Home > The Godparent Trap

The Godparent Trap
Author: Rachel Van Dyken




Present Day

I heard the front door shut with a soft click—but it may as well have been a nuclear bomb going off, which would have made sense considering the state of everything around me. The house was a mess, and there was no way I was getting it cleaned up before he saw the damage. After several arguments over nap time, I’d finally gotten the kids to bed, though by the looks of the house, anyone would think a war had broken out before and after the event.

I sprinted into the kitchen, nearly taking out my right hip against the granite countertop, and furiously rubbed at my cheeks, trying in vain to remove the flour I knew was still caked to my face from our baking experiment earlier.

I could hear his footsteps approaching down the hall. Closer… closer…

Great. Rip was going to be all anal and accusatory, questioning whether I could really handle things, and I was going to have to explain myself. Again.

“No, no, no,” I whispered to myself as I quickly shoved all the cookies that weren’t burned farther onto the counter where he would see them first and then grabbed the trash can. In went the burned cookies, the leftover flour, several cups of purple glitter slime little man had decided he had to make, and an indistinguishable brown lump that I hoped to God wasn’t from the cat.

Stu, the aging tuxedo cat with arthritis, meowed at me and gave me a look that said he was about two seconds away from puking up a hairball again, and don’t even get me started on a cat that needed diapers half the time because life made him “anxious.”

“Shoo!” I tried to shove the cat away from the table he’d just jumped on, only to groan when he knocked a bowl full of slime onto the hardwood floor.

Footsteps sounded.

Stu abandoned me, you know, just like Rip did every single day when he went to work and left me in chaos.

And the house still looked horrific.

Panic flared in my chest, and suddenly all I could do was stand there and watch in horror as Rip rounded the corner in his pristine black slacks and ironed navy shirt. Not a dark wavy piece of jet-black hair was out of place. His green eyes locked onto mine and twitched.

Both of them, not just one, both simultaneously. How was that even physically possible?

His height dominated the dirty kitchen, making me feel small—and stupid, always stupid. He didn’t say a word to make me feel that way—he didn’t need to. His frown said it all.


I was a failure as a mom.

Rip narrowed his eyes at me, and then he slowly took in the rest of the dirty kitchen with a look of pure horror and disbelief. “Did we get robbed?” He stepped closer to the counter to inspect the damage, and I warily noticed that his pristine loafers were mere inches from the slime that had oozed out of the bowl and was slowly attempting to take over the kitchen floor.

I glared at him. “Yes, and all they wanted to do was bake cookies and make slime—weirdest robbers ever, but don’t worry, I’m sure the cops can figure things out by the very chaotic crime scene they left behind.” I finished with a muttered “Jackass” under my breath; OK, so maybe it was less of a mutter and more of a verbal attack, but still. Come on!

He let out an exhausted sigh as the muscles of his forearms flexed, drawing my attention to his rolled-up sleeves and slightly tired look. Maybe, just maybe, his day had been as hard as mine. “Look, I don’t want to fight again.”

I deflated a bit. This situation was new to us both, and it’s not like anyone had given us a parenting manual. It would have been nice, though. Why couldn’t we just get along? I hung my head and mentally waved the white flag. “Me neither, it’s been a long day.”

He sighed in exhaustion, or maybe it was envy. Then again, I could be going crazy. “At least you didn’t have to work all day.”

And I was murdering him in his sleep—or at least holding a pillow over his face in a threatening manner. It didn’t matter that he had at least forty pounds of muscle on me. I was scrappy and pissed and so exhausted I could easily sleep for a year straight.

He took another step.

“No, wait—”

Of course he didn’t listen, which meant the minute his foot hit the mystery substance, his leg went one way and he went another.

Arms flailing, he slipped in the slime, then fell with a thump onto his ass. His briefcase went careening out of his hand and opened in midflight. Papers exploded out of it, scattering like snow. And because I’m the unluckiest person in the world, that same briefcase hit the canister of flour on the counter, sending it over his head with a whoosh and a final crack of doom as it hit the floor.

I hurried over without thinking. “Are you OK? I was trying to warn you and—”

My left foot skidded through the slime and I went tumbling onto his lap, my legs in an awkward kneeling position, hands bracing his thighs like I was ready to pounce. Our heads nearly knocked as he wiped his face and glared.


“Slime?” He tilted his head like he was curious, which made me pause; he didn’t have a curious bone in his body. I was also mildly impressed he even recognized the noxious stuff, though I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of letting him know.

“I was a scientist in another life,” I offered lamely, trying to control my breathing. Did he have to be so attractive? So annoying? So perfect? Everything about Rip made me both homicidal and pitiful. I didn’t even understand my own feelings at this point; then again, I was basically living a life of no sleep and chaos, so maybe this was normal?

“Purple glitter, though? Really?” he asked.

At least he wasn’t yelling. Not that he ever raised his voice. Sometimes I wished he would, sometimes I wished he’d just react, one time in his life. But most of all, I wished that he would let himself mourn.

He hadn’t cried yet.

The only time he’d come near me—held me—was when I had.

He was still giving me a strange look that I couldn’t decipher, and I was thankful for the distraction from my thoughts. The flour made him look ridiculous but somehow also more approachable.

“What?” I didn’t move.

“Your eyes.” He licked his lips, and flour dust fell between our bodies. “I forgot how pretty they are up close.”

It was as close to a compliment as Rip had ever come to giving me.

I fought hard not to stare down at his plump lips, at the way his tongue had snuck out to wet them.

Something about the intense closeness broke me, made me want to get closer, made me need his comfort more than my next breath. I leaned in, expecting him to back away, or make an excuse or remind me of his vow to never touch me for as long as we both shall live. A vow he’d made after the one and only time we went on a disastrous date. Yeah, he was a real charmer back then, just like now.

And yet I couldn’t help the attraction I’d felt for him all those years ago.

Weeks ago.

Days ago.

He frowned, cradling the sides of my face.

This time felt different.


Last time he’d been horrified by his own attraction to me.

Last time he’d been cruel.

Last time I’d written off any sort of hope we could be together.

This time, our foreheads touched on a rough exhalation.

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