Posts in Flash Fiction
Valentine's Rewind: The Storm Inside meets Tease

Valetine's Rewind Banner Hello everybody! Welcome to this stop on the Valentine's Rewind Blog Hop! I'm Alexis, your host for this stop. I write steamy, emotional, knock-your-socks off erotic romances and today I'm bringing back TWO couples for one very important reason. My two series were born out of the same (unpublished) book. Part of that story went into creating Jake and Eve from The Storm Inside. The rest of that book is Adam and Elizabeth's story in Tease. Today I'm uniting the families (this feels very gangster mob...should I have a gun for this??) and explaining how they are (still) connected. This might also be a lead-in to a new book.

Maybe.

I hope you enjoy it!

Valentine Rewind

REVIVAL

Goodwood (Adam & Elizabeth...with a little Theo & Allison)

I was one of those people.

You know the ones, they say money can’t buy happiness. I walked around honestly believing that money and happiness were, at their core, unrelated.

But the truth? The truth was money could buy a whole lotta happiness. Case in point: money had purchased Elizabeth a slot at the Goodwood Revival in West Sussex. And the look on her face as she gunned Theo’s Mercedes 300SL down the winding track was nothing short of pure joy.

“I had no idea she was so proficient behind the wheel,” Theo murmured, his hand tucked inside Allison’s as they stood beside me watching Elizabeth’s run.

I chuckled as Allison threw me a shrug. She and I both knew all too well that Elizabeth was a pretty amazing driver. Allison’s face mirrored mine. We wore giant smiles as we watched. Theo on the other hand? He had some pretty wide eyes and a slack jaw.

“She could’ve been a driver if she’d wanted to. Lucky for her, she’s got me.” In the last year I’d managed to get her track time in my AMG, and a run in one of my team’s cars. Working for a Formula 1 racing team had come with far more perks than I’d originally dreamed. I occasionally kicked myself for waiting so long, but then again, if I had taken the job in Brackley working as a design engineer for Mercedes AMG, I might not have met Elizabeth. At least not when we did.

“Lucky indeed,” Allison murmured, giving me a much longer look than she had before. This one, if I wasn’t mistaken, was meant to be a statement on the current state of my relationship with her best friend.

We lived together and there was no one else on the planet for me…but Elizabeth wasn’t the kind of girl who wanted a ring, to change her name, or have a big wedding. She liked things the way they were. And because of how far she’d already come, I wasn’t going to be the one to push the idea of making our relationship more permanent. Most mornings I woke up thanking my lucky stars the drop-dead gorgeous woman who could drive a stick and command a classroom full of brilliant college students was still in bed beside me. I was a lucky fucking bastard and I knew it.

Asking her to marry me would push her over the edge. I wanted to love her, not hurt her. But Allison didn’t agree. Of course, she was also the one who’d been pushing Elizabeth since they became college roommates. She was a lot more comfortable with the boundaries Elizabeth could handle.

The crowd erupted in cheers as the cars on the track crossed the finish line. I watched with a ridiculous amount of pride coursing through my veins as Elizabeth navigated the car into the line headed off the track, wondering if Allison was right. Maybe it was time to test the waters.

“Could you grab us another round, and we’ll meet you down there?” Theo murmured in Allison’s ear.

She nodded and smiled. “See you there. It’s time to celebrate.”

We strolled across the grounds, making our way between exceptionally well-dressed groups. The fun thing about Revival was that it was a period festival. You didn’t have to dress up, but most did. Theo was in one of his throwback three-piece gangster suits. Allison was dressed to match in one of her champagne-colored gowns, and I was in one of my standard suits. After Elizabeth had the car squared away she’d be slipping back into her bright red dress as well.

Between the clothes and antique racecars, the music, and the food, I felt like I’d stepped back in time. Maybe it was time to act like we were in someone else’s life.

Theo cleared his throat. “Thank you for arranging all this, Adam. It’s more than perfect.”

I reached into my jacket pocket and pulled out the red velvet box. “It’s been my pleasure. I don’t think you could have picked a more appropriate time or place for this.”

He grunted and came the closest Theo ever came to smiling when Allison wasn’t around. “If her parents have their way, we’ll be here in this exact same spot one year from now for the wedding. Her mother is losing her mind. The minute she saw the pictures of Revival she started seeing the perfect wedding in her head.” He shrugged. “It gives her a year to plan the wedding to end all weddings, and I think Allison will be okay with it since she’ll get to have a period wedding.”

