“He’s here,” I tell Chester. We both look to the door expectantly. I’d run to it, but well, I haven’t run in a few months thanks to baby number five who is currently pressing on my bladder. You’d think I’d be used to it by now because I keep having Roman’s big babies. Sometimes, it amazes me that we have all these little blessings.
Roman comes in the door with a bouquet of wildflowers. He knows how much I love them.
He smiles when he sees me, those lines around his eyes becoming more pronounced. It’s been eight years together and his hair is now streaked with silver. His beard that used to be salt and pepper is now mostly white, a fact he hates. But I love it because it makes my man look distinguished.
My eyes instantly tear up at the flowers. Pregnancy hormones always get me weepy. “You thought of me!”
“I always think of you.”
I don’t doubt that for a minute. Roman has been gone for three days for work and I swear, he spent most of the time on the phone to me and our boys. We have four rowdy guys who adore their daddy just as much as I do.
Besides building our family, we’ve also continued to build our businesses over the past eight years together. The auto shop has expanded twice, and we suspect we’ll be building an even bigger garage in the next year. Roman is an excellent CEO. He never takes credit for anything though. He insists it’s all me, but I know the truth. It’s the two of us. We make an incredible team together.
He leans down to press a gentle kiss to my lips, and I whimper. That’s another thing about the pregnancy hormones—they make me crave my husband’s touch constantly. Not that he ever minds satisfying me. If he could convince me to give up the auto garage and lie in bed all day, he’d be a happy man.
Before I can deepen the kiss, our little one interrupts.
Roman puts a hand on my stomach. “Whoa, there. I think we have another football player in the family.”
Levi started playing the game last year and Roman was that dad. The one attending every practice and cheering at every game.
I laugh. “It’s definitely possible.”
“Where are the kiddos?” He looks around. Normally, they would have been running to greet their daddy already. They would have thrown their arms around him and tackled him, all of them talking a mile a minute as they vied for his attention.
“They’re with Blade and Gwen,” I answer.
He smirks at me. “Is that right?”
I move to the kitchen, and he follows me. He inhales deeply. “Chicken parmesan. Like the first night. What’s it been…?” He frowns as he tries to calculate it. Roman is great at keeping up with birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. He never misses a chance to spoil me. But we haven’t ever celebrated our first night together.
“Eight years exactly.”
His face lights up, chasing away some of the shadows. His eyes have dark circles under them. He doesn’t sleep well when he’s away from our family. Ironic since the boys wake us at least three times every night. That’s before one of them eventually crawls into the bed and burrows between Roman and me, stealing all the blankets and kicking him in the back. My mountain man never complains about the boys. He adores his sons.
“Did you plan this, kitten?” He growls as he stalks across the kitchen.
I open the oven door to remove the food but he puts a hand on my shoulder and shoos me toward the chair. He always wants to do everything for me. He’s always looking for ways to take care of me, but whenever I’m pregnant, his caretaking goes into overdrive. He doesn’t want me to lift a finger while I’m growing his babies.
Exhausted from being on my feet today, I sink gratefully into a seat at the kitchen table. Now that Roman is here, I know I’m officially off duty. He’ll handle everything for the rest of the night. From loading the dishwasher to answering all the video calls from our kids, there won’t be a thing he doesn’t do. This man lives for his family and taking care of us is his highest priority.
“Maybe I planned it,” I tease him.
He plates the food and brings it to the table. As usual, he sits beside me. It’s symbolic of the way we face the world—always shoulder-to-shoulder. I love that about my husband. He’s already a wonderful father to our four boys. I know he’s going to be just as amazing with our baby girl.
“Whoa, whoa. Come here,” Roman pulls me into his lap. It doesn’t matter how round I grow with each pregnancy. He still picks me up. “Why are we crying? Are these—dammit. You saw the doctor today. Did he give you bad n—?”
I’m shaking my head before he can even finish the thought. I take his hand, pressing it to my stomach. “No, our little daughter is healthy and happy.”
He goes completely still. He’s wanted a daughter for so long. “It’s a girl?”
He thumbs my tears away. “And that makes you unhappy?”
I manage a laugh that’s watery. “I’ve never been happier. That’s the thing. You’re an amazing dad, and we have a beautiful life with our little family.”
His posture relaxes at my words. Whenever I’m upset or one of the boys is, Roman goes into defensive mode. He’ll do whatever it takes to make us happy again. He’s going to be incredible with a little girl.
“You’re giving me a daughter,” he whispers quietly, awe in his voice. But that’s not all I hear. I hear the tears that are threatening. For a long time, Roman struggled with feeling unworthy of our life and our marriage. I regularly remind him that he’s more than his past and that I love him just as he is.
I put a hand on his face, cupping it. “You’re going to love being a girl dad.”
“I have something for you,” he croaks out.
I’m already shaking my head. “We do not have room for another car.”
He’s bought me four in the past eight years. The first car was the one from the car show, and it’s still in perfect condition. The other three were fixer-uppers, vintage cars that the two of us restored together. I love that we have a hobby we can share.
He chuckles, the deep rumble a comforting sound. “Not a car this time.”
I put my head on his chest and snuggle into his embrace. “It had better not be another back rub. That’s how we got our daughter.”
“You remember our honeymoon at the lodge?”
Our wedding at the Forever After Lodge is one of my favorite memories. I spent so much time in that honeymoon suite, exploring my new husband and learning all the ways he likes to be touched. Of course, he learned how I like to be touched too.
“I remember,” my voice has taken on a husky note.
“I booked us reservations for next weekend. We’ll have the honeymoon suite again. I cleared it with Blade and Gwen. They’ll watch the boys. What do you say? Want to run away with me for a weekend?”
I smile against his shirt. “I’ll run away with you anytime.”
Roman isn’t just my husband. He’s my partner, my soulmate, and my best friend. He makes me smile every day and holds me close every night. He’s my protector and the father of my children. He’s also my lover, the only one who can satisfy me.
I sit up on his lap and send him a grin. “I changed my mind. I want that back rub after all.”
He winks at me as he stands with me in his arms. “Anything for you, kitten.”
I never thought I’d become a single dad at thirty-six, but here I am raising my nephew and trying to do right by him. That’s how I end up hiring the woman of my fantasies to be his nanny. Ivy is sunshine and curves. There’s no way she’s interested in a grumpy mountain man like me.
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