“Who the fuck’s idea was this?”
My gaze slides to my girlfriend. She’s wearing tiny spandex shorts the color of cranberries, showing off her long, golden legs. A matching sports bra covers her stellar rack, perfect tits bouncing with each stride she takes beside me, keeping my pace. The soft dips in her torso flex as she moves, glistening with sweat, and I mentally catalog our surroundings, trying to locate an alley in the general vicinity.
I’ve got an urge to yank her shorts down and plow inside her while she’s pressed against a brick wall, cover her mouth with my palm so nobody hears her when she screams my name.
But it’s Friday morning in downtown Vancouver. Patios overflow with people enjoying their breakfast beneath the early July sun, tourists on bikes here to see everything the city has to offer. A horny couple fucking in an alley is likely not the sightseeing they’re after.
“It was your idea,” I remind Jennie. “Let’s go for one last run in our neighborhood,” I mimic, then squeal when she lands a punch on my shoulder. “Hey! Aggressive hands get tied up.”
“I’m well aware, Garrett.” She twists my way and pouts, and I know what’s coming. “One last iced coffee at our local Starbucks?”
She’s been doing this for the last two weeks as an excuse to get whatever she wants. One last ice cream cone, one last trip to Udupi Palace, one last stroll through Stanley Park. She gives me that pouty face, bottom lip sticking way out, fists curled under her chin, and five minutes later we’re riding the elevator down so we can go wherever she wants.
I slow to a walk and tug Jennie into me so I can steal her breath right from her mouth. “You know we’re only moving twenty minutes away to North Vancouver, not leaving the country, right?”
Her tongue slides against mine, a slow lap as she sinks into me, hands buried in the hair at my nape. “One last caramel Frappuccino,” she whispers against my lips.
I clap my palm to her ass, not at all caring that we’re out in public, that I’ve heard my name whispered at least three times in the last five minutes, and Jennie’s too. Everyone lost their minds the first time I walked up to Jennie after exiting the change room and kissed her in front of a horde of reporters, and her brother.
To be fair, we’d just won the first round of the play-offs. I deserved to kiss her. It was the same when we lost in the third round, when all I wanted to do was lay my head on her shoulder and hold her.
To be honest, though, I was happy to start my summer with Jennie. Carter was happy to be home with his wife and daughter.
Jennie and I stroll down the street with our frozen drinks, fingers tangled together, and I smile as she hums happily around her straw. I’m so fucking happy her box of dildos exploded in my face. If it weren’t for all the sexual tension it brought, my nickname for her might still be nothing but ironic, instead of so utterly genuine.
If Jennie were a color, she’d be the most vibrant shade of yellow. She’s literal sunshine in human form. I don’t care if I’ve said it a thousand times; I’m going to say it for the rest of my life.
I tug on her hand when she tries to head right, pulling her straight instead. “This way.”
“But the condo—”
“I wanna show you something.” I press my lips to hers the second she opens her mouth to argue with me, to tell me that we need to be at our new place with the moving truck in an hour and a half. “We’ll be quick.” At the disbelieving expression she wears, the one that reminds me I’m never, ever quick, I laugh. “C’mon, Jennie. Humor me.”
With a wary sigh, she tucks her hand back into mine.
Her suspicious gaze coasts my way twelve times over the remaining four minutes of our walk, and when we stop in front of a small storefront space with sprawling windows, her nose scrunches in confusion.
“What is this place?” she asks as I unlock the glass door. “And why do you have a key?”
I usher her inside, past the front desk and into the open space behind it, watching as she twirls around the room.
“It used to be a yoga studio,” I tell her.
I move behind her as she stops in front of the floor-to-ceiling mirrors. Her eyes meet mine in the reflection, tongue gliding slowly across her lower lip before she swallows, as if she already knows the answer to the question she’s about to ask.
“Now it’s a dance studio.”
“Garrett,” she gasps. “You didn’t.”
“I did.” My chin hits her shoulder as I hug her to me. “I love you, Jennie. You’ve worked your ass off your entire life, and now you’re doing your business classes. You’re determined to make your dream a reality. You deserve this, and I’d be honored to be a part of this next step in your life.”
Her nose wrinkles as she fights off the tears I knew would come. I love her soft, vulnerable bits just as much as her bold and sassy ones. “You did this for me?”
