I rearrange my top, huffing and puffing as I do. ‘How is carrying a case stupid?’
‘Because you’re pregnant!’
Oh, I can’t bear this. ‘You’d better rein it in, Ward.’ I point my finger right in his face. ‘Cornwall!’
He actually starts laughing, which only serves to notch my frustration up by a few more levels. He should be worried, not laughing. ‘How many times are you going to threaten me with fucking Cornwall?’ he asks cockily, like he knows I’ll never see my threat through. I might do. I don’t relish the thought of spending my whole pregnancy with my parents, but anything has got to be better than this.
‘I’ll go now!’ I shout in his face.
‘Come on then. I’ll take you.’ He picks my case up and walks to the door, looking back over his shoulder at me standing startled on the spot. What does me mean, he’ll take me? ‘Are you coming?’ he asks.
He’s pulling my leg. ‘Have you called Patrick?’ I ask, following behind. There’s no way on this earth Jesse will voluntarily take me to my mother’s.
‘Yes.’ he answers short and sharp, ‘You need to be back in work by Tuesday.’ He shuts the door behind me before calling the elevator.
‘I can’t believe you used the countdown as the new code.’ I grumble, but he doesn’t acknowledge me.
We travel down in silence, me looking at him in the reflection of the mirrored doors while he makes a call to John. He doesn’t acknowledge me.
The doors open, and he nods to them as he continues his conversation with the big guy, telling John to get Steve on it before advising him that he’s taking me to my parents. I still don’t believe it. And get Steve on what?
‘Hi, Ava.’ Casey’s cheerful tone quickly has a bright smile replacing my fixed furrowed brow.
‘Mrs Ward!’ Jesse barks, between words with John as we pass the concierge desk.
I ignore him. ‘Morning, Casey. Are you okay?’
‘Very well, thank you. It’s a lovely day.’ He nods outside, and I look to find bright sunshine. ‘Have a nice day, Ava.’
‘Thank you,’ I’m all dreamy as I emerge into the muggy air, instantly noticing my wedding present has miraculously made its way back to Lusso, but my bright white Range Rover is forgotten when I see an Aston Martin.
‘Yeah, thanks big guy.’ Jesse hangs up and walks straight to the boot of the strange car, slipping the case in.
‘What’s this?’ I ask, pointing to the DBS.
He shuts the boot and clasps his stubbled chin thoughtfully. ‘I think it might be a car.’
‘Sarcasm doesn’t suit you, God. I mean, where has it come from?’
‘It came from a garage to replace mine until it’s located.’ He takes my elbow and directs me in.
‘They’ve still not found your car?’
‘No,’ he answers quickly and finally, with no room for pushing on the matter, not that it stops me.
‘What’s Steve doing?’ I ask, and he pulls back, momentarily faltering in his purposeful stride of actions.
‘Nothing,’ He’s lying, and I raise my eyebrows suspiciously, just so he knows that I know. ‘He’s looking into a few things for me.’ he huffs, reaching across to belt me up.
I bat his fussing hands away when he adjusts the lap belt across my tummy. ‘Will you just stop?’ I push him out and shut the door on him, leaving a brooding mass of male on the other side of the window, glaring at me. I’m beginning to wish he was taking me to my mum’s. I don’t know if I can stand it, and I’m not going to even try and convince myself that he can stop. Double babies looks like double mollycoddling. Jesse mollycoddling. And I know damn well what Steve’s looking into, and I also know that Steve being left intact by Jesse is a result of Steve agreeing to look into my drugging, and now the accident, too. I throw my head back against the headrest and turn a little to watch him settle in the driver’s seat, adjusting the settings that will take him further away from the wheel so his long legs are comfortable. ‘Why didn’t we just take my car?’ I ask, nodding across to my shiny snowball.
He freezes mid-adjust and looks at me out the corner of his eye. ‘You can’t drive too far.’
I smile on the inside. ‘No, but you could.’ I should throw a hissy fit and make him drive the damn tank. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was bullet proof as well.
‘Yes, I could, but I have this now.’ He brushes me off and starts the engine, revving it loudly on a satisfied smile. ‘Listen to that.’ he sighs, whacking it into gear and pulling off.
I begrudgingly admire the guttural roar of the DBS as I keep my relaxed head facing him, admiring his stunning profile. ‘Where are you taking me, then?’ I ask, retrieving my phone from my bag.
‘I told you, your mother’s.’
I roll my eyes dramatically. I know he would rather boil his head than see my mum willingly. ‘Okay,’ I sigh, dialling Kate.
Give me your phone.’ His hand comes towards me, his fingers grasping in the space between us. ‘No phone.’
‘I need to call Kate.’
My phone is seized and turned off. ‘I’ve called everyone who needs to know that we’re going away, including Kate. Unravel your knickers, lady.’
I don’t try to reclaim it. I don’t want it.
* * *
‘Ava, baby, wake up.’
I open my eyes and stretch, my hands hitting the ceiling above me. Confused, I look up and see the roof of a car. Then my sleepy eyes fall to the side and come face to face with my lovely control freak. He’s smiling brightly at me. ‘Where are we?’ I rub my eyes.
‘Cornwall,’ he replies quickly.
