Relief hit me when I realized that he wasn’t expecting anything from me. The relief was quickly followed up by… disappointment? I hated how nervous I was at the thought of having sex with him because I knew without a doubt that being with Jared would be amazing.
“Goodnight,” I whispered, moving closer and pressing my face against his neck. He shifted until one of his arms was under my head and the other was draped over the top of me. Surrounded by the smell of Jared Hart and wrapped in his warm hold, I fell asleep quickly.
When a baby whimpering pulled me out of a dead-to-world sleep, it took me a moment to remember where I was. I had somehow turned so I was facing away from Jared and he had his chest against my back. Before I had a chance to wake fully or even appreciate our position, he was up and out of bed.
About two minutes later, I heard him whisper something to his son. I cracked my eyes open and saw Jared lift Chris from the bassinet and take him to the glider in the corner of the room. I watched the two of them from the pillow as Jared held the bottle and rocked his son. It only took about ten minutes before Chris was placed back in his bed. Jared settled under the blankets and smiled when he saw I was awake.
“You should be sleeping.”
I cuddled up to his warm, bare chest when he wrapped his arms back around me. “I like watching you with Chris.”
“Yeah? I like watching you with Chris.” He pressed his lips to my forehead. “It’s incredibly sexy.”
My only answer was a slight chuckle and I let sleep claim me again. I woke again in the morning before either of the Hart boys. I admired Jared’s sleeping form for a minute, letting my eyes roam over his handsome face. To avoid leaning in and kissing him, I made myself get out of bed.
The clock on the microwave said it was after seven and I was surprised that Chris was still asleep. I went ahead and got coffee started before digging through the fridge and pulling out stuff for breakfast.
Jared and Chris showed up when I was just finishing the pancakes I had been making. The baby gave me a happy smile when I turned around and I couldn’t help returning it.
Jared leaned in and pressed his lips to mine softly. “It really is a good morning. I could get used to finding you in this kitchen in your pajamas.”
“Play your cards right, Hart, and it could happen often.” I pulled Chris out of his arms and pressed my lips to his belly, earning me a little grunt as he pulled my hair. “We have to be getting close to giggles by now.”
Jared grabbed a clean bottle and nodded his head. “You know one of my favorite things about you?”
“What?” I asked while using my free hand to move pancakes to plates. Jared took the dishes from me and gave me the bottle instead.
“The fact that everything with Chris is we. We should be reading to him. Wefinally get to see him smile. We have to be getting close to giggles. You’ve been doing it for as long as I’ve known you.”
“You like the fact that I’ve basically inserted myself into your life by force?” I grinned and sat at the table across from him. “Most men would be afraid of that.”
He shook his head as he picked up a fork. “Then they’re idiots. When I showed up in the NICU the day before he came home, I watched you hold my son like he was yours. I couldn’t hear what you were saying but you whispered to him, kissed him, and loved on him as if you’d been the one to give birth two week before. And then I realized that you were crying and it confirmed what I already knew. I wanted you in my life, Steph. Badly. I wanted that beautiful woman who loved so freely and so much.”
He spoke as he used his fork to cut up my pancakes, like it was no big deal, and I didn’t even know how to reply when he was done. I just stared at him in silence until Chris spit the bottle out and I pulled myself out of my daze so I could burp him.
“Thank you,” I finally said quietly. “Thank you for letting me into your lives so easily. Thank you for letting me spend so much time with your baby. Thank you for being my friend before anything.”
“We’re both lucky to have you.”
We didn’t say anything else as we finished eating and I took Chris to the nursery to get him changed while Jared showered. I kissed his bare stomach and he just grinned at me like it was the best thing ever. I redressed him in a monkey onesie and a pair of pants before pulling him back into my arms.
I carried him down the hall to Jared’s room to get my phone and Chris made soft, happy noises against my shoulder as he tugged on my hair. I picked up my phone from the nightstand and was just turning to leave when the bathroom door opened. Jared stepped out wearing nothing but a towel at his hips and I froze.
The man was beautiful. His wet, blonde hair was slicked back on his head and somehow had a piece sticking up in the back. His bare chest wasn’t ripped with a six-pack of abs but it held some definition and I knew from laying my head against it that it was firm. Visually, it was smooth and lean and all I wanted to do was run my fingers down it. Or lick the little drops of water from it. Either would work.