He tucked the box into his pants pocket and straightened his suit. I had to give it to the man, he had a style all his own and he made it work.

“How did you know?” I asked.

He cocked an eyebrow. “Please, please tell me you aren’t pulling this shit. You’re supposed to be my mature friend.”

I just barely managed to hold in a snort. “Ummm…what?”

“My mature friend.” He waved his hand through the air as we wedged between a particularly enthusiastic group dressed in WWII uniforms. “Higgins is clearly the guy who gets me in trouble, and James is my girly guy. You, my friend, are supposed to keep my ass out of trouble while being wise and practical about women. James has the over emotional crap all under control. Please tell me you aren’t switching sides on me. I don’t think I can handle being married without a mature friend.”

“Okay…” I drawled as I tried to figure out what Theo was talking about. “You’re saying I’m the guy you call when Allison’s been standing in the closet for an hour saying she has nothing to wear even though she has an entire closet full of clothes?” Girls were often very confusing.

“Yes!” he exclaimed. “Exactly. I love that woman with everything I have, but sometimes I don’t get her at all. I need someone to call and say ‘what the ever living fuck’ to so I don’t say it to her. Higgins will never get that. James will just call Allison and tell her what I said.”

“So it’s up to me.” I clapped him on the shoulder. “Don’t worry my friend. I wasn’t asking you anything mushy. I promise.”

He sighed and pulled to a stop. “Good. What are you asking me?”

I tried very hard to put myself in Elizabeth’s shoes. Her level of distrust was earned a hundred times over. I wished that I could wave a magic wand and make her problems disappear, but I couldn’t. And sometimes, I had no idea what kind of fire I was playing with.

“By all accounts, you’re the last man who should be jumping into marriage with that cheesy fucking grin you’ve got on your face, but you have it, and you seem really happy about the choice you’ve made in asking her today.” I shrugged and shifted uncomfortably on my feet. “How do you know when you can move forward without the past pulling you back?”

His face fell and then his jaw ticked as anger took over. “Fuck everyone who ever hurt the women we love. Fuck every one of them.” He shoved his hands in his pockets. “I got a clean break. That past was always coming for me. It was like quicksand. No matter what I did, I couldn’t escape it. Then I got a gift. I was able to surgically sculpt the past right out of my life. Everything pulling me back…it’s gone. I was left with a choice. Do I wallow in the doubts, or do I cut ties and fucking run?” He shook his head. “The choice was pretty clear. I’d take a life of ups and downs with that woman,” he cocked his head toward Allison as she came toward us with a bottle of champagne in her hands, “over anything else. Period.”

“What on earth are you two talking about? Elizabeth is waiting!” Allison huffed as she shot right past us and over to the car, oblivious to the fact she was about to be engaged.

Elizabeth was grinning from ear to ear as she threw her arms around Allison. Her cheeks were red and her eyes were bright. She was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.

“Thank you!” she squealed as she launched herself into my arms. She smelled like petrol and exhaust. Not to mention, the fire retardant suit she was wearing was itchy as hell.

And I didn’t care about anything other than the look in her eyes.

I brushed her sweaty hair back from her face. “You’re happy?”

“So fucking happy!” she breathed, and then kissed me.

Like, kissed me. It was deep and it was dirty. “I always forget how horny you get after driving fast…” I murmured against her lips.

“So horny,” she shook her head, her breathing growing deeper.

“Champagne, then shower sex?”

She shivered as she jumped out of my arms and yanked the zipper down on her suit. “You sir, have a date.”

Fifteen minutes later we were all a little tipsy. I was relieved when Theo whisked Allison away to complete his plan. It left me alone in a fast car with a fast woman that I happened to be madly in love with.

“What are you thinking so hard about over there, lover?” she drawled, feet up on the dashboard, hair spilling everywhere. We had the seats pushed back and down as far as they’d go—which wasn’t far. Not that being squeezed into a small space was a bad thing.

I ran my hand up her leg (the fire suit was now long gone and she was in leggings and a t-shirt) and to the spot I knew would make her sigh.

And sigh she did.

“Oh, Adam…you better get me up to our room. Now.”

“In a minute. Let me warm you up first.”

