A new novel!

My new novel- find it on Amazon.com
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08PS1BVFJ/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0

If you liked Picking Daisy or Pushing Robby, check this one out! It revisits some of the same characters like Robby and Daisy, but lets you into the lives of new characters like Bo and Marilyn– two people who get under each others’ skin but somehow find their way through the chaos to peace, and even love.

To whet your appetite, I’ll share the first chapter below. Enjoy, friends and fans! Happy reading!

Marilyn Darby stared at the gas gauge, doing the weak mental calculation of a person who’d never been adept at story problems. She had no idea how to figure whether she could make it to work based on an estimate of how many miles she had to go versus how much gas she had versus how much money remained in her miniscule bank account.

An embarrassing number of minutes and finger-counting passed before she jammed the ornery vehicle into drive, grateful her mother didn’t witness the ‘wing and a prayer’ life she lived.

As if on cue, Marilyn’s cell phone rang. With a glance at the display she found the very woman she’d just been thinking of calling, yet again.

“Hey, Mom.” Marilyn clicked the radio down a notch. Her mother would have a conniption if she heard her daughter listening to hip hop, rock, or anything else that might, unbidden, come blaring out if she wasn’t careful.

“Marilyn. Where are you? Why did it take so many calls to finally get you to pick up? I do not like that one bit.”

Marilyn paused at a stop sign, looked both ways, and started driving again. “I’m sure you don’t. Sorry. I’ve been really busy with work.”

Grace didn’t appreciate that her daughter worked three jobs, sometimes more, to make ends meet. She struggled to understand how Marilyn could be almost twenty-three and still without a degree, husband, or a nine-to-five position her parents could brag about to their friends.

“I need to know if you’ll be attending your sister’s engagement party.” She cleared her throat. “And whether you’ll be bringing a plus one.”

Rosemary’s engagement party. To Mr. Perfect himself. A NASA engineer. It wasn’t bad enough that Rosemary had been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her work to end human trafficking, she had to also go and marry Mr. Perfect.

The family made it impossible for Marilyn to ever feel good about her own accomplishments, few though they might be.

Marilyn snorted. “I’m not sure, Ma. That’s probably why I never sent in the RSVP.”

“I worried you’d lost it.”

While that would be something Marilyn might do, that didn’t keep her from bristling at the accusation.

“I didn’t lose it,” she snapped. But for a moment she did wonder where she left the dumb thing. Oh, that’s right. She used it as a bookmark in a dance magazine. She’d been in the midst of reading an article about shin splints and…

“Well, it’s not an impossible question.” Grace continued. “Yes? Or no?”

Marilyn pulled her car over short of her destination, wondering how to answer. She dumped her boyfriend ages ago and decided she wouldn’t date again until or unless she found someone worth her time.

And by worth her time, Marilyn meant someone who shared her faith, someone with a stable job, and someone who would unequivocally support her still-floundering career aspirations. And most of all, someone who only had eyes for her—and would dance with her whether he enjoyed dancing or not.

That man, the superhero unicorn saint he would need to be, probably didn’t exist. Still, Marilyn would wait, holding out for her impossible dream. She wouldn’t be distracted by shiny things like a good attitude or musky cologne. Or glasses. Definitely not glasses, no matter how weak a man in glasses made her knees.

“I have an audition coming up, Mom. If I get the role, I can’t say I’ll be able to make it to the party because we’ll be starting into rehearsals.”

“So, you’re saying no? When you haven’t been home in so long?”

Marilyn beat her head on the steering wheel, praying to knock herself unconscious. Conversations with her brain surgeon mother always went like this.

Sadly, that wasn’t a joke. Grace Darby actually made her living as a world-renowned brain surgeon while her embarrassment of a daughter struggled to start her car and keep it full of gas.

“OK, Mom. I’ll find a way to make it. And go ahead and be wild and put me down for a plus one too.” Why did she say that? What poor schmuck could she drag along to this painful event?

Might as well go for broke.

“I can hardly wait. Now, I need to go—I’m almost to work.”

