After a morning of going over and over and over her story, her head felt like lead when she arrived back at her office. Mike Ashton had left her a voicemail wanting to speak with her on the incident as well.
She smoothed everything over with Ashton and the senators. Once the inspectors had determined there was nothing wrong with the equipment and the probable cause was too big of a load being lifted, Bill was fired and now it was a matter of getting the site cleaned up and up and running.
Eden sat back in her chair and rested her eyes. She couldn’t believe how angry Noah had been when he and Matt spoke with Bill. She’d thought for the amount of times he’d held his hair back, he’d have pulled most of it out. And that would be a shame. His hair was meant for sifting fingers through.
Okay Eden, you are seriously going off the deep end.
When Noah returned to the office, Eden was just getting ready to leave for the day.
“Hey,” she softly called from the adjoining door.
“Hey,” he greeted back, not bothering to keep the exhaustion out of his voice.
“Noah, you look beat. I can take Morgan home with me tonight.”
It was his last night with his son before her days began. He hated not seeing his son daily. Hell, he hated not tucking her into bed every night.
“You can come home with me,” he offered.
She smiled and shook her head. “Nice try tough guy.”
Soon Eden. Soon.
“Thanks,” he finally said. “I think I can handle the little guy tonight.”
“Okay, I’m gonna head home.”
“Good night Eden.”
Once she was out of sight, though not out of earshot, he was on his phone. “Hey Barbara, it’s Noah.” A pause. “You still stopping by tonight?” Another pause. “Great. Morgan goes to bed at seven. I’ll see you at seven-thirty.”
A smile crossed his face as he finally heard the office front door close.
The next couple of days, Eden noticed Noah smiling. A lot. Barbara was that tall blonde she’d seen leaving his office a while ago.
That was not jealousy she felt. He has a right to a life. Yeah, like continuously telling herself that was helping.
It was better to concentrate on what needed to be done on the finished units. David was really catching on and learning quickly. Greg was also less stressed with helping out. Noah pretty much left her to her work. He was on the site daily, but that was due to the accident. He had the site cleaned up and running smoothly again in record time. Eden felt a tinge of pride in how he’d developed the Ark over the years.
Okay, so he wasn’t getting the reaction out of her he thought he would with his call to Barbara. He was well on his way with his next step. He had to give her credit. She remained professional on the job. He caught himself watching her as she guided Greg with the physical needs and her apprentice listened to her every word. If Noah wasn’t mistaken, the young man was quite smitten with his wife.
Later in the day, Noah decided to check out how the finished units were coming along. After a few minutes, he approached Greg.
“How’s your wife doing?”
“Oh, hey Mr. C!” he greeted. “She’s doing great. Doc thinks she may even make it past the critical twenty-eight weeks.”
“That’s great!” Noah agreed. “Say where’s Eden at?”
“Oh, she left about half an hour ago.”
“She say where?”
“Nope. She got a phone call and left right after.”
“Thanks Greg. Keep me posted on your wife.”
“Will do boss.”
As Noah walked away, he realized what Eden had done with Greg was the right thing to do. Greg loved the construction business. She’d found a way to keep him active on the project while he tended to his wife’s pregnancy. Now, if only she’d realize how great a team they made.
Noah closed his cell phone after again not receiving an answer. He was frustrated. Eden had been out of the office the past two days. Yesterday, he gave her space. Today, not hearing from her and finding out Morgan hadn’t gone to pre-school had him worried.
He dialed another familiar number.
“Michelle, it’s Noah. Have you seen Eden today?”
“Sorry Noah, I haven’t heard or talked to her since last week.”
“This isn’t good,” he thought out loud.
“Noah? What’s wrong?”
“Probably nothing. She’s just not picking up when I call.”
“Have you made her angry again Noah?” Michelle played trying to lighten the conversation.
Noah chuckled, “Yeah, that’s probably it. Say, if you do hear from her, can you let me know?”
