“This is your favorite restaurant?” I look at Emma incredulously before I turn my gaze back to the front door of one of New York’s best places to eat-and most expensive ones. “I’m not sure I can afford this.”
Emma chuckles. “Don’t worry. My dad will take care of the check. He will feel offended if you try to chip in, so don’t. Can you do that? Enjoy some free food?”
I laugh and shake my head. “I’ll try, Peach. I’ll try.” I bury my nose in her hair and whisper next to her ear, “I might claim some compensation from you afterward though. You know, for my efforts.”
She shudders when I place a featherlike kiss on her neck before I let her go. “Jack! You are unbelievable,” she grumbles, but her amused smile gives her away.
“How did your dad even manage to get a table here at such short notice?” I ask her.
“He’s good friends with the owner. We eat here every time my parents come to visit,” Emma explains.
I laugh, “Wow, being your boyfriend has its perks.”
She rolls her eyes but laughs, too, when she grabs my hand and pulls me after her into the restaurant. After Emma told the maître d′ her name, we follow him to a nice table in a quiet corner where Emma’s parents are already waiting for us. I’m not sure if there’s any etiquette involved in greeting them, so when Emma sits down with a casual “Hey!”, I follow suit. Charles gives us both a warm smile while I only get a glare from her mom.
There’s only little conversation when we choose and order our food. The level of awkwardness slowly increases, and I start to wonder if agreeing to this dinner was such a smart idea. I give Emma a quick glance, and she seems just as uncomfortable. Her mom still hasn’t said a single word, but her dad decides to end the silence. “Tell us, how did you two meet?” he asks.
Emma clears her throat and looks at me briefly before she turns back to her father. “We met through a mutual friend. Things kind of evolved from there.”
Her dad laughs. “Pretty quickly at that.”
Then it finally bursts out of her mother. “Was this pregnancy planned?”
Emma lets out a long breath. “No, Mom; it wasn’t. Sometimes, things happen.”
Charles gives his wife a pleading look. “Mary, please; there’s no use pondering over this too much now, is there? What does it matter anyway?” He turns back to Emma. “How far along are you?”
She grimaces. “I’ve just started the sixth month. The baby is due in October.”
“In October! Oh, Emma,” her dad sighs and puts his hand on his daughter’s. “I still can’t believe you kept this from us this long.”
“I’m sorry,” Emma says with a frown. “I couldn’t. At first, I didn’t know how to handle the situation myself. It came as quite a surprise for me as well.” She lowers her gaze. “And I knew how Mom would react.”
Again, her parents exchange a glance. Her mother rolls her eyes and sighs before she looks at Emma. “I’m sorry, darling. I just want what’s best for you.”
Emma’s jaw tightens, and she pinches the bridge of her nose. She lifts her gaze and glares at her mom. “Why don’t you let me decide what’s best for me? I have a great job that I love. I love my life here with my friends, and now I love Jack and this baby.” Emma leans back in her chair and puts her hand on her belly. “Once he’s born, I’ll be happier than ever before. This is the best thing that could have happened to me.”
Charles gasps. “He? You’re having a boy?” A big smile spreads on his face, and when Emma looks at him, she returns it with the same smile she always gives me whenever she’s talking about the baby.
“Yes,” she answers, “we just found out today actually.”
While Emma’s dad’s face gleams with joy, her mom’s facial expression still shows no sign of approval, and she lets out a resigned sigh when she looks at her husband with the happy grin on his lips.
Once the food arrives, our conversation gradually changes to lighter topics, but it comes to no surprise to me when Emma’s dad asks me after we’re done eating to join him at the bar for a taste of the best whiskey in town—Emma and her mom need to talk in private. I look at her, and she gives me a small nod, and before I follow her dad, I give her a short, sweet, and hopefully reassuring kiss.
Charles ushers me to the other side of the restaurant, and we sit next to each other on the bar stools. He orders our drinks, and we silently enjoy the first sip of what really is the best whiskey I have ever tasted—not that I drink it a lot.
“So, Jack...” Charles tilts his head to look at me. “Tell me a little bit about yourself. What do you do? Are you from New York?”
I shake my head. “I was born in Boston. I moved to New York a few years ago with my best friend. His sister already lived here, and he found a job at a high school in Brooklyn. I’m a medical device engineer, and luckily, it was easy to find a job as well.”
“And how did you meet Emma? She didn’t give any details earlier.”
A subtle smile plays on my lips when I think back to our first meeting. I direct my gaze to the drink in my hand. I gently swirl the glass and watch the auburn liquid before I answer him, “As Emma already mentioned, we have a mutual friend. Paul is my best friend, and he volunteers at the hospital where Emma works. That’s how he knows her. I met your daughter when I had to go to the emergency room one night.”
His eyebrows lift in surprise. “Oh? I hope nothing serious?”
“No, just a small laceration.” I run my finger over my eyebrow where you can still see a tiny white line. “But I’m glad it happened because it brought me to Emma.” I look at him and smile. The grin he gives me in return makes me like him even more than I already do. He’s a genuinely nice man, and I wonder a little how he ended up with his wife.
