I yelp as my ankle is grasped and I’m suddenly trying to pull a dead weight to escape. ‘Jesse!’ I tug my leg, but it’s completely hopeless. I turn to find him lying on his stomach, now with both palms wrapped around my one ankle. He’s looking up at me with adorable, shimmering eyes, and he’s pouting. ‘Humour me, baby. Please.’ He actually bats his long lashes at me.
I try my hardest to restrain my smile, but when he’s looking at me like this, it’s just impossible. ‘Can you at least turn around?’
‘No,’ He jumps up and whips his towel off, his beauty hitting me like a sledgehammer. ‘Does this make you feel better?’ He holds his arms to the sides, and I can’t stop my appreciative gaze dragging down his solid loveliness.
I sigh happily. ‘No, that just distracts me.’ I muse, continuing to drink him in, all of the way down before casually and slowly back up again—all of him. Every wondrous, magnificent, sickeningly perfect inch of him. I reach his face. His eyes have smoked out, and I know mine have, too. ‘You wield that physique unfairly.’
‘Of course I do. It’s one of my best assets.’ He reaches forward and yanks my towel off. ‘It comes a close second to this one.’ His eyes leisurely skate down my nakedness, and he sighs to himself. ‘Just perfect.’
‘You won’t say that when I’m fat and swollen.’ I grumble, suddenly realising that I will, in fact, get fat and swollen. ‘And if you say there will be more of me to love, then I might divorce you.’ I snatch the towel up and re-wrap myself, ignoring his obvious annoyance.
‘Don’t say the word divorce.’ he threatens, taking my hand and leading me to the toilet. ‘If it makes you feel better, I’ll eat for two, too.’ He’s looking down at me with a smirk.
‘Promise you won’t leave me when I’m unable to reach your cock with my mouth because my belly is in the way.’
He throws his head back on a laugh. ‘I promise, baby.’ I’m turned around and positioned in front of the toilet. ‘Now, let’s pee on some sticks.’
I hitch up my towel and reluctantly lower myself to the toilet, while Jesse crouches in front of me. ‘Do you want to stick your hand in the loo again?’ I grin as I watch his lips twitch at the memory of me sitting on his arm in the hospital. ‘I could mark you officially.’
He’s trying his hardest, but failing miserably. He collapses onto his arse and laughs. It makes me feel so much better. While my hysterical husband rolls around on the floor, I hold the stick between my thighs and release my bladder. ‘Ava, baby, I love you so fucking much.’ He pulls himself up and kneels again, resting his palms on my thighs, and leans up to kiss me hard on the lips… while I’m peeing on a stick.
‘There.’ I pull my hand out and hand him the test, and he takes it, immediately giving me another. ‘What?’ I ask, frowning at the new stick.
‘I told you, sometimes they don’t work. Quick.’ He thrusts it forward.
My head rolls back in complete exasperation, but I take the stupid stick and repeat the same routine, only to finish and have another one shoved at me. ‘Jesse, come on!’
‘One more.’ He removes the lid.
‘For God’s sake.’ I snatch it on a scowl and shove it between my thighs. ‘That’s it!’ I drain the rest of my bladder, making sure it’s completely empty so I physically can’t pee on any more sticks. ‘There.’ I yank some tissue from the roll and sort myself out while he takes all three tests to the unit and places them neatly in a row.
Despite my irritation, I can’t help smiling as I watch him standing there, naked and bent slightly, bracing his hands on his knees and getting his face up close and personal with the tests.
‘Are you okay there?’ I ask, joining him and copying his position in front of the unit. ‘I think they’re broken. We should do some more.’ He makes to shift, but I grab his arm.
‘It’s been thirty seconds.’ I laugh, ‘Here, wash your hands.’ I take his hands and hold them under the tap while he keeps his eyes on the test, not paying a bit of attention to what I’m doing.
‘It’s been longer than that.’ he scoffs. ‘Much longer.’
‘No it hasn’t. Stop being neurotic.’ I resume knee brace in front of the unit, as does he.
Glancing out the corner of my eye, I meet his sideway glance, my lips curving at the corner. He raises defensive eyebrows at me. ‘I’m not neurotic.’
‘Of course you’re not.’ I tease.
‘Are you taking the piss out of me, lady?’
‘Not at all, My Lord.’
The silence falls again, and we both remain motionless, braced and waiting—waiting for the confirmation of what I already know. And then some faint letters start to appear on the first test, and I find myself holding my breath. I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s because I’m mimicking my challenging man, who’s suddenly gone rigid next to me. Time seems to slow slightly as the letters form and we both stare in silence. My heart picks up pace as my eyes drift over to the next test and find the slow development of the same letters. My heart is now trying to break free from my chest and our heads inch to the left a little to watch as the very same letters appear on the third and final test. It’s only now I realise that I’m still holding my breath, and I let it gush from my mouth as I sense Jesse next to me twitching. I turn my face to his, feeling completely overwhelmed with emotion. His head turns, too, until he’s facing me. We’re still bent over the unit, we’re still both bracing our arms of our knees and we’re both completely expressionless.
‘Hi, Daddy.’ I whisper, my voice quivering slightly as I watch him scanning my face.
