"I want to." Shit, that was close. He almost said something deadly stupid, like I want to stay with this woman forever. He didn't even know if she'd agree to move in with him.

"Want to what?"

"Nothing."

"You want to keep her all to yourself?"

Yes, that. Mace's world had shrunk in half. Dillon was the only family he had now. Shit, he wanted this to go well. It'd be a gamer's hell if Jacinta and Dillon didn't take to each other. Stuck at one level, all points cancelled, all lives lost, throw the controller at the wall, start again.

"When are you telling her about the loft?" said Dillon.

"Not today. I don't. I just. She might not."

He'd signed the lease on a loft apartment. He'd been camped at Dillon's, or staying with Jacinta, but he needed something more permanent of his own, and the loft had the most perfect space for a studio for Jacinta. But he should've talked to her about it. They'd never discussed moving in together, or her desire for a studio. This was all on him.

"I'm an idiot."

"You didn't ask her." Dillon laughed. Their coffee was delivered by a different waitress, which stopped Mace reaching across the table to mess with Dillon.

"Hey, Tam," he said.

"Dillon."

"You look like you've been well kissed today."

"There are so many cafes in this city and yet you consistently pick Nix's," she said.

Dillon grinned at her. She made a move to step away and he said, "Wait, wait. Settle a dispute for us."

She groaned. "The things I do."

"Am I a dick?"

Total dick move. Tam physically took a step back from the table. But then she threw her head back and laughed. "You're a geek." She punched Dillon on the arm. "You're a sweetheart."

Dillon beamed. "Say that again, so my dick friend knows you mean it."

She jammed her hands on her hips and looked from Dillon to Mace. "What's this about?"

"My friend Mace is in love for the first time."

"Oh, that's so sweet." Tam was cute. She blushed. Mace might too in a minute, and it would not be cute—and Dillon would pay.

"But he's done a dick thing."

Tam's smile cratered. "Oh yeah." She pointed at Mace. "Explain yourself."

Oh shit. "I'm not. You're busy." He picked up his cup and sipped.

She looked around. The place was half empty. "Pre-dinner lull. I'm all yours. Plus I'm working a double. I could do with the entertainment."

Dillon leant forward. "A dick move would be to disappoint Tam." He sat back again, smug bloody look on his face. "Come on, Mace, live a little. Make a girl's day."

Tam laughed. She did look like she'd been kissed well today. She didn't need his idiot story. "I could punch you instead, Dill, and that would be entertaining."

"It would get you thrown out," Tam said. "Come on, I'm not that not busy."

Mace sighed, took another sip and put his cup down. "I want my girlfriend to move in with me."

She frowned. "Where's the dick move in that?"

"He's going to spring the idea on her with a lease on a loft," said Dillon.

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