I could kill Nova for doing this. She should have known how susceptible he is to these weird scary things after the whole leprechaun cockroach invasion.

I roll over and text her: Thanks a lot for telling him about the Menehune. He’s terrified and can’t sleep and thinks he needs a Menehune hunter or they’ll eat his toes.

I know that’s going to make her feel really bad, especially after today, but I can’t help it. I guess I’m still mad at her, the way I knew she was shutting me out in the end.

Then again, I said some pretty shitty things to her. Things I didn’t mean. Things I knew would hurt her, all because I’ve been so damn frustrated.

That’s the thing about fighting with her now—it hurts. Before it was all fun and games where we could shoot arrows at each other and it would bounce off our armor. Every day was like going into battle when you never knew what the other person was going to do.

It was fun. A lot of fun. But it was shallow. When you wear armor like that, you don’t let anything in underneath and a lot of the stuff between us was just coasting on the surface, slipping right off.

But now the armor is down. At least it is for me. She might not know it yet, but she’s got me, all of me. And I can only hope that with time I’ll get all of her.

It’s just, after today, I wonder if it’s too late. There’s not a lot of time these days and sometimes I feel like I have a pickaxe, just working away at her, hoping she’ll let me in.

We said some things we shouldn’t have and took two steps back. Maybe even three. I know it scared the hell out of both of us for many different reasons and we were jerks about it. And I really should have kept my temper under control in front of my son. That was a dad fail.

I squeeze Hunter tight and close my eyes, not bothering to see if Nova has responded or not, and try to drift off to sleep, try to train my mind to stop dwelling on all the should haves.

A knock at my door rouses me out of my half-asleep state.

I sit up and look at Hunter, who is rolling over and rubbing his eyes.

“Who is it?” Hunter asks, then his eyes widen. “Is it the Menehune?”

“No,” I say quickly. “You stay here. Maybe Loan went for a late night walk and locked herself out.”

But when I go downstairs and pass by Loan’s bedroom, I can hear her snoring loudly through the closed door.

I’m not normally a paranoid person but I am in a strange state—literally and figuratively—and I don’t know if I’m still shaken up over today or if I’ve angered an obsessed hockey fan or maybe this is the Menehune coming to look for my son, but I end up grabbing a hockey stick off the wall and creep forward to the front door.

The front door is frosted glass and I can see the shadow of weirdest fucking shape outside on the front steps. It’s got like an extra head and extra long arms and, fucking hell, I must be hallucinating. Hunter did say the Menehune were small, right?

I grip the hockey stick and swing open the door.

Nova is standing outside.

In a damn wetsuit.

With her mosquito-fighting headlamp on her head.

A fly swatter in one hand.

And a jar in the other.

“Nova?” I ask her. “I think you’ve gone to the bad place.”

“I’m here for Hunter,” she says, raising her chin.

I shake my head, running my hand over my face. “Wh…what?”

“I’m a Menehune Exterminator, at your service.”

I stare at her, nearly dropping the hockey stick.

She nods at it. “You can put that away. The Menehune can break your hockey stick in half. Is Hunter up? I can do a live removal right now.”

This is blowing my ever-loving mind.

“It’s midnight,” I tell her, stepping outside and getting a better look at her. “Why are you here? In a wetsuit. What’s with the jar…” I lean in close to take a look at it and then jerk back. “There’s a fucking gecko in there!”

“It’s Dwayne Johnson for your information,” she says, walking up to me. “He’ll keep the Menehune away.” She stares expectantly at me and I can see an apology running through her eyes.

“You don’t have to do this,” I tell her. “It’s fine. I shouldn’t have texted you that, it was a dick move.”

She adjusts her headlamp, getting me right in the eyes. “I do need to do this. But I don’t want to disturb him if he happened to fall asleep.”

“What’s going on?” Hunter says from behind me. “Who are you?”

I turn around to see him in the doorway staring at Nova with big eyes.

With her hair pulled back the way it is and the wetsuit, I could see how he might be confused.

“I’m Supernova, your Menehune Exterminator. I heard you have an emergency.”

He nods enthusiastically. “Yeah there’s one under my bed and he wants to eat my toes.”

“That’s no good. May I come in and assess the situation?” she asks.

“Come, come,” Hunter says, running back into the house, “follow me.”