Marilyn hung up before her mom could say another word.

Now, she only needed to find a way out of going home. Again.

**

Bo Sutton descended the winding staircase, mentally ticking off all his day would entail. He worked as a personal assistant to songwriter Daisy Grant, who kept everyone on their toes, including her rock legend husband, Robby.

A year earlier Robby hired Bo as security for Daisy, who’d survived a car accident that left her in a wheelchair well before the couple even met. Now, as a songwriter to nearly every popular, successful musician in the business, in addition of course to being Robby’s precious wife, the rocker would not take any chance of putting Daisy in harm’s way just because of their fame. Their love story captivated the nation and culminated in a wedding like no other, where Daisy even mastered a standing wheelchair to out-rock-star her own husband.

While Bo hadn’t been there himself, he’d seen the pictures and the videos. And now, knowing Daisy and Robby, he couldn’t imagine two people more suited to one another. He could only hope one day to find the same kind of relationship for himself.

Fat chance given his terrible, pathetic history.

Still, one thing remained sure—Bo didn’t doubt for a moment his ability to do the job he’d been hired for. With his training and experience working with disabled veterans and athletes, not only could he keep her safe, but he also intended to lead her in workouts too per her request.

Already the original job morphed into so much more. And with every addition to his daily tasks, Bo’s love for his work only increased.

Today’s agenda: breakfast, prepare the gym for Daisy’s dance class, take care of the Grant’s baby, Nicolette. After that, per Robby’s specific instruction, Bo would make sure the bad-boy flirt Titus Black behaved while he worked with Daisy on a new song.

Having lived in the power couple’s mansion for the better part of a year, Bo no longer noticed the gold and platinum records lining the walls of the foyer. His eye did, however, catch the crystal chandelier as he hustled under it. It would be cleaned next week. He made a mental note to call and confirm that appointment.

Bo’s attention returned to the sweet baby in his arms, the one he promised to take care of overnight and through the morning until Daisy and Robby decided to get out of bed. The couple enjoyed a long date the night before—their first date without their youngest daughter, a one-and-a-half-month-old tiger who kept him up nearly all night with her fussing.

Not that Bo minded. No, he adored the baby and his ability to calm her when no one else could. He cradled her in one arm and carried her bouncy seat in the other as he entered the kitchen, not surprised to find Robby’s teenaged daughter, Alice, at the table with three friends waiting for him.

“What took you so long?” she demanded, jumping to her feet to steal the baby.

As usual, Bo didn’t miss a beat. “She didn’t like the first outfit.” He’d already become so fond of Alice that he could scarcely imagine his life without the teen in it. Most days he took her to school and picked her up, and lately he helped with her homework nearly every night.

Being needed satisfied Bo as nothing else could. Secretly, he read a book every week or two and loved learning. Helping Alice with her homework meant he got to revisit the lessons he forgot from high school that at the time seemed so pointless but now he realized were actually important.

Alice’s friends stared at him as he set the seat on the counter and tied on his apron. “You ladies need some snacks?”

The girls giggled, which didn’t surprise him. A man who stood nearly six-five didn’t usually nanny for a rock star couple, he usually didn’t cook, and he definitely didn’t wear frilly aprons designed for women. One day he’d find an appropriate apron. Or maybe he could make one.

Bo didn’t care. He’d never been much for convention.

Alice didn’t lift her eyes from the baby as she spoke, the girls now leaning over to look at Nicolette too.

“What do you want? Bo makes everything.”

“How about crepes?” one of the girls asked.

Bo winked. “Crepes it is.” He got to work tugging everything he needed from the cabinets and tossing it across the counter.

“Who’s having crepes?” Robby’s voice boomed as he entered the kitchen, followed closely by his wife.

“Move it, Robby, I need my baby.” Daisy swatted him out of her way and stopped beside Alice, peering with the girls at the sweet, sleeping infant.

The teens turned in Robby’s direction, jaws dropped. They moved silently away from Daisy, eyes wide. Neither the husband nor wife appeared to notice the impact of their arrival on their guests.