She groaned and closed her eyes, sinking into the discrete pleasure I was giving her. Everyone outside the car was so busy they weren’t paying any attention to us…or where my hands were wandering.

She lit up for me, her chest rising and falling, her cheeks flushing as I applied pressure in the ways she liked it best. We’d been like this from the moment we met. We sparked. We fed off each other. She made me a better man, and I stood by her side while she put the past behind her. We were good for each other. We were a team. And we were damn good together—in every way possible.

But could she see that through the fog of everything else?

“What are you thinking?” she whispered.

I was so deep in thought I hadn’t realized she was watching me. “About you.”

“What are you thinking about me?”

“That I want to spend the rest of my life with you. That I want everyone to know we belong to each other. That no matter what happens, or where it happens, no one can keep up us from each other.”

She studied me for several long beats, her eyes practically digging inside me. “So what’s stopping you?”

I swallowed. The emotions swirling around the tiny car were far bigger than anything I’d ever dealt with before. “I don’t want to scare you. The last thing I ever want to do is hurt you.”

To my complete surprise, she grinned, then twisted around so that she was leaning toward me, our lips almost touching. Her eyes drifted from my mouth up to my eyes. “I double dog dare you to ask me the question you’re thinking right now.”

Her breathing was ragged. She was turned on, excited, and she was absolutely terrified.

I looked up and waited until it felt like we were wrapped up by some invisible cloak, connected from the current buzzing across my scalp, all the way down my spine, and into my toes. “Will you be my wife?”

She stopped breathing and so did I, and then her head started bobbing up and down, eyes still locked on mine. “Yes,” she finally breathed.

“Yes?” I growled as some sort of alpha-instinct kicked in. I took her face in my hands and pulled her closer.

“Yes,” she repeated, her voice several octaves deeper than it had been a moment before.

“Well isn’t this an interesting development,” I said a split second before I kissed her. She melded into me and it took everything I had not to brand her right there in the driver seat of Theo’s car with all of the revival watching.

Instead I cradled her against me and dropped my hand back down to finish what I’d started.

“Are you absolutely sure you’re ready for something this big and permanent?” I wanted to be absolutely positive this was what she wanted.

She shuddered in my arms, her nails digging into my shoulder. “Yes!” she cried out, a little louder than was prudent, not that we ever cared what anyone thought. “I moved here to cut all those ties. They’re gone, Adam.” Her panting grew deeper, more erratic. She was close and I was about to lose my damn mind.

“I love you, Elizabeth.”

Her eyes flew open, locking with mine as she pulsed against my hand. “I love you too, Adam. I want to marry you. I need to make sure those eyes and lips and hands are legally mine to have and to hold and all that shit.”

She grinned as her post-orgasmic high blissed her out.

“Oh, I’m yours babe. I have been since you grinned at me over your book at Seychelle’s. How about we take this to the shower and explore all the ways you can use and abuse me for the rest of our lives?”

*****

“Someone’s at the door!” Elizabeth yelled from the bathroom. We were…well we were significantly cleaner than we’d been an hour and a half ago. She was drying her hair and getting dressed for dinner while I watched football highlights.

The last person I was expecting to see staring at me through the hotel door peephole was my grandfather.

I ripped the door open. “Senator?”

He grinned and threw his arms open. “Adam! It’s good to see you.” Secret Service, or bodyguards, or whoever the heck traveled with him overseas, stood to either side with more down at the ends of the hallway.

“What are you doing here?” I asked as I hugged him and invited him inside.

“Same as you. I’m a special guest at Revival this year. I saw your lovely girlfriend listed as a driver today and tracked you down.”

“She’s just getting dressed for dinner,” I stammered as I took in the sight of my grandfather, one of the longest serving and famous United States Senators, sitting in my suite. What in the hell was going on? “Can I get you a drink?”

“A scotch would be lovely, if you have something decent.”

I held up the bottle we’d brought with us and poured him two fingers. He immediately downed half of it. That’s when I knew something was wrong.

“Senator McKinley!” Elizabeth gasped as she stepped out of the bathroom dressed in a sexy vintage red cocktail dress and stilettos. Her lips were red, her eyes were dark, and I was suddenly struck by the realization that I couldn’t wait to escape tomorrow to find a ring to put on her finger.

