Ryan moved from Kevin’s house to a chalet-style bungalow nestled in a pocket of light, semi-wooded land at the far end of a long gravel driveway, surrounded by well-manicured lawns. A small rose
garden had been planted at the back, a short distance from the swimming pool.
Investment Manager! A millionaire in the making…
He wouldn’t offend Justin. Olivia had moved back home, but she’d visit. Occasionally, she did sleep over—they were now officially engaged, anyway. A week had passed since Elizabeth’s burial.
Under a star-studded night sky, the lovebirds sat at the rear balcony, overlooking the garden. Ryan had wanted to cook, but she insisted and ordered dinner. Pizza for herself and fish fingers
for him. Tartar sauce and some salads on the side.
“Hey, you’ve become fond of junk of late.” Ryan scooped a piece of pizza onto her plate. “I wouldn’t want you to get out of shape.”
“I know. It’s these cravings I’m having.” She rolled her eyes. “But I guess it’ll pass in a few months.”
“Wait! Um, ah--”
“What?” She grinned. “Yes! I’m pregnant.”
“Jeez! No way. You’re kidding.”
“You’ll soon be a daddy.”
Warmth crept upon his neck. He’d never experienced authentic family life. Only seen it in Martha’s house--when he’d gone over to play with Ken and Annie as little kids. The thought of having his
own family had long vanquished when he joined the Society.
But now, a millionaire’s daughter sat across from him. His own flesh and blood growing inside her—Oh! He glanced at her. Her dimples, wide deep-set eyes, all like Katelyn’s…
I’m not worth your small finger, but I’ll soon marry you. Unbelievable!
He passed a hand over her tummy. “I’m so… happy. Come here.”
She sat on his lap. “I’m pleasantly surprised.”
Shifting slightly, she leaned back. “Well, you hardly talk about family, kids…”
“Really? May be I just don’t voice it.” He twirled a lock of her hair around his finger. “I’m so… so happy.”
“How d’you feel?”
He swallowed, washing down warm trickles of excitement. “Words can’t capture the feeling. Still feels like a dream.”
“Wake up. It’s real. Thank God it’s happening when you and dad are the best of friends.”
“I never thought I’d one day look forward to telling him such news.” He sighed. “I can already see his reaction.”
“Ah, tell me. How will he react?”
“First, he’ll stroke his mustache, then start cracking his knuckles.”
“HAHAHAHA! Nope. He does that when annoyed. But when happy, he raises his left brow.”
“Oh yeah, you’re right.” He tipped her chin down and kissed her. “I know he’ll be so happy.”
His phone chimed. The screen displayed Annie’s name.
“Why’s she still contacting you?”
“I dunno.” He opened the message. “Let’s see.”
Can’t stop thinkin’ ‘bout ya. About 2 wed a man I don’t love. Want u back. I miss what we had for all these years.
“What does she mean what you guys had?” She moved back to her seat. “You told me nothing happened.”
“I dunno what she’s talkin’ about.”
Damn Annie! Of all the days, why today? Now? At such a sacred moment!
“Don’t take me for a fool. She knows what she’s talking about.”
Come on! Even if something happened, it’s in the past. I can’t change anything.
He cleared his throat. “Do you trust what I tell you or her delusions.”
“I know she still loves you.”
“Doesn’t matter. You’re the only woman I’ve ever truly loved.”
“Do you love her?” She looked him in the eye. “You guys have a long history from childhood.”
“Prolly as a sister, friend, but not a lover.”
She sighed. “Ryan.”
“Honey, I even showed it to her face. It’s you I love and not her.”
Her voice carried a fit of sweet jealousy that wafted over his ego, stirring passionate fires within him. How damned erotic her small gasp, Ryan had felt against his ear when they made
love a few days ago. Why were they spoiling their happiness with such hopeless arguments?
“Um, let’s forget it. She’s not worth my time,” she said.
Yes, that’s my girl! Calm and impervious to senseless insecurities.
“You want me to call and stop her?”
“Hell no! Maybe I’m just paranoid because of what Dad did.”
Despite the chilly night, sweat popped and streamed down his armpits. Oh! So this had hitherto been about Justin’s infidelity? He understood her fears. “Baby, I don’t mean to say I'm an angel, but
trust me. I’ll never cheat on you.”
Jeez! He burned to prove he was different.
He stood. Took her hands in his and pulled her close. Their faces touched. “I love you so much.”
“I love you more.”
Damn him and his lack of discernment that had almost cost him happiness and ruined their night. Damn Annie for her stupid text. Most of all, damn him for not anticipating her fears. Justin’s affair
would definitely affect how she viewed men.
She gasped as he kissed her neck. “Don’t give me any reason to doubt you.” She exhaled. “You mean the world to me.”
He pulled her in his wide chest for another kiss.
And then there she was. In front of him. So close. The familiar scent of her perfume—which could only be smelt at close range, saturated his senses seconds before she grabbed his arms. His body
absorbed the warm familiarity of her touch. Her pounding heart echoed his fear of losing her.
He held her with his gaze as well as his hands. “You’re mine forever. Got it?”