Bo continued working on the snack. Over the last year he got used to people’s reactions to his employers who, truth be told, still intimidated and fascinated him too sometimes, regardless how normal they actually were.

For his fans, Robby Grant embodied swagger and a supremely cocky attitude. And at just over six feet two inches tall, he stood as a formidable presence of wild hair, piercings, and tattoos. All of that did nothing to diminish his musical genius. So far, Bo had seen him play the piano, shred a guitar, and even beat around on the drums a time or two, not to mention of course that gravelly, sultry voice of his. No wonder women swooned.

In private, the man himself could still be cocky, demanding, and confident, but he also spent a lot of time in Bible study, insisted on weekly dates with his bride, and had become an amazing stepfather to Alice. Bo liked and respected him, even if there were times Robby deliberately pushed the bodyguard’s buttons for his own strange entertainment.

The musician pecked his stunning wife’s head before resting one arm around Alice’s shoulders as he gazed down at his baby. “How’re my girls?”

Alice looked up at him, eyes softening in admiration and love. How quickly she and Robby went from strangers to an easy companionship of father-daughter. Years ago, at a time when Robby struggled with his own demons that included the stereotypical manifestations in partying, drinking, and otherwise making a menace of himself, he agreed to help one of his stylists, Mindy, by claiming her baby as his own.

So, when Mindy died just after Robby and Daisy’s wedding, Alice appeared at the couple’s mansion door. As a newlywed intent on building a life with his wife, Robby didn’t want to take responsibility for the teen, but Daisy brought everyone together and helped them form a patchwork family of friends and relations tighter than most bound by blood.

“Better introduce us before their eyes bug out.” Robby scooped Nicolette out of Alice’s arms and cradled her against him. “Didn’t tell your friends I’m so handsome, huh?”

Alice whacked him playfully before engaging in all the introductions, ending with, “And that’s Daisy.”

Daisy moved her wheelchair to the center of the group to greet the girls, warm and welcoming as always. “I’m so glad you could come today. Alice has been itching to invite you over since school started.”

As the kids talked, Robby made his way into the living room, still fussing over the baby.

Bo finished the crepes and set them on plates around the kitchen island as Daisy turned to him.

“Did Nicolette keep you up long?”

Bo chuckled. He understood Daisy’s concerns, and that they heightened because Nicolette didn’t take kindly to most people. Bo, of course, would be an exception. “No longer than usual. No longer than she does anyone else.” He minimized the truth of the matter. Nicolette only stopped fussing for him, Daisy, and sometimes Robby. Otherwise, a person had their work cut out getting the baby to calm.

Daisy watched the girls giggle their way out of the room carrying their plates.

“Do not drop crumbs everywhere!”

“We won’t!” Alice’s words were barely out before a door slammed and they likely headed outside to the enormous patio.

“What’s the week look like?”

Bo set a crepe near Daisy and began cleaning up. “I synced it to your phone.”

She took a bite of breakfast. “Excellent.”

Robby entered the room, leaning down to kiss his wife’s head before placing their daughter in her arms.

“Dang, you’re gorgeous. And I adore you.” His lips found hers this time. Bo turned his back on them. While their behavior no longer shocked him, it didn’t make him less uncomfortable. He gave up on finding a spouse years ago, but that didn’t mean the desire fizzled out completely.

Bo reminded himself to be grateful for what he had. This job was a lifeline, and he wouldn’t forget it.

“You’re a lucky man. I adore you too.” The love in Daisy’s voice couldn’t be missed.

Bo tossed the last of the dishes into the dishwasher and headed over to Daisy with the baby carrier. “Want me to take her?”

Reluctantly, Daisy pressed her lips to Nicolette’s soft head again and Bo set her back in her seat.

“I’ll make sure the gym’s ready.” Bo started for the door to give the couple privacy before their busy days took over.

“You’re the best, Bo.”

Robby grunted. “That’s all I hire, babe.”