“I’d do anything for you, sunshine.”
A lone tear escapes, tracking a path down her cheek, and I press my lips to it.
“Thank you for making my second most important dream come true.”
“What was your first?”
She turns and takes my face in her hands, eyes gleaming with tenderness. She sweeps a soft kiss across my lips.
“No it’s not.”
“Yeah it is.”
“No it’s not.”
“Yeah it is.”
“Holy fuck.” Adam pushes between me and Carter, a large box in his arms. “Are we comparing houses or dicks? Nobody gives a fuck. They’re both mini-mansions.”
Carter gasps. “Mini? My house?” He sweeps his arms out, gesturing around mine and Jennie’s new house. “I mean, this. This is mini. Mine is huge. Huge like my—”
“Ego,” I finish for him.
Olivia steps inside, fist bumping me. “It’s beautiful. Even Carter said so last week after doing the final walk-through with you guys.” She unstraps the carrier she’s wearing and hoists Ireland off her chest. “Want your Uncle Garrett snuggles?”
“Yes, she does,” I coo, scooping the most beautiful little lady into my arms. Her wide green eyes peer up at me as she giggles, then promptly stuffs her entire fist into her mouth, drool dribbling down her chin. I kiss her fluffy, dark curls. “How’s my princess?”
She’s got a pink barrette in her hair, a sparkling sunshine set on the end of it, and her onesie says I’m cute, Mom’s hot, Dad’s lucky. I know for a fact Carter bought this. Ninety-nine percent of her outfits have some form of the word dad on them. And he’s been essentially rotating between his DILF shirt and another that says Girl Dad.
“Is your daddy driving you nuts?” I twist out of Carter’s reach as we bounce around my kitchen. “Do you wanna have a sleepover with Auntie Jennie and Uncle Gare to get away from him?”
Carter scoffs. “Please. She’s obsessed with me.” He reaches toward us, making grabby hands. “Lemme take her.”
“No. She likes me.” My sweet girl grabs a fistful of hair at the nape of my neck, before laying her cheek on my shoulder, still munching away on her fingers. I smile triumphantly. “See? She doesn’t want you.”
Carter frowns. “But I’m her daddy.”
“Are you? How do I know for sure? You’re not wearing any of your dad shirts.”
Jennie snickers, walking by with a box labeled kitchen. She sets it down and plants a smooch on Ireland’s cheek and my lips.
“Ew.” Carter gags. “Do you have to do that right in front of me?”
Jennie tosses a yes over her shoulder as she struts away, and Carter narrows his eyes at me, swiping nonexistent dust from my counter.
“You know, Andersen, I only live five minutes down the road. That means I’m only five minutes away if you need your ass kicked.”
“Yeah, and I’m only five minutes away if you need your ass kicked.”
“I said that first!”
“I said it second!”
“Fucking children,” Emmett mutters. He steals Ireland away, kissing her nose. “Hi, baby girl.”
“It was my turn next,” Adam whines. “I haven’t seen her in two days.”
“It’s been nine for me,” Jaxon mumbles, eyes hidden behind sunglasses as he ambles in with a box.
“That’s because you took off to Cabo with some chick you met at the gym,” I remind him.
He grins, flexing his biceps. “Yeah, tan’s on point, huh?” He presses a kiss to Ireland’s forehead, and she giggles. “Hi, princess.”
Adam reaches for Ireland, and Emmett turns away. He frowns. “C’mon. Me now.”
“I’m not done.”
“I don’t care. Come here, baby girl. You wanna come see Uncle Adam?” He tickles her belly, and she explodes with laughter, thrashing in Emmett’s arms. She reaches toward Adam, laying her tiny, pudgy hand on his cheek, and somehow, we all wind up huddled around Ireland and Emmett, cooing and babbling, vying for her attention.
Holly strolls through the door and rips her sunglasses off, arms out wide. “Glamma’s here!”
“That’s our cue.” Emmett deposits Ireland in her grandma’s arms. “Back to work, boys.”
Between the five of us, we get the rest of the moving truck unloaded over the next hour while the girls work on unpacking boxes in the kitchen and living room.
“That’s the last of ’em.” I drop two boxes on top of a stack in the front foyer, swiping my forearm across my damp brow. “Fuck, I’m tired. Snack break?”