My grandfather shot to his feet and kissed my fiancée on both cheeks. “You look lovely, Elizabeth. And you drive like a bat out of hell.”

“Thank you,” she blushed, throwing me a curious look over his shoulder. “Sit, let’s talk.”

He cleared his throat and my nerves spiked. Were my parents hurt? Was there a terrorist threat? He was the head of the intelligence committee…

“I’m glad I caught you. I was going to set a meeting with you for next week.” He shot the rest of his scotch and set the glass down. “I’m running for president. The announcement is set for the first.”

My jaw dropped. Sure, we all knew the Senator would run one day. It was an inevitability. But now? And with this look on his face? There was more.

“Congratulations. We’ll help in any way we can.” Well, as long as Elizabeth could handle the spotlight. The Senator would understand if we limited our involvement…unless this was about her family.

“I appreciate that. I do need your help on one matter. We’ve been doing the necessary background checks. Digging in places we’ve already dug, but you know how it is when you take things to this level.”

I nodded. I hated it, but I understood.

“We’ve hit one small, new bump in the road. Your aunt. Lydia. Her husband’s finally died and our investigators have discovered she has a son. He’s just a couple of years older than you.”

I instinctively reached for Elizabeth’s hand. She squeezed it. “Aunt Lydia?” she asked.

I nodded. “My mom’s oldest sister. She married this…drunk,” I shrugged as I tried to find the appropriate words to explain the family black sheep. “The family was opposed to the marriage. She was being rebellious and stupid. The man was abusive and went through money faster than he could earn it. Lydia thought he was the answer to her high-profile family nightmares.”

“Your family cut her off?” she guessed.

The Senator stared at his feet, listening but not joining the conversation. This had to be killing him. Letting Lydia go was the regret that always haunted him.

I sighed. “Yeah. The minute she married him, they cut off all ties and told her she was on her own—which was exactly what she wanted. To be free of the family.”

“I’ve kept up with her over the years,” the Senator murmured. The pain…it was so raw and evident in his voice. I couldn’t imagine what it was like to have a child hate me. “Nothing formal or too specific. Just making sure she was alive. We knew she had a son, but we lost track of him for several years. We weren’t sure we’d want to reestablish contact after Jake died, but my investigators have informed me that the son is a good man with a nice family. And that he has no idea about us.”

That wasn’t surprising. From what my mother had told me, Lydia would have done anything and everything to stay as far away from the McKinleys as possible.

“You want me to make contact.” I guessed. There was no way I could ever say no to the haunted look in my grandfather’s eyes.

“You’re close in age and profession, actually. He’s an engineer as well. He’s got a wife and a couple of kids, so I thought,” he glanced at Elizabeth, “perhaps the news would come easier from the two of you.”

“Before the media digs up the connection and surprises them on their doorstep.” And turns a perfectly happy family’s life upside down.

“We’ll go straight from here,” I said.

Elizabeth nodded. “Of course. I’ll make it work.”

If anyone understood what these people were in for, it was her. I needed her help desperately.

“Where are we headed?” I was already fifteen steps into a plan.

“Tampa,” my grandfather said. “The weather should be nice this time of year.”

Valentine's Rewind

Tampa

(Jake & Eve)

“Yes, yes, yessssss!” Eve moaned above me as she came. “You are a freaking genius!” She collapsed on my chest, panting. “Happy house birthday…” she sighed as she quickly moved from exhilarated to sex-drunk, slurring her words.

I chuckled and wrapped my arms around her, looking out at the thunderstorm. The kids were on a play date with Natalie and I’d brought home this ridiculously expensive chaise lounger for our upstairs screened-in porch to celebrate a full year of living in our new house.

Just as the daily afternoon thunderstorm rolled in.

Life is all about timing.

“I take it you like it,” I said as I dropped a couple of kisses on the top of her head.

She nodded. “Does life get any better? I think not.”

She had a very good point. I’d just had amazing sex in the middle of a thunderstorm, on my porch, with the most beautiful woman in the world. Not to mention our two daughters were happy, healthy, and entertained while we indulged in a little marital bliss. Life did not get any better.

We really should have known better than to say that out loud. My phone started ringing from the bedroom. I ignored it.

Eve burrowed in closer and started to drift off. My phone rang again, which was weird, but I ignored it again. Natalie, Lily, and Marie all had a special ringtone. If there was a problem with the kids, I’d know. Whoever was calling me, it was not about the kids.