The couple started bantering as Bo made his way out the door. He’d need to be quick in this next job if he wanted to avoid running into his least favorite person on the planet,

Daisy’s dancing instructor and his nemesis, the one and only Marilyn Darby.

**

Marilyn shoved out of her car and slammed its temperamental door. She stared up at the mansion belonging to Robby and Daisy Grant, still in awe that she got to come here a few times a week to teach Daisy how to dance again. While Marilyn hadn’t yet been inside the sprawling estate, she wondered if the tour came with maps, or if every so often there might be a ‘you are here’ arrow on a kiosk to keep guests from getting lost.

The dance teacher let herself into the gym, tossed her bag aside, and slipped her light sweatshirt off, leaving her in tights, workout shorts, and a shirt with ‘Dance!’ blaring across it in colorful, capital letters. She kicked off her shoes and rolled her neck from side to side. Only minutes remained before Daisy would come through the doors, and Marilyn intended to be ready to hit the ground running.

After completing her stretches, Marilyn plugged her phone into the sound system and began to dance to the playlist she prepared specifically with Daisy in mind.

The movement and emotion came easily and made the dancer free again. As she neared the end of her for-fun practice routine, Marilyn leapt through the air, right as the music abruptly halted. Shocked, she barely managed to right herself and land without incident.

Cheeks flaming, she turned toward the offender, already certain of who it would be.

Bo Sutton. All two-hundred and fifty pounds of muscle, attitude, and those comments that made her crazy.

The only good thing about her hiatus from teaching Daisy while she took time off to have her baby, was that Marilyn hadn’t had to contend with Bo or his ridiculous insinuations and judgements for her brief relationship with Zeke Fullerton, a man she’d not seen or heard from in over a year.

Good riddance to the last relationship she intended to have for a while. Zeke convinced the naïve twenty-year-old he would be the man she needed, when in reality all he wanted were things she refused to give, which meant he dumped her unceremoniously in the middle of a date, forcing her to walk nearly two miles home in the middle of New York.

Idiot.

Bo didn’t know any of it, nor did he care. He assumed Marilyn to be beneath him, a woman looking to take Zeke for whatever she could, because apparently those were the women he cheated on Marilyn with, the ones who liked his money and attention, the ones who crowded the gym looking for him. Bo didn’t care that Marilyn had pride, a work ethic, and enough confidence to move on from all of it.

And she never asked Zeke for a thing because she honestly cared for him, or at one time she thought she did.

While the break-up meant the loss of the gym space Zeke promised her for a dance studio, and a depleted bank account as she tried to make ends meet while finding a new job and apartment far away from him, Marilyn didn’t care. She survived, and by God’s good grace she realized she could get along without help from anyone, especially a man who’d only want her innocence in return.

Things finally started looking up when Robby’s agent Lily found Marilyn teaching at a small dance studio. As these things often go, a friend of a friend recommended her. Once Lily met Marilyn, she hired her on the spot.

Weeks later the dancer discovered Bo’s place in the Grant hierarchy. While it turned her stomach, she refused to lose out on the first good thing to happen to her in months.

She and Bo, the bodyguard/ assistant, and now manny, would never be friends. And the more time she spent with him, the more certain Marilyn became of her dislike for Bo Sutton.

Her eyes narrowed as she drank him in, folding her arms over her chest to remind him she couldn’t care less about his clout in Daisy’s life. She knew the songwriter liked her too and would never fire her just because Bo couldn’t stand her.

In fact, Daisy appeared to be amused by the two of them fighting all the time.

Bo frowned, his legs spread wide, arms folded over his chest as if to remind her of his power position. So what? Marilyn refused to be intimidated.

Bo’s almost-black hair looked shorter than she remembered, and his dark eyes glittered, not in amusement, but in complete, utter annoyance.

Getting under his skin was entirely too easy. Did it make her a sadist to enjoy it so much? One thing seemed sure, Marilyn shoved aside her Christian upbringing in the way she treated Bo.

She ignored that convicting thought as she waited for his first snip of the day.

