina didn’t take no very well.

Actually, she didn’t take it at all.

He’d say something like, “Tonight it would probably be best if Jace and I bached it.”

And an hour later, she’d be at his doorstep hammering a cheery tune. They took Jace for long evening walks and then gave him his bath before story time and tucking him in.

Angelina had bought out half the Whedon bookstore. She explained that reading to kids early and often helped them do better at school. Tyler started letting Jace pick a story before they left for the garage each day. He didn’t manage to insert the same level of enthusiasm into his storytelling as Angelina did, but Jace didn’t seem to mind.

One morning, Angelina had pulled out an old wooden toy chest that had been Bart’s. It was painted with every kind of vehicle imaginable. Cars, trucks, motorcycles. Big equipment like bulldozers and back hoes. She filled it with some of Bart’s old toys, and new ones. Every time Tyler turned around, Angelina was buying a new book or new toy for Jace.

Jace called, “Eye-Eye,” in that excited sort of way that pulled Tyler immediately from his work. He hurried across the room and kneeled down by Jace who pointed at the toy box.

Tyler knew this game. “Dump truck.”

Jace pointed again. “Police car.” Point. “Bus.” Point…

It was a game that would last as long as Tyler was willing to play. He glanced back at the invoices he’d hoped to finish and then simply gave in. He’d stay late if he had to in order to finish them. Angelina would say babies first, paperwork after. “Harley.”

Angelina hated sitting at the desk, while he found comfort in it. Give him a column of numbers and he could add it up with certainty. One and one were always two.

It was the rest of life that was iffy.

“Eye-Eye,” Jace demanded, pointing.


TUCKER STOOD IN THE doorway watching Tyler with Jace. He’d been naming vehicles for at least five minutes nonstop. Jace toddled around the toy box, pointing and trusting that Tyler would answer.

Trusting Tyler. Jace trusted him, and so did Tucker. She’d thought her father would have a cow when he discovered she’d let Tyler help desk-jock-eying, but he seemed to trust Tyler as much as she did where the books were concerned.

It was only with her that her father drew a line.

A line she ignored.

Tyler himself drew the same line, but she simply kept crossing it. She’d had boyfriends before, but never let things get too serious. Tyler and his don’t get-too-close warnings should be her perfect guy. But every time he warned her off, she got pissed.

He looked up. “Hey.”


He glanced at Jace. “Have to stay a little late tonight. I want to finish those invoices.”

“I’m not worried about it, Ty.”

“I am. If you pay me for eight hours, you get eight hours.”

“So, why don’t I take Jace back to the house with me and we’ll make dinner while you give me that last fifteen minutes of work you owe me.”

She leaned down to pick up Jace, and Tyler gave her a tug that pulled her into his lap. He kissed her.

She welcomed the kiss and only broke apart when Jace wormed in between them.

She scooped up the baby and mock-scolded Tyler, “You know, you better be careful about kissing the boss. There are laws about that.”

“I think you’d have more to worry about than me.”

She laughed and she kissed his forehead with an easy comfort he found disconcerting.

“Yeah, I’m worried,” she assured him. “Very, very worried.”

“Eye. Uck,” Jace said, squirming around on her lap, as if determined to get their attention.

“We’re going to squish Tyler,” Tucker warned.

“The day I can’t handle a pipsqueak girl and baby—” Tyler started.

Bart was standing in the doorway laughing as he interrupted. “I can’t believe she let you call her pipsqueak and live.”

Tucker scrambled to her feet, Jace in her arms. She felt awkward being caught by her son. “We were just…”

Bart saved her from trying to explain. “It’s okay, Mom. I stopped in to ask if I could have the car. Cessy called. There’s a whole group of us who want to head into Erie for a concert on the Bayfront and I have the biggest car.”

Tucker cleared her throat.

“Uh, you have the biggest car. So, can I borrow it?”

“You know the rules.”

“I can’t take more kids than I have seatbelts, and no horsing around while I’m driving. No phoning or texting. You know, I’m not a new driver.”

“More accidents happen to drivers under twenty-one than any other age group, so you’re new enough.”

He sighed. “You’ll still be giving me advice when I’m thirty, right?”

“Being a kid might end when you turn twenty-one, but being a parent goes on and on and on…”

Bart shook his head, a smile marring his seriousness. “You like lecturing, but because I’m a good son, maybe I can help spare you a lecture by giving the heads-up that Pops is on his way over.”

Tucker took a step away from Tyler, putting more distance between them. “Thanks. Home by midnight, okay?”

“No problem, Mom.” He turned and left with a quick wave behind him.

Hoping to avoid an uncomfortable confrontation with her father, Tucker scooped up Jace and started toward the door. “I’d better head up to the house. I’ll try to intercept Pops.”

“Your father doesn’t scare me, Angel.”

