"These places don't even have cribs. They have pack-n-plays which are more than likely infested with rabid roaches that feast on little baby toes. Especially little baby girl toes."
"Nick, we've been over this. I can't stay with you."
He sighed. He'd done a lot of that on the ride to the hotel as if every mile was personally killing him. "Yes, you can. I have tons of room. I have a fat ass dog that would love a little eye candy in the house. I have eggs and bacon."
I laughed. "You're pathetic."
"Yes, he is," Brian agreed, nudging Nick. "Besides, Nacho has eye candy. I'm your house guest, remember?"
Nick rolled his eyes. We'd been parked outside the Renaissance for ten minutes. Brian turned to look at me and I could still see the shadow of caked makeup across his cheeks. He smiled.
"I'll help you take your bags and Rielynn in."
"No you won't," Nick grumbled. It didn't take a genius to see he wasn't not happy about my temporary plan. I tried the door but the child locks were still in place.
"Nick, you gotta let me out."
"You can't stay at a hotel forever."
"I know, but I need sleep before I can process all this."
He didn't answer. He folded his arms across the wheel and puckered his lips. I counted to ten.
"Okay," he finally relented. "But I'm only saying that because I'm not a controlling asshole."
"Who wears women's panties," Brian finished. "Well, most of the time."
"I hate you," Nick deadpanned, unlocking the doors. "At least I can pull off makeup better than you."
"One word," Brian held up his pointer finger. "Sphynkter."
"Again, I rest my case. I will always be a better Sphynkter than you."
Before Brian had a chance to disagree, Nick hopped out of the car.
My body cried out in pain as I stood up.
"I'm fine," I lied. "You're the one that I landed on."
Nick placed his hand on the roof of the car above my head and smiled. My breath caught.
"Promise me you'll get some sleep," he said softly.
"And you'll let me help you figure out the next move."
I hesitated. He leaned in closer. "Midge."
"What if he wants to see Rielynn?" My voice cracked and tears filled the brims of my eyes. "I can't let him be alone with her. Does that make me a bigot? I just can't explain any of this. It's like a bad joke. A very, very bad joke."
Nick brushed his thumb down my cheek. "Midge, Rie will only see who you want her to see. I'll make sure of it."
I shook my head. "You don't make the rules."
He smiled. "You forget I'm at the cusp of divorce myself."
"So? So let's just say that I've researched enough to know what needs to happen for me to get full custody of Parker."
I exhaled a breath I didn't know I was holding. Nick's face loomed even closer. "If me, a guy, can get full custody, you, a beautiful, wronged woman will have no problem."
The air was steaming. "You really think so?"
His smile killed me. "Absolutely."
"Absolutely. I'm hoping it will earn me a date."
I laughed. "You're pathetic."
His smile was practically dimpled. "I take what I can get."
"Hey, do I need to just leave you two here?"
Nick slowly pulled away. "I'd love the answer to be yes, but not tonight. Midge needs sleep."
That was the understatement of a lifetime. As Nick disappeared into the hotel, I practically fell asleep against his car. Only when I heard Brian open the back to start getting bags did I pry my eyelids back open.
"I've got you booked for two nights," Nick announced upon return with a hotel cart in tow. He handed me the keycards. I immediately gave him one. His eyebrow arched.
"So you can come over later to help me figure out my gameplan," I explained.
"Damn," he grinned. "I was thinking it was for steamy hot hotel booty."
"Amongst the rabid roaches?"
"Okay, I lied about the roaches."
We laughed. It felt good.
"Damn, you really did pack your whole house, didn't you?"
Brian wiped his forehead as he threw another bag onto the hotel cart.
"I left the dog. For now."
"Nacho loves other dogs," Nick said innocently. I gave him a look, but I couldn't muster anything too seriously angry. After all, this tall, blonde, doofus of a dad had been my knight in worn out blue jeans for the last month. The hardest month of my life.
"I better get Rie," I said softly.
"I can get her."
"No, someone has to stay with Parker and Baylee."
"Brian can stay."
"He's got the cart."
"I can change that."
He sighed. "Do I need to tone it down a notch?"
I pinch my fingers together. "Just a notch."
Nick turned and leaned against the car, crossing his long legs and folding his hands behind his head.
"You're going to be the death of me."
"You survived the dumpster," I teased.
"That's life one. I may or may not be like a cat. That means I have eight lives left."
The doors to the hotel opened and Brian stepped out. We had been so busy bantering I hadn't realized he had left. "Your cart is waiting outside your room."
Nick opened the passenger door without a word. Rielynn was fast asleep. I swiftly unbuckled her, scooping her up into my arms. She smelled like sweet baby powder and Johnson's and Johnson's.
"You both are terrific," I said.
Brian smiled. "Frick and Frack always come to the rescue of damsels in distress."
"We're like Batman and Robin," Nick joked. "Brian's Robin."
I laughed. "Goodnight, guys."
"See ya soon, Midge," Nick said, opening the door for me to step through.
"See ya soon," I promised.
And I meant it.