“Sure, but I’m not home much these days.”
Noah liked hearing that. Since Michelle’s husband passed away six years ago, she’d lead a pretty solitary life. Eden and Morgan had become a constant in her life.
“So, what are you up to?” he asked.
“I’m taking some classes at the community college. Nothing major. Just getting out there, y’know?”
“Good for you,” he encouraged. “Hey, I gotta run. Talk soon.”
“Okay Noah,” she laughed. “Bye.”
He sat back in his chair. He couldn’t remember doing anything to piss off Eden. Things were actually going so smoothly for them they could be the poster couple for how to divorce. In any case, he was ready for the next step.
Pounding began seeping into her sleep state. Pulling her from a place she hadn’t been in what felt like forever. Then a ringing added to the pounding. She groaned as she slowly awoke.
“Eden!” a shout now added to the mix.
Her eyes fluttered open. The warm body snuggled close to hers still sound asleep. She kissed him before reluctantly rising out of the bed and making her way downstairs.
“Eden, open the door!”
The pounding and doorbell ringing finally stopped when she turned the entry light on.
She unlocked the door and looked out through the space left by the chain lock.
“Noah?” she asked sleepily.
He let a breath go. “Eden, are you alright?”
Her brain was still not functioning on all cylinders.
“What are you doing here?” she asked.
“You haven’t been in the office the past two days.”
She closed her eyes as her head remained leaning on the open door.
“Are you kidding?” she asked.
“I need your signature on some papers,” he told her.
“So leave ’em on my desk.”
“Are you going to be in tomorrow?” he probed further.
“I don’t know.”
“Eden, I need you to sign these before my meeting first thing in the morning.”
“Fine, I’ll be in tomorrow.” She went to close the door.
She pulled the door open as far as it would go and looked at him. “Seven,” she deadpanned.
“My meeting is at seven-thirty.”
“And you aren’t going to leave until I sign them, is that it?”
“If you don’t sign them now, I’ll be right back here at six tomorrow. Your call.”
She pushed the door closed so she could release the chain link lock. Muttering, “I honestly can’t believe this.”
She stepped back once the door was unlocked.
As he stepped inside and closed the door behind him, he talked every step of the way. “You weren’t in the office for two days. Didn’t answer any of my calls to your cell or here. And,” he turned and took in her appearance. She stood there dressed in a man’s long sleeve dress shirt, hair sleep tousled. “You were in bed.”
She rolled her eyes and began walking toward the kitchen.
“And I’d really like to get back there as quickly as possible if you don’t mind.”
Okay, so maybe there was a reason his phone call to Barbara didn’t bother her as much as he thought it would.
He followed her into the kitchen. He thought it was bad enough seeing the front of the shirt unbuttoned down to her cleavage. Seeing the shirt reach her mid-thigh as he walked behind her was pure torture. Damn this woman’s legs!
The light above the stove illuminated the small room. She leaned up against the counter, her arms folded beneath her breasts.
“Alright Noah. What is so important you had to try banging down my door?”
“Eden, it’s nine o’clock. Are you alright?”
“I’m fine, Noah. Can you please keep your voice down? People are sleeping.”
People. Plural. What the hell was going on?
“I need you to sign this,” he handed her the file folder.
She took it from him and barely took ten seconds before she looked at him in shock.
“You’re selling the house?”
“I’ve been tossing the idea around for a while. It’s too big for just me. Besides, a client came over for a meeting and liked it. I mentioned thinking about selling it, and he said he’d buy it.”
Now she was fully awake. Cobwebs gone.
“Noah, you can’t sell the house. It’s Morgan’s home.”
He stepped closer simply because he needed to. As he stood before her, looking down into her sleepy eyes that were wide in disbelief, he said, “Only fifty percent of the time.”
His husky voice traveled down every nerve she had. She stepped away. Her lack of sleep the past few days, his scent suddenly going straight to her core, and the way he could just look at her and turn her to mush were lethal combinations right now.
