“Sure, we can go.” Lilly takes a step over towards Ashlyn, looking into the bowl. “Is that all ready?”
“Yep.” Ashlyn smiles, and Lilly kisses her forehead before taking the bowl away from her and setting it close to the stove. She goes about pulling out a pan and heating it up, while I talk to Ashlyn about the zoo and what she would like to see. Every chance I get, I touch Lilly, making sure she knows I haven’t forgotten about her. She doesn’t say anything, and I can see the wheels in her head turning. When breakfast is done, we sit down around the small table to eat.
“Where is Jax?” Ashlyn asks, taking a bite of her pancakes.
“He’s with my mom—your grandma.”
“Will I see him tomorrow?”
“No, you won’t see him until the weekend.” I look between Ashlyn and Lilly, coming to a decision. “Unless we come over tomorrow and take you ladies out for pizza?”
“Yay, pizza!” Ashlyn yells, and I laugh. I look up at Lilly, who doesn’t look very happy.
“Go get dressed, love bug,” Lilly says. Ashlyn scoots off the chair, and then heads down the hall to her room. Once she is out of sight, Lilly turns on me. “Look, I am happy you want to be a part of Ashlyn’s life, but that doesn’t include me, okay? I mean, we haven’t been a we for a long time.” She stands, picking up her plate.
“That’s going to change.” She turns to face me; the pain in her eyes is so raw that my gut clenches.
“I trusted you. I loved you. You destroyed me. If I hadn’t had Ashlyn, who knows what would have happened.”
“I know. I destroyed myself when I left you. I didn’t know what else to do. Jax’s mom was threatening to have an abortion. I always wanted you. I missed you every day, but I did what I had to do to protect my son. Wouldn’t you do whatever is necessary to protect Ashlyn?”
“Yes.” I could see tears spring to her eyes.
“You have been the only woman besides my family who I have ever loved. I never wanted to hurt you, Lilly, and I will find a way to prove to you that things are different this time. But we will work this out. You are my one. I gave you up once, but that will never happen again.” I pull her into me, holding her close. She is stiff for a second before her body relaxes.
“Why can’t I hate you?” Her words are quiet, and I can hardly make them out.
I whisper into her ear before kissing her under it, “Because I am your one, too.”
“Mommy, why do you keep talking to yourself?” I look down at Ashlyn, who is sitting on the floor playing with the doll that Cash brought her the first time he came to visit. Since then, he has been here three times with Jax so we could all have dinner together. I have been so afraid to trust what’s going on between us, but it feels so right. He hasn’t kissed me since he had me pinned against the wall, but he never lets me get too far away from him, and if we’re out in public, he is always touching me. I feel safe and cared for. I feel exactly how I felt the last time we were together, and I think that’s what scares me the most.
“I'm not talking to myself,” I say, even though I know I have been. I am so nervous I feel like I'm going to jump out of my skin. I have spent the day baking cookies, a cake, and two pies, trying to rid myself of the nervous energy that is coursing through me. I hear the knock at the door, so I run and unlock it before even checking to make sure who it is.
“You didn’t check the peephole,” Cash says quietly.
“Hi, honey,” I say, running my hand down Jax’s hair as he hugs my legs before heading inside.
“I knew it was you,” I say, taking a step back.
“You didn’t know it was me. You didn’t call out my name, or check the peephole. Don’t do that shit when you and Ashlyn are here alone. This is a bad area, and if something happens to you, I'm going to be pissed.”
“You always say that. ‘I’m going to be pissed.’ When was the last time you were pissed?” I ask. His head tilts, studying me.
“I don’t know. A while, why? You trying to piss me off?”
“What? No!” I squeal as he leans in, pressing me to the wall behind me.
“You have a perfect ass, babe.”
“What?” I breathe, feeling goose bumps form across my skin.
“I can’t wait to get my hands on it and turn it red, so please, try to piss me off. It will just get me what I want faster.” I feel moisture flood between my thighs at his comment. I have never been spanked, and I don’t understand why that turns me on, but it does.
“You did not just say that.”
“You smell good.” He runs him nose from my ear to my shoulder.
“Daddy, what are you doing?” Jax asks. I jump and look at Ashlyn and Jax, who are both staring at us. Cash slides his arm around my waist, pulling me closer to him.
“Are you guys ready to go?” Jax looks between us before shrugging, and Ashlyn smiles.
“I have to grab my bag.” I step away.
“I forgot to tell you that we are now having the Bar-b-que at Asher’s because they have a pool, so you should pack a suit.
“Yay! Swimming!” Ashlyn jumps up and down.
“We don’t have swim suits,” I say, looking at Cash.
“Okay, so we can stop on the way and pick something up.”
“Are you sure? I don’t want to be late.”
“It’s no big deal. Grab your bag and we can head out.”
“I'm not wearing that.” I roll my eyes at Cash, who keeps trying to hand me bikinis.
“Why not? What’s wrong with this one?” He holds it out, looking at the front then the back.
“It’s missing a huge chunk…like, the whole middle section,” I tell him, picking up another one-piece and checking the size. Cash is pushing the cart, with both of the kids sitting in the large basket.
“You’re kidding, right?”
“Nope.” I put the suit over my arm. I already found Ashlyn one, so we could go to check out.
“You have a beautiful body.”
“I had a child and not everything went back to the way it was before. And please, don’t start. I'm not one of those girls who’s all like, ‘I'm fat blah, blah, blah’. It’s not that. It’s just, I jiggle now, and I don’t really want to jiggle in front of anyone but myself.”
“Buy both and let me be the judge.”