“So you’re trying for a baby, huh? Never wanted one myself. Too messy and loud.”
I look down at the table and repress my smile, not sure if Claire will take offense. She’s constantly surprising me, even after a year of being friends.
“Well, we’re not trying yet. Just talking about it.”
She saws at her cut of steak, spearing a piece and popping it in her mouth. “Waiting to go bareback?”
I sputter, nearly spitting out my mouthful of salad. She smirks, knowing she’d get a reaction as she takes another bite of steak.
“You know, I’d be mad,” I tell her, “but it’s my own fault for not expecting something crazy to come out of your mouth.”
She throws her head back and cackles, drawing the eye of the couple at the table next to us. I’m used to it enough by now to not be embarrassed, though.
“I’m just preparing you for your walk on the wild side.”
“Trying for a baby is wild?”
“Being pregnant is.” She accentuates her words by swinging her fork in the air, the piece of steak on the end holding on for dear life.
“What do you mean?”
“Oh, the usual stuff. Mood swings, leaky bladder, fingers swelling up like sausages.” She goes on, her growing list making my brows knit in concern. Pigmentation of the skin? Belly button becoming an outie? How have I never heard of these things? “And don’t even get me started on childbirth. My sister had a third degree tear. Took her three months to heal down there. I have a pic—”
“That won’t be necessary,” I interrupt, holding a hand up to stop her. I push my salad plate away, appetite gone. “Not everyone experiences those things. My pregnancy will probably be normal.”
“Those things are normal,” she insists.
I smooth a palm down the front of my dress as my stomach does a slow roll. Why have I never really considered these possibilities before?
“You going to let me throw you a baby shower?” she asks, as if she didn’t just completely throw me for a loop. I can only imagine the theme she’d pick. Actually, I don’t want to imagine. Besides, Mackenzie would be a way better fit. Now that she and Gabriel are engaged, she’ll be my sister-in-law soon.
Wait. What am I thinking? I’m not even pregnant. “We’re not anywhere near that point.”
“Well, once you start trying, it only takes one time.” She snaps her fingers for emphasis, but I understand the mechanics.
Just not what happens after, apparently.
I change the subject to how her stepdaughter is doing in school, and lunch passes without another broach of the topic. But she’s definitely given me a lot to think about.
I catch a cab back to New Beginnings in time for a meeting with Wendy and our adoptions coordinator, Lisa, to discuss the outcome of our expanded fostering program, but a text from Archer halfway through has my mind turning elsewhere.
Archer: Practice session tonight?
I bite my lip to hide my smile as I glance at my phone, trying to shield the screen from view of the others. A second text comes in after that, bringing a blush to my cheeks.
Archer: I’ve been thinking of you all day. Especially that thing you did last night.
I flip the phone over in my lap, crossing my legs to contain the sudden ache there at the remembrance of us in bed. The past week with Archer has felt like the beginning of our relationship again, in the sense of being excited about the unknown. Plus, ridiculously hot sex every night. And after a year together, the man knows exactly which buttons I like pushed.
Sending me dirty texts at work? Yeah, he knows I’m a sucker for that. Especially because it’s him. My stoic, serious man who lets himself loose only for me.
I take a peek at my screen, another text up there.
Archer: I want you to ride me like that again while I suck your tits.
Oh God, he can’t get me worked up right now. I’m supposed to be paying attention.
I tuck my phone under my thigh, concentrating hard on Wendy’s words, but the more I try to focus, the more my mind spins fantasies of what else Archer might have texted. Maybe about how he wants to play with my clit or eat me out or fuck me from behind.
My cheeks heat. I’m awful. Seriously, the worst. Wendy is up there giving it her all with her presentation and all I can think about is how my husband plans to pleasure me in bed tonight.
I recross my legs in the opposite direction, my panties damp with arousal, and drag my phone out, angling the screen away from Lisa.
Me: Why are you getting me hot and bothered at work?
Archer: Why are you checking your phone if you don’t want to be?
I smile, rolling my eyes.
