My wandering hand float across his face, my fingertip traces the taut flesh of his throat and my palm skims his solid chest. I sigh, all dreamy and content as I spend this quiet time exploring his body and face, almost wishing that he could stay like this for an eternity so I can watch him and feel him undisturbed. But then I’d never hear that voice, I would never see those eyes, and I would never experience his trampling or countdowns.
‘Have you finished feeling me up?’ His rough voice drags me from my daydreaming, my hand pausing on his scar. His eyes remain closed.
‘No, just be still and silent.’ I order quietly, carrying on with my fondling.
‘Anything you say, lady.’
I grin and lean forward, hovering my lips over his. ‘Good boy,’
His closed lids flicker and the corners of his mouth are blatantly restraining a smirk. ‘What if I want to be a bad boy?’ he asks.
‘You’re talking,’ I point out, and one of his eyes opens cheekily. Nothing will prevent me from smiling at that face, no matter how stern and serious I’m attempting to be. ‘Morning.’
He moves too fast. I’m on my back and pinned under his body in a nanosecond, my arms held over my head. I don’t even have time to register his attack or let out a squeal of shock. ‘Someone has sleepy sex on their mind.’ he muses, leaning down to nibble my nose.
‘No, I have Jesse Ward on my mind, which means I also have various degrees of fucking’s on my mind.’
His eyebrows rise slowly, thoughtfully. ‘You’re insatiable, my beautiful girl.’ He kisses me hard. ‘Watch your mouth.’
I quickly return his kiss, but he halts me by pulling away. I scowl. He smiles. It’s that smug smile. I scowl harder, but I’m ignored. ‘I’ve been thinking.’ he declares.
My scowl falls away immediately. Jesse thinking is almost as worrying as him trampling all over the place. ‘What about?’ I ask suspiciously.
‘About how dramatic our married life has been.’
I can’t argue with that ‘Okay,’ I drag the word out slowly, meaning I’m not sure it’s okay at all.
‘Let me take you away,’ He’s begging. His green eyes are pleading with me, and now he’s pouting, too. Is he beginning to realise that this face has just as much impact as a sense fuck? ‘Just us two on our own.’
‘We’ll never be alone ever again.’ I remind him.
He lifts and glances down at my stomach, and I see him smile and shift down to kiss my tummy before returning those puppy dog eyes to mine. ‘Let me love you. Let me have you to myself for a few days.’
‘What about my job?’ My commitment recently has been really questionable.
‘Ava, you were in a car accident yesterday.’
‘I know,’ I concede. ‘But I have appointments and Patrick is…’
‘I’ll sort Patrick.’ He cuts me straight off. ‘He’ll deal with your appointments.’
My eyes narrow. ‘Sort Patrick or trample Patrick?’ I ask. He pulls that hurt face. I’m not buying it.
‘I’ll speak to Patrick.’
He grins. ‘-ish.’
‘No, Ward. No –ish about it. Delicately. End of!’
‘Is that a yes?’ he asks hopefully. I could cuddle him, the adorable pain in the arse that he is.
‘Yes,’ I agree. He needs the break just as much as I do, probably more. Yesterday’s events will not help his worrying. ‘Where are we going?’
He springs into action, jumping up from the bed like an excited child on Christmas morning. ‘Anywhere, I don’t care.’
‘I do! I’m not skiing!’ I sit bolt upright in bed at the very thought of being kitted out in padded ski wear with some giant planks of wood attached to my feet.
‘Don’t be stupid, woman.’ He rolls his eyes and disappears into the wardrobe—or rather, the room we call our wardrobe—appearing moments later with a suitcase. ‘You’re carrying my babies in there.’ He points to my stomach. ‘You’re lucky I’m not chaining you to the bed for the rest of this pregnancy.’
‘You can if you like.’ I hold my wrists against the headboard. ‘I won’t complain.’
‘You’re a temptress, Mrs Ward. Come pack.’ He goes back into the wardrobe, leaving me hanging on the bed. On a grumble loud enough for him to hear, I shuffle to the edge and follow him. He’s pulling down clothes haphazardly and chucking them into a pile by the case.
‘Where are we going?’
‘I don’t know. I’ll make a few calls.’ He’s happily packing his case, but then he looks up at me where I’m leaning on the door frame. ‘Aren’t you going to pack?’
‘Well, I don’t know where I’m going. Hot, cold? Car, plane?’
‘Car.’ he asserts firmly, turning to reach for more t-shirts. ‘You can’t fly.’
‘What do you mean, I can’t fly?’ I blurt to his back.
‘I don’t know. Cabin pressure.’ His naked shoulders shrug. ‘It might squish the babies.’
I laugh because if I don’t, I might bash him around the head instead. ‘Tell me you’re joking.’
He slowly turns to face me. He’s not impressed by my humour. It’s written all over that bloody perfect face. ‘I don’t joke when it comes to you, Ava. You should know that.’
He’s being ridiculous. ‘Cabin pressure won’t squish our babies, Jesse. If you’re taking me away, then you’re taking me on a plane.’ I very nearly stamp my foot to assert my order.
He looks a little shocked by my demand, and he slips into thought, munching his lip, the cogs slowly starting to kick into action. ‘It’s not safe for pregnant women to fly.’ he says quietly. ‘I’ve read about it.’