“Noah, Morgan’s been through so much change. Do you really think selling the house, giving him another change is such a good idea?”
He smiled. As much as she tried to hide it, he could see her unease at his nearness.
Stepping closer again, he looked into those dark eyes of hers. “Morgan’s home is wherever you or I are with him. That’s all he cares about.”
“I don’t know. Do you really think so?”
From a woman who excluded him about birth control to her secret life to God knew what else to this one standing before him seeking his opinion. If he hadn’t lived through it, he’d have thought it crazy.
His hands reached for her upper arms and caressed up and down. “Do you want the house?”
“No,” she answered almost too quickly. “But, it was your first build,” she added in.
“It’s also too big for me when he isn’t there. Look at you. You have half the space and seem to be doing well.”
He had her there. With now working outside the home at the Ark, Morgan in school, she really didn’t need the space of what the house offered. It was the perfect size unless Noah was in it. His presence seemed to fill any open space, almost smothering. But, she knew it wasn’t the physical space he took up. It was how his presence filled those who lived here. Something she was going to have to work on conquering.
“You’re selling it to a client?” she asked.
“Yeah. He and his wife are having a baby in a couple months. They found out it’s a boy and fell in love with Morgan’s room. They don’t plan to change a thing. You did a great job decorating the place.”
“Thanks,” she said softly as she pulled away and stepped clear. “But, why do you need my signature?”
“The house is half yours.”
“I don’t want any money from it Noah.”
Her tone took him off guard.
“Eden, you’re entitled to half. Half the house. Half of everything.”
This was the part about divorce she hated. She didn’t want to feel reliant on him, or anyone. She didn’t need the money from the sale. But, if she kept refusing, Noah’d get suspicious. Something she couldn’t deal with right now.
Noah watched. Eden seemed nervous. Though she thought he couldn’t see, her gaze kept going to upstairs. Afraid someone would notice him here?
“I don’t know Noah. Do you have to sell this now?”
“I’m meeting with the realtors and buyers tomorrow. That gives me about six weeks before they take over the place.”
“Six weeks?” she shrieked and covered her mouth with her hand realizing how loud she’d been. “Where will you live?” she asked quieter.
“I’m working on that,” he said with a smile.
“I don’t like this Noah. You don’t have anything lined up. You can’t possibly live with Morgan in a hotel room.”
The sound of a child’s ear piercing scream had them both racing up the stairs. Noah took them two at a time with Eden running up behind him.
Noah flipped on lights in the upper hallway, following the cries of his son. Morgan’s bed was empty. His cries came from her room.
With only the light from the hall shining in, Morgan saw his father approach and stretched his arms up. Large tears flowing down his cheeks.
“Daddy,” he sobbed.
Eden reached for Noah’s arm, stopping him. As Noah looked at her over his shoulder, he saw the slump of her shoulders. A sign of defeat.
“Hey Baby,” Eden cooed as she stepped closer.
“Mommy,” he now turned to her.
Noah was closer and noticed his son had thrown up all over himself. His cheeks a bright red. Noah’s hand at his son’s face, he felt the high fever.
“Eden, what’s going on?” he asked as they worked together to remove Morgan’s soiled clothes.
“I can see that!”
With Noah’s shout, Morgan shrieked again.
“Noah,” she loudly whispered. “He’s got the flu and a nasty ear infection. Please don’t shout.”
Noah looked at her apologetically. “I’m sorry. Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Noah, these are my days with Morgan…”
He stood and looked at her. “Don’t.”
“Noah, can we table this for a minute? I need to get him in the shower again.”
She chuckled. “Yeah, I’m running out of clothes for myself.”
She carried Morgan into the bathroom and turned on the shower. She spoke to Noah as she got Morgan ready to shower with her.
“He’s been throwing up for a couple of days. His doctor gave him an antibiotic shot this afternoon and hopefully that will take the pain out of his ears soon.” She turned to face Noah who had followed them into the bathroom. She held Morgan out to him. “Here, take him a minute.”
