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Mother Faker: Chapter 14

Liv

Brooks slips his phone into his pocket and claps. “The moving van is here.”

From where she’s perched on the edge of the armchair, Delia hisses, “Moving van? If he thinks he’s going to move all my aunt’s stuff out because it’s not good enough for him, then he’s got another thing coming.”

I throw my arm out in front of Beckett in typical mom fashion, bracing him for the crash, but he doesn’t take the hint.

“As lovely as your aunt’s furniture is, mine is nicer. But since this is a temporary situation, no, I don’t intend to replace all your furniture with my own.”

If looks could kill, Beckett would be incinerated on the spot, but Delia keeps her mouth shut. Probably because what she’d like to say would cost her a few grand in the presence of her daughters.

“I’m going to take Beckett upstairs to show him his room,” I say, shooting Shayla a look that she’ll hopefully understand means rein Delia in before there’s any bloodshed. “Dylan, can you come with me?”

As it is, I’m having a hard time breathing because of the way Beckett keeps calling me his wife when my kids aren’t around. The last thing I need is to be alone in a bedroom with him. Even the presence of his brothers isn’t enough of a buffer—the man has made that abundantly clear with all his growls and heady stares.

I can’t figure out if it’s all an act or not. He makes half the confusing comments when it’s just the two of us. When there’s no one around who needs to be convinced. I don’t get it, nor do I have time to consider it. Currently, seven children are staring at me, wondering what the hell is going on. One friend is on the verge of killing my boss before this temporary situation is over, and another is convinced this is my freaking happily ever after—or maybe she’s just trying to get me laid.

Now that is something she could work on. With someone other than Beckett, obviously, and not until the marriage is over.

Oh God. What have I gotten myself into?

As Beckett promised, there isn’t much in the moving van, so I lead him upstairs while his brothers grab what they can. Dylan is in front of me, smiling over her shoulder every few seconds. It’s one of those devilish ones where I don’t even want to know what she’s thinking, but I also kind of do. I could see the humor in this situation if I weren’t the butt of the joke.

“This is our stair. We call him Trippy,” Dylan says as we skip the broken step.

“Trippy,” Beckett mutters. He’s so close that I can practically feel the words against my neck.

“Shayla and I have rooms downstairs. Don’t come knocking if the doors are rocking.” She laughs. At the top of the stairs, she turns around, wearing a sober expression that looks foreign on her typically cheery face. “But seriously, if you see a sock on the door, don’t come in.”

“How in God’s name could anyone get laid in this house with all the kids running around?” he grumbles.

Gasping, I dart a look at Dylan in a holy shit, did my boss just say ‘get laid’? kind of way.

“You’ve got to be creative, but it’s possible.” With a wink in his direction, she spins on her heel and heads down the hall.

I’m barely able to look at him when he hits the landing beside me, but in my periphery, his cheeks are tinged pink.

“Sorry, that was… Fuck,” he mutters.

“I heard that!” one of the twins shouts.

“I’ll Venmo you,” Beckett replies, already taking out his phone. “Ducking kids everywhere. Definitely no ducking happening in this house.”

I burst out laughing. “Good thing it’s against the rules, then, huh?” I tease.

He studies me for a second too long, the smile still on his face and a warmth in his eyes. “Yeah.”

“Hey, where we putting this? It’s fucking heavy,” Gavin yells from downstairs.

“We’re gonna be rich,” Collette sings.

“Beckett!” Gavin yells.

“Shayla!” I holler.

“Girls, why don’t we go get some fresh air?” she suggests.

“Can we go to the park, Auntie?” This question is from Finn. “Please? And can I brings my Nerf gun?”

A chorus of “No!” echoes from every corner of the house. I startle when I realize Beckett joined in.

He’s still watching me with his lips tipped up in a way that’s becoming more and more common. The look makes me feel all melty. He can’t keep smiling at me. Or getting along so perfectly with my kids. He’s only been here for thirty minutes, and it’s already obvious this has disaster written all over it.

My life is one big disaster already. No need to add to the mess.

“This is Liv’s room,” Dylan says from the end of the hall.

At the sound of her voice, I blink away my thoughts and shuffle in behind her. I ignore the way my belly tightens when Beckett steps through the doorway into my little sanctuary. With his hands in his pockets, he surveys the space, his lips pressed together thoughtfully.