‘Where have you read about it?’ I ask on a laugh, fearing he’s about to produce some sort of Guide to Pregnancy manual. I stop laughing immediately when he reaches between his suits and produces a Guide to Pregnancy manual.
‘In here.’ He holds it up sheepishly. ‘You should also be taking folic acid.’
I gape at the book being dangled in front of me and watch with a mixture of astonishment and amusement as he starts flicking through the pages. There are pages folded over at the corners, and I think I even see a glimpse of a passage highlighted with a neon pen. He knows what he’s looking for, and I can do nothing more than stand and stare as my beautiful, neurotic control freak finds it.
‘Here, look.’ He shoves the book under my nose and points to the centre of the page, where a section has been highlighted in neon pink. ‘The Department of Health recommends that women should take a daily supplement of four hundred micrograms of folic acid while they are trying to conceive, and should continue taking this dose for the first twelve weeks of pregnancy when the baby’s spine is developing.’ He frowns. ‘But we have two babies, so maybe you should take eight hundred micrograms.’
My heart swells to bursting point. ‘I love you.’ I say on a smile.
‘I know.’ He flicks some more pages. ‘The flying bit is here somewhere. Just…’
I smack the book from his hands and we both follow its fall to the floor, where it bumps around before settling. He looks up at me with narrowed eyes, his lips pressing into a straight line. It just makes me smirk, which makes him scowl harder. I kick the book. He gasps.
‘Pick the book up.’ he snarls.
‘Stupid book.’ I kick it again. I’m still grinning.
‘Pick the book up, Ava.’
‘No.’ I snap back petulantly. I know exactly what I’m doing here. My eyes are delighting at the fierceness seeping from his refined physique.
He raises those eyebrows. He’s thinking really hard about this. He knows my game. Then three fingers appear in front of my face. ‘Three.’ he whispers.
My grin widens as I bat his hand away. ‘Two,’ I counter.
He’s trying his hardest to conceal his own grin. ‘One,’
‘Zero, baby.’ I finish for him and squeal in delight as I’m hoofed up over his shoulder, with conviction but care, and carted into the bedroom. I’m laughing hard as I’m dropped to the bed, with way too much precision, before he blankets me and brushes my hair from my face.
‘Lady, when will you learn?’ he asks, cupping the back of my head and raising it a to meet his nose.
‘Never,’ I admit.
He smiles that smile, reserved only for me. ‘I hope you don’t. Kiss me.’
‘What if I don’t?’ I ask. I so will. And he knows it.
Reaching down, he rests the tip of his finger on the hollow void above my hipbone. I hold my breath. ‘We both know you’re going to kiss me, Ava.’ His lips tickle mine. ‘Let’s not waste valuable time when I could be losing myself in you. Kiss me now.’
My tongue slides from my mouth, meeting with his bottom lip, and I perform my own little tease, lightly skimming until he submits and lets his own tongue make an appearance. We meet in the middle and circle sweetly until he moans and attacks my mouth with brute force. I mentally chalk a tally for me. I’m as impossible for him to resist as he is for me.
‘Hmmm.’ I sigh, matching the purposeful lashes of his tongue. This is what we need. We need a few days with each other, loving each other and getting used to our imminent future together. A future that now has two babies in it. I need Jesse to myself for a while, with no distractions, except him, and with no issues, just us.
‘It didn’t really say I can’t fly, did it?’ I ask, stupidly or not. I know it couldn’t have, because I’ve seen pregnant women on planes before. This is just another one of Jesse’s stupid pregnancy rules.
My lip is bitten and sucked. ‘It’s logical.’ he says.
‘No, it’s neurotic.’ I argue. ‘Pregnant women fly all of the time, so you are taking me on a plane to somewhere hot and you’re going to let my feast on you the whole time. Constant contact. I want constant contact.’ I know this will please him and when he lifts his head, sucking my lip as he does, the wonderful smile on his face confirms it.
‘I can’t fucking wait.’ He kisses my nose and gets up. ‘Come on, then. We’re wasting valuable feasting time.’ He winks, turns, and leaves me wallowing among the white sheets. This really is Central Jesse Cloud Nine.
* * *
I pull my case down the stairs and it bumps as it goes.
‘Hey!’ The shout makes me jump and falter mid-step, causing me to clutch the handrail to steady myself. A loud gasp rings through the air, followed by thundering footsteps up the stairs. I’m grabbed and held still. ‘What the fuck are you doing, woman?’
My fright turns to anger. ‘For fuck sake, Jesse. Fucking hell! That was your fucking fault!’ I immediately realise my slip-up, the growl coming from Jesse confirming that I have, most definitely, just swore like a sailor. Three times… all in one rant. I brace myself for it, closing one eye on a wince.
‘Will you watch your fucking MOUTH!’ He takes my case. ‘Wait there!’ he barks, and I do, but mostly because I’ve been shocked into stillness and silence by that infuriated yell. He practically throws my case down when he reaches the bottom, muttering and cursing under his breath before coming back up the stairs and picking me up. ‘You’ll break your fucking neck, you stupid woman.’
‘I was carrying a case! It was you who made me jump.’ I don’t wriggle or try to break free.
‘You shouldn’t be carrying anything, except my babies.’
‘That’s what I fucking said!’ He puts me on my feet. ‘No doing stupid shit, lady.’