-We’d just got home, and I put the two heavy bags of groceries down on the counter and turned to help my son Brayden with his coat.

Tipping up his chin, dropping a kiss on his forehead, I told him, “Sweetie, you’re going to have to put your valentines down so we can get your coat off.”

His big green eyes gleaming with excitement, he blinked up at me, clutching his little package of treats and cards. “But did I tell you that I got one from everyone in my class, even a big heart-shaped one from Miss Davis?” Then he sighed, his eyes lighting up with his smile, hand over his heart, looking all swoony and so over the moon happy. “And Megan Kowalchuk put a whole bunch of X’s and O’s on hers! Do you think that mean she likes me, too?”

“I’m sure it does,” I told him, ruffling his hair, because who wouldn’t love my son.

He looked so much like his father, with his pale blond hair, complete with a matching untamable cowlick sticking up at the top of his head. Same expressive emerald green eyes, and adorable dimpled smile.

Times like this made my heart clench when I thought of how much his father would have loved to have been able to watch his little boy growing up.

Realizing he was experiencing his first crush, reminded me that my son wasn’t a baby anymore. Though he’d always be my sweet little man.

Looking up at me, his expression suddenly earnest, he asked, “Mom, how do you know when you love somebody?”

Wow, I didn’t see that coming, and wasn’t even sure what to say. After thinking on it for a moment, I smiled down at him waiting expectantly for me to answer, and told him all I knew about love. “I think you just know when you meet the right person, Brayden. When you’re in love it makes you feel good inside when you’re with them, like you never want to be apart. Which is why people get married, so they can spend their lives together.”

He nodded sagely as he thought that over. His expression serious, he looked back up at me. “Well, then I think I’d better wait a while to ask Megan to marry me, ’cause I’m only five years old and I don’t even have a job yet.”

“Yeah, probably a good idea to wait then,” I agreed, doing my best to keep a straight face.

“And you remember that my friend Nathan’s coming for a sleepover tonight, right?” he asked, tugging off his boots and putting them on the tray by the back door to dry.

As I put the milk and eggs away in the fridge, I vaguely remembered him telling me on the way to school in the morning that he wanted to have a sleepover with his new best friend. But I didn’t know they’d planned it for tonight.

Before I could say anything, the doorbell rang, and I rolled my eyes. I hadn’t had time to change out of my office clothes yet, and still had to put away the rest of the groceries. No idea what to make for dinner, I just hoped Nathan wasn’t fussy, because he was going to have to eat whatever I gave him. Or, eyeing my cell phone sitting on the counter, maybe, I could just order pizza. Never met a kid who didn’t like slice of plain cheese, so I figured that was a safe bet.

I opened the front door with what I hoped was a welcoming smile. Then my eyes popped and I froze.

I don’t why, but I assumed that Nathan’s mother would be with him, and not the gorgeous hunk of a man who stood staring at me just as intently.

“Hi,” he finally said, with his sky-blue eyes locked on mine and a flirtatious little smile playing on his lips.

Feeling a little overwhelmed just from the look in those eyes, my voice wavering, I responded, “You must be Nathan’s dad.”

“His uncle, actually.”

“Oh.” Finally remembering my manners, I stepped aside and pulled open the door. “Well, come on in, it’s cold out there.”

I took a quick look outside once they’d stepped in. Just to make sure this wasn’t a prank dreamed up by my sister, who’d been nagging me like crazy lately to get back in the dating scene. Though I hadn’t really given it much thought. But now, coming face to face with a sweet hunk man candy like him, sure had me tempted.

“Sorry, I didn’t have your phone number or I would have called to double-check. But Nathan assured me that you were okay with the boys having a sleepover tonight,” he said, with Nathan already tugging off his coat.

“Of course.” I smiled down at the little cutie and shook his hand. “Nice to meet you, Nathan.” He’d only been at the school for a few weeks, since they were moving into the area, but he and Brayden had become best friends, so I imagined he was a pretty nice kid.

Dark haired and blue-eyed like his uncle, he looked so adorable smiling up at me with his front tooth missing. “Nice to meet you too, Mrs. Winters. And thank you for having me.” Then he looked up curiously at his uncle, obviously wondering if he’d said it right.

I loved the way he smiled at him and gave him a wink, looking pleased that he’d remembered his manners.