I try to look at it from his perspective. A full-size bed with a simple white duvet cover and lots of pillows in several shades of light pink. In reality, taking the pillows off the bed every night is annoying, so more often than not, I move them to one side. By morning, at least one of my kids will be in bed with me, so the pillows wind up on the floor.

It’s dumb how attached to them I am, but it was something Drake never let me have. Like, who gets upset over decorative pillows?

So when we separated, I rebelled. Not by sleeping with other men or going on shopping sprees. No, I covered my bed with so many pillows it’s almost impossible to see the top half of the mattress. Really living on the wild side over here.

Beckett has moved farther into the room as he inspects the layout, and suddenly, I break out into a cold sweat, terrified he’s going to open the drawer of the small bedside table he’s standing in front of. Why? I have no earthly idea. It’s empty. Can’t hide anything from my kids, so it’s not like there are adult toys hiding in there.

Gosh, when was the last time I used an adult toy? Or had an orgasm?

That thought leads to another that makes my cheeks flame. It’s a memory of waking up naked. Beside my very, very naked boss.

Naked. And married. Can’t forget that part.

As if he can hear my thoughts, Beckett turns and studies me, his green eyes blazing with an intensity that sends the heat from my cheeks coursing through the rest of my body.

Did we consummate our marriage? And if so, why the hell can’t I remember it? It’s only fair that I should have those memories to flash back on when I eventually do have a room with privacy and some toys.

Who am I kidding? If I could remember that night, there’s no way I’d need a toy—one minute and my hand with the images of Beckett thrusting inside me would get me there, no problem.

“It’s cozy,” he murmurs, stopping in front of Adeline’s crib. Shay helped me move it into the corner, since her nursery will now be Beckett’s bedroom.

As I turn to the walk-in closet that leads to his space, my stomach flips.

I’m getting all hot and bothered standing in here with this man, even while my asshole best friend silently watches us from the doorway like she knows precisely what’s happening.

“Your room is through there. Sorry, it doesn’t have a separate entrance… or a door.”

He licks his lower lip and hits me with one of those damn smiles, his eyes dancing. “You’re putting me in the closet?”

Dylan laughs. “No, silly. It’s where Aunt Louise used to sleep. The bed is made up with her sheets and everything,” she whispers, like she’s filling him in on some big secret. “Delia gets very sentimental about anything related to her aunt, so don’t change them.”

Beckett’s face falls, and I press my lips together to keep from grinning.

“Don’t worry,” she adds, “we washed them after she passed.”

A snort slips out of me, and I disguise it with a cough into my arm. Meanwhile, Dylan keeps that serious expression and Beckett looks utterly stricken.

“Where are we putting this?” Brooks asks from the hall, patting the oversized mattress that he and Gavin must have maneuvered up the stairs.

“Um…” My heart lurches in my chest. There’s no way that is fitting in Beckett’s new room, if it can even be categorized as that. “Maybe just lean it against the wall for now?”

Gavin shuffles into the room, taking in the space. “This house is gorgeous. I love all the little details.”

“Thanks. We were just showing Beckett his room.”

Gavin cocks a questioning brow, rubbing his hands together.

“Which is obviously this room. Since Liv and I are married,” Beckett rushes out, looping an arm around my hip awkwardly and pulling me close.

Throwing his head back, Gavin laughs. “Right. And I’m the Dalai Lama. What do you think, Dyl?” he asks, turning to my friend. “I give it the weekend before my brother cracks and shows up at my doorstep, begging me to let him move in.”

With a scowl so at odds with her permanently cheerful demeanor, Dylan folds her arms across her chest. “I think they’ll be perfectly happy because your brother is madly in love with my best friend.” She looks Beckett square in the eye. “And I think he always has been.”

Beckett’s fingers dig into my hip, and I have to wiggle myself out of his grasp so I don’t let Dylan’s insanity sit in this space for too long. I don’t believe she has magical powers or anything, but the woman is always going on about how, if we put things out into the universe, the universe provides. The last thing I want the universe to think is that I’m begging for Beckett to love me.

That would be insane.

“Why don’t I make lunch for everyone?” I offer, scrambling to find something to say.

Beckett checks his watch, then considers me with a concerned frown, as if he knows I’m squirming. As if he can read my mind and is aware that his presence in my room is making me think things I shouldn’t. He smirks. “It’s only ten, Liv. Besides, we need to get this bed set up.”

