Anderson stared at his phone. Evelyn didn’t answer his phone calls or text messages. He needed to tell her he was moving back home and taking up the Artist Liaison position Xander had offered him in October. The thought of her with Preston Reese popped into his head, and his tiger bristled with jealousy. He needed to see her and soon. Pacing the airport terminal, he glared at the airplanes taking off. They delayed his flight an hour, and it was making him antsy. Roxie was expecting him at dinner and here he was stuck in Arizona thanks to a storm system refusing to leave. The one time he needed nice hot weather, and Arizona couldn’t deliver. Call it fate he was being kept from Evelyn now that he decided he needed her in his life. He still wasn’t ready to have children, but he would talk to her about it. It occurred to him he hadn’t ever explained why he didn’t want marriage and children, only expected her to accept his decision.
He called Xander.
“Hi Anderson,” Xander answered the phone, his voice showing his exhaustion.
“Xander they delayed my plane an hour. I might not make it home in time for dinner,” he explained.
“I can tell Roxie,” Xander replied, Anderson could hear voices in the background.
“What is happening?”
“Can I talk with Roxie?”
“No, you cannot barge in on girl time. I promised Roxie no drama and besides, she doesn’t know you want the job.”
“But I need her to tell Evelyn to talk to me. I’ve been trying to get a hold of her for a few days. She has read all my texts but isn’t responding. I left her a voicemail this morning before I left for the airport,” he shared.
“Sounds like she doesn’t want to talk to you then,” Xander pointed out, Anderson heard him click a door shut and all noise disappeared.
“But I need her to know she is my mate,” he begged.
“Is she now? I remember not a few weeks ago you were vehemently denying she was your mate,” Xander laughed.
“Not funny. This is hard for me to admit, but when I saw her with Preston, something came over me. Then I talked with Roxie and realized Evelyn really was trying to move on. You know we talked about my depressed tiger a few days ago,” he ground out. He wasn’t thrilled with admitting he was wrong and he knew Xander would not let him forget it anytime soon.
“Then you need to figure out a way to make Evelyn talk to you. I only ask you to keep the drama away from the art gallery. I know she is easy to corner there, but I need you to keep work and dating separate,” Xander ordered.
“Then how do I get her alone?”
“She has an apartment,” Xander answered and Anderson almost smacked his forehead.
“I know that. But she won’t let me inside,” he replied.
“Be creative,” Xander encouraged and Anderson closed his eyes.
“Now boarding flight 304,” an announcement came overhead.
“That’s me. I’ll call you when I land and let you know if I’ll make it to dinner or not,” Anderson said.
“Shoot me a text. One piece of advice. Evelyn has been very temperamental lately. At work, she chewed out several of our art handlers and has had a hard week with Evan Matthews. Tread carefully,” Xander warned.
“Thanks, man. Talk to you in a few hours.” He hung up the phone and boarded his plane. Evelyn was an even-tempered woman, he wondered what was making her temperamental.
A four-hour flight later and Anderson was getting off his plane in D.C. he had a two-hour drive ahead of him to get home to White Valley. That gave him two hours to think of a way to get Evelyn to talk to him. Shooting a text to Xander he let him know he could make dinner by seven-thirty.
I’ll be home around seven, so I can be over for dinner at 7:30.
See you then- Xander.
Anderson slipped into his car and revved the engine, he wanted to be home as soon as he could. He needed Roxie’s help to get Evelyn to talk to him. He figured Roxie could invite her over for their weekly dinner and he could show up. Roxie had always supported him and Evelyn, and it was time to use that to his advantage. Driving just on the edge of the speed limit Anderson made it home in record time. He quickly stepped into his apartment and showered off the day’s grime. He changed into a t-shirt and a clean pair of jeans. Brushing his hair out of his face, he looked at himself. His eyes were sunken, and he looked a wreck. He hadn’t shaved in a few days, his normal stubble on the edge of being a full beard. Being without his mate had done a number on him. He grabbed the little teddy bears he had picked up for the twins and got back in his car to drive ten minutes over to Xander and Roxie’s house. He parked his truck and was surprised to see his dad’s truck parked out front.
“Roxie!” he called walking into the house.
“Kitchen,” she called back, and he heard the deep rumble of his dad’s voice.
“Hi Dad,” he said, he and his dad were still working things out, but he didn’t hate him like he used to.
“Hi Son. Roxie was telling me you went to Arizona to see an artist,” his dad commented.
“It was a bust. She had nothing ready for the show. I got to see some photos. I had her send them to my email Xander. I’ll show you on Monday,” he said.
“Then why were you out there for a week?” his dad asked.
“She kept putting me off. Turns out she has a new boyfriend and he has taken up her time. She thought she’d be ready to show me, but lost track of time,” he explained.
“Sounds rough,” Roxie commented and handed him a beer.
“Not too bad. I got to sightsee around Phoenix, not something I usually get to do on my trips. I brought something for Sophia and Bentley,” he said, pulling the teddy bears out of the bag he’d placed them in.
“These are so cute!” Roxie cuddled the bears and showed them to Xander who was carrying Bentley. He took the blue bear and showed it to him, Anderson felt a sense of peace settle over him as he looked at his nephew.
“Where is Sophia?” he asked.
“Sleeping,” Roxie replied.
“Want Bentley?” Xander asked and Anderson nodding taking his nephew. He looked down into his bright brown eyes and smiled.
“You’re a natural,” his dad replied.
“Thanks,” he answered, he wanted to know how his dad handled Meredith having Elizabeth and Roxie, but was too chicken to ask just yet. He needed to be settled at home and convince Evvy to talk to him again before he crossed that bridge.
“We are having butter chicken with saffron rice,” Roxie announced carrying plates to the table.
“Let me,” their dad said, taking the stack from her. Xander stepped in kissing her cheek and pulling out utensils and cups. Anderson bounced back and forth staring at Bentley, how could something so small steal his heart. He wondered what it would be like to have his own child, boy or girl he didn’t care. Maybe he could talk to Marcus, his wife Ellie was expecting their first child. He remembered talking with Xander when Roxie got pregnant with the twins.
“How are you feeling?” he asked Xander one day in his office.
“I am so excited but also a little worried. Twins are hard to carry full term, which means the babies will most likely be born early. The doctor mentioned a C-section was probably in Roxie’s future. That scares me because that is major surgery,” Xander told him. Anderson leaned against the doorjamb and looked at his friend and boss.
“But so far everything is going fine?”
“Yes. She has had awful morning sickness, which lasts all day. It should just be called pregnancy sickness.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. Does it make you nervous her being pregnant?”
“Yes, but I’m more elated than anything,” Xander had replied. Anderson looked at him and smiled, Xander was so in love with his sister. She couldn’t have asked for a better mate.
“Dinner!” Roxie called and Anderson walked over to the kitchen table. Next to the table sat a vibrating bouncer, he placed Bentley in the bouncer and strapped him in. Roxie handed him his blanket, and he wrapped him up to keep him warm.
“You are amazing with them,” Roxie commented, and Anderson smiled.
“It’s easy when they are so sweet,” he replied and settled at the table to have dinner with his family.
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