“I’m glad too,” Charles says. “Emma looks so happy. It’s great that she’s found a man who fulfills his responsibilities. Someone else might have left the mother of his child if it was unplanned.”
I feel bad for having to lie to him about that, but it’s Emma’s decision to tell them the truth. I avert my gaze and think about what to tell him. “I promised Emma to support her in this,” I finally say. “And no matter how things will proceed between us, I will keep that promise.”
He gives me a grateful smile and finishes his drink. “Another one before we go back to the ladies?”
I nod and finish my drink as well. A warm feeling spreads within me; a feeling that I could easily ascribe to the alcohol, but I know it’s not that. It’s the thought of Emma—of us, her and me and the baby.
Later that night, Emma and I lie on her bed, her head rests on my naked chest, and my arms are wrapped around her. I do feel a little relaxed due to the alcohol I had after dinner, but again, that’s not the reason why I feel comfortable with Emma being this close to me.
While her fingers trace the outlines of my tattoo, Emma tells me about the talk with her mom. “She let me know straightforwardly how disappointed she was. I told her again this is a good thing, that I’m happy, and how she should be happy for me, and she actually understood. We still have lots of things to resolve, but I feel that she’s willing to do so. She’s ready to listen. She even said having a grandchild wasn’t the worst that could have happened, which is her way of saying she’s looking forward to it.”
At that point, I have to grab her fingers that are still drawing lazy circles over my skin. Emma lifts her head and gives me a questioning look. “Sorry, babe,” I murmur. “It’s getting a little hard to concentrate on what you’re saying when you do that.”
A mischievous smile appears on her face, and she presses a soft kiss on my lips. “Okay,” she whispers. She laces our fingers together and rests her head back on my chest. “I’m gonna take a day off tomorrow,” she continues, “and Mom and I are gonna meet.”
“That’s good,” I say with a sigh. ”By the way, your dad invited me to his birthday party. He told me we could stay as long as we liked. He’d love to spend more time with us.”
Emma chuckles. “I thought he would. He really likes you. And when he says he’d like to spend time with us, what he really means is with you.”
I let out a long breath. “I’m glad I at least have his approval. Your mom seems to hate my guts.”
With a sigh, Emma sits up and turns to look at me. “She’ll come around. It’s nothing personal. It’s just because you supposedly knocked me up before marrying me.”
I roll onto my side and prop up unto my elbow, resting my head on my hand. I gently stroke Emma’s thigh with my other hand. “Will you reconsider telling your parents the truth? I hated to lie to your dad like that.”
Emma looks down to my hand that’s reached the hem of her barely-there sleeping shorts. “Are you trying to bribe me?” she asks with a raised eyebrow.
My fingers move underneath the hem and touch the lace of her panties. “Maybe,” I respond in a husky whisper. “Is it working?”
“No,” she says with a determination that I know isn’t there.
“How about this?” I sit up and move her hair away from her neck to gently press my lips on the skin just below her ear and again a little farther down until I reach her shoulder. I slowly remove the strap of her camisole and leave another soft kiss there.
Emma takes a deep breath when my hand moves even farther up her thigh and inside those tiny shorts, toward her ass. “Okay, I will reconsider,” she moans softly.
“Good,” I say and move away from her. I lie back down on the bed and cross my arms behind my head. I try to suppress a satisfied grin when Emma stares at me with her mouth agape.
Her stare turns into a glare. “You cruel tease!” She crosses her arms in front of her chest and turns her back to me with an angry puff.
“I’m sorry, Peach,” I chuckle as I get up and move behind her, so her back is pressed against my chest. I run my hands over her arms, which makes her shiver slightly.
Emma snorts. “Don’t you Peach me, mister! That was mean.”
I rest my chin on her shoulder and my hands on her belly. “Hey, little Peanut,” I say with a laugh as I stroke the bump. “Put in a good word for me with your mom, will you? She’s a little mad at me now.”
Emma flinches, and I laugh when we suddenly feel the baby move. She gasps, “Oh my gosh, whose side are you on?” She puts her hands on her belly and shakes her head when the baby moves again. “Dammit, Peanut, you’re supposed to be on my side—not your...” She doesn’t finish the sentence but instead lowers her head and sighs.
I place my hands on hers. “Say it, Peach,” I breathe in her ear. “His what?”
Emma lifts her head and turns around to look into my eyes with such an intense stare that it makes me tremble. “His—dad,” she says in a hardly audible whisper.
“I like the sound of that.”
"Of course,” I murmur before I pull her toward me to kiss her lips. We lean back and continue kissing more and more passionately, but it’s still slow and sweet and affectionate. It’s a kiss that makes me feel more alive than ever before; a kiss that makes me fall even deeper in love with her.
After a while, Emma pulls back and looks at me. “Thanks for staying with me tonight,” she says with that sweet, sexy smile I adore so much.
I would tell her that I’d stay with her forever if she asked me. ”Of course, Peach.”
Her smile widens, and her eyes sparkle. “And now, make love to me.”