Hot Single Dad

By: Claire Kingsley


It’s a lesson they emphasized with both their daughters. My parents are doctors—my father is a neurosurgeon and my mother works in cancer research—both at the top of their field. Melanie was on her way to becoming some kind of superstar surgeon. So naturally, they want me to be the best in my chosen profession.

However, they were laying the pressure on thick, and I was getting frustrated. My mother was increasingly impatient with the lack of audition opportunities—as if somehow I could control when a major symphony had an opening.

That was why I agreed to come to Seattle. I was angry that my parents didn’t consult me before making arrangements with Caleb. But once I thought about it, I realized it was perfect. A new city. A job waiting for me. A place to live. A chance to start fresh, without my mother breathing down my neck and pestering me about auditions.

Of course, I hadn’t counted on developing an insta-crush on Caleb.

I take a deep breath. I’m sure this feeling will pass. I’ll get used to looking at him—I peek at him from the corner of my eye and oh my god, he is so dreamy—and I won’t feel so jumpy anymore.

“Linnea, do you want to sleep in my room with me?” Charlotte asks from the backseat.

Caleb laughs and looks at her in the rear-view mirror. “Bug, we talked about that. Linnea needs her own bed.” He coughs. “I mean, her own room.”

“Okay,” Charlotte says, sounding disappointed.

I twist around in my seat. “Hey, maybe we can have a slumber party sometime. Like on a night when your dad is at work late. Would you like that?”

She nods. “Can it be a pajama party?”

“You bet,” I say.

“What kind of pajamas do you have?” she asks. “Most of mine are pink.”

“Hmm, I don’t usually wear pajamas, so I guess I’ll have to get some before our party.”

“Then what do you sleep in?” she asks.

“Just something comfortable. Like a tank top.”

“And panties?” Charlotte asks. “What kind of panties do you have? Mine are My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake.”

My face warms and I know I’m blushing. I try not to look at Caleb, but I peek anyway. He’s looking straight ahead, both hands on the steering wheel. “I’m afraid I don’t have any that are as fun as that.”

“Yeah,” she says. “I don’t know if they make them in grown up sizes.”

“Probably not.” I turn back around, hoping she’s done talking about my panties. Maybe I should change the subject. “So, Charlotte, have you ever played piano?”

“No.”

“If you want, I can teach you,” I say.

“I don’t know if I’m big enough,” she says.

“Sure you are,” I say, glancing back at her again. “I started playing when I was younger than you.”

Her forehead tightens, her little eyebrows drawing together. “No. I don’t want to.”

“Oh, okay. That’s fine.”

“Why not, Bug?” Caleb asks, his voice gentle.

“Because of concerts,” she says.

“Concerts?” Caleb asks.

“Sometimes we do music at school, and the teacher showed us a video,” she says. “It was a concert and all the music players had to play music in a big room with a lot of people.”

“Oh.” Caleb turns to me and lowers his voice. “She thinks if she plays piano she’ll have to perform in front of an audience. She’s not acting like it right now, but most of the time, she’s incredibly shy.”

My heart melts in my chest. I was painfully shy as a child; I know exactly how she feels. “Aw, Bug. If you want, you can learn to play piano just for yourself. You don’t ever have to play in front of people. Maybe just me or your daddy. But no concerts, unless you want to.”

“Oh,” she says, her voice brightening. “Okay.”

Caleb smiles at me, his eyes crinkling at the corners. I smile back, but it feels like my heart just grew wings and it’s trying to fly right out of my chest.

Half an hour later, we pull up to a cute little two-story on a quiet street. Caleb helps me get my bags and the three of us go inside.

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