“My family likes you,” I commented as I drove us in the direction of Jared’s home. “That’s not an easy feat to accomplish so quickly. My father threatened to break Troy’s kneecaps, to castrate Marco, and don’t even get me started on the shit he’s said about Eldon.”
“Why is your sister even with that guy?” Jared sounded genuinely concerned for Kate and I smiled slightly before sighing.
“I don’t know. Probably because they have three kids together and she’s never worked before. I don’t think she’ll leave him just because she’s afraid of how she’d survive without him. I know she’s not happy, though.”
“He’s lucky I didn’t punch him in the face.” He reached over and took my hand in his, leaving our conjoined ones on my thigh. “If that’s how he speaks to you, I can only imagine how he speaks to his wife and kids.”
“He takes some weird pleasure out of trying to get under my skin. Always has. I think it’s because I’ve never really been anything other than cordial to him.”
Once my car was parked in the residential area, Jared reached into the backseat and unlatched Christopher’s seat from the base. With his hand on the small of my back, he led us inside the lobby. Howie was on duty and he grinned when he caught sight of us.
“Mr. Hart. Ms. Gibson. How are you this evening?”
“We’re great,” I replied as I leaned over and gave him a swift hug. “How are you?”
He nodded happily. “Good, good. If I can do anything, let me know.”
“Thanks, Howie.” Jared smiled at the older man as we stepped into the elevator. “Goodnight.”
Chris was awake in his seat but his eyes were heavy as he stared at the wall. I knew that he’d barely make it through his bottle before passing out. Between being handed around and playing with Ryder and Lila, he was exhausted.
“I’ll get him dressed if you want to make the bottle,” I told Jared, unbuckling Chris once we were in the door. Jared pressed a kiss to my forehead and I disappeared down the hall with the baby.
Despite how tired he was, Chris still kicked his legs and offered me plenty of smiles while I put a clean diaper on him. Once he was in a pair of fresh pajamas, I kissed his chubby cheeks and laughed when a happy giggle fell from his lips.
“I love you, Christopher. You know that, right?” I held him up so we were eye-to-eye. “You’re my favorite baby in the whole entire world.”
Jared chuckled behind me. “If he could talk, I’m sure he’d tell you that he feeling was mutual, sweetheart.”
After one more kiss to his cheek, I handed off the baby so Jared could put him to bed. Bedtime had become a routine for us and we had an unspoken arrangement that had us switching off who put him to bed each night.
While Jared was in the nursery, I pulled on a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt before brushing my teeth in the bathroom I’d completely made myself at home in. My toothbrush, face wash, lotion, and make-up littered the counter and a hair straightener and hair dryer were taking up both outlets. In the shower, bottles of my shampoo, conditioner, and body wash had joined Jared’s and I’d even bought a bathrobe that I could keep specifically at his place.
We’d meshed our lives together well.
I came out of the bathroom just as Jared was walking into the bedroom, confirming my thoughts about Chris falling asleep quickly. He smiled as he reached over to grab his own pajama pants and I took a second to look at him. His blonde hair was disheveled on top of his head and in need of a cut. The light green eyes that reflected so much depth constantly shined happily over the past couple of months.
Seeing my life fit with his so easily and watching him in that moment made me lose control of the overwhelming emotions inside of me.
“I love you.”
Jared’s eyes widened. Two beats passed before his lips curled into a smile. “Yeah?”
“Yeah.” I nodded and leaned against the doorframe to the bathroom. “I’m in love with you, Jared Hart. I have been for a while.”
“Well, Stephanie Gibson, I’m glad to hear that.” He held his hand out to me. “Because I can’t remember what life was like when I didn’t love you and I don’t want to.”
I took five steps to close the distance between us, ignoring his hand as I threw my arms around his neck. His encircled my waist as our mouths met in a desperate kiss. The familiar scent and taste of Jared sent my body into overdrive and I knew I was done waiting.
“Jare,” I breathed as his lips left my mouth to trail down my throat. “Will you make love to me?”
He continued to lavish my neck but I knew he heard me because his fingers dug into my skin when I spoke. His teeth grazed the sensitive spot on my collarbone and I felt his lips curl into a smile when my knees buckled slightly.
I wasn’t sure who started moving us but we somehow made it to the bed and Jared’s body ended up covering mine. He pulled back slightly so he could look into my eyes and his eyebrows knit together.
“Are you sure about this?” he asked as he gripped the hem of my shirt. I stared up at him and nodded my head nervously. We’d made it to that point a couple of times but always had interruptions. In my mind, I knew that this was it.
His lips molded with mine for another moment before he pulled back and looked at me again. “Sweetheart, you’re trembling.”
I realized that he was right. My body noticeably shook and I just smiled again. “I’m nervous. I feel like a virgin all over again but I want this. I want you.”
“I’ll wait, Stephanie. I’ll wait as long as you need me to.”
“I’m ready, Jared. I’ve been ready. Please.” I reached my hands out and tugged on his shirt until it was over his head. My hands immediately ran down his smooth chest and I sighed happily. “Please.”
I didn’t have to beg too hard. Jared removed my shirt quickly and a reverent look crossed his face as he gazed down at my breasts. It wasn’t the first time he’d seen me naked but every other time had just been a passing glimpse as I showered or dressed. When he looked at me like he was, I felt like the sexiest woman in the world.
“Every inch of you is so beautiful,” he murmured, leaning down so his warm mouth could connect with one of my sensitive nipples. I gasped and grabbed a fistful of his hair as pleasure shot through my body. I arched my back and thrust my hips, desperate for him to touch more of me. When he switched breasts, his hands came up to tease at the waistband of my sweatpants and I almost begged again. My fingers dug into his back and I wanted to rejoice when my pants were slowly pulled down.
Once they were off, I used my feet to push down his pajama pants the best I could and Jared chuckled slightly as he pulled away from my chest.
“God, you’re making this impossible to go slow.”
I shook my head, touching his face as I did. “I don’t want slow. I want you inside of me. Now.”
“Damn,” Jared groaned as he sat up on his knees, working to get his pajamas pants and boxers off fully. He hooked his fingers in the elastic of my underwear and drew it down quickly, sucking in a breath when I was completely naked. “You’re on birth control, right?”
“I am,” I confirmed, letting my hand graze against my breast impatiently. My anxieties were still there but my desire to be with Jared had overtaken them almost entirely. “Please.”
“Patience, Steph.” He grinned and captured my lips again just as a finger swept across my center. My hips jerked off the bed and I gasped into his mouth when he pushed one lone digit inside of me. “You’re soaked.”
A moan sounded from my throat and I nodded my head while he pumped his hand slowly. “I want you.”