“Let’s get all the boxes to their designated rooms first,” Adam suggests, moving toward the stack. He reads the label, and my heart skids to a stop at the single word. “Toys?”
He picks at the tape like he’s about to check out the contents, and my brain short-circuits.
“No. No.” I shove him out of the way, throwing myself on top of the box, head wagging. “No, no, no.”
He steps back, hands up in surrender, expression both suspicious and scared.
Carter strolls down the hallway, whistling. “Did somebody say snacks?” His gaze lights when it falls to the box I’m half lying on top of. “Oooh, toys. What kinda toys?”
“Nothing!” I shriek, jerking it out of his reach. My shoulders tighten as I clutch it to my chest. I spread my fingers wide, trying to distort the word from view, even though he’s already seen it. “Nothing!”
Carter looks at the box, then me. Back to the box, then back to me again.
After everything we’ve been through, I thought I was safe. I genuinely thought I’d get to keep my balls. But the longer he watches me without blinking, the less sure I become.
It would have been nice to procreate with Jennie one day, but I guess some things are only meant to be dreams.
Carter finally blinks, just once, slowly. “What’s in the box, Garrett?”
“Nothing.” A bead of sweat rolls down my temple. Carter’s gaze flicks to the droplet, watching it roll. When our eyes meet again, I repeat quietly, “Nothing.”
He stares at me for five seconds, then ten. It’s a full twenty seconds before his next word comes, a terrified breath barely heard. “No.”
“I’m so sorry,” I whisper.
He steps back, head shaking. “No.”
“It’s—it’s not what you—we don’t….she had them before!” I shout after him as he runs out the door. “I didn’t buy them!”
Adam squeezes my shoulder. “You don’t know when to shut up, do you?”
I hang my head in defeat. “No.” The only good thing it’s ever brought me is Jennie, but I think she outweighs all the bad. With a sigh, I start up the stairs. “Gonna take this to our bedroom.”
The room is expansive and bright, with wide, gray plank flooring, a stone fireplace, and a wall of windows overlooking the pine trees skating up the mountains behind us. Jennie spent five minutes standing here, hands pressed to the glass as she stared silently at the view. That’s how I knew this house was the one.
I secure the box in the closet before making my way to my dresser. We picked out new bedroom furniture together, and it was delivered yesterday afternoon after we picked up our keys and officially became the owners of our new home. We spent the night putting away our clothes and eating Thai food off the kitchen floor before we went back to our condo for one last night.
Oh sorry. One more thing. While we waited for the food to come, Jennie told me she wanted to christen our new house. I was already pulling my pants off before she could finish the request.
But it was when she pulled that little pink glass plug from her bag that I really began to short-circuit. I stood there with one foot stuck in my pants, the other pantleg in my hand, my jaw hanging as she slowly undressed, hoisted herself up on our kitchen island, spread her legs, and showed me how wet she was. When she finished giving herself her first orgasm, she held out the glass plug and asked me to fuck her.
So I did. Bent over the counter, on her hands and knees on the staircase, up against the window in the bedroom, and again under the spray of the shower.
Needless to say, we’re big fans of that little glass plug.
I listen carefully, checking that I’m alone. When all I’m met with is the sound of chatter and laughter from downstairs, I cautiously pull open the top drawer of my dresser. I reach toward the back, below piles of underwear, and wrap my fingers around the small object.
My heart thuds as I open the velvet box, revealing the oval sapphire inside, more teal than it is blue, the vintage gold band it’s set on, the three small marquise diamonds framing each side of it like flower petals.
I’ve had this ring for three weeks now. I asked Carter and Holly to help me pick out some designs Jennie might like one day when she was out with the girls. Carter sat there with this dumbfounded expression while his mom squealed.
Don’t you think it’s a little soon? he’d asked. Holly had shoved him so hard he toppled out of his chair.
We never made it to the store. Holly slipped off her own engagement ring, looked down at it with tears in her eyes, and then pressed it into my palm.
I remember finding the letters H+T inside the band, Jennie’s parents’ initials etched right next to a heart, the way I held the ring and just knew their love was the forever kind, the type that doesn’t end despite the distance. Now, on the other side of the heart, J+G lives.
I can’t wait to love Jennie forever.
“Garrett, I’m going to pick up some pizza and—” Jennie stops in the doorway, mouth gaping as she watches me shove the box back into my drawer and slam it so fast I catch my finger in the process.
