• WORDS FROM AN AUTHOR •
“This probably isn’t the best idea. You know how much he hates surprises,” I say into the receiver, putting the finishing touches on the room.
Violet’s laugh makes me fall onto the hotel mattress. “Ken, if it’s his wife, wrapped in sexy lingerie, I think he’s going to be more than happy for a little surprise.”
A click sounds on the hotel room door and my heart races.
“Shit, Vi!” I stand to look at myself in the mirror. Tousled hair. Black, lace stretched over my body. “I got to go. He’s here already.” I click END and toss the phone to the dresser.
I’ve had this plan in place for over a month. When Graham’s schedule showed he’d be on the road, there was no way I’d let us spend Valentine’s Day apart. With everything changing in our lives, we need this.
“What's going on in here?” His deep, gravely voice enters the room before he does.
I spin as he steps from the lounge area and into the bedroom. Damn, my husband is sexy as hell. No one wears a pair of jogger pants like he does. His tight white t-shirt stretches nicely over his strong chest, and a baseball cap low over his eyes hides what I can only imagine is shock and amusement from seeing me in Philadelphia.
“Surprise!” I hold my hands out to the sides in the most unsexy display of love I’ve ever experienced. I look down and see what I'm wearing, how I must look and cringe. “I’m so embarrassed. This was such a bad idea.”
“Nothing about this is a bad idea, baby.” His baseball bag drops at his feet and he’s across the room in an instant, sweeping me up into his arms.
“Be careful,” I say as he lowers me to the ground. “She’s fragile.”
“No girl of mine is fragile.” He cups my cheeks, laying a heavenly kiss on my lips.
“So, what was the plan here?” He checks over his shoulder at the bed covered in red and white rose petals. There’s a bottle of champagne that’s more decoration than anything. “Kennedy Black, did you come here to seduce me?”
“I’m very pregnant. At this point it feels like I’m twelve months along. If all this”— I rub my growing belly— “works for you, then yes, I’m here to seduce you.”
“Everything about you works for me. Always has.”
“Not always.” I smirk. “Remember when you didn’t even know I was alive until you hit me with your car.”
“That’s still not a funny joke, babe.” He grabs my hands and guides me over to the bed, laying me down with him at my side, looking down at me as if I’ve done something miraculous.
“How far we’ve come, huh?” I rub my belly again, something that’s become a bit of a habit. She survived the unthinkable and sometimes I still need a reminder she’s there.
“You still worried?” He replaces my hand with his own, running sweet, soft circles over my bare stomach.
“I have everything I’ve ever wanted. It was hell getting here, but I got here.” I smile through the tears. Graham pinches his lips together as he brushes a tear away, only to laugh. “Stop it! It’s not funny.”
“You’re cute when you cry for no reason. I’m going to miss it when she gets here.”
“Lucky for you, I’ll still be hopped up on post pregnancy hormones that I’m sure the tears will be here next Valentine’s Day.” I hold one side of his face in my hand, feeling the soft stubble on his jaw line. “Why are all your bags packed by the way?” I sit up on my elbows, looking at the luggage in the corner of the room.
“I was actually coming back to the hotel to grab them.” He stretches away from me, opening the bedside table drawer. He hands me a ticket for a flight at 4PM tonight.
“You were flying home?” I smack the ticket across his chest.
“I didn’t want to spend Valentine’s Day alone in a hotel room.” He bends to drop a kiss on my neck, right behind my ear. Every time he kisses me there, I’m transported back to my childhood bedroom. “I planned on surprising you and Ben tonight.” His head lifts, a smile stretched so damn far across his face.
“We could still make the flight, if you wanted,” I suggest, checking the clock on the table. “You’d miss out on peeling this off of me.” I showboat by running my hands over the baby doll-like top. “No seriously, you’re going to have to peel it off because I bought it a month ago and my boobs have grown exponentially since then.”
“Trust me, I’ve noticed.” His blue eyes drop to my chest, appreciating the one thing about pregnancy that makes woman feel sexy.
“Okay, lover boy.” I sit up and swing my leg over his lap to straddle him. “Are we going home or staying?”
“The answer is always go home, even if it's for less than twelve hours.” He leans up, wrapping his arms around me and pulling me close.
I’m not sure how long, but we watch each other.
We’ve been doing it since our junior year of high school. It fixes us. When the world feels like it’s closing in, we can look at each other, one single glance from the other, and everything is suddenly right in the world. Seventeen-year-old Graham Black to this one and everything else in between, he’s been different versions of his own kind of flawed perfection. Every single one I love a little more than the last.
“What are you thinking about, baby?” He kisses the tip of my nose.
“You. Me. Us. Them.”
“Them?” He drops his lips to my cheek now.
“Seventeen-year-old us. So lost in the world. I wish I could have told us that everything would be okay.”
“You’re going to do it again, aren’t you?” Graham smiles, watching the corner of my eyes for the tears we both can feel forcing their way to the surface.
“Take me home, Graham Black.” He stands with me still in his arms, our baby girl pressed between us. I stand on my tip toes as he settles me back on the carpet and kiss him. This time I don’t let him pull away, deepening it like I always do until we both know we’ll be cutting it close to make the flight.
The elevator ride, into the cab, and through the airport is a mixture of kisses and knowing glances between us.
“Who’s watching Ben anyway? Your parents come in to help out?” he asks as we board the plane. I buckle my seat belt, trying not to make eye contact with him. “Kennedy, who do you have watching our son?”
“Okay, here me out.” I turn in my seat. My cheeks ache from the grin I’m sporting as I look at my husband.
“Kennedy, what did you do?” He shakes his head. I schemed a pretty flawless plan. “Your plans never work like you think they will.” He corrects my inner confidence.
I turn to the front of the plane. “I may have asked Rico to babysit.”
“And…” He circles his finger in the air to have me continue. “What time did you leave today?”
“Rico got there at nine this morning and I left immediately.”
“And what time did you tell Amanda to be there, so you could make your flight on time?” He smirks, knowing I couldn’t help myself.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I shrug, pretending to dig in my purse for something.
“Kennedy Lucille Black.” He places his finger under my chin, turning my face towards him. “What did you do?”
“Baby, it’s Valentine’s Day. Love is in the air,” I whisper, resting my cheek on his arm. “No one should be alone on Valentine’s Day.”
1/16/2023 07:00:49 am
What happens to Amanda and Rick. There was not mention of their end in the epilogue
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