Page 47

Flint drives us through the snow-covered roads to my dad’s appointments. Flint makes dinner for my family. Flint dazzles all of us with his knowledge of—everything. Flint helps get my dad ready for bed so I can rest.

He reminds me why I so easily fell hard for him, long before I admitted it to him. Long before I admitted it to myself.

This man didn’t come here to just take care of me, he came here to take care of what means the most to me. Those who love you the most, will cherish what you cherish. They’ll nurture what makes you—you.

I grab a glass of water and turn off the lights before heading upstairs to bed. Flint’s making my bed like there’s going to be a military inspection. I don’t think he ironed the sheets, but I can’t say for sure. I don’t see a single wrinkle in the perfectly turned down bed. Speaking of perfect … the sculpted man stuffing the pillows into pillowcases and wearing only partially unfastened pants makes me feel something in my tummy besides nausea. “I’m not going to let you leave.”

Flint smooths out the downturned sheet once more. “Yeah?” He takes my glass of water and sets it on the night table.

“Yeah.” I press my hands to his chest, letting my fingers trace each muscle. “If it’s a boy…” I whisper “…I hope he looks just like you.”

His fingers find their way through my hair, until he’s holding my head, tipping it back until my gaze finds his. “And if it’s a girl?”

I smile. “I hope she brings you to your knees every day.”

“Like her mom?”

Mom. No words can describe how that makes me feel. My life started over after the divorce. My dreams vanished. I’ve been waiting for life to show me where I fit in again. Mom.

I want this life.

“Do I bring you to your knees?”

Flint pulls me to the bed and guides me to sit on the edge. He kneels on the floor between my legs, wrapping his arms around my waist as his cheek rests on my chest next to my heart. “More than anyone.”

My fingers trace the hard lines of his bare back as I think about Harry’s mom. “Surely not more than anyone.”

He shifts his head so his lips press to my sternum. “Anyone,” he whispers.

Sliding my hands to his head, I slowly fist his hair and drop my chin until my lips press to his head.

I want this life.

I want this man.

Do I want the impossible?



I wake breathless with this woman in my arms—and my child. Sweat beads along my brow from a nightmare.

We were in the delivery room and Heidi was at the door shaking her head. She mouthed “Penance” just before fading away like a ghost. Ellen gave one more hard push. The doctor announced it was a girl. I kissed her until her lips fell limp against mine. Machines started beeping. Everyone scrambled. The doctor said, “We’re losing her.”

In a blink, I was standing over Ellen’s grave holding our baby.

“Mmm …” She hums, her ass pressed to my morning erection. “I like where your hand is,” she murmurs as her hand covers mine over her belly. “Happy New Year.”

“Happy New Year. How are you feeling?”

“So so. A little queasy.”

“Food and more contraband herbs for you.” I sit up and reach for her water and the glass tincture bottle.

She giggles. “Is it pot? Are you giving me marijuana?”

“The correct name is cannabis. Open.”

She sits up, giving me the hairy eyeball. “So that’s a yes?”

“Open.” I hold up the dropper.

“Flint …”

“Elle, open.”

“Not until you tell me.”

“It’s not a yes.”

“So it’s a no?”


“Tell me!”

“I make my own tinctures. Marijuana is illegal to grow in Minnesota.”

On a stubborn sigh, she opens her mouth. I squirt in a full dropper.


I hand her the water. “Drink. And let’s get you some food.”

“You’re evading my question. I need to hear, ‘Ellen, I’m not giving your baby marijuana tincture.’”

I slip on sweatpants and a tee. “Our baby.”

“Our baby. You have to tell me how you got into growing everything, making your own tinctures. It doesn’t fit the football player, the sports agent, the attorney.”

I shrug. “I’ve always liked botany. In school, it grabbed me. I know I give Harrison a hard time about his obsession with science or music, but I was the kid obsessed with collecting seeds and growing anything I could wherever I could find the space. Just wait … at some point my parents will tell the story of carrots growing in the middle of our front yard.”