I want to groan, but I manage to hold back the sound. Looks like Beckett has decided that I’ll be sleeping in the attached room with Adeline, and he’ll be taking the master with the big bed.

My eyes drift to my pillows, all fifteen of them, and I sigh. I suppose I can bag them up and store them in the attic until this charade is over. There isn’t space for them in the closet or what would have been Beckett’s room—the twin bed barely fits in there.

Lost in my thoughts, I simply sidestep my way to the door while the men switch out the mattresses. Beckett places my pillows in the corner, along with the sheets and comforter. I leave them to it so I don’t have to watch my tiny bit of rebellion disappear and head to the roof for some much-needed air.

There aren’t many places to hide in the brownstone. Even with four floors, twelve people in a house is a lot. For so long, it was just the kids and me. Sure, I was married to Drake, and he was around, but barely.

And growing up, it was only my brother, Declan, and me. Declan still lives in the town where we grew up—Bristol, Rhode Island. He’s the fire chief now, and unlike me, he’s always been single and doesn’t have kids.

Maybe I’ll take the kids to visit him next weekend. I could use a break from all the insanity.

I press through the door leading to the roof and take a deep breath, inhaling the cool spring air. The sky is gray, which suits my sudden melancholy mood perfectly. In my mind, I envision space heaters up here so we can use it year-round. Dylan would fill pots with plants that she’d struggle to keep alive and that Shay would probably feed green juice. Some sort of play area filled with “toys” Delia would purchase that would make the girls use their brains. Cozy outdoor couches with an ottoman covered in comfy, colorful pillows and blankets for the cool nights beneath the stars. And a hot tub. I want a hot tub so damn bad. Like the pillows, it would be another act of rebellion. Something I always wanted but Drake told me made little sense when we were so busy raising three kids.

Mind you, screwing the nanny also makes little sense, but who am I to point out the obvious?

Pulling my lip between my teeth, I worry at the flesh and let my shoulders fall. I don’t want to be bitter, but really, I am. I slump against the cement wall and contemplate the blank canvas. Everything seems to be gray out here.

And then I grimace at the obvious worn spots on the roof that need fixing. A hot tub would probably fall through the damn thing, anyway.

Forcing my attention away from that thought—so much needs fixing, and if I’m not careful, it’ll all consume me—I stare out at the park across the street that drew me to this spot on the roof in the first place. I always wanted to live in this area of Boston. If not for Delia’s aunt, I’d never have been able to afford it, though.

The door creaks open, but I don’t bother turning around. In this house, there is no such thing as being truly alone. Doesn’t matter who it is, they’ll make themselves known when they want to.

The last person I expect to find me is my boss, but it’s obvious he’s the one approaching as his rich scent envelops me. Once I get a hit of it, I can’t help but take another deep breath and hold it.

God, he smells good.

Beckett leans against the wall beside me, and I work hard to remain indifferent to his presence. In the past, I truly was. I’m not sure when Beckett began seeping into my brain. He makes me feel awkward in my own skin, and suddenly, I’ve begun worrying about how to impress a man who could never be impressed. So instead, I act the way I used to act, or at least, how I think I used to act, and keep myself rigid beside him.

“All moved in?” I try keeping my voice light and airy.

His gaze bores into the side of my face, lighting me up from the inside out. “Yeah, it wasn’t too much. Like I said before, I’ll barely be here.”

“Right.” I swallow, keeping my focus trained on the rustling leaves of the trees in the park, reminding myself of exactly what the deal is. Pretend to be his wife in public, barely acknowledge one another in private. Perfect. It’s exactly what I need.

What I don’t need is for this man to tuck a strand of hair behind my ear, nor do I need him to beckon my attention with a thumb on my chin. “You okay?”

“Of course, Mr. Langfield. Just getting some fresh air.” I step back and motion to the door. “It gets crazy in there sometimes.”

The growl that emanates from him sends a shiver coursing down my spine. “We’re back to the Mr. Langfield business?”

I shake my head gently, trying to knock myself out of the stupor I fell into when he touched me. “Sorry. Beckett, right.” I stumble over my words. “I’m going to make that lunch now. You joining us?”

He drops his chin and shakes his head. “Nah, I’m going to take my brothers out to thank them for helping with the move. You sure you’re okay?”

I nod. “Perfectly. If you need anything, just let me know.”

Then I hustle for the door, leaving my boss and all my damn jumbled thoughts outside.