“You would dance to this garbage.” Bo’s deep voice grated on the dancer’s last, weak nerve. She wanted to sucker punch him.

But she would be an adult if at all possible.

Did adults stick their tongues out at one another?

Marilyn narrowed her eyes. “Every day, Beauregard. Why? Want to join me?”

He didn’t turn the music back on. “That’s not my name. And no. I’m never dancing with you. No telling what I’d catch.”

“You say that like you believe I’d really want to touch you. No thanks.” She rolled her neck again, trying to ignore his dark eyes and even worse, those blasted shoulders. He could lift her easily.

Bo raised one eyebrow. “Daisy said to tell you she’ll be over in a few minutes.”

Marilyn paused in stretching her quad as her gaze fell on the baby he carried in a car seat. She’d been so focused on those stupid shoulders and irritating attitude that she never even mentioned the baby!

She went to him, eyes focused on the tiny bundle who probably looked even smaller because her seat dangled from his monstrous hand.

“Oh… she’s precious!” she cooed.

Bo shifted so the baby moved farther away from her prying eyes. “Don’t breathe on her. She’ll get your germs.”

Marilyn put her hands on her hips as she rose to her full height to challenge him. “I’m not germy, you freak.” She elbowed him in the gut, causing him to heave a low groan.

“Unless you count cooties.” She wiggled her eyebrows. “I definitely got some girl-cooties.”

Bo remained stoic. “What are you? Ten?” He focused on the baby as he continued. “Besides, I could already make a fair guess of what cooties you caught from Fullerton.”

Marilyn stared up at him, a crick forming in her neck from the effort this took. “You delivered your message, manny-cake. Now get back to the kitchen.”

He sneered. “Gone.”

Bo started for the door, pausing as he turned back. “Beauregard means handsome and highly regarded.” His forehead wrinkled as he appeared to be thinking this over.

Marilyn gagged. “Probably only to your mother.” Without her cell phone to google it, she had no idea if he might be right. She allowed herself the pleasure of studying him because she could tell it made him uncomfortable.

As if on cue, he squirmed, one shaking hand reaching for the door.

Marilyn grinned. “You ever dance?”

Bo shifted the baby carrier. “Heck no. Why would I do that?” He nudged the door with his elbow as if intent on an escape.

Marilyn couldn’t help herself. She went to him, took the baby, and set her gently on the floor nearby. The door closed with a soft click, so she grabbed his hand before he could protest, put it on her waist, and slowly lifted to her toes, which left her woefully, and a bit surprisingly, short of looking straight into his eyes.

Standing so close to him for the first time left Marilyn tingling and breathless as she inhaled his musky cologne. “See? No cooties yet, you big oaf.”

She would have tried to meet his gaze, but his eyes were trained somewhere on the wall behind her, his cheeks flaming red. His lips in a firm line, in complete defiance of her hostile takeover.

Marilyn ignored all of that and clung to her spontaneous nature as well as the mantra that she could teach anyone to dance.

Even ornery old Bo Sutton. And even if he had no intention of playing nice or making an effort to try dancing with her, let alone treating her as an equal.

“You can pretend I’m wearing heels.” She started swaying, closing her eyes and humming a sweet tune she imagined would be perfect for a waltz. Eventually she would get him into swing dancing, but with someone like this, Marilyn would need to start slowly, carefully so she didn’t scare him off.

And beyond that, so she could convince him to help her prepare for her upcoming audition. The idea took wonderful root as she swayed in an effort to get his body in sync with hers.

Had she lost her mind? Probably. But it wouldn’t be the first or last time Marilyn acted before thinking.

Bo didn’t even shift his feet, a mountain unmoved.

Marilyn kept swaying anyway, dreaming of a beautiful, choreographed partner dance with someone who actually might enjoy the experience.

“This would be easier if you left the music on, Bo.”

His feet must be broken because they were like chunks of cement stuck to the floor. Marilyn stepped back reluctantly, her hands still in place on him as she looked down between their bodies and back up at him again.

