Finding a Hart

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Chapter 38

Jared

“Yeah, wow.” I brushed my lips against hers again and her eyes finally fluttered open. Her cheeks were flushed and her blue eyes glazed over with lust. “I’ve wanted to do that for four months, Vanilla Latte.”

A wide grin overtook her entire face and her fingers gently tugged the hair at the nape of my neck. “I’m trying to remember why we didn’t.”

“You had a bunch of silly reasons,” I teased gently, leaning in to drop a kiss on her nose. Chris squealed again but that one was more of a warning. He was done playing. “Do you mind getting the little guy changed so I can start dinner?”

“I can do that.” Stephanie stepped backwards, letting her hands graze my chest as she dropped them from my neck. She offered me a small, almost secretive smile and turned around. My eyes stayed on her as she kicked her heels off by the door, something she had done so many times before, and moved into the living room where Chris was.

I could hear her interacting with my son while I seasoned the steaks and scrubbed the potatoes clean. I knew the only way she would eat the asparagus was if it was full of flavor so I rubbed the stalks in olive oil and seasoned them, too. Once I had everything prepared, I headed out to the balcony where the propane powered grill was.

Almost an hour later, I had everything ready to eat. I put the food on two plates and took them to the dining room table. Stephanie had bathed Chris and put him into a pair of pajamas while I made dinner. She strapped the fresh-smelling baby into the little bouncer that had been placed in the middle of the table. When she turned to look at me, she offered me a smirk.

“I was looking through his closet for the insert to his little bathtub and can you guess what I found?”

I had no idea what she was talking about so I shook my head. Her smirk only widened when she took her plate of food from me.

“A wipes warmer.”

“Oh, crap.” I placed a drink in front of her and held up my hands in surrender. “Look, I know you said no gimmicky items but it looked really cool when I was buying all of the baby gear.”

“Uh huh,” she replied, the smile still on her face as I took my seat at the table. “Funny how that cool item is tucked away in the back of the closet with a slight layer of dust covering it.”

I sighed and plastered on my best reproachful look. “It was worthless. The wipes came out warm but were cold like three seconds later.”

“The only thing I just heard is that I was right.” She flashed me a smile before sliding a piece of steak into her mouth. Even though I knew it wasn’t supposed to be, the way she savored that small bite was incredibly sexy. Her eyelashes fluttered shut and she made a satisfied noise in the back of her throat. When she reopened her eyes and caught me staring, a light blush filled her cheeks. “What?”

“Nothing.” I cleared my throat and focused on my own food. We ate in silence for a few minutes before she sighed and told me about the bad new she had received from her boss earlier. I reached over and took her hand in mine. “It sounds like the prognosis is really good, sweetheart, and I’m sure knowing she can count on you takes a lot of weight off of her shoulders.”

“I hope so.” She offered me a smile and stood from the table, grabbing both of our empty plates. “I’ll get dessert.”

I chuckled and rose from my seat, unbuckling Chris so I could take him into the living room. Steph had put a wrist rattle on him earlier and he happily gummed on that when I sat down on the couch.

She reappeared a moment later with two plates of the chocolate mousse cheesecake, a dessert I knew was one of her favorites. We ate together and laughed when Chris’s eyes followed the direction of my fork, joking that he was already taking after Stephanie.

We finished our dessert and I made Chris a bottle. I took him in the bedroom, fed him, read him a book, and rocked him until he was asleep. Once he was settled in the bassinet, I rushed back out to the living room, almost afraid Stephanie would be gone. I wasn’t sure how she was feeling about the kiss earlier and I knew that she had a tendency to get into her own headspace and overthink things.

So when I saw her sitting on my couch, her legs tucked up under her body while she pointed the remote at the TV, I released a long, relieved sigh. She must have heard it because she turned her head and smiled at me.

“You thought I’d be gone.”

It wasn’t a question but a statement and I nodded my head. “Honestly? Yeah. Let me clean up the kitchen and then we should talk.”

“It’s done.” She patted the spot on the couch next to her. “Come sit, City Roast.”

I did exactly what she said, taking a seat right next to her so our thighs were touching. I brought my arm up so it was along the back of the couch and Stephanie didn’t waste any time snuggling up to my side.

It was a normal position for us usually but felt completely different in that moment. Her hand and cheek both rested against my chest and it was everything I could do to not kiss her again.

“I don’t want to fight this anymore, Jared.”

Out of all of the things she could have said, that was by far one of the best. I wrapped my arm around her and settled my cheek against the top of her head.

“Thank god, because I don’t think I can fight it anymore. Not now that I know what more is like for us.” I pressed my nose to her hair and inhaled a deep breath. “Is this going to cause a problem for you at work?”

She shook her head. “Robin gave me her blessing last week when she was grilling me about you. I’ll have to reassign your case to someone else but it’s not a problem.”

I ran my fingertips down her arm slowly and felt another weight lift from my shoulders. “Good.”

Steph moved until she was looking up at me and I couldn’t help myself. I had to kiss her.

With one of my hands on her cheek and the other wrapped around her, I pressed my lips to hers and felt her hands grip the front of my shirt as she kissed me back enthusiastically.

I lost myself to her. We shifted until she was laying on the couch with my body hovering over hers. Her hands were in my hair and her hips moved beneath me, searching for friction. I ran my hands up her stomach, over her shirt, and she pulled her mouth from mine when I reached the underside of her breasts.

“Jared.”

I stared down at her, watching her chest heave, and tried to get my own breathing under control. “Sorry. I lost my head a little bit. I’ll slow down.”

“I…” Her face was already slightly flushed but obvious embarrassment caused the red in her cheeks to darken. “I’m not that experienced.”

“What?” I had no idea what she was talking about. I sat up, pulling on her hands until she was sitting in my lap. She leaned into me but stared down at her hands.

“I know that sounds stupid but I was in a ten year relationship, right?”

Frowning, I nodded my head. Thinking about her being with anyone else wasn’t something I was too keen on. She sighed and chewed on the inside of her cheek nervously.

“Troy was my first.” She paused to clear her throat. “Troy was my only, Jared.”

“Oh.” Understanding dawned on me. I placed a finger under her chin to force her to look up at me. “Sweetheart, you have no reason to be embarrassed about that.”

She rolled her eyes in an attempt to cover up her discomfort. “I know but I’m nervous. I’m just… Can we take it slow?”

“As slow as you need or want us to. Twenty-four hours ago I was fighting to keep my hands off of you so I’m perfectly happy holding you in my arms.”

“And making out like teenagers?” A small smile was slowly stretching across her face and it turned into a full blown grin when I nodded.

“And definitely making out like teenagers.”

We surged back together and did exactly that

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