Chris gave a hard tug on my hair and I realized that I was staring. Blinking several times, I met Jared’s eyes and offered a small smile to counter his smirk.
“Sorry. I just…” I shook my head and shrugged. “You’re hot.”
“The way you just took your time openly checking me out was hot.” Jared’s eyes were filled with desire and I could feel my breathing pick up.
I shook my head and started to back out of the bedroom. “If I don’t leave now, I’m going to try to do inappropriate things that his young eyes shouldn’t see.”
Jared laughed softly and I grinned before disappearing into the hallway. I had it bad for that man and I was afraid that I was going to combust.
“You and Daddy are just too much, Christopher.” I brought his little hand to my lips and kissed him several times while he just smiled at me.
I was laying on the floor with Chris, both of us on our stomachs, when Jared appeared dressed in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. I looked up at him and smiled.
He just grinned and shook his head. “Hey.”
Chris apparently wanted to see his dad, too, because he rolled over so he was no longer on his stomach but on his back instead. I stared at him with my eyes wide before looking at Jared, who also looked shocked.
“Did you see that?”
He nodded and fell to his knees so he could put Chris back on his stomach. “He just rolled over.”
Chris gave me a look of irritation, as if I’d done it and not his father, and rolled over easily again.
“Rolling over at fifteen weeks is early. I honestly thought we had longer. You know what this means, right?” I moved to my knees and Jared just gave me a clueless expression, making me grin. “Time to get him out of the bassinet. Rolling from his back to his stomach is going to follow sooner that we’d like. Besides, he’s almost too big for the bassinet anyway.”
“Shit. How do you do that?”
I laughed and shifted so I could lean into him. “Start with naps for today and we can try bedtime tonight to see how he handles it.”
“Yeah?” Jared pressed a kiss to my cheek. “We?”
“I just invited myself to stay the night again.”
He grinned at me. “Good. What do you want to do for the rest of the day?”
I ran my fingers through his damp hair. “As little as possible.”
“Sounds like a perfect day to me.”
The two of us took some time to make sure the crib was ready for Chris to sleep in. When it was time for him to take a nap, I stayed in the living room so Jared could get him to sleep. He reappeared ten minutes later holding a small video monitor and sighed as he handed it to me.
“He looks so small in that big crib.”
I smiled at the small form on the screen in my hand. “He’s so beautiful.”
Jared sat next to me and we both stared at the monitor for a moment without saying anything else. The silence eventually transformed into us making out like a couple of teenagers and we only stopped when my stomach growled loudly around lunch time.
“Are you on call next weekend?”
I shook my head and swallowed a bite of my food. “Nope. I honestly can’t handle any on call shifts with everything else I have on my plate. Why?”
“Want to go out on a date with me?” He gave me a lopsided grin and I smiled instantly. It had been a long time since someone had asked me out on a date. The last time had been when I was fifteen and Troy had nervously come up to me while I was standing at my locker. All of the times after that had been implied or routine. I had dated a couple of times since our break-up but they had both been pre-arranged, set up by Alyssa. Jared asking made me feel like a teenager again.
“Yeah, I do.”
“Next weekend, then. I’ll find a babysitter for Chris.”
“What about Marco and Bri?” I asked hesitantly. Jared furrowed his brows and stared at me for a moment.
“Does Bri watch your nieces and nephews, too?”
I laughed softly and nodded my head. He was pretty endearing when he went into protective daddy mode. “All the time. I wouldn’t suggest them if I didn’t know Chris would be in good hands.”
“Yeah, of course you wouldn’t. Sorry, we’ve never left him with anyone before besides the people at the daycare center and it makes me nervous. Bri and Marco it is.”
“What are we going to do on this date?” I asked after I’d taken both of our empty plates to the kitchen. I moved to sit on the couch but Jared reached out and snaked his arms around my waist, bringing me down so I was sitting in his lap.
“It’s a surprise but there might be dessert involved.”
I grinned and looped my arms around his neck while running my nose along his. “Sounds like a winner already.”
Rather than picking up where we left off before lunch, Jared picked up the remote and turned on the TV. Sitting there, cuddled together, we spent the rest of our day doing absolutely nothing together.