She drew her shoulders back. “He doesn’t scare me either. I thought you’d work faster without the distraction.”

With Jace on her hip, she made it as far as the hall before Tyler called, “Angelina?”

She turned around. “Yes?”

“Your father doesn’t scare me, but he’s right. We should end whatever this is between us. The Matthews are coming into town and they’ll be helping with Jace. Maybe that will give you some time to think about what’s happening here.”

“We’re friends…with benefits. I’d rather keep you as a friend, as for the benefits, well, if you’ve stopped wanting me?”

Tyler wanted to lie, but he couldn’t, so shook his head. “Not even close to it.”

“Well, then…” She grinned and wiggled an eyebrow suggestively.

“But you should stop wanting me and start looking for someone else.”

“I’ve looked at men for my entire adult life…and I never have a problem letting go when the time comes. I simply don’t think that time has arrived for us. Not yet.”

“Soon, Angel. The time should arrive sooner rather than later.”

She didn’t bother answering him, and made it into the work area before she spotted her father. “Hey, Pops.”

“Angel. What’re you and Jace up to?”

“Dinner at my place.”

Her father glanced around, as if expecting to see someone. “Where’s Tyler?”

“Finishing up some paperwork in my office.”

She waited for him to say something about Tyler handling the books. But he didn’t, so she waited for him to warn her off—again. He didn’t do that either. Instead he came over and took the baby from her arms. “Hey, champ. Want to go fishing again tomorrow?”

Jace babbled a happy response.

“Do you mind?” her dad asked.

“It’s not for me to mind. Tyler has to…” She realized it had been a trap.

“Well, then, I’ll go check with him and let you and Jace get back to making dinner.” He plopped the baby back into her arms and strode for her office.

“No one ever said he wasn’t sharp,” she muttered to Jace as she walked toward the house.

TYLER LOOKED UP as Angelina’s father walked in.

“So, you’re still helping out with the paperwork?”

“Angelina isn’t a fan of doing it, and given all she’s done for me…” He shrugged because there was no way to repay all she’d done for him.

George Tucker checked over his shoulder, then turned around and said, “She seemed mighty at home with that baby on her hip.”

“Yes. She’s great with Jace. I’ve learned a lot from her about coping with a toddler.”

George nodded. “She was a good mom. Is a good mom. Even when she was so young, she was good at it. I always hoped she’d find the right guy and have a passel more kids.”

Tyler didn’t miss the emphasis on right. “She deserves nothing less.”

George Tucker stood quietly, studying him, nodding. “I came in to ask if you minded me taking Jace fishing again tomorrow.”

Angelina’s father was an enigma. He gave Tyler a job when no one else would, helped him out with Jace, but recently gave him looks that said he didn’t trust him. No, that wasn’t fair. George trusted him with everything but Angelina, and Tyler understood that.

“Fishing tomorrow is fine. His grandparents are arriving on Wednesday.”

“The visit will do them both good.” The older man turned to leave the room.

“Mr. Tucker,” Tyler called.


“About trusting me with the books. I swear I’d never—”

“I know that, son.”

“How?” Tyler simply didn’t understand the entire family. Mr. Tucker might not welcome the thought of Tyler with his daughter, but other than that, he’d treated Tyler well and made him feel like part of the family.

Angelina’s father gave Tyler a look that made him think of Angelina. “How what?” he asked.

“How do you know that I’d never embezzle from you?”

“Listen, second chances are important in life and I’m also a good judge of character. I don’t know why you did what you did, but I believe, at heart, you’re an honest man. And I believe you care about my daughter too much to ever steal from her.”

Tyler felt humbled by George’s faith in him. “Thank you, sir, I—”

Before he could sort out how he felt, George Tucker added, “And I come in every now and again and check your work.”

Rather than feel insulted, Tyler grinned. “Good for you. Angelina should do the same.”

“My Angel, she likes to think she’s all tough. But between you and me, she follows her heart every time. But that’s okay because she’s got a lot of people watching out for her. Me, Bart and any of the boys in the shop would take a bullet for her. We’ve all got our eyes on you.”

“Fair enough. I’m glad to know someone’s looking out for her, because frankly, she’s too trusting.”

“Or, she’s simply an even better judge of character than her father. I’m still trying to decide. Until I do, like I said, we’ll all keep our eyes on you.” George Tucker started for the door, then added, “And Tyler, it’s not the business that has me worried the most.”

“It should be.”

“It’s not. If we lost everything and the garage folded, we’d be fine. But if my daughter gets hurt…you won’t be.” That warning delivered, George Tucker left the room.

Tyler felt relieved that his work had been double-checked. But he felt anything but relieved about Angelina and her heart because no matter that he couldn’t seem to give her up, he knew he was the wrong man for her.

She hadn’t realized it yet. Hopefully, soon, she would.

When she did, he’d let her go with her heart intact.

He knew his wouldn’t be.