“I love Sam and Max, I do. But this is nice…” she sighed again.

Peace and quiet was a luxury once you became a parent. But peace and quiet, alone with your spouse? Might as well sell it on the black market. It’s that valuable and rare.

“We need to take advantage of our babysitters more often. We get caught up and forget to schedule down time,” I agreed. That was probably my fault. It was baseball season. Eve barely had enough time to eat, sleep, and spend time with the kids. I needed to pick up the slack and plan the alone time…like I did today.

Obviously planning had its benefits.

“Your phone’s ringing again, Jake. I think you better see who has a stick up their ass before I remove it for them.”

I chuckled as I rolled Eve to the side, offering her my t-shirt as I slipped away. “Here, babe. I’ll be right back.”

“Bring water!”

By the time I ducked inside, my phone was already ringing again. I was annoyed until I saw who it was.

“What?” I barked. Charlie, my private investigator, only called like this when there was an emergency.

“We have a problem.”

My heart took off. “The kids?”

“No,” he quickly reassured me. “Your family is safe. We have more obtuse problems to deal with. Something I didn’t see coming.” His voice was laced with disappointment. Charlie was the best and he took his job very seriously. Missing a piece of the puzzle was the kind of thing Charlie took personally.

“What is it?”

He took a breath and let it out. “I’ve been contacted by a representative of Senator McKinley. You know the guy?”

I knew of him… “What did he want?”

“That’s the thing,” Charlie said. “He says the senator is your grandfather and the family wishes to make contact. They have a representative landing at TIA now.”

I knew I’d heard every word he said, and yet not one made a lick of sense. “I’m sorry…what did you just say?”

“You said your mother’s family disowned her when she married your father, right?”

“Yeah.” I sank down onto the bed. It really wasn’t safe for me to stand any longer.

“Well, her family is the McKinley. The McKinleys. The political dynasty. They disowned her and have had zero contact until they reached out to me.”

I always knew my mother had taken a twisted joy in punishing her parents by marrying my father. I’d assumed it was your typical overbearing parents not wanting their daughter to marry the abusive alcoholic. A few times I’d imagined she was from a rich family. And yeah, on one of those occasions I’d let myself pretend I was descended from royalty, but I’d never imagined I was right. The McKinleys were American royalty. And apparently…my family?

“Is this a joke?”

Charlie laughed. “Nope. I’ve got the documents they sent me and they line up with the holes I’ve never been able to fill in your family history. I’m assuming this representative they’re sending will have more information. Do you want me to be there?”

I nodded, then realized Charlie couldn’t see me. “Yeah. If you can.”

“I’ll be there. You might want to have someone watch the kids.”

“I’ll take care of it. When will they be here?”

“Four o’clock. I’ll see you then.”

He clicked off and I let the phone dangle from my fingers.

“What’s wrong?” Eve asked, standing naked in our doorway.

“It’s just family shit. Charlie is bringing someone over to talk to me. Can you call Natalie and ask her to keep the kids?” The sooner I found out what the hell this all really was, the sooner I could get it out of my life.

In a blink she was kneeling in front of me. “Tell them to take a hike. We're busy.” She squeezed my hand.

“Not this time, babe,” I whispered. “We can’t ignore this one.” There was only one reason Senator McKinley—if he was my grandfather—would be making contact now. He had to be running for president. If I ignored this we’d wind up with a sea of reporters on our lawn. It would disrupt our lives so much more than a single meeting with a representative. “It’s one meeting to clear up some confusion. By dinner we’ll be free and clear and back to normal. Promise.”

Eve ran her hand down the side of my face, across my shoulder, and over my bicep. Then she squeezed my arm and rested her head on my knee. The anxiety I was feeling evaporated. It was like that one movement erased it from existence.

I returned the gesture and brushed back her hair. “I love you, Eve Spencer. That’s the only thing that matters in this fucked up world. Loving you and Sam and Max. You don’t have to worry about what this meeting is going to do to my head. I’ve got too much to at stake to let the past pull me back.”

That was the thing about love…it was never about happily ever afters. It was about the fight. True love was in the battle. Standing side by side with your partner, defending each other and celebrating life’s victories. Love was messy and it was beautiful.