He took the naked child from her and watched as she unbuttoned and removed the shirt. One of his old shirts he realized. She gave a sigh at seeing it was also soiled from Morgan and tossed it on the floor. “Great,” she sighed.
She didn’t think twice as she removed her panties and stepped inside the shower, raising her arms to indicate she was ready for Morgan.
Noah handed the boy to her and stayed on the other side of the curtain, listening to her soothe the tired, sobbing mess. Now he understood why she appeared so tired and nervous at his voice being too loud to wake someone.
“Almost done Baby,” he heard her tell Morgan.
“Owie Mommy,” he cried.
“I know Sweetie, you’ll feel better soon.”
“Eden?” Noah called. “I can get him dressed. You look beat. Take a nice hot shower when he’s done.”
He rolled his eyes. Of course he was sure. He felt completely helpless. He wasn’t about to let her handle any traumatic times by herself again if he could help it. However, she had to let him know. That was something he’d need to get through to her. They were in this together. Like it or not.
“Yes, Eden, I’m sure.”
After he dressed Morgan in sweat pants and shirt, he set about cleaning up the mess. She organized similar to the house, so finding disinfectant spray, clean bed sheets and mattress pad was relatively easy. Once he heard the shower shut off, he began a load of laundry for her.
After he returned to the bedroom, he was surprised she hadn’t come out yet.
He lightly knocked on the door. “Eden, you okay?”
She opened the door and the scent of raspberries hit him with full force as well as the steam from her shower. How she didn’t cook herself under such hot water he’d never understand.
She looked up at him, her eyes more awake than they’d been before. She wore a short terry cloth robe.
“Sorry. But hey, you offered.”
He liked this playfulness about her.
“That I did,” he smiled back.
As soon as Morgan saw her, he sat up on the bed and reached out to her.
As she carried him down the stairs, Noah right behind her, he asked, “Has he gotten much sleep at all?”
“Little naps here and there. Every time he settles, his ears or stomach wake him up.”
She went into the kitchen, Noah still following like a puppy. He watched as she measured liquid medication for Morgan and got him to take it. The kid hated taking medicine.
Next, he watched as she worked on filling the coffee maker with water with one hand while holding Morgan on her hip with the other.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
She looked at him over her shoulder. “I’m making coffee. It’s gonna be a long night Noah.”
He stepped close to her and took the carafe from her hand.
Her eyes grew wide as they looked into his. His fingers went to her lips when she went to say something then his hands went to her shoulders, turning and guiding her out of the kitchen into the living room.
“You are not going to load up on caffeine. Once he’s settled, you’re sleeping.”
She looked up at him after sitting on the sofa, Morgan in her lap. “But…”
“Uh uh,” he interrupted. “I’m going to be right here with you.”
“Noah, it’s my time …”
He sat down next to her. Too close, as it made her stop in mid sentence. A fact that didn’t go unnoticed by him.
“I know you hate the idea of asking for help. Accepting it is another battle for you.”
She looked down at Morgan, who snuggled in close. She let a heavy sigh go.
“You’re right. I’m overwhelmed with this.”
Well, mark the calendar. Eden admitted she’s human.
“Eden, I’m overwhelmed and it’s only been an hour. He needs both of us.”
She lifted her head and looked into his soft brown eyes. Her tentative smile showing her resistance fading caused his own smile to form.
A half hour of Morgan going back and forth between the two of them on the sofa. He was uncomfortable, overtired and not sure which parent could provide the relief he so desperately needed.
“I’ve got an idea,” Noah said as Morgan climbed onto Eden’s lap.
He sat closer to her on the sofa. Morgan’s head settled into the crook of her left arm with his body lying across first her lap then Noah’s. His big brown eyes looking back and forth between his parents.
Noah turned and noticed the questioning look in her eyes. He just smiled at her.
