Levi had tried to ignore it, that growing need he felt every time he thought of her. She’d texted her thanks for the roses and the wrap and he’d nearly called her to ask her to dinner. But he hadn’t and now he sat, all by himself in his office at eight on a Friday night like an idiot.

Cherished (Sway)

“Why are you here?” Jonah came in and sat.

“Finishing up some stuff. I’m leaving in a few. What’s up with you? Where’s Carrie?”

“Spending the night at a friend’s house.” Carrie was Jonah’s daughter.

“Want to get dinner?”

“Yes, I do. I just got back from the mediation.”

Levi winced. “ Long- ass day.”

“I need a few drinks before I can process it. I’m brain- dead.”

He and Jonah were close. More like best friends than brothers most days, though they had their moments.

So it seemed sort of natural to bring Daisy up once their steaks had arrived. The Metropolitan Grill’s large booths relaxed him nearly as much as the scotch in his glass. “So I started seeing someone.”

Jonah looked up, interested. “Yeah? Who is she?”

“She’s twenty-four.” He blurted it out like a shameful secret.

But Jonah only laughed.

“Goddamn, Levi. Good for you.”

“Her name is Daisy. She’s an artist. Mixed- media stuff. Fucking stunning. Smart. Funny.”

“And twenty- four. Is it as awesome as I seem to recall?”

Cherished (Sway)

He was going to pretend he didn’t know what Jonah meant but he was too tired to. “Her body. God. She’s a dance instructor too so she’s . . . flexible. And she’s got a lot of energy. All in all, yes, awesome is a word I’d use.”

He wasn’t talking out of school. He knew Jonah would keep it all to himself and it wasn’t as if he was disrespecting Daisy or anything. But he needed to share or he’d explode.

“Flexible? Is that a nice way to say she’s bendy during sex?” Jonah raised his glass.

Levi laughed. “Among other things, yes.”

“When do we get to meet her?”

Levi blew out a breath. “Yes, I can just see that family dinner. Hey, Mom and Dad, this is Daisy. She’s twenty- four. She has tattoos and pierced nipples. Oh and she’s an artist. They’ll love it.”

Jonah laughed. “Yes, I can see that. So is this like a fling? A midlife crisis? Will you be trading in your BMW for a Porsche? And how did you meet this woman?”

“I don’t know what it is. Other than new. I’ve only known her a few weeks. I went to that damned dance class thing. I ended up in the wrong room but she was one of the instructors and well.” He shrugged. “I didn’t leave right away but I did eventually. And then I bumped into her and learned she was an artist too.” He shook his head. “Anyway, again at the grocery store until I gave in and asked her for dinner. Only we ended up at her place and she made dinner for me. We went out again on Monday.”

“That’s when you found out how bendy she was? And I do love a woman with tattoos and piercings. Sexy.”

Levi laughed. “Asshole. She’s a nice girl. Christ. Girl.” He scrubbed his hands over his face.

Jonah shrugged and took a bite of his steak. “So what? Are you fucking her and making it good for her? Do you respect her?”

Did collaring a woman’s throat during sex count?

“I’m not having a midlife crisis. And yes, I respect her. Jonah, you should see her work. She’s incredibly talented.”

“Has she asked you for help?” Jonah’s gaze narrowed.

He shook his head. “No. And she doesn’t need it anyway. She donated a piece to me for an auction. She’s selling her work. Her grandmother owns a gallery she helps run. She doesn’t need me. Not for that.”

Cherished (Sway)

“Then who cares if she’s twenty-four? Unless she talks in baby talk or some shit. ’Cause that’s where I have to draw the line.”

“What sort of women are you getting involved with that these things come to your mind?”

Jonah’d been married for fifteen years. He had a fifteen- year old daughter who lived with him. His ex-wife had decided she got married too young, had dumped their kid and their marriage and moved to New York City where she spent Jonah’s money and barely paid attention to her old life. Jonah was a good father. Better than their own. Carrie got great grades. She had friends and worked hard, she even managed to handle Liesl. But he rarely brought any of the women he was with around. Levi knew he kept his relationships extremely casual. He told Levi he had no plans to get serious with anyone, especially not until Carrie had finished school.

“Not the kind who baby talk. Then again, none of them have been twenty- four. I’m totally full of shit to try to lie and say I’d draw the line at baby talk. If I got my hands on some twenty-four year old tits, and their owner baby talked, I suspect I’d just pretend not to hear it.”

Levi laughed, feeling a lot better. He needed to just call her and ask her out again.

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