Triple treat
call who would be glad to see him, who would drop whatever they were doing to do whatever he proposed doing. And there were any number of things he could propose to do.
    But not a single one of the myriad of activities or pastimes that came to mind held any interest or appeal for him tonight. He leafed through his Rolodex file—he kept one at home and one in the office so he would never be caught without his contacts—and methodically rejected every single name he read.
    Clutching a paper bag imprinted with the Tremaine Drugs logo, he slipped quietly out the back door, heading for the gap in the hedge separating the lush greenery of his property from Carrie Wilcox's unimpressive backyard.
    He didn't bother to ask himself what he was doing or why. When there were no answers, it was best to sidestep the questions.
    Carrie was in the kitchen, pouring herself a tall glass of iced tea, when Tyler appeared at the door. A blast of warm air from the oscillating fan on the counter ruffled her hair as she opened the door to him.
    "Hi." Her smile was incandescent, lighting her whole face; her blue eyes glowed with warmth. Tyler stared at her, momentarily mesmerized. Her hair was pulled off her neck into a short, high ponytail, and she was wearing a turquoise cotton shift, loose and short and sleeveless.
    He felt curiously light-headed and it was suddenly difficult to speak. "I, uh—Look what I found in one of our stores today." He pulled a rubber duck out of the paper bag. It was identical to the duck that had sparked Dylan and Franklin's scuffle in the pool yesterday.
    "I was visting the Wheaton store—I make rounds of all the area stores every few months—and I spied this duck in

    the toy aisle." Tyler reached into the bag and pulled out a second identical duck. "So I bought two of them. Now each of the kids has a duck. Three kids, three ducks."
    Now that he'd begun talking, he couldn't seem to stop. "I thought about what you'd said, about wanting the kids to be friends, not rivals. It makes sense. I mean, it's certainly happier for all concerned if brothers are pals instead of beating the hell out of each other, right?"
    "Right." Carrie smiled. "And thank you for the ducks, the kids will love them. It was very thoughtful of you, Tyler."
    He handed her the bag. "Where are the tiny terrors, anyway? It's awfully quiet around here."
    "They're in bed."
    He glanced at his watch. "So early? It's not even eight o'clock."
    "Their bedtime is seven-thirty. They talk and play in their cribs for a little while before they finally settle down, so maybe they're still awake. Do you want to go upstairs and see?"
    "No, that's not necessary." He leaned against the door-jamb. "So you have some free time without the munchkins underfoot? What are you planning to do?"
    Carrie shrugged. "There's a lineup of shows I usually watch on TV tonight." She named them.
    Tyler drew a blank. "I seldom watch television," he confessed. "And when I do, it's to watch the commercials for programs that Tremaine Incorporated is sponsoring or to keep up my end of the conversation with clients who advertise on certain shows and want to talk about them."
    "So for you, watching TV is work, not relaxation. For me, it's a chance to sit down and unwind. I enjoy it." Carrie glanced at the kitchen clock. "I'm going to make some popcorn before the shows start."
    They never actually discussed his joining her to watch television. But when she carried the bowl of popcorn into

    the living room and switched on the TV set, he was right behind her. They sat down together, side by side, on the sofa.
    The room was dark and stuffy. Tyler leaned back against the cushions. "I thought old Mr. Wilcox had central air-conditioning in this place."
    "No. There's a window air-conditioning unit in the kids' room, but that's the only one in the house. Ben says he has a lead on a secondhand one for my bedroom, but until I buy it, I make do with fans."
    "Well, the fan in this room isn't doing any

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