“Don’t be scared. We can start off slow and eventually you’ll be lifting me over your head—like in Dirty Dancing. You know, ‘nobody puts Baby in a corner’?” She cackled at her own joke. “Boy, would Daisy be impressed!”

Bo tried to shrug her away from him. “Knock it off!” he grumbled, finally disentangling himself and stepping free.

Marilyn giggled again. “We’d be a perfect team. Come on. Think what a ladies’ man you could be if you could dance. Women love a man who can dance, Buford.”

His cheeks grew impossibly darker. “I don’t need a woman.”

She stifled a victorious smirk as he grabbed the baby and yanked the door open.

“And I don’t dance. I already told you that.”

Marilyn went to her phone and turned the music back on. “Funny how you’re always over here like you want to. Or maybe you like me and need a friend.” She winked. “Gimme a call if you change your mind. I’d teach you. For free even. Because I’m nice like that.”

Bo held the door open with his backside as he faced her. Marilyn didn’t think she imagined the steam coming out of his ears.

“Do you actually try to annoy me?” he snapped. “I don’t need a friend—and if I did, it wouldn’t be you.” Bo exhaled on a groan. “There hasn’t been one time yet since we met that you’ve done anything but drive me nuts.”

Marilyn pressed her hand to her chest, feigning innocence. “I’m playing you like a violin.” She winked. “I guess big tough guys make the easiest targets.” She pointed to her heart. “You got a big, fat, red circle right here. Bull’s eye!”

Bo squinted and shook his head before slamming the door closed so hard, she wondered how he didn’t shatter the glass.

**

Bo stalked toward the house, nearly steamrolling Daisy on the sidewalk as he passed, intent on getting as far as possible from that infuriating woman and her electric touch and mentions of his lifting her over his head as they danced together.

Unfortunately, as soon as she mentioned that famous dance scene, Bo easily imagined it all. He never before had such an inclination. She was stark, raving mad!

And he, sadly, must be too.
Normally, Bo epitomized calm, cool, and collected any

other day of the week. But when Marilyn Darby appeared, he went completely off the rails and became someone he hardly recognized.

Bo rubbed his free hand on his pants as if to remove any remnants of that woman’s cooties.

If only getting rid of that sunshine she oozed could be as easy. Being in Marilyn’s presence made things rise to the surface of Bo’s consciousness. Strange, uninvited, annoying things.

Things that reeked of interest, dating, handholding, and lips made for… Bo squelched this ridiculous line of thinking. He did not want to date Marilyn Darby.

The woman represented everything he never wanted. He saw the way she laughed with that disgusting Zeke as they planned to take his section of the gym—the space he worked for months to clear to start Pilates and weight training for veterans.

But Marilyn waltzed in and poof! Zeke said she needed the space and gave it right over.

Then he made Bo listen to all the ways he’d encourage her to thank him for it later.

No. Bo did not want to be with a woman like her.

“Hey!” Daisy squeaked. “What’s wrong?”

The bodyguard inhaled and exhaled, balling a fist as he turned to her.

“That woman is certifiable. There must be another dance teacher we could hire. Just say the word and she’s good as gone.” Bo pointed toward the gym, grateful that from this vantage point there’d be no way Marilyn could sense his frustration and pounce. He didn’t want her to get the pleasure of watching him squirm beyond what he’d done already.

He blushed when she touched him. He would never look at her again.

He’d been on battlefields across the world, trained some of the toughest athletes, and now he worked for arguably the most famous couple in the United States and he blushed at a brief moment of contact with some annoying dancer who deliberately and insultingly pushed his buttons at every turn?

He needed to call his mom.

“Marilyn?” Daisy’s features softened. She peered into the carrier and made faces at the baby before looking up at him again. “Really, Bo.” She looked him over. “She’s all of five foot three and a hundred pounds. What could she possibly do that makes you so crazy?”

