Chapter 14 - Stop
"You're sure this is fine? I don't want to ruin your entire weekend."
My sister took a break from unpacking all of Penelope's things so she could check with me for possibly the seventh time.
"I'm sure. I didn't have any plans anyway."
I took some of the toys from the bag to help her along.
It wasn't a lie. I didn't have plans. But I hadn't needed to make any since Brady had just been showing up. A lot.
It'd been almost three weeks since he'd made his point in the conference room and I could practically set my watch by his weekend visits. He only showed up when I was home, which meant he either had some sort of tracking device planted on me or he knew my schedule. I was betting on the latter.
"Really?" My sister eyed me before continuing, "no boss to fill your weekend?"
I looked away from her and shrugged my shoulders. I refused to look further into any of it. Mainly because it confused the hell out of me.
Brady was about to be a dad. A busy, multimillion-dollar business running dad. He wasn't going to have any time for anything soon.
So maybe that was it.
Maybe he just wanted to sew the rest of his wild oats while he could.
"For the record, I like him."
Evie said, interrupting my useless train of thought.
"What? I do. I like the way he looks at you."
I only stared at her. I wasn't going to touch that with a ten-foot pole. I ignored her and scooped my niece up instead.
"So Penelope, what should we do tonight?"
She giggled as she wrapped her little arms around my neck.
"She hasn't eaten so might wanna start with that."
After Evie finished unpacking and saying goodbye, she left for her girl's weekend trip. I was invited, but I politely declined. It was mostly with her nurse friends and I'd spent enough time with them that I knew their conversations would turn to ones filled with stories of c diff and d bag doctors. No thanks.
Besides, I looked forward to my weekends with Penelope.
Yep, that was all.
I cooked pasta and just as I'd sat down next to Penelope, my phone dinged.
It could be Ali telling me that she wouldn't be home until late. Late meaning tomorrow morning. Since she had started regularly seeing the bartender from one of her favorite spots, she was home less and less.
I flipped my phone over and saw Brady's name light up on the screen.
I realized then just how far this thing had gotten. It was 7 pm on a Friday and just like the last three Friday, he was headed my way.
I wasn't sure what I would classify it as. But I recognized that it resembled a relationship.
I distracted myself by making sure that Penelope cleaned her plate before I gave her a quick bath. I was brushing her white-blonde hair when I heard Brady's knock.
"Got a surprise for you, come on."
Penelope grabbed my hand as we walked toward the door.
I told her after unlocking it.
"P! What are you doing here?"
Brady's smile was so genuine as he bent over to lift her into his big arms.
She told him and I laughed.
"I told her if she ate all of her food, we'd make cookies."
"Well, did you?"
He asked and she nodded fervently.
"Then I guess we better get in the kitchen."
He tickled her and she squealed in his arms. I did not let myself become mesmerized by how good he was with her.
Nope, I sure didn't.
"Sit down, E. Cookies are my specialty."
He motioned toward the barstool and I suppressed a laugh.
"They're break and bake, top shelf of the fridge."
He shrugged as he sat Penelope down on the counter, keeping one long arm on her as he reached into the refrigerator with the other.
Something else that I refused to truly acknowledge.
"Do you actually know how to make homemade cookies?"
I asked as I watched the veins in his arms move as he picked Penelope up again.
"Absolutely not. But Google does, isn't that right P?"
He moved her from his arm lifted her in the air with one hand before giving me a near heart attack by letting her fall back into his arms. She giggled and he sat her back onto the counter. He let her put each cookie onto the baking sheet and she crawled across the counter and into my lap while we waited for the oven to preheat.
"Think she will make it?"
Brady asked as Penelope laid her head on my shoulder.
I rubbed her back before standing up and slinking down onto the couch. The oven beeped, Brady put the cookies and I absolutely didn't look at his ass while he was bent over.
Brady sat next to me on the couch and slung his long arm behind me and tugged us toward him.
Penelope reached her hand out and wrapped it around his pointer finger while my heart turned to pure mush.
"I'll save you a cookie."
He whispered and she snuggled closer into my chest, still clutching his finger.
He asked and I shook my head. My mind was running rampant, I should've been tired but I wasn't.
"Then what's wrong? You wear your emotions on your face. You can't hide them from me."
He was right. I was no good at hiding what I felt. Even if I wanted to, my face was a traitor.
"I don't know it's just-"
I stopped because I was stuck. I couldn't get my mind and my mouth to match up.
He asked, his fingertips tucking my hair behind my ear.
"You do things like that, Brady. And I don't know what to think about it. You're my boss, but we spend a lot of time together and I don't think you're spending time with anyone else."
I shrugged and he furrowed his brows like that was the first time he'd ever thought about that small fact.
"Just you, E."
"Don't you think that's weird?"
I whispered, half terrified to hear his answer.
"No. I like you, why wouldn't I want to spend time with someone I like?"
I turned my body toward his and cocked my head to the side. Sometimes he was like a kid. Everything was so simple in his eyes while to me they seemed overly complicated.
"I work for you, Brady. You're about to be a dad, you're life is going to be crazy busy."
"You work for me at a company that I own, so that holds no water. You're great with babies, I don't see how that complicates things either. I've been busy my entire adult life. Actually, this is the busiest I've ever been professionally and I find a lot of time to annoy you. I don't see myself having any problems with that."
He smiled and I fought one of my own. He always had a solution for everything. But there was still one nagging thing in my head.
I could tell by the way Lila looked at him anytime they were around one another that she was willing to do just about anything to get him back. And why wouldn't she? And Brady looked at her as if she held his heart in her bare hands. She might've messed up but there was still something there and it was more than the baby they shared.
It was something deeper.
Something that felt wrong for me to witness. Not because it was imposing, but because of the twinge in my heart when I saw her smile at him the way she did and the way the twinge turned into full-blown pain when he smiled back.
Which loosely translated meant : I was screwed.