“Nice to meet you, Sophie,” he says, pulling away to set down a wiggling Jax.
“You too.” I smile up at him, seeing that his eyes look exactly like Nico’s.
“All right, you guys. Come inside. Dinner’s ready,” Susan says as she comes outside, wiping her hands on a dishcloth.
James pulls her to him with an arm around her waist and kisses her once before patting her butt and sending her inside in front of him. Now I know where the Mayson boys get it from, I think, looking up at Nico with a smile as we follow his parents into the house.
“So how’s work been, son?” James asks Nico.
We’re all sitting around the table and eating, and the conversation has mostly been about my history. I’ve tried to steer things away from what happened after my mom died and before I went to Job Corps. I feel a little like I’m lying, but there are some things I just can’t bring myself to talk about. I look at Nico curiously when he avoids the question his dad just asked him and completely changes the subject.
“How do you guys feel about the fact that Cash and Lilly ran off and got hitched?” he asks with a smirk, and everyone at the table stops looking at him and turns to stare between Cash and Lilly. I look at Nico funny, knowing he’s avoiding talking about his job. I’m happy to know I’m not the only one he keeps his work-life separated from, but I really hope he talks to someone about it. I can’t imagine doing what he does and not having someone to vent to.
The rest of dinner is spent talking about Cash and Lilly, their time in Alaska, and their quickie Vegas ceremony. I also spend most of dinner with different kids in my lap, each asking me questions of their own. First, it is July asking me about my nail color and if she could borrow my polish. The next is June, who has a hundred questions about me and Nico, and then May wants to know why she’s never met me before and asks me every question under the sun, from my favorite food to if I had any pets. By the time Hanna comes to sit on my lap, I am thankful for the little girl because she only wants to talk about books. Ashlyn is the last to sit with me. I tell her all about Daisy, who she has only met a couple of times but has fallen in love with her. Jax is quiet during most of dinner. He sits on the other side of Nico, who I guess from their talks is his idol—well, until I came along. Apparently Nico broke his trust when he got a girlfriend.
After we’ve finished our dinner and each had a piece of homemade lemon meringue pie, it is almost nine and time for us to go home.
“Are you sure you can’t hab a sleepober wif me?” May asks, bending her little head backwards so she can look up at my face.
“I’m sorry, honey, but your uncle Nico would be sad if I didn’t have a sleepover with him,” I tell her. Leaning forward, I can’t help but kiss her head. “I promise you we will have a pajama party soon though. We can watch movies, paint our nails, and do all kinds of fun things.”
“Mommy! I get to have a sleepober wif Aunt Sophie!” May yells, jumping down off my lap, and then all the kids run into the dining room and swarm me, asking if they can have a sleepover too.
“Yes, you can all come and have a sleepover.” I laugh as they all run off to their parents, yelling about a sleepover at ‘Uncle Nico and Aunt Sophie’s house.’
“When you have this sleepover, I’m gonna make sure I gotta work,” Nico says, making me narrow my eyes.
“No, I figure this will be good practice for you, Mr. I-wanna-get-you-knocked-up.”
“Touché.” He smiles, kissing my nose. He wraps his arms around my waist, and I lean into him. “You ready to go home?”
“Yeah, if you are,” I tell him before getting up on my tiptoes to kiss him. Today has been awesome. I now know that I have nothing to worry about. His family is sweet. I’m happy to know them and glad Nico has them at his back, and I can’t wait to spend time with them again soon. “I love your family,” I tell him as I kiss the underside of his jaw.
“They love you too baby.”
“I love you,” I tell him with a smile.
He leans forward and kisses my forehead before leaning back his eyes meeting mine. “Love you too, sweet Sophie.” I smile and shake my head. “All right. Let’s get out of here. I need to be inside you,” Nico says, making me tingle.
I nod and make quick work of saying goodbye to everyone, including all the kids, who make me promise again that we will have a sleepover soon.
“What do you mean Jax and Ashlyn are missing?” I ask, watching as Nico pulls on a pair of jeans and boots, and I immediately hop out of bed and start to get dressed.
Not long after I met everyone, Lilly was arrested, and Nico worked hard to get her released. This morning, he found evidence proving that Lilly had been wrongfully accused. I hate that they are being forced to deal with more drama, and I feel nauseated just thinking about something happening to the kids.
“Cash couldn’t say much, just that he and Lilly had been home with her parents and the kids. Lilly noticed that the kids were quiet and went out to check on them. He said they’ve searched everywhere and still came up with nothing.”
“Okay, so we can help them look,” I tell him, pulling on a hoodie along with my Chucks.
“Sorry, baby. No way.”
“No way, what?” My eyebrows draw together.
“You’re not going with. I won’t be able to focus if you’re there.”
“I wanna help,” I tell him firmly. There is no way I’m going to be sitting here worried out of my mind while he is searching for the kids.
“No. No way.” He shakes his head.
“I wasn’t asking you for permission.” My hands go to my hips.
“I don’t have time to argue with you, Sophie,” he growls, pulling a shirt on.
“Then don’t argue.” I leave the room and head to the kitchen to grab my bag.
“You’re not f**king coming!” he yells behind me. Once he comes into the kitchen, he grabs his keys and heads for the front door. I quietly follow behind him, thinking maybe he won’t even notice I’m there. “Baby, serious as f**k, I don’t have time for this shit right now. Please put my mind at ease. Stay here and wait for me,” he says, turning around, his hands going to my face. I can see in his eyes that he is stressed, and I don’t want to add to it. As much as I want to go with him to help look for the kids, I know I can’t add to his worry.
“Okay,” I agree reluctantly.