Hours later, I’m still not okay. Beckett returned from lunch loaded down with shopping bags he whisked up the stairs, then joined us for family dinner. Humoring Kai and Finn, he settled between them at the table and spent the whole meal chatting with the kids.

Since the day we moved in together, the girls and I have tried to catch up with one another while the kids interrupt every five seconds, each needing a refill or a napkin or asking a question we’d answered seventeen times already.

Not tonight, though. Tonight, every time one of the kids asks for something, Beckett is already reaching for it or standing to get it. And each time, his eyes find mine when I begin to rise from the table, telling me with just a look to relax, that he has this.

I’m not used to having a man in our space. I’m not used to having the help of a man, period.

When we’re finished, Delia and Shay volunteer to do the dishes, and I head upstairs to start baths. As I wander by the door to my room, I stumble, and for once, it isn’t because of a loose board.

The massive bed that sits where my full-size used to is covered with a white comforter, and piled across the top half of it are all my pillows.

Beside the bed, Adeline’s crib remains.

I storm straight through the closet and into the alcove where the twin-size bed is set up. The comforter hasn’t changed, but the pillow has been replaced. The black travel bag Beckett has taken on every work trip for years sits on top of the mattress.

I suck in a breath. My heart doesn’t know whether to leap into my throat or sink into my stomach at what I’m staring at.

“Everything okay?” His deep voice fills the small space and sends goose bumps rippling up my arms.

I spin at the sound, finding him standing dangerously close to me.

He’s angled in, with his green eyes fixed on my face, as if he’s trying to figure me out.

Good luck, buddy. I’m at a complete loss as to what the hell is wrong with me.

His five o’clock shadow is new. Beckett is always clean shaven and dressed in suits or pressed sweaters with jeans.

Right now, though, he’s in a white T-shirt spattered with water, like he just helped with the dishes or maybe checked the temperature of the bath. His wavy brown hair has fallen over his forehead in such a perfectly imperfect way it makes my chest ache. It takes all my willpower not to reach out and push it back. To touch him like I’ve never touched him before.

I step back and fist my hands at my sides. Touching him would be stupid.

“Not okay.” I lean against the edge of the mattress and blink up at him. “Why is your stuff in here?”

He inspects the small space. “Isn’t this my room? Or did you want to put me somewhere else?” He folds his arms across his chest and props himself against the doorjamb.

I swallow past the lump in my throat. “Your bed is in the other room.” I point behind him and swallow again. My throat has suddenly gone dry.

“Couldn’t let my brothers believe we weren’t really married.” He smirks. “I had them put your bed in storage. I’ll make sure you get it back. Although once you sleep on this mattress, you’ll never want to go back to the old one.”

God, how the sentence could not be more true. Just having Beckett like he is now… I don’t know how I’ll adjust when he’s just my boss again.

Even if that’s what he truly is. Just your boss, Liv.

“But the bedding…” I stumble, tilting to one side so I can see past him into my room.

“Yours wouldn’t fit my bed, and I didn’t think you’d like mine. It’s dark gray. I probably didn’t put the pillows back on the way you like them, but I picked up a few more since yours didn’t fill up the king-size bed like it did your full. Not sure they match perfectly. If you don’t like them, I’m happy to order more of yours. Just tell me where you got them.”

I blink a few times, struck stupid.

“Liv, you’re making me nervous,” he says softly, his brow creasing. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have touched your stuff. I won’t do it again.”

Sucking in air, I stand and finally get my tongue untied. “Sorry. I’m just…” I pause, searching my brain for the proper words. “Thank you.”

His face scrunches in confusion. “Thank you?”

I force a smile. My lips tip up the way I want them to, but my face is tight as I fight back my emotions. “Yes, thank you. My husband—er, ex—he, well… He never liked the pillows. And I just assumed you’d take that bedroom since it’s your bed, and it’s bigger and⁠—”

Beckett pushes himself off the doorframe and crowds my space, immediately stealing all thoughts from my head. “Your ex was an ass. am your husband now. Don’t thank me for treating you the way you deserve to be treated.”

My attention falls to his lips. Every time he refers to himself as my husband, butterflies erupt in my belly. This is so bad.

He presses closer.

Mom, the bathtub is overflowing!” Winnie hollers.

Startling, I jump back, then rush past Beckett, not sure whether I’m happy she interrupted or not.


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