“Up, mama,” Faith says to Derek. She’s eighteen months old and no matter how many times I’ve tried to tell her that Derek is Dada, she still insists on calling him mama. Cam and Lincoln find the whole thing amusing and encourage it.
But Derek doesn’t mind. He’s endlessly patient with her. He pauses at the kitchen island where he’s putting the frosting on a sugar cookie to gather our girl in his arms.
We’re going to a potluck for the fire station in a few minutes. We agreed to cover desserts, so I’m making my famous fudge brownies. Everyone at the station always flips for them and I’m making two versions. The regular kind and the gluten free ones so Lincoln’s twins can get a sugar rush too.
Derek decided to make cookies with Faith. She followed him around the kitchen the entire time and even “helped” by stirring the batter. I snapped a picture on my phone of the two of them covered in dough and laughing. Our daughter is a daddy’s girl through and through.
“Turn!” She demands and reaches for the frosting bag in Derek’s hand.
“Say please,” I remind her gently as I stir more cocoa powder in the batter.
“Pwease,” she answers with a grin up at her dad. She looks just like him with her dark hair and mischievous smile.
He guides her on what to do for two cookies before she wrestles the bag from Derek and squeezes almost all of it onto a single cookie. But he just smiles and congratulates her on a job well done.
We thought we were going to lose her during my pregnancy. I had to go on bedrest. The entire time I was a sobbing mess, terrified we wouldn’t get our little miracle.
Derek held me together. He kept reassuring me that he had faith our girl was meant to be here. That’s why when it came time to choose a name, I told him I wanted to call her Faith. The name is a testament to her father, to the man that made sure she came into the world through sheer force of will.
I’ll never know how he found the strength to run the fire station while caring for me and comforting me during those dark months. But he did it. He’s the best husband and father I could have asked for.
“Let’s frost more,” he says and sets her down on the counter. To distract her, he passes her a cookie, and she drools over it. She’s a happy girl, never been one to fuss. Derek says she has my laidback personality. That might be true, but she definitely has parts of her dad too.
Yesterday, I came into her room to find her issuing orders to her stuffed animals. She was using some of the same words that Derek does when he’s bossing people around at the fire station.
He’s still the fire chief and he loves his job. He has a special section of his office that’s her play area so she’s always at work with us. I’m back to being on the team again, though I’m no longer probationary. I’m a gainfully employed member of the Courage County Fire and Rescue crew, a fact that always delights me.
I love that our girl is at the station every day and that she gets to see me doing something I love. Growing up, I was taught that I had to choose between having a family and having a career. But with Derek by my side, I don’t have to make that choice. He’d never ask that of me and even though our lives are chaotic at times, I love our firefighting family.
After I’ve slid the brownies into the oven, I cross to the kitchen island where my two favorite people are working on more cookie decorating. I slide my hand under the back of Derek’s shirt, rubbing his bare skin.
He sends me a heated look and nods to where Faith is blinking to stay awake. “I think it’s almost N-A-P time.”
“Want me to finish up here while you put her down? We could have dessert after, just the two of us.”
“I like what you’re thinking.” He leans in to brush a kiss on my forehead, the simple gesture making me feel so loved and happy.
After two years and a baby together, I expected our chemistry to slowly fizzle. But if anything, the fire between us just burns hotter with the passing of time. We’re together every day. It’s hard with a toddler underfoot but he always finds ways to bring me pleasure and keep me satisfied.
When he returns from settling Faith for her nap, Derek drizzles brownie batter all over me and licks it off. Twice.
Together, we enjoy a hot, long shower where I return the favor for him. I love that we have this time. It’s a rare treat and I savor these moments. But eventually, the food is done baking and our daughter is awake.
Derek snuggles our sleepy girl next to his chest as we load the truck with our desserts and picnic supplies. The entire time, he keeps smiling at me and I smile back at him, like we’re a couple of teenagers in love.
At the potluck, we’re greeted warmly by our friends. Cam and Journey have a beautiful son they named Clay. The name is a nod to Cam’s late twin brother who passed away as a teenager.
Clay is only a few months older than Faith and he greets his cousin by passing her a green truck. She laughs as she watches it roll across the grass, clapping her hands in delight.
A few minutes later, Lincoln and Lucy arrive. Lyla and Leo set up court on one of the picnic tables with Lyla as queen. She loves bossing the younger kids around, including Lottie, her younger sister.
I take a seat in one of the lawn chairs next to Lucy and Journey. The three of us pass the rest of the afternoon gossiping and giggling together while the guys man the grill and bring us an endless supply of iced sweet tea.
When the day is finally over, I climb into the truck and snuggle next to Derek. I put my head on his shoulder and try to fight a yawn. “This was the perfect day.”
His hand finds my knee in the dark, giving it a gentle squeeze. “They’re all perfect with you and Faith by my side.”
I can’t help smiling. He’s right, of course. Each day with our little family is the perfect day. I wake up each morning looking forward to what adventures we’ll have together and go to sleep at night with a heart full of gratitude that I was given such beautiful gifts.
If you enjoyed Derek and Wynter’s story, you’ll love Maisy and Striker in Kidnapped by the Cowboy. Pre-order Kidnapped by the Cowboy for an OTT alpha hero who will stop at nothing to claim the woman he loves!