Ellen grins. “Yet, you’re an attorney.”

“Yeah, well, people rarely do what they love. We do what seems smart at the time. I loved football too, but when that didn’t work out, I did what seemed smart.”

“I love hearing about young Flint.” She smiles and stretches, arching her back. I focus on her nipples pressed to her nightshirt.

“Whatcha looking at?”

My gaze snaps to hers.


“I’ll make you your ginger tea. Do you want a piece of toast and eggs or oatmeal?” I tug on my sweatpants and pull my shirt down as low as it will go.

“Shhh … hear that?” She presses her finger to her lips.

I listen and shake my head. “I don’t hear anything.”

“Exactly.” She sits up on her knees and shrugs off her nightshirt.


“Shhh …” She shakes her head. “You know what else can ease nausea?” She walks on her knees toward the edge of the bed. “Endorphins. Wanna help release some endorphins in my body?”

“Ellen. We’re not … fuck …” I suck in a hard breath as her hand dives into the front of my pants.

She strokes me. “I’ll take this as a yes.”

“You need food.” I grimace as she tightens her grip and slides her thumb over the head of my cock.

“Then you’d better see how fast you can give me a rush of those nausea-relieving endorphins.” Grabbing the neck of my shirt, she jerks me toward her until I’m bent down close to her face. Her lips brush my ear. “How fast can you make me come, Mr. Hopkins?”

“I’m trying to be a gentleman with you. I’m here to take care of you.” I grab her wrist, but I can’t bring myself to force her to stop.

“Take a five minute timeout from being a gentleman.” Her teeth sink into my earlobe as she works my sweatpants and briefs past my hips.

“Your rats are watching.”

She smirks, jerking her hand up my length a few times. “Just Gaga.”

“Five minutes?”

Ellen nods. I love her messy red hair, those eyes … the freckles. She’s the fucking package of all packages.

I kiss her hard until she moans, making long strokes with my tongue. She tugs at my shirt. I pull away and shrug it off before pinning her to the bed. “Move your panties to the side,” I whisper in her ear.

“Yesss!” She slides the crotch of her panties to the side, closes her eyes, and lets me give her all the endorphins.

I remind myself that she wants this.

I’m not an inconsiderate man simply getting off at the first chance.

Her rats are not watching me—judging me. Except Gaga. The ugliest one of the bunch.

“Right there …” Ellen’s pelvis lifts from the bed, reaching for more.

I kiss her and slide my hand between us. She cries into my mouth then jerks her head to the side. “I’m coming …”

Good for her. I want to. I really do, but I can’t reach an orgasm with images in my mind of a hairless rat watching my naked ass.

Now it’s just awkward. I’m not wearing a condom. She’ll know if I simply quit and don’t orgasm. But I fear I could break her pelvis if I keep pounding into her while trying to focus on her sexy tits or how warm and tight she feels around me instead of images of Gaga with her freaky little hands gripping the cage as she just stares with her black, beady eyes and pointy snout.

My five minutes are about up. Ellen digs her nails into the muscles of my ass, urging me on.

Fucking rats!

I stop. There’s no point in continuing.

“What are you doing?” she asks, a little breathless.

I pull out and roll onto my back, sliding up my briefs and sweatpants. “You beat me to the finish.” I stare at the ceiling with my hand splayed over my chest. “You needed the endorphins, and now you need some food since I gave you those herbs.”

The bed vibrates as she laughs. “I beat you to the finish? Since when is sex a race with winners and losers?”

“Since you got pregnant and now your needs trump mine.”

“Oh my gosh!” She sits up, holding her nightshirt to her chest. “You’ve had sex since …” Her head shakes as if she needs to rattle out the words instead of speaking them. “Since we were together before Thanksgiving. You … you’ve had adult companionship haven’t you?”