Her worry lines disappeared, then she smiled. The sweet, slow, seductive kind. “Damn, you’re sexy when you pull the defensive father card,” she growled.

She’d said that on more than one occasion since the girls entered our lives. Something about men in love with their daughters being the ‘hottest thing ever.’ I was absolutely fine with that.

“I have my problems, we know that. But I will never allow anything to hurt my girls. All three of you. You’re my world.”

“And you’re ours.” She sat up and ran her hands up my thighs. “How long until this meeting?” Her right eyebrow arched up.

I glanced at the clock on my phone. “An hour.” I really liked where this seemed to be heading.

“Then how about I give Natalie a call while you start the shower. I think we need one more round of stress relieving exercise before we face the firing squad.”

“I love the way you think Mrs. Spencer.”

“I love the way you love me, Mr. Spencer.”

As she sashayed around the bedroom, stark naked and mine, I was struck by one very overwhelming thing: I was the luckiest man who ever lived. Despite all the hell I’d survived to get where I was, I’d do it all over again. Going head first into the storm allowed me to come out on the other side stronger than ever. Loving my girls with all my heart and soul was the only way to love them, and I couldn’t do that if I hadn’t dealt with my past. I’d weather a hundred storms for the chance to live this life.

And nothing from my past would take it away from me.

♥♥♥

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed reading REVIVAL, a look at how Tease and The Storm Inside connect! The next stop on the hop is Rebecca Grace Allen. Be sure to comment on each story to be eligible for the massive giveaway at the end. Thanks for joining us for #ValentinesRewind! ♥

Under the Bright Morning Light (a Storm Inside short story)

12 Days Revision When Julia Kelly approached me about a Holiday Blog Hop my first thought was that Jake and Eve needed an appearance. It's been almost a year since I published Reflected in the Rain (the sequel to The Storm Inside) and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to see what they're up to. Of course we'll be seeing quite a bit of them in When Lightning Strikes, and they have a specific B-story in the book that leads up the moment you are about to read about. This moment will also lead us into the their next book, Book 4 in the series. I don't have a title yet, but I know exactly what happens in the book. I can't wait to write it, but first, let's see what's going on in the world of Jake and Eve:

Under the Bright Morning Light

I was too scared to get out of bed.

For one, it was freaking cold out and the wood floor in our bedroom was going to feel like ice on my toes.

And for two…I wasn’t ready to find out.

I could put it off a few more days, heck I could probably put it off a couple of weeks.

I mean, technically I knew.

There was just a feeling that had come over me in the last forty-eight hours. It was probably hormones. So yeah, technically I knew what the stick was going to say once I peed on it, but that didn’t mean I was ready to see it.

Jake was snoring lightly beside me. Light filtered in through the blinds casting a yellow slanted glow on everything in our bedroom. The poor guy was exhausted. Between work and advising meetings for the new position he was taking at the University, this week had just about wiped him out.

Which was fine with me because that meant he was distracted. Normally Jake was pretty aware of my cycle…he was just that kind of guy.

But that also meant that for the last six months he’d checked the app on his phone, watching the days count down, hoping we’d get a positive pregnancy test instead of a period. So far, we’d only been disappointed.

Well, Jake was disappointed. I was scared shitless. Sure, I’d agreed to the whole “let’s start a family” idea, but that didn’t mean it didn’t terrify me. Kids changed everything and I loved what I had with Jake. We’d both waited so long to have this. Call me a terribly selfish brat if you want (I do every day) but I didn’t want to lose it. I didn’t want to lose Jake. And a huge part of me was convinced a baby might change everything in our lives for the worse.

So here I was, lying in bed on the day I knew I should be getting my period—absolutely convinced I was pregnant because of the weird vibe I’d been feeling—and I was too scared to get out of bed and find out the truth. The smart thing to do would be to wake Jake up and tell him what was going on.

But I wasn’t feeling terribly smart at the moment. Instead I was feeling a little crazy and glad that I was getting a chance to absorb this alone.

And if I really and truly wanted that chance, I needed to get my chicken-shit ass out of bed.

I took a deep breath and gently rolled out. The floor was freezing as I scurried across it and into my giant bathroom. I stole one last look at Jake before I closed the door. He was still snoring with his bare back to me.