My waking brain quickly registers that I need a wee. ‘Stop it.’ I snap. I’m a little grizzly, too. ‘I need a wee.’ I shift in my seat and clasp the handle to get out, catching the first glimpse of our surroundings. I recognise it. The low wall circling the small graveyard, the little hut you can walk through to take the winding path down to the beach and the mixture of sand and leaves that gather in the gutter. It’s all familiar. Too familiar.
I swing to face him. ‘You weren’t kidding!’ I double check, but the line of hanging wetsuits in the garden across the road only confirm my fears. ‘You’re dumping me on my mum?’ I sound hurt. I am hurt. Perhaps he can’t cope with his ridiculous over-protectiveness either and has come to the conclusion that my parents looking after me throughout this pregnancy will probably prevent the heart attack that he’s bound to have. It might also save our marriage because I can see quite a few months of controlling on his part and defiance on mine, that is until I’m too fat to retaliate. I’m going to be like a whale. Huge. Enormous. Fat and pregnant and really un-sexy. I could cry.
I feel his hand slide across my neck and grasp my nape, turning my face towards his. ‘Don’t threaten me with Cornwall.’ He’s grinning. And I start crying, like a stupid, hormonal pregnant woman. Through my unreasonable tears, I see his grin vanish and a look of anxiousness replace it. ‘Baby, I’m joking. Anyone would have to slice their way through me to get to you. You know that.’ He pulls me over onto his lap, and I burrow into his neck, sobbing stupidly. I’m being completely unreasonable, I know that. He would never leave me. What’s the matter with me? ‘Ava, look at me.’
I sniffle into him and reluctantly pull my head up so he can see my tear stained mess of a face. ‘I’m going to be so fat. Massive! Twins, Jesse!’ My smugness from the hospital has long gone. All of the thoughts of torturing him with screaming babies and mood swings have just diminished. I’m going to be stretched to within an inch of my life. I’m twenty six. I don’t want saggy bits and stretch marks. I’ll never pull off lace again. ‘You won’t…’ I can’t think it, let alone say it.
‘Desire you.’ He finishes for me. He knows.
I nod my head a little, feeling guilty for being so selfish, but that look in his eyes when he has me in his arms, or anytime he looks at me, in fact, I don’t know what I’d do if I never had it again. I need it. It’s a massive part of our relationship. ‘Yes,’ I’ve got to be honest. It’s a fear, along with all of the others that accompany this pregnancy.
He smiles a little and places his hand on my cheek, his thumb brushing gentle circles. ‘Baby, that will never happen.’
‘You don’t know that. You don’t know how you’ll feel when I’ve got swollen ankles and I’m walking like I’ve got a melon wedged between my thighs.’
He laughs, really hard. ‘Is that how it’ll be?’
‘Let me tell you, lady. I desire you more with every day that passes, and I believe you’ve been carrying my babies for quite a few weeks.’ He gives my tummy a little rub with his spare hand.
‘I’m not fat yet.’ I mutter.
‘You’re not going to be fat, Ava. You’re pregnant, and let me tell you, the thought of you keeping a piece of me and you warm and safe makes me fucking deliriously happy, and…’ He slowly thrusts his hips upwards. He’s solid. ‘It makes me desire you even fucking more. Now, shut up and kiss me, wife.’
I give him a cynical look, and he gives he an expectant one, delivering another thrust upwards. It catches me perfectly, and I practically dive on him. I decide right here in this moment that I’m not going to let it happen. I shall be doing those pelvic floor things until I’m blue in the face. I’ll be running, too, and wearing lace when I’m in labour.
‘Hmmm, there’s my girl,’ he hums when I let him up for air. ‘Shit, Ava, I would love to rip those lace knickers off and fuck you stupid right now, but I don’t want an audience.’
‘I don’t care.’ I assault him again, raiding his mouth with my tongue and pulling at his hair viciously. He just said he’d love to fuck me. I don’t care where we are.
‘Ava,’ He struggles against me on a laugh. ‘Cut it out or I won’t be responsible for my actions.’
‘I won’t hold you responsible.’ I don’t give up. I’m pulling at his t-shirt, grinding myself down on his erection.
‘Fucking hell, woman.’ he groans.
I’ve nearly got him, but then there’s a hard rapping on the window right next to my head, and I pull back on gasp, quickly gathering my near on unquenchable lust. We look at each other for a few seconds, both of us panting, and then slowly turn our heads in unison towards the window.
There’s a policeman. And he doesn’t look very happy. I’m quickly shifted from Jesse’s lap and placed on my seat, where I smooth my hair down and blush a million shades of red. Jesse grins that roguish grin as he watches me sort myself out. ‘That’ll teach you.’ He lets his window down and turns his attention to the copper. ‘Sorry about that. Pregnant. Hormones. Can’t keep her hands off me.’ He’s supressing a laugh, and I gasp, smacking his thigh. He chuckles, grabbing my hand and squeezing. ‘See?’
The policeman actually coughs and blushes himself. ‘Yes… well… urm… public place.’ He signals around in thin air. ‘Move on, please.’
‘We’re visiting.’ Jesse does the window back up, blocking any further stuttering and stammering from the red faced policeman, before turning his mischievous face back to me. This is easy going Jesse. He’s shameless, just like any other time, but adorable and lovable and all roguish. ‘Ready?’
‘I thought you were taking me on a plane?’ I love Newquay, and I can’t wait to see my mum and dad, but Jesse all to myself is what I want right now.