Take My Dare

By: J. Kenner

Is she okay?

After all, I know better than anyone how much fear and doubt a child can hide under the surface.

But what I don’t know is how to make it all go away.

Chapter Five

“Morning, sweetheart.” As Sylvia sat up in bed, Jackson came in and put the tray over her. Toast and scrambled eggs since that seemed like an easy meal for breakfast in bed. Along with orange juice in a flute, which Sylvia liked to call a pregnant woman’s mimosa.

“Morning? It’s almost eleven. I can’t believe you let me sleep so long.”

“You were tossing and turning. I figured you could use a few extra hours.” Honestly, he was surprised she got any sleep at all. She looked beautiful pregnant, but he knew she was getting damned uncomfortable.

“So just extra rest? This isn’t part of a master plan to over-pamper me?”

“Is there such a thing?”

She tilted her head to the side and narrowed her eyes at him. “I’m starting to think so. And you need to stop worrying. I’ve felt fine since Sunday evening on the island. It’s Tuesday morning now. I’ve done nothing but eat and bask and relax for thirty-six hours. You’re spoiling me rotten.”

She was right, of course. But the truth was he enjoyed pampering her. “You have a problem with that?”

“Absolutely not.” She finished her orange juice, then held out the glass. “More please.”

He laughed, then left to get the carton. “Anything else, madam?” he asked when he returned and refilled her glass.

“I could use a kiss.”

“Funny. So could I.”

He put the orange juice on the side table, then bent over to brush his lips over his wife’s. He’d intended a chaste kiss, but her lips parted, so soft and tempting that he had to taste her. And when she reached up and thrust her fingers in his hair and pulled him down, he felt himself grow hard. “I should cancel my conference call,” he said when they broke the kiss, both breathing hard.

She shook her head. “For that project in DC? The hell you will.” She took his hand, twining her fingers through his.

“What if you need me?”

“One, your office is attached to the house, so it’s not like I’d have to go far to find you. And two, I’m fine, remember? Now you’re just making excuses for sex.”

“Trust me. I don’t need any excuses for sex.”

She laughed. “Good point. In that case, you can come right back and find me after the call.”

“With incentive like that, it’ll be a very short call.”

“Good. It should be. After all, you’re Jackson Steele. What else do they possibly need to know before they hire you?”

“I like the way you think. So what are you going to do while I’m off impressing the Washington elite?”

“I think I’ll set Ronnie up on one side of the kitchen table with her Play-Doh and me at the other and try to plow through all the emails that have built up over the last few days. I have a lot to take care of before I go on maternity leave.” She bit her lower lip. “We’re so close, Jackson. Can you believe it?”

Honestly, he could barely get his head around the thought. Soon there’d be a baby in the house. Their baby. “No,” he said as he rubbed her stomach, imagining his son or daughter. “I really can’t.” He drew in a breath, then took her hand and held tight. “Two kids and a wife I adore. I don’t know how the hell I got so lucky, but I know one thing. I wouldn’t trade a single moment. Not for anything.”

“I’m hungry, Mommy.”

“What?” I’m preoccupied with a chain of emails between the city and my team about the placement of a sewer line on a Stark property outside of Palm Springs. “I’m sorry, baby. I didn’t hear you.”

“I’m hungry,” she repeats as I look into her wide eyes from over the screen of my laptop.

“Okay, just give me two more minutes and I’ll get you something.”

“Hungry now.”

“Veronica Steele, you just ate a whole bowl of strawberries less than half an hour ago. You can wait until I finish this.” I keep my voice level and reasonable despite the fact that my head is throbbing from staring at crisis-filled emails for the last hour.

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