“So, you don’t want fish sticks and tatter tots?” I ask, knowing that was the only thing left in our freezer.
“No, thanks.” His face looks disgusted at the idea of fish sticks, making me laugh.
“Okay, I will see you in a little while.”
“See you,” I say, taking a step back. He starts to walk off, and then turns abruptly, walking back to me. His hand goes to the back of my neck and pulls me forward, being mindful of the back of my head, and this time, the kiss is all tongue and teeth, and when he pulls his mouth from mine, I'm completely breathless. “What was that?”
“Love you. See you when I get home,” he says. His eyes flash before he turns and walks to my car, climbing inside. I go up the steps of the work trailer and watch as he pulls away. Once I can no longer see him, I go inside and sit with Susan for a while, watching the kids finish a project she has set up for them. While they are occupied, I explain to Susan what happened with the police, and why they took me in for questioning last week. I’m so worried she won’t believe I didn’t do what they accused me of, until she pulls me in for a hug, much like my mother would do. When she pulls away, she puts her hands on each side of my face, holding me gently.
“You know I wouldn’t believe you could do something like that.” She pushes my hair away from my face. “You are an amazing woman, Lilly, and I know you are a good person. You’re good for my son, my grandson, and my family. I hate that I have missed so much time with you and my granddaughter, but now that you’re here, I will do everything in my power to make sure you stay right where you are. You and Cash both deserve to have something good, and it’s not very often that God offers you a second chance at love. I know Cash has told you some of the stuff that went on with Jules, but I'm sure that my son has kept most of that bottled up. I doubt any of us really know everything he went through. He doesn’t like people to feel sorry for him. But as God as my witness, I hope that woman burns in hell for what she did, not only to you and Ashlyn, but for the pain that she has caused—and continues to cause—my son and grandson. I know I shouldn’t wish something like that even on my worst enemy, but she deserves it,” she says, looking over at the kids. “You both have a lot to be thankful for.”
“Thank you,” I mumble over the giant lump that has invaded my throat.
“You don’t need to thank me. That’s what family does. We may all fight and argue and get on each other’s nerves, but if one of us stumbles even slightly, there is always someone there to lend them a hand.” Her eyes search my face before turning serious. “Be strong for my boys; they need a woman who will not only show them what the power of a strong woman’s love is capable of doing for the soul, but they need a woman who will fight to keep them.”
“I love them, both,” I tell her, looking down at Jax, who is helping Ashlyn with the glue bottle. “If I could adopt Jax as my own son, I would do it in a heartbeat. He is so much like Cash that it’s scary. He has a big heart for such a little guy.”
“That’s all I need to know,” Susan says, and my eyes go back to hers, seeing tears fill them. I reach out and pull her in for hug. When we pull away, we’re both a mess with mascara running down our cheeks. The kids both look at us like we’re crazy, and then Jax makes me crack up when he tells us that his Uncle Nico said that girls are weird, and that’s why he doesn’t want one.
“Nico isn’t going to know what hit him when he finally finds his girl,” Susan says, and I agree completely.
“I have a question, and don’t be afraid to say no,” I say later that night when we’re in bed. “I won’t be mad; I promise,” I say, and feel my stomach roll at the thought of him not wanting us.
“What is it?”
“Um…do you, um…doyouthinkthatAshlynandIcouldmoveinwithyou?” I ask quickly, trying to get it out. I won’t be able to sleep until I know my daughter and I won’t be homeless. I love Cash, and have wanted him to ask us to move in with him for a while now, but I don’t want to pressure him about it. And Cash is Cash. I figure if he wants us here, he would find a way to make that happen. I feel his body start shaking, and I know he’s laughing. I just have no idea what could be funny about this.
“Are you laughing?”
“Baby, I have wanted you to move in since I walked you and Ashlyn to your car outside of the Jumping Bean,” he says laughing. Then his eyes search my face and grow serious. “I hated knowing I would have to wait to see you again. And it’s only gotten worse over the last few months. So yes, I want you to move in. I just didn’t want to push you too fast,” he says softly, and I can hear the vulnerability in his words.
“Do you think it’s too fast?” I ask, rubbing my face against the skin of his side.
“It’s not too fast.” He squeezes me.
“Will be fine. Ashlyn loves being here. Jax loves having you both here. Don’t worry about this right now.” He pulls me so I’m almost fully on top of him. “The kids are their happiest when we are all under one roof. Right now, I want you to sleep. Tomorrow, we will sit down with the kids and talk to them and just make sure that they are good with us all moving in together, okay?” he asks quietly.
“Yeah,” I sigh, laying my head down against his chest and snuggling closer.
“I’m really sorry about all of this, Lil.” My eyes fly open, and I lift my head to look at him. His eyes are full of pain, and I know that he thinks this is all his fault, but it’s not. His ex is crazy and needs serious help.
“This isn’t your fault.”
“It’s not,” I say, sliding one of my legs over both of his and rolling so I’m sitting on top of him. My hands go to his chest; feeling the hardness of his muscles under my palms makes me rock against him. “This isn’t your fault,” I repeat as I rock against him again. I moan when I feel him harden beneath me. His hands slide from my thighs up my waist, under the edge of his shirt. I want to forget about today. All I want is to feel him inside me, and feel the delicious sensations I experience when he takes it over.
“What are you doing?” he asks as his hands move over my skin, leaving a path of fire in their wake.
“If you have to ask, then I’m doing it wrong,” I say, grinding down onto him. One of his hands squeezes my ass, the other goes to the back of my neck, pulling my face down to his.