“She exists.” He didn’t need to elaborate any further. Daisy already enjoyed this too much. “Buzz me when you’re ready for our workout. I’m taking Nicolette for a run so we both get some fresh air. That way she’ll go down for her nap easier and I won’t need to worry about escorting old Twinkle Toes over there off the premises.”

He turned and started for the house.

“Bo!”

The bodyguard inhaled again, closing his eyes momentarily as he pivoted to look back.

“I can put in a good word for you.” Daisy winked. “Maybe write you two a song to dance to at your wedding. That would get her to lighten up.”

Bo growled and stomped away, unamused at his boss’s idea of humor.

**

Marilyn grinned as she watched Bo’s receding back when he stomped out of the gym, likely to tattle on her. What did she care? Daisy wouldn’t fire her because her bodyguard acted as mature as a three-year-old and had no sense of humor. At least Marilyn hoped she wouldn’t get fired for giving Bo a hard time. Besides, she rather enjoyed getting the man all riled up. He made it so darn easy, how could she stop herself?

She turned the music back up and started dancing, thinking of all the neat things she and Daisy would accomplish.

The sound of the door closing alerted her to her student’s arrival. Marilyn slowed and turned.

“Yea! I missed you!” she exclaimed, hustling over to Daisy. The women hugged.

“I missed you too!” Daisy exclaimed. “I can’t tell you how glad I am to be back here. It felt like forever before the doctor cleared me.”

Marilyn flopped onto a weight bench. “I can imagine. So, how hard are we going to go? Do you remember where we left off? I figured we’d review first.”

“That sounds perfect.” Daisy moved to the center of the space. “But first, what on earth happened before I got here? Bo’s the most mild-mannered person in the entire world, except when it comes to you. I’ve never seen anything like it. Either he really can’t stand you or he’s going to toss you over his shoulder and run away with you.”

Marilyn howled. “Pretty sure it’s not the last one. I’m not sure a man has ever been so turned off by yours truly.”

Daisy already knew Marilyn’s side of the history between her and Bo, but the fact that his anger toward her held firm remained curious. Sure, she nearly stole his precious gym space, but he must have gotten it back when Zeke dumped her! You’d think he’d revel in her humiliation, not continue holding it against her.

Marilyn wouldn’t bring it up or it might seem like she wanted to be friends.

Teasing him and keeping him angry seemed a better plan than rehashing the past.

“I’m harmless, Daisy, I swear.”

Daisy fell into a fit of her own laughter. “I trust you.” She paused. “But do you think he’s into you?” Her eyes sparkled as if this idea brought untold piles of joy.

Careful to keep her smile intact despite the unsettled feeling in her stomach, Marilyn turned the music off. “I doubt that.”

She never considered it before, even if she’d need to be blind not to notice the man’s strong, chiseled jaw or his deep, soulful eyes. And if he might by some miracle be interested in her, that didn’t mean the feeling was at all mutual.

Not by a mile. He couldn’t possibly meet her recently-established criteria for dating. Besides, Marilyn refused to be side-tracked on her quest of owning her own studio. She socked away nearly three thousand dollars already from her various jobs and meant to use that as a solid down-payment when the right studio space became available.

Daisy began stretching her neck, followed by her arms. “I hate to admit I don’t really know a thing about Bo’s personal life. He works like a dog for us but never says much about himself. Doesn’t even leave the house much, honestly. It’s a wonder he doesn’t get sick of us.”

Marilyn snorted. “He’s probably a gigolo in his spare time. Or he’s got some dirty secret like he’s into mixed martial arts at night.” She paused, trying to remain serious. “Does he get unexplained cuts on his face? Black eyes?”

This sent Daisy into a fresh fit of laughter. “I’m pretty sure that’s not it. He’s worked here a year and hasn’t taken even one day off. And Carli Cross took one look at him and has been begging ever since to get him in one of her videos. He wants nothing to do with it.”

Since singer Carli Cross represented the epitome of most men’s dreams, Marilyn struggled to imagine Bo telling her no.

“Really? Well, maybe he’s not into the spotlight. Or beautiful women. Or maybe relationships?”