Enjoying their little interaction, I held out my hand to his uncle. “I’m Kaitlin, Brayden’s mom.”

Smiling into my eyes, he covered my hand with his and kept hold. Then in a warm, deep voice that did funny things to my insides, he said, “And I’m David.”

It was the oddest thing. I actually felt an arousing little spark the moment our hands touched. That I knew had nothing to do with static electricity, because that wouldn’t explain the way he had my lady parts starting to tingle. And there was a definite hum in the air, which had me wondering if I was the only one feeling it.

The look in his eyes was so playful, that I smirked right back, still holding his hand. “Nice to meet you, David.” I couldn’t believe we were actually flirting, considering we’d only just met.

Once we finally let go of each other, it struck me that this was the first time since I’d lost my husband Kevin, that I’d felt attracted to another man. But then of course it wasn’t every day that a tall, dark handsome stranger came and rang my door bell, sending goosebumps racing down my spine the moment he touched me.

“The pleasure’s all mine,” he said, still wearing that teasing smile.

Geesh, I wanted to fan myself, he’d got me so hot, just from shaking his hand. And I could already tell he had a naughty streak, which a little part of me was dying to explore.

Walking us all into the kitchen, I said over my shoulder, “I was just going to order pizza for dinner, if that’s okay.”

Just as I’d hoped, I noticed Nathan flash a big wide-eyed smile at Brayden the moment he heard the word pizza. Naturally Brayden instantly asked, “Mom, can we eat in the tent?”

“Of course, you can,” I told him, as I picked up my cellphone. David looked a little puzzled, considering it was freezing out and still snowing pretty hard. “Oh, Brayden has a little tent set up in the family room that he loves to play in,” I explained, and he nodded looking relieved.

“Come on Nathan, I’ll show you. It’s really cool,” Brayden said, nodding at the other room. The boys raced off to the family room, leaving the two of us alone in the kitchen.

David tried to hand me his credit card when he noticed I had the phone to my ear, ready to order our dinner. I shook my head and whispered, “No, it’s okay, I’ve got this,” as the woman came on, to ask what I’d like.

“Then my treat next time,” he said, putting away his card. Which had me turning my head away from him and smiling like crazy, thrilled to hear there might be a next time.

Hoping he’d stay, I ordered two pizzas: plain cheese for the kids, and another with hot sopressata, olives and mushrooms, along with a Caesar salad for us. When David saw me getting four plates out of the cupboard, before he could say anything, I turned to look at him. “I hope you don’t mind staying to keep me company. I can’t imagine trying to squeeze into the tent to have dinner with the boys, especially in these heels.”

His face breaking into a sly grin, he took his time looking me over. Letting his gaze slide from the top of my white blonde hair, stopping for a moment to caress my breasts in my body-hugging dove gray suit. Till eventually, his eyes slid all the way down to my toes, encased in my sexiest four-inch heels. Of course, sending a fresh wave of shivers racing through me.

After that careful inspection, the heat in his eyes when he lifted his gaze and looked into mine, was nearly enough to melt my panties.

“I’d be happy to stay,” he murmured, with a devilish smirk, making my breath hitch as I reached into the fridge for some juice for the boys and a nice bottle of cold Chablis for us grownups. I was tempted to press it against my forehead, he’d got me so damn hot, just from the look in his eyes.

Though I never drank much, I kind of wanted to celebrate the rarity of having dinner with another adult, especially one that was so very nice to look at.

Besides, nothing like a little liquid courage to prepare me for dinner with Nathan’s uber hot uncle. Considering the fact that I hadn’t been on a date since I first met my late husband, over seven years ago, when I was only twenty-one, and fresh out of college. I was a little out of practice.

After he slipped off his trench coat, letting me see how incredible he looked in his dark suit and tie, he went ahead and grabbed everything to set the table, while I got down the wine glasses from the cupboard. I liked that he already seemed comfortable, at least around me.

Coming up behind me, just barely brushing his front against my backside when he went to get some napkins off the counter, had me sucking in a shaky breath as I breathed him in, reveling in the heat of his body. No surprise, he smelled as good as he looked, kind of musky with a hint of spice. Nothing too over-powering, but I liked that he smelled like a man should smell.