He was so lucky that a baby wasn’t going to make his body look completely different. No actually, knowing him, he’d somehow wind up sexier and in better shape in nine months, the bastard.

My bastard.

My heart skipped a beat and I remembered exactly why we were doing this crazy thing. Why I wanted to do this crazy thing. My sexy, cocky, sweet husband desperately wanted to be a father—and that was more important than my selfish fears which, let’s be honest, were a little dramatic.

I opened the cabinet under the sink and pulled out a plastic box I’d hidden in the back, out of my daily line of sight. Inside were a variety of pregnancy tests (when you’re trying for six months, it makes sense to buy a few different brands). I dug around until I found the one I wanted: the one that was the most sensitive.

It was first thing in the morning so this was the best time to take the test. I ripped open the package with a deep, deep breath, angled the clock we kept on the counter, bit my lip, and dropped my sweatpants.

Peeing on a stick is exactly as weird and uncomfortable as it sounds, by the way.

I was just pulling the thing out from between my legs, putting the little plastic cap on the end, when the bathroom door opened. “What’s it say?”

“How do you know what I’m doing?” I asked as he closed the door.

He turned around and flashed me his sexy, cocky dimple. “Darlin’…”

“Okay, fine. I should have known you’d know.” I stood up and flushed before putting the toilet seat down and sitting on it. I was an idiot to think Jake wasn’t paying attention. He was probably the most attentive guy I’d ever met.

At least when it came to me. “Sorry if I woke you up.”

He chuckled. “I always know when you get out of bed. It gets cold and I get so damn lonely I can’t sleep anymore. I rolled over and sure enough, you were gone. I knew what today was so I put two and two together.” He dropped to his knees in front of me and took my hands in his. “Are you more scared that it will say yes, or no?”

It always surprised me how well he knew me. By this point I shouldn’t still be this surprised, but I was. I guess ten years apart didn’t mean starting over, it just meant starting fresh. “I’m scared it will say yes.”

He squeezed his eyes shut for a moment, pulling my hands up and around his warm face. He held them there with his large hands over mine. “Why?”

He was so handsome with a little scruff on his face, his hair all crazy from sleep and no shirt to cover his gorgeous chest. But it was his green eyes that always did me in. I could see everything he thought and felt—and right now I saw concern, a little fear, and a lot of hope. I wanted to give him the world.

“I…” my voice fell away as the words got lost in my throat. I didn’t want to confess to the man I loved that I was scared he wouldn’t love me like this forever.

He pressed his cheek into my hand and closed his eyes like he was savoring the feel of my hand on his skin. “Darlin’? As much as you think I can, I actually can’t read your mind.”

I laughed a little at his joke. “What if things get hard again?”

His eyes flew open and locked onto mine. For once I wasn’t sure what I saw in his eyes.

“Things will get hard again, Eve. Life isn’t easy and sure as fuck isn’t fair. I can absolutely guarantee things will get hard again. But you can bet your sweet ass that I will never stop loving you.”

Well, fuck. “I can’t lose you again. Not ever.”

He took a deep breath and kissed the inside of my palm, then sat up on his knees so that we were eye to eye. He grabbed my face in his hands and shook his head. “Eve, you will never lose me again. You can get horrifically fat with my baby and I will love you even more than I do now. You can go bald, lose a foot to gangrene, or become as harry as a Sasquatch. It won’t change how much I love you. No matter what comes our way, I’m going through it with you. I will never leave you again and I will never pull away from you again. You are stuck with me, whether you like it or not.”

A few tears tumbled out of my eyes as I squeezed them shut. “What if we can’t have kids? What if this is another no?” I was so sure it was a yes, but there were no guarantees.

He leaned his forehead into mine and held me there for several seconds before he whispered, “You are my family, forever. Kids or no kids.”

A little weight suddenly lifted off my shoulders. I hadn’t even realized I was worried about not being able to get pregnant. Sure I was scared to death of what having a kid could do to us, but I was more scared that I wouldn’t be able to give my husband something he so desperately wanted. I wanted to give him the world, and if he wanted a kid, I wanted to be the one to give it to him. It was such a ridiculous burden to put on myself when I knew Jake didn’t feel that way at all.

He wanted a family—not for me to provide him with offspring. Those were two very different things and somewhere along the way, I’d lost sight of that.

“You want to find out?” I asked.

“Whenever you’re ready.”

