She smiles over her shoulder at me. “Thanks. What are you doing here? I thought I was meeting you at home.”
“It’s cold outside—I didn’t want you walking.”
Then I pull the bouquet of roses out from behind my back. Her hazel eyes turn liquid and her perfect lips stretch into a wider smile. “What are these for?” She brings the flowers to her nose and inhales.
I kiss her forehead. “They’re just because I can.”
• • •
The lights glow softly through the windows, turning the townhouse into a beacon of warmth and comfort and home. Sherman vies for our attention as soon as we step through the door, his wagging tail and lapping tongue telling us he’s been a good boy and Sofia’s shoes have survived unmolested—at least for today. She pours me a bourbon and a glass of wine for herself, as I take the steaks that have been marinating in my special sauce out of the fridge. We talk about the events of the day, plans for tomorrow, and everything in between as I step out onto the balcony to fire up the charcoal. Because even though it’s winter, even though it’s not Sunday and not Mississippi—Sofia loves my grillin’.
Later, after the dishes are washed and dried, the news plays softly on the television as I step out of the bathroom freshly showered, a towel around my waist. Sofia reclines on the bed, one leg bent, her laptop resting on her stomach, clad only in a lacy pink tank top and matching panties. Her eyes rake over me, devouring every toned muscle—then she closes the laptop with a snap.
And I drop the towel.
I climb on the bed like a predator, my intentions as naked as my ass. She squeaks when I lean over her, cold droplets from my hair dripping on her collarbone.
“You’re wet,” she breathes in a husky whisper.
I lick my bottom lip and skim my hand across her soft skin, down between her legs, where she’s already slick and wanting from watching me.
“So are you.”
I take my time and make slow, easy love to her, that ever-present passion simmering just below the surface. Then, after, it’s rough and loud—she’ll have bruises on her hips tomorrow and I’ll have scratches down my back. We fall asleep above the covers, our heated flesh more than enough to keep us warm.
The day may have been shitty . . . but the night was as fucking perfect as you can get.
• • •
May, Sunshine, Mississippi
Jenny’s truck pulls up the drive of my parents’ place, and as soon as the tires stop, Presley bursts out of the passenger side. “Hey, Daddy! Hey, Sofia!”
She hugs us both long and sweet.
“You look like you’ve grown three inches since I saw you last.” That was over spring break, when she stayed with us in DC.
With her arm over my daughter’s shoulders, Sofia looks down at her and asks, “You want to go horseback riding?”
Presley nods, and I just grin, teasing. “Someone thinks she’s quite the equestrian.”
Sofia twists her middle and pointer finger together and adorably insists, “Blackjack and I are like this. We have a whole mental thing going on—he understands me.”
I’m still laughing as I jog to the truck to help Jenny out. “Hey.” I kiss her cheek and give her a hug. Or, as close to a hug as I can, considering the size of her stomach. “Damn, Jenny, you’re gigantic.”
She frowns. “Why don’t you go to hell and die, Stanton? What kinda thing is that to say to a pregnant woman?”
“A truthful kinda thing. I don’t remember you bein’ so big with Presley. You sure there’s not two in there?”
She rubs her eight-months-pregnant belly. “No, just the one. One’s enough—and I’m gettin’ drugs this time.”
I chuckle. “Not if Nurse Lynn’s there, you’re not.”
Sofia hugs Jenny in greeting. “We would’ve come to your house to pick her up.”
Jenny waves her hand. “Nah, it’s good for me to get out. I’ve been nestin’—the floors are so slippery clean, JD said he’s gonna put up hazard tape.”
We catch up for a few minutes, then Jenny leaves and we head to the stable. Presley walks in front of us, and I hold Sofia’s hand as she walks beside me.
“So . . . you ever think about that?”
I jerk my head in the direction Jenny just left.
“A baby,” I say.
“You and me?”
“Well . . . I’d be pretty pissed if it was you and someone else.”