Soon, Morgan began slowly blinking. His eyes barely able to stay open. As Eden caressed his downy hair with her right hand, Noah’s right hand caressed the boy’s legs while his left arm lie on the back of the sofa behind Eden.
The silence filled the room as Morgan finally drifted off to sleep. Noah reached up and touched Morgan’s cheek.
“He’s not as warm.”
“God I hope this is the turning point.”
Noah and Eden didn’t look at one another as they spoke. Both concentrated on the sleeping boy.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Noah asked.
“I really didn’t think it was this bad,” she answered. “When his fever shot up to a hundred and two, it all happened so fast. Then, I was so tired.”
Noah’s left hand absently played with her hair. It now reached just past her shoulders and he enjoyed the silky texture of it as he sifted his fingers through it. Since she didn’t pull away, he continued the closeness.
Morgan’s deep breathing and Noah caressing her hair was so relaxing. The exhaustion of the past two days slowly creeping in. Her right hand now played with Morgan’s left.
Noah simply watched her. The tenderness he saw flow through her for their son warmed his heart.
“Look at his hands,” she whispered absently. “He’s getting to be so big.” Noah chuckled, causing her to look at him. “What?” she asked.
“I’m sorry,” he answered. “This is just so much like when he was a newborn.”
His hand still played with her hair as they talked.
“Tell me,” she said.
Noah looked at Morgan, finally sleeping soundly.
In a far away tone, remembering the past, he told her, “When you’d nurse him, you’d constantly count his fingers and toes. I think we both couldn’t believe he was here.”
“You’d sit with us?”
He smiled at her. “He was a lot smaller then, but he’d be in your arms just like this. I’d just sit and watch you.” He lowered his gaze back to Morgan. His little hands still had the dimples of a baby. His mouth still heart shaped as he slept.
“It’s funny,” Noah said as he now caressed Morgan’s hand. “I’d look at him and his little hand barely fit around my finger. He’d hold onto it so tight. I couldn’t believe how strong he was for being so small.”
When he lifted his head and their eyes met, she saw the depth of his love for their son. She had no idea that the love she saw there was truly for her as well. They’d created this beautiful boy – together. Parts of each of them intertwined for all eternity.
“He wasn’t sick like this as a baby, was he?” she asked.
She hated not remembering.
“No. He’s a very healthy boy. Always has been.”
He could see how tired she was.
“Why don’t you relax while he settles,” his voice softly instructed her.
She looked at him briefly before setting her head back on the sofa and closing her eyes. His arm still draped the back of the sofa, but he was no longer able to play with her hair.
“So, Morgan was a good eater I take it,” she said, her eyes remaining closed.
Noah smiled. “Oh yeah,” he answered.
The moments of silence were getting longer as she felt herself drifting yet wanting to stay awake. She’d talk just to try to keep herself conscious.
“And you’d sit just like this with us?” her voice so sleepy.
Noah could see she was losing the battle with sleep.
“Just like this,” he whispered, getting a soft sigh in return.
She felt herself drifting. The warmth of Morgan on her lap and Noah beside her enveloped her.
“Just like this is nice,” she all but cooed.
The crisis with their son all but over for the night, another apprehension flowed through him. She was drawn to him. He knew it. With her now relaxed and off guard, time to see if it was only because of Morgan she was allowing his closeness.
“Your hair was much longer then,” he whispered as he leaned in closer.
“Longer,” she repeated softly.
“I’d have to sweep it back,” his soft breaths along her neck.
He took his right hand and lightly grazed her shoulder mimicking his words.
“Like this,” he told her.
“Then I could do this while you nursed our son,” he said before a tender kiss at her neck.
“Oh!” she softly squealed as he gave more butterfly kisses.
She felt transported to another place and time. In her mind, she could see a baby in her arms. His kisses along her now exposed shoulder sending excitement through her.
“Noah, I see him.”