“Yeah.” Her voice was shrill, but there was no mistaking the words that tumbled from her quivering lips. “Tell her to keep off you.”
He ran a finger through her curly locks. “Shush! No need, I’m blocking her number, see!” He showed her the screen to confirm.
“No, you don’t have to, but, ah, anyway, you handle it.”
Whoa, it felt good to see her overly protective of him. Of course, he knew she loved him, but she’d never shown she could also be insecure.
He smooched her tongue and tasted her worry. “Babe, don’t worry about me.”
“Hell, I hope this doesn’t change the way you see me.” She covered her face on his chest. “Forget I said a thing. You’re here. And that’s all I care for.”
“Not at all.” He covered her with kisses. “It’s the baby.”
“But I’m never jealous. That must be you. It’s a boy.”
“Promise you’ll never change. I hear men do that a lot.”
He pulled his spine as straight as his resolve. “Never ever.”
“You better not.” She looked up. “Otherwise dad will kill you.”
“I’ll not give him that chance.”
“Just kidding. I trust you.”
“I care so much about you and the baby.” A conquering feeling prickled through his chest. “So… much.”
“Thanks to you.”
She smiled. “C’mon, stop cancelling my thank-yous.”
“Thank you, thank you, thank you…” He kissed her neck, dimples and lips. “Can’t thank you enough.”
“Ooh! This’s nice.” She spoke over his lips. “Same over here.”
“I want this to last forever.”
“Look, we’ve made a baby together. Not even ourselves can break our history together.”
“It’s not history, but the only reality that exists for me. I’ve never known family life--” He swallowed the ache, memories of his tumultuous childhood coming to mind. “But I’ll make sure our
family is the happiest.”
“And I’ll always support you.” Their bodies exchanged heat and longing. “Always be positive in life.”
A few seconds passed in silence. He sighed.
She peered into his eyes. “What? Did I say something?”
“You’ve always had what you wanted in life. Um, ah, it’s easier for you to say that.”
“Say what?” She took a few breaths. “Ah, asking you to be positive?”
“Really, Ryan!” She eased from him and hugged herself tightly. “Is that wrong?”
“Please don’t!” He grabbed her arms. “That was mean of me, I’m sorry. C’mon, better tell me to go to hell but don’t be cold.”
Her eyes sparkled in the moonlight. “I may be many things, Ryan, but when I’m with you, cold isn’t one of them.”
“Shush!” His lips searched hers.
“Stop.” She eased away from him. “I can’t believe you.”
She gasped. “Why are you doing this to us?”
He tangled his hand in her hair. “Honey! C’mon! I just wasn’t thinking straight.”
“I don’t know why I love you so much.”
“Mine is an obsession.”
He pulled her close. Closer still until his mouth took hers again. Maybe she took his. The meeting and mating of their lips happened so fast he couldn’t think. Didn’t want to think. Just wanted to
drink in the taste of her.
His tongue stroked hers. "mmph mm mphmm phmm!"
Her hands glided up. Over his shoulders and into his hair. “Promise you’ll never tire of this.”
His arms banded around her. Anchored her to him in a perfect fit until fire pooled low in his belly. “I promise.”
What was the fuss all about? Pregnancy tantrums? If this was how things would be ending… Long live the mood swings, the tantrums... How could he not realize she wanted his unwavering
commitment now that he’d planted life in her womb? He remembered what he’d told her a few days ago--while he cradled her face in his hands when they made love. He’d repeated with every deliberate
stroke of his body that he’d love her forever. How he’d confidently said they’d never quarrel in their married life, yet even before becoming husband and wife, they’d started arguing. But it was
because of her jealousy. Goodness, how sweet and silly.
If only you knew! I think no more of Annie than of a sister!
“I’m always so happy around you,” she said.
“I’m just as happy. So happy at times I get scared. Can life be just all happiness?”
“Yeah, happiness is the most natural thing in life.”
“Yes, if you want to be happy, just be.”
Was it that simple? She might have said these words casually, but what a profound meaning they carried for him. If you want to be happy, just be!
He’d better cast aside his pull to melancholy and enjoy life. Starting now, by satisfying their basic needs of the moment. He caressed her, down her back, cupping her bottom and this sensation
echoed her words. If you want to be happy, just be. And, man, she must have felt the same too.
She stroked his lips with her own. “Ryan.”
Pleasure swelled through him just hearing his name.
He groaned into her mouth. “Again. Say it again.”
“Why not... Ryan.”
They heard footsteps and saw a silhouette approaching in the compound. He inched away from her. “Damn it, who the fuck is this?”
The guard’s voice cut through the air. “It’s me, boss. Just doing my normal patrol.”
“Oh! Carry on.”
“Oops! I was scared!’’ she said, panting frantically.
“Don’t be scared.” His body ripped with tension against her. “I wouldn’t allow any harm to come your way.”
She cuddled his curved biceps. “You’re so strong! I feel so secure around you.”
“That makes me happy.” He lifted her in his arms. “It’s past midnight. Let’s go to bed.”
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