“Motherfucker,” I gasp, clutching my throbbing finger before I drop my elbow to the dresser, my chin to my fist, swallowing down the pain. “Jennie. Hey. S’up?”
Her brows do a slow rise. “S’up?”
With every slow, calculated step Jennie takes in my direction, my pulse races faster. I resist the urge to pick up the dresser, run it across the room, and throw it out the fucking window.
“What was that?” she asks.
“Hmm? What was what?”
She points to the drawer. “That.”
“That what?” I glance at the drawer. “Oh this? It’s my underwear drawer. Just making sure everything was…in…order…in there?” My eyes narrow painfully as I try not to cringe.
“Mhmm. And the box you threw inside?”
“The—the box? Oh, the box. Yeah, why didn’t you say so?”
Why is her eyebrow arched so high on her forehead? Why won’t she let me get away with lying to her just once? What’s so hard about that? Can’t she be nice to me for once in my fucking life?
“Would you believe me if I said it was a new toy for us to play with?”
She pins her arms across her chest and pops a hip. “I would not.”
I throw my arms up in mock surrender. “Ah, well. I tried.” I lift her off her feet and tow her out of the bedroom. “Let’s go. Tons to do. Can’t be standing around chatting to you about nothing.”
She kicks her legs through the air, wriggling until I’m forced to put her down.
“What are you doing?” I ask on a huff.
“What are you doing?”
“I asked you first.”
Her gaze slants, and then she swivels, sprinting back toward the bedroom. I catch her around the waist and shove her against the wall.
“I don’t fucking think so,” I murmur.
“Drop it,” I whisper, trailing my mouth down her throat.
She sighs. “Fine. How long am I dropping it for?”
“How long do you want to drop it for?”
There’s that Beckett blush, rare as all hell as she starts nibbling on the tip of her thumbnail. She lifts a shoulder. “Not that long.”
She shakes her head slowly, teeth pressing into her bottom lip with her shy smile.
“Well, you’re still young. There’s no rush.”
“Right, right, right,” she hums, nodding. Another shrug. “Well, I’ll be twenty-five in a few months. I’m not that young.”
“Quarter of a century,” I point out.
“Halfway to fifty,” she adds, hand at her chin as she holds her elbow and looks me over. “And you’re not getting any younger, big guy.”
“There is that,” I agree.
“Plus, you already know you wanna be with me forever.”
“Mmm, that’s true. I do.”
“So there’s no sense in waiting all that long.” A devious smirk blooms, and her fingers walk up my chest. She sinks them into my hair and angles my mouth above hers. “Unless you’re scared. Are you scared, Gare-Bear?”
“So scared. What if you say no? Worse, what if you say yes? A lifetime of you snoring? Crying to Disney movies and dancing through the house? Making you hot chocolate with extra marshmallows and tickling your back while you snuggle up to me in bed? Ugh.” I shudder. “Sounds like the worst life.”
“You accidentally swapped your words. You were supposed to say best. That sounds like the best life. But I suppose it’s natural to fear greatness. If you don’t think you can handle me—”
Her words die a gasp when I pin her to the wall with my hips, wrists locked in my hands on either side of her head. “I’ll marry you right the fuck now. Don’t test me, baby Beckett.”
She squirms, hips lifting. “I’m not a baby.”
“No, you’re not.” I release one wrist so I can grab a fistful of her stellar ass and hoist her up to me, long legs coming around my waist. I drop my lips to her soft ones. “You’re my sunshine, and one day, you’ll be my wife.”
“Okay,” she says on a soft sigh as my mouth trails her jaw. “That sounds nice.”
“I can’t wait to fuck you for the rest of my life.”
“Hey, Jennie, are we gettin’ that pizza or—” Carter’s words end a shriek as he stops at the top of the staircase, horrified gaze glued to our intimate position. I can only assume he heard my last words too.
I sigh, more irritated than anything that now I’m going to have to hear about his new trauma for at least the next month.
Carter spins away from us. “Ollie! I need help!”
“Do your breathing exercises, babe!” she shouts back.
His footsteps thud so quickly down the stairs it’s a wonder he doesn’t faceplant. “I don’t remember how!”
I look back at my sunshine, the smug smirk on her beautiful face. Her fingers thread through my hair, and she lifts one shoulder in an innocent shrug.
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