“Nova,” I say to her, grabbing her by the arm before she goes inside. She stares up at me and in her eyes I see a woman who would do anything for my son and therefore a woman who owns my heart. “Thank you,” I whisper.

She smiles shyly and then follows Hunter inside.

He leads her upstairs to his room and, after I lock back up, I go after them, grateful that Loan is still sleeping.

When I get to his room, Nova is on all fours on the carpet and poking her head under the bed. It can’t be an accident that her luscious, wet-suit clad ass is pointed in my direction. She looks like a fucking superhero…but one of the crazy ones.

Hunter, meanwhile, is sitting on his bed staring at the gecko in the jar. The gecko is staring back at him. I have a really bad feeling about this, like they’re about to be best friends.

“Is this really Dwayne Johnson?” Hunter asks, tapping on the glass.

“Yes,” Nova says from under the bed, her voice muffled. For a moment I actually buy that she’s looking for a Hawaiian goblin.

“I thought he was your favorite,” I say, and Nova is so surprised to hear me she bumps her head on the bottom of the bed.

“He is, but he’s best at Menehune guarding. Anyway, they’re very territorial and he’s been fighting with Jeff Geckoblum lately so I figured he was needed here,” she says as she climbs out.

“Did you get him?” Hunter asks her while she adjusts her headlamp.

“No, but that’s because he left,” she says. “He must have heard me coming and got out of here.”

Hunter frowns, as if it’s all too easy. “Are you sure?”

“I am absolutely sure,” she says. “Remember that us Menehune Exterminators have a life-time guarantee. He’s not coming back, not as long as Dwayne Johnson stays here. Providing your father lets him.”

I groan. She threw me right under the bus.

“Can he stay?” Hunter asks. “Please Daddy?”

Ah crap. The please Daddy. He knows I’m a sucker for that, ever since he first called me that word.

I cave in. “Only if he’s outside. He’s not a pet.”

“No, of course he’s not,” Nova says, straightening up. The zipper of her wetsuit has come down just a little over her chest and it takes a lot to keep my eyes focused on her face. “He’s a guardian of the house, a Menehune hunter,” she goes on. “He’ll be outside. But if you do happen to see him inside, it’s only because he’s protecting your son and it’s best to leave him alone.”

I want to be mad at her over this. The fact that I now have her fat gecko, which will probably spend all the time in the house because Loan thinks it’s good luck and Hunter is probably going to capture him and bring him inside all the time.

But I’m already smiling. It’s a tired, reluctant smile but a smile all the same.

I’m in fucking love with this woman.

That’s really all there is to it now.

“All right, fine.”

Nova grins.

Hunter lets out a squeal.

“But it’s really late now and you have to go to bed, Hunter.”

“What about the gecko?”

“How about we go downstairs and let him in the backyard? He protects the whole house best from there.” Nova takes Hunter’s hand and grabs the gecko jar in the other and goes downstairs. I can hear the back door slide open and a few muffled words and then the two of them come back up.

“Better now?” I ask Hunter, arranging his bed for him.

He nods. “Yup. I’m safe now.”

“Okay, well get into bed and go to sleep.”

“Good night Daddy,” he says, as I pull the blankets over him.

“Good night Hunter,” I tell him.

“Good night Menehune Extra-irminator,” he says to her.

She laughs. “Sweet dreams. Just remember, you’re safe now. The gecko is protecting you and your daddy is too.”

I have a feeling he’s fallen asleep before we even leave the room.

I close the door halfway and then grab Nova’s hand, pulling her toward my bedroom.

“I better go,” she says, pulling back.

“No, we need to talk,” I tell her, leading her to the room and closing the door. “We need to talk about today. And you need to take off that damn thing on your head.”

She sighs, sitting on the edge of the bed and bringing the headlamp off and into her lap, switching off the light.

“Kess, I’m sorry,” she says.

“And I’m sorry too,” I tell her. “For a lot of things. I shouldn’t have been so angry, it wasn’t your fault.”

“But you’re right, I am too self-involved. I should have been watching him,” she says quietly, voice soft as air. “I don’t know what happened.”

“I know what happened,” I tell her, sitting next to her, hands clasped in my lap. “Shit got very real, very fast. That was the scariest thing to ever happen to me and I know it couldn’t have been easy for you.”