Daisy shrugged. “Maybe shy. He tries to avoid pictures and paparazzi like the plague.”

“Ever look at him from the side? Maybe he has a hunchback.”

Daisy snickered. “All right, enough speculation. Let’s get started so I don’t waste your time. Then we’ll make manny bring the baby over so you can officially meet her.”

“Yeah… Bo’s too ornery to share her with me.” Marilyn groaned. “He didn’t want me breathing on her.”

“Oh goodness. He gets really weird about germs.” Daisy rolled her eyes as Marilyn messed with the music and finally settled on a fun dance tune.

“I realized you don’t talk much about your personal life either. You’re not dating anyone, are you? Where do you work when you aren’t here with me? Tell me everything!”

Marilyn snickered. “You must be spending too much time alone with the baby or something. I’m not that interesting. No boyfriend—black sheep of the family, yada yada. I waitress at an Italian restaurant when I’m not here, and I teach dance classes for some friends a few times a week in between auditions.”

She shrugged, finding it unnecessary to get into too many specifics and so waste Daisy’s time. “I’m boring.” She paused. “But I do have a pretty big audition coming up. I’m hoping I can kill this one and finally get a good role.”

Daisy glanced around the space. “Well, if you ever need someplace to rehearse, we don’t mind you coming here. It’s no problem.”

Marilyn stood straighter, surprised. “Really? I might take you up on that.”

“Good.” Daisy lifted her eyebrows. “And if you do decide you’re looking for love, I can recommend a lot of eligible guys. You can take me up on that too.”

Marilyn stifled any sign of her interest. “Probably not a great time for me to get involved with anyone.”

Daisy nodded. “Fair enough.” She winked. “But in case—what’s your type?”

Marilyn coughed, covering her embarrassment with a half-hearted cackle. “Bookish. Glasses. I like a guy in glasses. Fun and funny. Someone who likes to dance.” She would do anything to get her student away from her current line of thinking.

Bo Sutton would never be boyfriend material. Except even as she tried convincing herself of this, she wondered what it would be like to date someone like him. He was handsome and intriguing for sure. She never dated anyone that tall and muscular before either.

Thank goodness he didn’t wear glasses, or she might be in real trouble.

Daisy’s eyes twinkled in amusement. “Sure.”

Marilyn might as well put an end to this before it even started. “I’ll keep picking on Bo for amusement, and going home to my tiny apartment, working my tail off, and eventually—hopefully—starting my own studio.”

Daisy grinned. “Well, that sounds like a fine plan to me. But if you ever change your mind- let me know. I really do know a lot of solid guys you might be interested in.”

Marilyn wished she wasn’t curious about this list and who Daisy might pair her with. She reminded herself of her goal.

Eyes on the prize, Darby.

“I’ll remember that.”

“OK, let’s dance before Nicolette needs me, or worse, Titus shows up and that will be the end of it. He’s impatient.”

Marilyn’s eyes lit up at the mention of the musician’s name. She’d seen him several times at the Grant house, but they’d not officially been introduced yet.

“Do you think he would help me? Or better yet go with me to my sister’s engagement party? That promises to be an event in desperate need of a rock star’s interruption.” Marilyn couldn’t imagine meeting rock’s latest superstar, but she wouldn’t be intimidated by him either if she got the chance.

Daisy howled. “I doubt Titus is the kind of guy you want to take home to mom, and yet, somehow, I’m kind of sure he’d go. Watch yourself. He’s a bigger flirt than Robby. And I can’t even imagine him serious—as in what he’d be like if he settled down with someone.”

This surprised Marilyn. “I can’t imagine anyone being a bigger flirt than Robby.”

Daisy moved to the center of the space. “He’s terrible—it drives Bo nuts too. He can’t stand him.”

“As if Bo can stand anyone.” Marilyn snickered. “No worries, sweetie. I’m a flirt too—and Bo can’t stand me either. So, maybe I will keep old Titus Black in mind. After all, someone besides me needs to drive my mom crazy for a while.”

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