One Year Later
Saoirse stopped midstride, raising a questioning brow. “I like to think so, but I sense you’re commenting on something specific.”
I patted the arm of her desk chair. “I will be replacing my chair with this model as soon as possible.”
She sauntered over to where I sat behind her new desk, putting an extra swing in her hips. “Oh, you like my chair, do you?”
“Mmhmm.” As soon as she was within arm’s reach, I grabbed her and pulled her into my lap. She circled her arms around my neck and crossed one leg over the other. “I like your chair even better now.”
“You know I have a million things to do before everyone arrives.”
I rubbed my palm along her thigh and placed a soft kiss to the curve of her neck. “I’ll let you get back to running around checking on things you’ve already checked a hundred times after you sit with me a minute.”
She relaxed against me, letting out a sigh. “You’re exaggerating.”
“Okay.” I touched her throat with my lips again. “You’ve checked things fifty times.”
“Maybe. I just want everything to look perfect.”
“It does, pretty girl. You and Miles are going to blow everyone away.”
Peak Strategies was a little over a year old. In that time, Miles and Saoirse had steadily grown their business, gaining clients and a reputation in and outside of Denver. Up until this point, they’d been mainly working from our condo and renting conference rooms in shared office space when they needed it.
They’d finally agreed they needed more room and their own official office. I used my connections to secure them a space in the building beside Rossi’s. It was for my own selfish purposes—working in close proximity made lunch breaks at the Davenport possible.
My wife and I now fucked whenever and wherever the mood struck, but a part of me missed our secret trysts. Although I’d settled into my CEO role, knowing I got to sink inside my wife in the middle of the day made my job much more enjoyable. I had plans for us to relive our early days as often as possible now that I’d have her nearby.
But I was getting ahead of myself. Tonight wasn’t about business or even about me. Saoirse and Miles were throwing a party to celebrate and show off their new digs. Within the hour, clients and friends would be arriving, and my wife was a fluttering bundle of nerves.
“I shouldn’t have invited my mother.” Saoirse wrung her hands. “That was a mistake.”
I took her hands in mine, kissing her fingertips one at a time. “She’ll be fine. Lily Smythe-Kelly would never make a scene in public, and I’ll ensure she doesn’t have the chance to make one in private.”
Understanding Lily wasn’t something on my agenda. I didn’t care why she was the way she was. All that mattered was how she treated my wife. The first time I walked in on Saoirse attempting to defend herself against her mother’s criticism, I calmly took the phone from her, told Lily Saoirse wouldn’t be speaking to her again until she was ready to apologize and be civil, and hung up. Neither woman had been angry. Saoirse had thanked me for defending her, and Lily had apologized the next day.
Since then, she’d gotten better. Not perfect. Far from it. But better.
“My bodyguard.” Saoirse snuggled into me with a sigh. “At least she’s leaving Peter at home.”
Saoirse had mostly come to terms with the fact that she would never be close to her mother. Luckily, my mom had taken her under her wing, treating her like a second daughter. Which worked well since Clara thought of Saoirse as her sister.
Like I knew she would, Saoirse had supported Clara in all ways over the last year. Times had been rough, and some days still were, but Clara was divorced from Miller, who was serving his time in federal prison. Our auditors had uncovered that Miller had embezzled over a million dollars from Rossi, so his sentence was even steeper with those charges added.
Nellie was thriving without that dick in her life. She looked like a little clone of Clara, so we all pretended Miller had had nothing to do with her origins.
My niece was also obsessed with her aunt. She had managed to babble an adorable form of “Sershie” while she hadn’t come close to forming my name. The guy who’d held her when she’d been all gooey and brand new.
Not that I was upset by that or anything.
Most days, I was pretty certain all my family liked my wife more than me, and I didn’t blame them for it. After all, I liked her more than anyone else too.
“Tell me what else you’re worried about, and I’ll reassure you.”
She talked, and I listened, which in the end, was what she’d needed.
Miles strolled into Saoirse’s office, tugging at his tie with a deep frown on his face. “I look like an idiot.”
Saoirse laughed. “You look dapper.”
Miles cocked his head, looking at me. I nodded. “I agree. The suit works. Glad you finally hit up my tailor.”
His spine straightened, and he twisted side to side to show off his light-gray trousers and jacket, which had been custom made for him. “The suit is the absolute shit. I love it. I may sleep in it. It’s the tie I can’t get on board with. Sersh made me wear it, but I feel like I’m wearing a noose. Some people aren’t meant for such formality.” He pointed to himself. “Hi. I’m some people.”
“I think you have to listen to Saoirse. She knows what she’s talking about.”
Miles dropped his hands from his tie and tucked them in his pockets, sighing in defeat. “Fine. I’ll do it for the ’gram. But don’t expect me to wear a tie to work just because we have a fancy office. It’s not happening.”
Saoirse laughed. “I’m always relieved when you wear actual pants to work.”
Miles rocked back on his heels. “Jesus, will you let that drop? I wore shorts one time—”
“To a meeting with a prospective client,” she added.
His eyes narrowed. “We don’t know that my shorts were the reason they didn’t sign with us.”
“I’m sure they didn’t help. You just had to show off your calves.”
I nuzzled my nose into her hair. “To be fair, Miles does have exceptionally nice calves.”
Saoirse slapped my shoulder. “Don’t encourage him.”
Miles finger gunned me. “Thanks, man. Always knew you were a real one. Now, I’ll leave you two in peace to christen the office or whatever you were doing before I walked in here.”
Saoirse groaned at his retreating back. “If I didn’t love him, I’d kill him,” she muttered.
“If I didn’t love you, I’d kill him for being loved by you,” I said.
I stole another kiss, then she was off again, expelling her nervous energy by pacing and speaking with the caterers. It wasn’t often that Saoirse got nervous, but this was important to her.
She’d been like this before our vow renewal too. My mother had gotten her wish. Saoirse had let her help plan a celebration for our one-year anniversary. It had been a lot more low-key than she probably would have liked, but we all ended up happy.
Connell got his first dance with his daughter.
Elena helped my mother plan everything with baby Phoebe on her hip.
Hannah sprinkled flowers, and Caleb passed out programs. And while Caleb wasn’t fully on board with me, he’d been calling me small less and less these days, so I took that as a sign I was winning him over. He had even lowered himself to having a sleepover at our condo twice in the last year. I figured one or two more times, and he’d be putty in my hands.
I picked up the frame from Saoirse’s desk. There were two photos side by side. One from our wedding where we were laughing with each other. The second was at our vow renewal in Wyoming. Saoirse had worn her pink dress with a flower tucked behind her ear. She took my breath away, always, but that dress had done a fucking number on me. I’d already asked her to wear it for me every year. Since she was a good girl, she very easily said “yes.” She’d definitely get something out of the experience. Multiple somethings.
I ran my finger over the picture of us in Wyoming. We’d said our vows in a rustic chapel on the ranch in front of fifty friends and family, sun streaming through the stained-glass windows, giddy smiles on our faces.
It hadn’t been a do-over. We hadn’t needed one of those. The first time had been perfect because it was what had made us us.
Standing in front of everyone at the renewal had only reaffirmed what we had already worked out for ourselves: we chose each other, and we would keep choosing each other until our last sunset.