Learning to Love

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Bonding

Back inside I sat on the floor letting Aaliyah sit on my crossed legs. Adrian sat across from us without a second of hesitation. He slowly stacked one block on top of another then offered Aaliyah a third.

“Your turn Aaliyah.” He smiled, holding out the block.

After a second I reached out and took the block. My heart stuttered as he brushed my fingers with his.

“Here you go Ally.” I gave the child the block.

After a second she put it on the tower.

“Good job!” Adrian said, clapping.

Aaliyah giggled and smiled brightly, clapping her hands too.

“How old is she?” Adrian beamed, handing her another block.

“She’ll be two, January tenth.” I replied, running my fingers through her lengthening brown curls.

Her bright blue eyes shone with excitement as she grabbed another block and stacked it. Adrian responded with the same enthusiasm, delighting the child.

“She likes you.” I said cautiously.

“I told you I helped out with my nephew right? I have always loved kids.” Adrian smiled at me, “She looks a lot like you.”

“Thank you, Adrian.” I smiled, blushing as I dropped my gaze to Ally.

“Mama.” Aaliyah giggled happily waving a block at me.

“Block,” I replied smiling.

“Hey Adrian,” Simon greeted, walking in. “I came to see if you returned my sister yet.”

“Oh I don’t know if it’s a return so much as…” Adrian paused thinking over his response. “Temporarily blessing you with her presents.”

Simon rolled his eyes and Adrian chuckled. I met Drew’s gaze and he smiled pleasantly. I couldn’t help loving the feeling of unity that surrounded me. I found myself wishing I was beside Adrian instead of in front of him.

“So I see you got to meet Ally. That’s a first.” Simon sounded unsure.

“Yeah she’s amazing.” Adrian crooned at the child, eliciting another loud giggle. “She’s a tiny little girl though, isn’t she.”

My head dropped guiltily as I explained, “I was too stressed during pregnancy, I got sick and had her 6 weeks prematurely.”

“It wasn’t your fault, Charlie nearly killed you both that time.” Simon growled.

“Shut up.” I said quietly. I wasn’t ready for Adrian to know all of this.

“She was born bruised and fractured. Which was nothing compared to the condition you were in when Drew found you.” Simon snapped angrily, before seeming to realize he had said too much.

“Simon, that’s enough.” Drew snapped authoritatively.

“Tha ton skotóso.” Adrian muttered.

“No, you won’t.” Drew said authoritatively.

Adrian rolled his dark eyes .

There was an awkward silence during which I peeked up to see Adrian watching me concerned.

“Since when do you speak russian?” Simon relented.

We all looked at him and I couldn’t help but laugh. Drew chuckled, shaking his head as Adrian grinned widely at me.

“It’s Greek, but that is a good question.” I said turning to Drew.

“Do you mind?” Drew asked Adrian, who shrugged. “Adrians older brother is Richard.”

Simon and I glanced at each other the back at Drew, “who?” We said together

“Dick, from my team.” Drew explained.

I froze then turned to Adrian. “So your brother helped find and rescue us… did you know?”

“No I didn’t know who you were until I met Drew, even then Dick doesn’t talk about work. I didn’t know he knew you until right now.” Adrian explained.

I nodded thoughtfully.

“It’s a small world Jessy, but he’s telling the truth.” Drew said.

“I know.” I smiled.

After another pause Adrian spoke. “Your family dynamic is really interesting. You two are definitely siblings however Drew acts more like a parent.”

“No I don’t.” Drew spoke defensively, but it worked. I caught Simon’s eye and suddenly we were both laughing.

“Told you dude.” Simon chuckled.

Drew just rolled his eyes grinning, “Alright then kids, it’s lunch time. Are you joining us Adrian?”

I looked over terrified that we had chased him off.

“Sure but just remember, we are the same age.” Adrian laughed.

“Finally, I’m no longer a single parent.” Drew laughed.

Aaliyah giggled loudly. “Mama mama!”

“Ally is right Drew, mama had first dibs.” Simon winked at me.

I blushed deeply before biting my lip and staring down at my daughter.

“You’re not quite my type anyway.” Adrian played along.

I was suddenly sure I was going to die.

As the afternoon wore on, Aaliyah grew more and more confident around Adrian. She started sneaking up behind him and jumping on his back when he was on the floor. At one point he was talking to me and she came up and poked his hand. We both ignored it the first time, but the second I was going to say something when he shook his head winking at me. The third time he swooped down, scooping her up and spinning in a quick circle. Ally squealed in delight as they spun together.

I noticed when he put her back down Adrian kept a grip on her until he knew she wasn’t too dizzy to walk. The kindness he showed her warmed my heart, and made me realize how easily I could fall in love with him. It would be just like falling, fighting it would be like trying to fly.

For a second I wondered if I was really ready to take that leap. It struck me suddenly that I already had. I was falling head over heels for this man, and all I could do was hope he was willing to catch me.

“You okay, agápi mou?” Adrian asked, tucking a strand of my hair behind my ear.

“What does that mean?” I asked, wanting to see into his mind.

In my peripheral vision I noticed Drew ushering Simon and Aaliyah towards the kitchen.

Adrians cheeks darkened slightly and he looked away. I couldn’t help but grin at his embarrassment.

“Is it that bad?” I asked, suddenly nervous. What had he been calling me all this time?

“It means my love.” He admitted nervously.

His palm was still on my cheek and I was sure it was burning now.

“Oh,” I gasped trying to slow my heart rate.

He smiled, seemingly liking my reaction. I watched as he leaned towards me. This time instead of turning away, I pushed up onto my toes pressing my lips against his. He chuckled surprised before wrapping his arms around my waist.

I couldn’t have ever imagined feeling safe in any man’s arms other than my brothers. But here I was wrapped up in Adrians strong arms and I had never felt more safe. His lips were gentle and soft against mine, I had never had a kiss that I could enjoy like that.

For the first time ever I was disappointed when the kiss ended. I didn’t want him to let go of me. To my great delight he didn’t.

“If I didn’t know any better I would say you liked me a little.” He chuckled, grinning crookedly at me.

“Maybe a little.” I chuckled, blushing.

“Well, that sucks for me.” He frowned playfully.

“Why?”

“Because now I’m the fool who fell in love first.” He smiled, kissing my forehead. “I love you Jessica.”

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