Once he’d opened the wine and poured us both a glass, his gaze on mine, he pulled out my chair and waited till I was seated before he took the chair beside me.

Smiling into his eyes, I decided he’d already scored a few brownie points in my books, especially by pitching in to help without being asked. But the fact that he’d held out my chair for me, really impressed me. Sometimes it was the little things that showed what a man was like, more than any big lavish gesture.

Being on my own raising my son for the past five years, it felt nice to have a man in the house, even if just for one night.

“So, what is it you do, Kaitlin?” David asked, reaching for his wine.

“I work as a paralegal, hoping to get my law degree one day, if I can ever find the time to study.”

“I take it you’re on your own?” he asked, carefully eyeing my rings.

Heaving a sigh, I nodded and put down my wine glass. “I lost my husband to cancer five years ago, just three few months after Brayden was born. And now there’s just the two of us.”

“I’m really sorry to hear that. I lost my sister Val, Nathan’s mom, to breast cancer almost a year ago.”

“Oh, how sad for both of you. How is Nathan coping with the loss of his mother?”

He shrugged, looking a little uncertain. “He still cries sometimes and asks why God took her, when she was still so young, at only thirty-five. I don’t really know what to tell him, because I can’t understand it myself.”

I reached for his hand and covered it with mine. I’d had five years to try and heal, and knew the pain must still be pretty fresh for both of them.

After a few moments of silence, I asked what he did for a living, he lifted his gaze and managed a smile. “I’m an architect. And luckily, I work for a firm that’s been pretty understanding about me working from home, and the time I’ve had to take off. First with my sister being sick, and now for different things I’ve needed to take care of for Nathan, after she passed away.”

“So, you’re helping out with him now?”

“Actually, he lives with me, and I’m hoping to adopt him. My sister put in writing before she died that she wanted me to raise him. But there are some legal things we’ve got to get through before it’s finalized.”

“Well, if you get busy, he can stay with us anytime. I should give you my number so you can call me if you need any help.”

“That’s really kind of you, Kaitlin. Thank you,” he said with his eyes warm on mine.

We smiled, looking at each other for a moment, neither of us saying a word, but there was definite crackle in the air.

Just then the boys came running into the kitchen, with Nathan carefully cradling my son’s hamster, Hammie, in his hands. “Wow! Check this out, Uncle David. Brayden’s even got a hamster. Isn’t he cute? And he doesn’t even bite. He has a wheel he runs around on, and it’s so much fun to watch him.”

While they giggled over the hamster crawling up Nathan’s arm, I leaned in and quietly whispered to David, “It was either the hamster or a puppy. I finally agreed to something that wouldn’t mind being alone all day, while he’s at school and I’m at work. That would also never need walking.”

Nodding his head, David smiled at me as he stroked a finger over Hammie’s little brown head. “He is pretty cute,” he agreed, turning his attention to his nephew. “But remember buddy, once the new house is finished, we’re going to be moving. So, I think we’d better wait till we’ve moved in before we talk about getting a pet.”

Looking a little disappointed Nathan sighed, but didn’t put up a fuss. “Yeah, I know. And Brayden said I could play with him whenever I come over.”

“Of course, you can,” I told him. “And I’ve got some treats you can feed him, too.”

Once they got the treats, they ran back to put Hammie in his cage to watch him fill up his cheeks with the little nuggets.

“At nearly forty-three, never having been married, I had no idea what went into raising a kid,” David confided, shaking his head. “But we’re learning together. And luckily, he’s been pretty good at helping me understand what’s involved, without testing me too often. I think he gets it that I’m kind of new to this whole parenting thing, and he’s doing his best to try not to make it too hard for me.”

“From what I can tell, he seems fairly well adjusted, so I’d say you’re doing a pretty good job.”

He shrugged, and I think he even blushed a little when he flashed me a smile and said, “Thanks.”

The doorbell chimed, and I hopped up to answer. Passing by the family room, I told them, “Okay guys, you’d better wash your hands before you eat, after handling Hammie.”

I laughed at the way the pair of them raced to the bathroom to wash up now that the food was here, and noticed that David went in to give them a hand.

As I thanked and tipped the driver, I realized I could get used to having a man around the house, especially one that was so incredibly thoughtful.

Back in the kitchen, I got out the little bed tray that Brayden used whenever he ate in the tent. Once I had the pizza slices on plates and the juice poured, David picked it up. “I’ll take it into them.”