“Mmm hmm,” he muffled through more soft kisses.
He’d pulled the loosened terry robe from her shoulder, kissing each newly exposed inch. He felt her shaking her head slowly.
Knowing she was in that place between sleep and consciousness, he suckled her neck softly as he slid his right hand beneath the robe. Her nipple hardened in anticipation. His thumb and finger lightly plucking, pulling.
He was hard. The want she could make him feel overpowering.
Again, she held nothing back from his touch. Her soft sighs pushing him further. Remembering how she came just at the touch of his hands on her breasts in the kitchen, he alternated rolling and plucking at her excited nipple.
“Noah,” she sighed his name.
“That’s my girl. Come for me Eden,” he softly ordered. “Let me take you to paradise.”
She fell over the edge as his tongue flickered in her ear. Her mind imagining him sliding inside her. Taking her to that place she knew only with him. She felt the orgasm flow through her. Her panties wet from his torture. What a wonderful dream.
He knew when she’d come. It fed his ego knowing he could still bring her pleasure. He withdrew his hand from beneath her robe and listened to her sigh her sated state.
“Oh God Eden, you have no idea how much I want you,” he softly groaned before he needed to take care of what he couldn’t do with her. What started out as curious exploration turned torturous for himself.
Damn she had him hot. Thankfully she was asleep and wouldn’t question how long he’d be in the bathroom. Reigning in that desire would have killed him. He scrubbed his face with cool water after getting his own release before returning to the living room.
Morgan’s cheeks now pink instead of the bright red of fever. Noah softly lifted him from Eden’s hold. Morgan sound asleep and never acknowledging the shift. He carried his son upstairs, covered him in his bed and sat beside him watching him sleep. It had been a scary night for all of them.
When he descended the stairs, he was surprised to see Eden up. He was further surprised to see her dressed in shorts and tee shirt.
He was caught off guard when she looked up at him and quickly turned her face away. What was the look of shame he saw on her face before she turned away all about?
He followed her into the living room. She sat and pulled her feet up beneath her. He took a seat on the adjacent section of the sofa.
Eden sat silently for a moment. Noah just being in her home had brought to the surface erotic dreams she’d been able to keep hidden until now. For heaven’s sake, she’d been holding her sick child and having sex dreams about Noah! When would this man stop having an effect on her? The saddest part of it all, he had no idea how much being near him tore at her.
“Hey, you okay?” he asked at her continued silence.
She jumped at the sound of his voice. Rubbing her hands over her face, she answered, “It’s just been a long couple of days.” She looked into his eyes. “Thanks for everything Noah.”
He leaned forward, his forearms resting on his thighs. “Eden, I’d have been here sooner. You know that.”
“I know,” she looked down shamefully. “I’m sorry.” She angrily wiped the tear that escaped down her cheek.
Noah moved to sit next to her, wrapping his arm around her. “Talk to me Eden.”
She sniffled. “I was so scared Noah. He was so sick.” She looked up to meet his gaze. “What if I didn’t get him to the doctor in time? What if…”
His fingers at her lips silenced her. “He’s gonna be fine.”
“I don’t know what I’d do if anything happened to him Noah. He means the world to me.”
He gathered her close and sat back. “I know,” he agreed. “Just stop trying to be super mom, okay?”
She sniffled again. “’Kay.”
He had to figure this out. After a brief silence filled the room, he swallowed.
“Eden, I need you to sign the sale agreement.”
He thought she’d pull away, but instead she angled her head up to look at him.
“You’re right Noah. Tonight showed me that.”
Did she know what he was up to?
“Right?” he asked.
“Morgan’s home is wherever you or I are with him.”
“Yeah.” Not what he’d been hoping for.
She rose and made her way to the kitchen where they’d left the file. She simply went to the final page and signed her name, closing the file right after.
Once she thought about it, how could she make him stay in that house? They’d been a family there. She’d left to avoid the reminders. She couldn’t expect him to do anything less.