“Do you want to do the honors?”

He shook his head slowly, moving mine with his. “No, you need to do this.”

I pulled my upper lip between my teeth. My heart was racing like crazy and I was so nervous I thought I was going to puke. I blindly reached out for the stick sitting on the edge of the bathtub and wrapped my sweaty, nervous palm around it.

Jake looked directly into my eyes. They never moved, never faltered. I had a feeling he was curious as hell, but was more worried about me and my reaction than anything else.

Maybe he knew what it was going to say, too.

“You tasted different last night,” he whispered.

I gulped. A dark image of him coming home late last night from the university and crawling up under the covers flashed through my mind. I remembered the pleased grunt he’d made when he first tasted me. I also remembered the goofy grin he had on his face as he pulled me into his arms and kissed me goodnight.

The bastard knew right then.

“I was wondering about those funny noises you were making.” I shook my head.

He grinned and bounced his eyebrows, his forehead still pressed firmly against mine. “I’m looking forward to all the changes the next few months are going to bring.” His voice was husky and very, very seductive.

I squeezed my legs together as I pulsed with a greedy little bit of need. Leave it to Jake to find pregnancy sexy.

“You are very confident that you know what this stick is going to say.”

“I am. I know your body, remember? I know what I felt last night as I ran my hands over your skin. I know that you tasted different, and I know that you reacted differently than you normally do. Add that to the confident glint in your eyes and the scared shake of your hands and yeah…I’m pretty damn confident I know my wife.”

I wrapped my arm around his neck and kissed the hell out of him. I slid forward on the toilet seat, wrapped my legs around his waist, and kissed him until I throbbed so painfully I felt like sex was the only relief I could ever want.

He panted as he pulled back to look into my eyes. “You better look at that stick so we can go and celebrate already.” His voice was almost a purr it was so deep and dark.

I kept one arm around his shoulders and turned the stick over in my other hand. This was it. Truth or dare time.

Pregnant.

The perfectly typed little words in the oval window were very easy to read for about three seconds, then the water in my eyes blurred my vision and I couldn’t really read it any more.

Jake kissed my lips and then each of the tears as they fell down my cheeks. “Darlin’,” he whispered. “What does it say? Are these good tears or bad tears?”

His hands held my face and his eyes searched mine.

“Good tears. Jake, you are going to be a dad.” Fear mixed with excitement. Yep, that was what I was feeling. Total fear, but absolute excitement.

His eyes widened and we both just kind of froze for a few heartbeats. I could hear each one thud in my ears.

Holy shit we were pregnant.

I was having Jake’s baby.

He started breathing heavier and his eyes glistened a little. Then he kissed me again and pulled me up into his arms. He held me tight against his strong chest, kissing the top of my head and running his fingers through my hair before he tilted my face up to his and kissed me slow and deep.

“I love you, Eve. I’m going to take such good care of you and our baby. I promise. You both will always know how much I love you.” The he suddenly dropped to his knees and kissed my belly, pulling my t-shirt up so he could kiss my skin. “I love you,” he said to the baby. “All you will ever know is love. I promise.” He dug his fingers into my hips as he pressed his forehead against my stomach.

He took several deep breaths before standing and then picking me up. “Mother of my child, it’s time to celebrate.”

I was worried about him until he flashed me that cocky grin of his. His dimple peeked out through his stubble and I ran my thumb into the dip. “Let’s take it slow, okay?”

“Oh darlin’,” he shook his head. “You have no idea.”

And then he made the sweetest, deepest, most impressive love to me in our bed under the bright morning light.


 

Here is a special sneak peek at the cover of When Lighting Strikes (The Storm Inside #3):

WhenLightningStrikes_Cover

Greg’s a jerk, everyone knows this. He’s made an art form out of pissing people off and swearing with style. What nobody knows is why.

The act works on everyone except Marie, a confident, no-nonsense woman. Or in other words, the only woman who can handle Greg. Together they’re passionate and honest in a way he never thought was possible. They have a rare kind of chemistry that makes everything else seem pointless.

Well, except the past. Greg hasn’t been able to let that go, and unless he figures out a way to forgive himself, he’ll lose Marie and his shot at the all-consuming, life altering happiness he didn’t think he was allowed to have.

Lightning doesn’t strike twice. Or does it?

Coming January 2015

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