‘Fuck me,’ he whispers back. ‘I can’t breathe.’ He collapses to the floor on his back and stares up at the ceiling. Why the shocked reaction? He wanted this.
I straighten myself out and roll my shoulder blades a little. I feel all stiff. ‘Are you okay?’ I ask, looking down at him. This wasn’t what I expected, but then his mouth starts twitching and his greens land on me. He jumps up and seizes me in his arms, lifting me clean from my feet on a shocked squeal. ‘What’s the matter with you?’
He paces quickly into the bedroom and places me down way too gently on the bed, yanking my towel away before crawling up above me and settling his body between my thighs and resting his chin on my stomach. He looks up at me with the most incredible amount of contentment in his eyes. They are twinkling madly, his damp hair is all over the place and his frown line and chewed lip are nowhere to be seen. How could I have ever doubted this when he’s looking so relaxed, like I’ve just given him life? Well, I have, I suppose. Or he has given life to me. Either or, my husband is one happy man, and now that I may have gotten my own head around this, I can see clearly—very, very clearly. He has more than enough love to share. This devastating man, this ex-playboy, will be an amazing daddy, if a little over-protective. I’ve not just given him life, a life revived and worthy, by giving him me, I’ve given him new life, too—a part of him and a part of me combined. And seeing him so unbelievably euphoric has chased away every single doubt. I can have a baby with this man.
‘I love you.’ he says quietly. ‘So much.’
I smile. ‘I know.’
He presses his lips to my stomach tenderly, and then strokes it softly. ‘And I love you, too.’ he whispers to my flat belly. He circles his nose around my bellybutton before he works his way up the bed and lays himself all over me. My hair is brushed from my face and he gazes down at me. ‘I’ll try to be better. With you, I mean. I’ll try not to smother you and make you crazy.’
‘I like you smothering me. It’s the unreasonableness that we need to work on.’
‘Give me specifics.’ he prompts.
‘You want to know exactly what drives me crazy?’
‘Yes, tell me. I can’t try to control it if I don’t know exactly what bothers you.’ He drops a chaste kiss on my lips, and I struggle to prevent a laugh. He doesn’t know? We could be here for the rest of the year, but I’ll focus on my main grievance for now.
‘You treated me too gently. When you thought I was pregnant, you stopped being fierce in the bedroom and I didn’t like it. I want my dominant Jesse back.’
He pulls back and his eyebrows shoot up. ‘What the hell have I done to you?’
‘You’re addictive, and lately I’ve been having Jesse withdrawal.’ I’m frank and honest with my answer. I need to get this out because another eight-ish months with gentle Jesse might send me crazy.
His frown line flickers straight across his brow. ‘I’ve taken you hard lately.’
‘Yes, but only when you thought I wasn’t pregnant, and when you thought I was, I had to provoke you into it. I want shock and awe.’
His frown deepens further. ‘Don’t you like sleepy sex?’
I sigh and reach up to grab his cheeks. ‘You won’t hurt it, you know.’
‘It?’ he laughs. ‘Let’s get one thing straight, lady. We will not be calling my baby it.’
‘It’s hardly a baby at the moment.’
‘What is it, then?’
‘Well, it’s probably more like a peanut.’ I watch as his eyes sparkle delightedly and a cheeky grin spreads across that otherworldly face. ‘Oh no, Ward!’ I laugh.
‘What?’ He leans down and rubs his nose up my cheek. ‘It’s perfect.’
‘I am not referring to our baby as peanut! End of!’ I yelp as I’m grabbed on my sensitive hipbone, and I start bucking under him, somewhere between delight and torture—the torture for obvious reasons and the delight because this is normal. This is us. ‘Stop!’ I cry.
And he does. ‘Shit!’ he curses.
‘What are you doing?’ I shout angrily. He looks down at my stomach and then back up at me, his shamed expression telling me he knows exactly what he’s just done. ‘See,’ I hit him with critical eyes. ‘That is what I mean! If you don’t reinstate some of your normal behaviour soon, then I’ll be moving to my mum and dad’s for the rest of this pregnancy.’ I’m not even being dramatic. I absolutely will. ‘I mean it, Ward. All of the fierceness, the rough, the countdowns and fuckings of various degrees, I want them back, and I want them now.’
He’s just looking at his wife like she’s a complete nutcase. I think she is. ‘Calmed down yet?’ he asks seriously.
‘That depends on whether any of this is sinking in to this thick skull of yours.’ I reach for his hair and yank it.
‘Ouch!’ He laughs a little and then sighs, rolling over onto his back and taking me with him. His knees come up to support my back, and he studies me thoughtfully. I let him. I sit and wait for him to piece together what he wants to say until he inhales deeply. ‘Do you remember when I found you at the bar, when I showed you how to dance?’
I smile as I relax against his thighs behind me. ‘That was the night that I realised I’d fallen in love with you.’ I confess.
‘I know because you told me. You were drunk, but you still said it.’
‘Hmm. Must have been the dancing.’
‘I know.’ His shoulders jump up casually. ‘I’m good.’
I shake my head at his impertinence. ‘You’re arrogant.’ I’ve grown to love that about him, too. His confidence is actually a huge turn-on, especially now that he’s just mine. And he has every right to be self-assured.
‘It would seem that I’m a little brighter than my beautiful wife.’ he says, wrapping his palms around my ankles.