Me: I’m in the middle of a meeting. Shouldn’t you be working too?
Archer: I’m in between clients. So we’re on for tonight then?
Me: Like you had to ask.
I set my phone away from me so I won’t be tempted to check it again, but between Archer’s texts and Claire’s words of warning, my mind just can’t focus on Wendy and Lisa’s conversation about our animal foster program.
On the one hand, yes, I can’t wait for tonight. But also… do I really know what I’m getting myself into?
“What are you reading?”
I startle in my seat, shutting my laptop way too quickly to seem natural. “Nothing.”
Archer raises his brows, setting his attaché case down at the front entryway. How did I not hear him come in?
He grins, his eyes crinkling at the corners. “Yeah, that’s not suspicious at all.”
Heat licks my cheeks, but I can’t let him see what I was reading. I’ve gone too far down the rabbit hole finding childbirth horror stories on the internet. Seriously, am I a masochist? What did Claire do to me? “I, um, was just doing some research.”
His smile drops as I flounder for something to say. “Do I need to be worried?”
“No.” I sigh, resigning myself. “Here.” I open my laptop again and indicate for him to look.
He joins me on the couch and skims the screen, a wrinkle forming between his brows. “What the hell am I reading?”
“Childbirth stories. I looked up one and now I can’t stop reading them.”
“This is awful.” He frowns, eyes still glued to the computer. “Why can’t I look away?”
“I know, right? Claire got me all worried about it at lunch.”
“What’d she do now?” he mutters. He’s heard too much from me about her crazy antics to fully trust her.
“She was just warning me. There were a lot of things I hadn’t thought of previously.”
“About having your baby in the passenger seat of a car?” he asks, still looking at the screen. “Or pooping during childbirth?”
I close the laptop again, scowling at him. “These are serious concerns, Archer.”
“I know, I know. I’m sorry. So have you changed your mind about having kids?”
Is it just me or does he actually look disappointed? “No, I want them.” I place my hand in his, squeezing gently. “But I didn’t realize everything it entails.”
“With pregnancy or raising the kid?”
“Both,” I admit. “And the information out there is overwhelming.”
“I’ll do research too. You’re not alone in this.”
My heart warms at his sweet gesture. And he wonders why I love him so much?
“So what other gruesome things did Claire fill your mind with?” he asks.
I tell him about everything she mentioned, as well as some new things I found on my own online. “Did you know my feet could permanently go up a size? They swell that bad.”
He leans over and kisses my temple. “Then I’ll buy you more shoes.”
“What if I get… really big? Like a whale, big?”
His lips twist, but he can’t fully hide his smile. “Serena, you’re going to be the most gorgeous pregnant woman on the planet.” His hand briefly caresses my stomach. “A goddess among us mortals.”
I look down, hiding the heat spreading across my face. “A goddess, hmm?”
“You already are,” he murmurs. “I’ll love you no matter what happens.”
“Even if I poop during childbirth?”
He winces. “Yes, even then.”
I laugh, loving his sincerity, and lean forward to give him a quick kiss on the lips.
“Come here,” he says, widening his legs and patting the spot in front of him.
I move, already knowing what he’ll do, and bite my lip to contain a groan as he begins to massage my shoulders. At some point over the last year, he became the one to offer massages, although I still like to bring him a glass of Scotch now and then.
My muscles gradually loosen under his gentle touch, and as he presses a soft kiss to the back of my neck, a shiver runs through me. “If we do have a baby,” he says, “I may not be able to predict what’ll happen during labor, but I can assure you I won’t care if your body changes. You’ll always be beautiful to me.” His lips trail across my neck with slow, tender kisses that create a pleasant swooping sensation in my lower belly. “My gorgeous, sexy wife.”
I lean into him, his hands moving from my back to around front, shaping themselves over my breasts. I arch, loving how he knows exactly how much pressure to use as he massages me there, my breaths picking up in speed.