“Thanks,” I said with an appreciative grin.

In addition to being easy on the eyes, I still could hardly believe how helpful he was. Normally, I took care of everything, and it was nice that he was the type that just pitched right in.

I guess since it was Valentine’s Day, David dimmed the lights in the dining room, nodded his head and suggested, “Why don’t we eat in there… by candlelight.”

Now I was the one feeling a little swoony, as we sat together side by side, bathed in the romantic glow of two thin tapers that he’d lit for us in the center of the table. Munching on pizza and salad, drinking a little wine, we laughed and talked about everything under the sun like we’d known each other forever. I began to realize, that the more we talked, the more I liked him.

I even confided in a whisper, that my son thought he was in love with his classmate, so he’d know it wouldn’t be long till his nephew noticed the opposite sex. “Brayden came home, first day of school, and said, ‘Mom, there’s this girl in my class and she has the most beautiful green… shoes.”

David sputtered his drink, laughing. “Her shoes? That’s the first thing he noticed?”

“Yeah. I had to fight so hard not to laugh. I thought he’d say it was her eyes that caught his attention, but apparently he loves her taste in footwear.” I leaned in and whispered, “I just hope this isn’t the start of a foot fetish, especially at his age.”

Laughing together, I realized he was just so easy to be with, I kind of hated the idea that once we were done, that he’d be heading home. And this would probably be it, with no idea if we’d ever do this again.

For all I knew he had a girlfriend, who he doted on, much like he was doting on me now. If true, I envied the lucky little witch, whoever she was.

We were quiet for a moment, and David chuckled, tipping his head and said, “Listen to those two.”

I could hear my son coaching his nephew. “Nathan, whatcha gotta do is ask for something even bigger than what you really want, like a pony. Then, he’ll probably give in and get you a puppy. But if you ask for something little, like a hamster, you might end up with a goldfish that you can’t even play with.”

We laughed at the two them conspiring together, considering they were only five.

“You’re going to have to learn how to negotiate, David, unless you want to wind up with a horse in your backyard.”

“Thanks for the warning,” he said, still chuckling.

For a moment we just sat, smiling into each other’s eyes, sexual tension crackling like a live wire in the air between us. Then he reached out, and brushed back a few stray hairs from my cheek, and tucked them behind my ear. With his eyes locked on mine, he leaned a little closer. I leaned in too, letting my eyes drift shut, my heart fluttering with a sense of anticipation. Inside my head, I was saying, ‘Oh, yes please,’ at the thought of being able to share a kiss with such a charming man.

“Mom, can we watch a movie?” Brayden suddenly asked from the doorway, making me almost jump out of my skin.

David straightened up and sat back in his seat, and I looked at my watch, and then back at David. “If Nathan’s uncle doesn’t mind, you can put on a short one.”

David nodded that it was okay, and Brayden smiled. “Thanks, Mom.” I could hear him run back and put the TV on, which gave David and I a little more time to spend together.

Though we smirked at each other over almost getting caught, I think the spell was broken. We still talked and laughed, but he didn’t try to get any closer. I guess realizing the boys could walk in on us any second, he didn’t want us to be doing anything that they’d wonder about.

We’d just finished our dinner, when David jumped up and said, “I’ll be right back.”

He came back in with a bakery box and explained, “I nearly forgot, I picked up some cupcakes for dessert.”

I made coffee, and we each enjoyed a delectable red velvet cupcake with little white cupids and hearts piped on the pink cream cheese frosting. The boys were thrilled with the two they had, along with a glass of milk. “Pizza and cupcakes! Wow, this is best dinner ever!” Brayden declared as they scarfed down their second little treat, making us laugh at how excited they were sharing a fun Valentine’s dinner.

Finished with dessert, side by side in the kitchen, exchanging coy little smiles, David and I cleaned up together, like we’d been doing it forever.

With everything put away, as we passed the sliding glass doors that overlooked the backyard, I turned on the outside lights. The glimmering flakes just looked so pretty, drifting to the ground, turning everything into a snowy pristine white.

“It’s really coming down,” David remarked, standing close enough behind me that I could feel the heat of his body, as he stroked a hand over my back, sending a fresh wave of shivers skittering through me.