Teach Me The Ropes (Bachelor Auction #1) - Vanessa Vale Page 0,1

effective. If the hot cowboy was going to go for a woman on the preschool playground, it was going to be one of them. Definitely not me in my old jeans and sneakers. My t-shirt had blue paint on the front, and my hair was pulled back out of my face in a simple ponytail although the slight breeze had tugged some wild curls free.

I had no idea why I was even thinking this guy would choose any one of us. No doubt he was married. Of course, he was married, especially since one of the women said it would be cheating. His wife probably had blonde hair like their daughter’s and knew just how big he was. Everywhere.

“Mommy, Claire pulled my hair.” The whiny voice came from Tamara, who was complaining to one of the moms. She’d just turned four and was cute as could be but was definitely going to be a handful as she got older.

Tamara’s mother, who had the same dark hair but not in pigtails, lifted her head and scanned the playground. I did, too. Claire was still on the swings, laughing at something Tanner was saying as he sat on the swing beside hers.

The woman stood, took Tamara’s hand and came over to me. “You need to punish Claire. She’s mean.”

I arched a brow but didn’t say anything, only squatted down in front of Tamara. Guys I couldn’t deal with, but kids? I had them down. Giving her a small smile, I said. “Hair pulling, huh?”

She nodded, her pigtails bobbing. “It hurt.”

“I haven’t seen you anywhere near Claire on the playground.”

“She did it,” Tamara countered right away, her lower lip sticking out.

I cocked my head. “I’m not saying she didn’t, but when did she do it, honey?”

Tamara looked up at her mom.

“Does it matter?” the woman asked. “I believe my daughter. What are you going to do about it?”

“I am doing something about it,” I replied, tipping my chin up, so I could meet the mom’s eyes. “We talk out our problems here. When did Claire pull your hair?” My gaze flicked to Tamara.

She bit her lip and glanced at me then away. “Yesterday when we were taking off our jackets.”

Even though it was summer, some mornings were cool. Like yesterday when I’d had to wear a sweatshirt until after lunch.

“Did you tell someone then about what happened?” I asked.

Tamara shook her head.

“There isn’t a statute of limitations on bad behavior,” Tamara’s mom said. I couldn’t miss the way she tapped her foot since I was close to the ground.

I ignored her and focused on Tamara. It was obvious where she was modeling her bad behavior, so I had to be a good example here. “What happened exactly?”

She put her finger to her neck as she spoke. “I was taking off my jacket, and my hair got caught in my zipper. Claire helped, but it pulled.”

I stood up and patted Tamara on the head. “Sounds like you need to tell your jacket to stop being so mean. I hope you thanked Claire for helping.”

Tamara looked at the ground then gave a sly glance at her mother. “No.”

I didn’t say anything, just let Tamara take a minute to figure out what she needed to do. “Thanks, Claire!” she called across the playground then tugged on her mom’s hand. “I’m ready to go now.”

Of course, she was since she hadn’t gotten the attention from her mother she’d been seeking.

The mom eyed me up and down as if she was confused how I’d spun the situation around, getting a zipper to be the bad guy. Without saying anything further, the duo cut across the playground to the side gate that led to the parking lot.

I sighed, watching them go, wondering how the woman could walk in those high heels. I’d never be that girly-girl.

“Thank you.”

The voice came from behind me, and I spun about and practically ran into Mr. Hot Cowboy. My hand flew to my chest. “Fudge, you scared me.”

“Easy there.” He cupped my elbow as if to settle me.

All of a sudden, it was very warm out and not from the afternoon sun. My heart skipped a beat as I stared up, up, up at Claire’s father. I’d totally missed him leaving his spot by the fence. He must have gone inside while I’d been talking to Tamara and her mom because he held Claire’s little pink backpack.

This close, I couldn’t miss that his eyes were fair even though his hair was dark. The contrast