He slides the straps of my dress down, unhooking my bra to reveal me, and I twine my arms behind his neck as he draws soft circles around my nipples until they’re beaded in arousal.
I moan as he plays with me, closing my eyes in delight as one hand sneaks south to lift the hem of my dress and pull my panties aside, teasing a finger along my seam.
“You’re wet for me already,” he murmurs in my ear, his deep voice sending another wave of shivers through me.
He sinks his fingers into me, pumping in and out while still tweaking my nipples, my hips moving reflexively, wanting more of him. He builds me up, using his thumb to rub my clit, the feel of him everywhere almost too much to handle.
My nails dig into the back of his neck, the low groan he makes in response purely sexual. I don’t know if it’s just because he got me all worked up earlier texting me, but the sound sends me over the edge and I press against him, breathing hard as I soar. I mumble his name, my brain foggy as my body relaxes, satisfied and happy.
When I come down from my high, I shift around until I’m straddling him on the couch, kissing him hungrily. My hands roam his chest, quickly unbuttoning his shirt until I reach the warmth of his skin, his low hum of approval spurring me on.
“I’m ready, Serena.”
I pause, leaning back slightly to look at him. “Ready?”
“To try. Tonight. For real this time, not just practice.”
My stomach dips delightfully as I take a second to process his words. “Really?”
He nods, eyes shining as he cups my cheek. “I want to start a family with you. If you’re ready too.”
All my worry from earlier disappears as I gaze into his eyes, so filled with love it makes my chest swell. Women have had babies since the dawn of time. Like he said, we can’t predict what’ll happen, but that’s no reason not to try at all. And imagining our child, a part of both of us, fills me with such anticipation, it’s almost too much to stand.
“I want that too,” I whisper. “I want everything with you.”
He reaches down and unzips his fly, his hard cock popping out, and I stroke it softly as he palms my ass and removes my panties. I grind against him, nothing between us, the act of doing this with no protection as exciting as it is scary. We could… make a baby tonight.
I glide slick against his bare cock, my arousal coating him as he teases us both, continually getting closer and withdrawing until we’re panting. He positions himself at my entrance, both of us groaning as I sink down onto him until I’m all the way seated, his length filling me deliciously.
“You feel amazing,” he murmurs, gripping my hips tight, controlling the pace as he thrusts up. “I’ve imagined this so many times this week, what’ll it finally be like to have nothing between us. God, it’s even better than I thought.”
He picks up the pace then, and after long minutes of building us up, bends his head down to tenderly nuzzle my breasts, still sensitive from his attention earlier. I brace my hands on his shoulders as he captures a nipple in his mouth, sucking me roughly, a frisson of delight spreading through me.
“Archer,” I whimper, that familiar feeling rising within me, especially as he brings a hand down and finds my clit, rubbing it softly. “More. I need more.”
“I’ve got everything you need,” he whispers, tilting his hips so he hits me at a new angle.
“Yes, there. Right there.” I arch my back, nearly there, holding onto him for all I’m worth as I crest the edge again, his thumb flying over my clit furiously now. I buck, riding him until he groans low in my ear, warmth filling me as he comes inside me.
“I love you,” I tell him, bringing my mouth to his for a long kiss.
He runs his hand through my hair and cups the back of my head, savoring me as he repeats, “Love you.”
A thrill courses through me at his admission. Even after a year, I still love hearing the words.
He easily picks me up and carries me into the bathroom where he cleans us both off, pausing frequently to steal kisses from me.
“Do you… feel anything?” he asks quietly, his gaze on my stomach.
“No. I don’t think you know for a couple weeks.”
“We could have…” He swallows, looking back up to meet my eye. “You could be…”
“Is it crazy that I wish you were?”
“Not at all.” A sense of peace steals over me as I readily accept this next chapter of our lives. “We’ll find out soon. And until then, we’ll just have to keep trying.”
His lips quirk. “I like the trying part.”
I lean in and kiss him softly. “Me too.”
I can’t wait to see what the future holds for the two of us. Or maybe…
I rub my stomach with wonder.