Home > When I Need You (Need You #4)(4)

When I Need You (Need You #4)(4)
Author: Lorelei James

“This is totally cool,” Calder exclaimed. “Do you ever jump on it like a trampoline?”

I’d bet Jensen has tested the bounce factor of every piece of this couch multiple times, but not in the same way Calder was thinking, I thought snarkily.

When I glanced up and caught Jensen looking at me, I swore he’d just read my mind.

The damn man smirked at me. He snatched a wadded-up T-shirt off the back of the couch and slipped it on—shame, that—then spoke to Calder. “A tall guy like me would hit the ceiling on the first bounce, so no jumping. You can hop over, though.”

“Cool!” Calder whooped and scaled over the back of the couch like the little monkey he was.

I’d have no problem getting a leg over . . . if I hadn’t been wearing a dress.

Right after Calder had performed a couple of exuberant bounces, Jensen pulled the back section out, creating a crack wide enough that I could slip through.

“Thanks.” As soon as my butt connected with the cushions, the couch sucked me in like I was being swallowed by a marshmallow.

Jensen flopped closer to me than I expected. He thrust out his hand. “Let’s start over, okay? Jensen Lund.”

Did I tell him I knew who he was because he’d walked past me every Sunday during football season for the past four years?

I shook his hand. “Rowan Michaels. That’s my son, Calder Michaels.”

Calder had already stretched out on his belly, facing away from the gigantic TV, set on a sports channel.

“So what’s going on with Martin?” he asked. “He and Verily didn’t break up, did they?”

“No. They had a chance to go backpacking through Europe with friends, so they took off.”

“How long will they be gone?”

“Four months, maybe more. My lease was up on my apartment, so we’re subletting. It gives them a place to come back to and me more time in the housing search.”

“It’s just you and Calder living over there?”

“Yes.”

“Not to be a dick, but it sucks that Martin is gone. I’m gonna miss him. We hung out all the time.”

I frowned. “You did?”

“Yeah. Why? He didn’t mention me?”

I shook my head. “Did Martin ever talk about me?”

Jensen was quiet for a moment. “Actually, no. I wonder why that is?”

I knew exactly why—it was my little brother’s (misguided) way of protecting me. “Martin keeps his life compartmentalized. Keeping his clients separate from his time spent snowboarding. Keeping his family separate from his friends. He hangs out with Calder at least every other week and we get together with our folks probably once a month—more if they’re not in season.”

“Wait.” Jensen held up his hand. “This is going a little fast for me. First of all . . . Martin has a job? Besides snowboarding?”

“Of course he has a job. He’s a freelance website designer.” I paused. “See what I mean about him keeping things compartmentalized? You didn’t even know what he does to earn a living.”

“Makes me wonder what compartment he put me in.”

“It depends on what you do when you’re with him.”

“We play video games, watch TV, play cards, drink beer.” He looked at Calder and dropped his voice. “That’s all I can get buzzed on because of . . . testing for my job.”

Martin was a pothead. He never hid it from me or our parents. It didn’t make me naive to call him a “responsible” stoner, but he’d finished college. He had a job and supported himself. He didn’t cause problems. He lived his life the way he wanted. He was a good person, and that said more to me about who he was than what vice he chose to indulge in. “My life is so hectic that not even . . . herbs mellow me out.”

Jensen laughed.

Damn. He had a great laugh.

I scooted to the edge of the couch. “Sorry your gaming buddy won’t be around.”

His gaze intently roamed my face. “You look really familiar to me. I thought you did earlier before you slammed the door in my face, but it’s probably the family resemblance.”

Or maybe I look familiar because we have met . . . oh, at least six times.

Yeah, my self-esteem took a knee. Not that I had the ego some of the cheerleaders on the squad did, but I knew I rocked this thirty-year-old body. I glanced over at my son, who was practicing his break dancing arm movements as he stared at the ceiling. I nudged his foot. “Time to go.” I gave Jensen a totally fake smile. “It’s a school night.”

Calder crawled over the edge of the couch. I propelled myself upright and moved to stand behind him.

“Thanks for apologizing,” Jensen said to Calder. “Takes guts to admit you were wrong.”

I smoothed the static from Calder’s long curls when he ducked his head.

Jensen looked at me. “I’m glad to hear Martin’s off on an adventure and he’ll be back at some point.”

“Since someone else had an adventure today”—I playfully tugged on Calder’s hair—“I still have to call my nanny and find out why she wasn’t aware that Calder had left the apartment and was running unattended in the halls.”

“I’d wondered about that.”

“She’s always been responsible and reliable even when I have to work late.” Had I said that to convince him? Or myself?

He shrugged. “Everyone screws up sometimes. No harm, no foul. I’d give her another chance because I bet it won’t happen again.” He launched himself over the edge of the couch—one-handed like he was dismounting from a pommel horse.

God. Why did jocks always have to show off their athletic prowess? I looked at Jensen, expecting to see smugness on his face because he knew he’d executed a hot and sexy move and he also knew I’d watched him do it.

But he’d focused on Calder. “I have no problem tattling on you to your mom, ninja-boy, if I see you running amok in the hallway again.”

Jensen was joking—and yet not—and he came across completely charming about it. “I’d appreciate it. My schedule is erratic so I’m not always home from work at decent hours.”

“Where do you work?”

“At the U of M.”

“Hey. I went to school there.”

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