I watch my sleeping husband, tempted to wake him for a morning quickie. But he was up half the night with our oldest son, soothing him after he had nightmares. He’s an incredible father and his first priority is always me and our boys.
As soon as I think the thought, a soft flutter comes from my belly. It’s our little girl reminding me that she’s eager to meet her daddy and brothers.
I reach for Oliver’s big hand and place it over my stomach. His already even breathing relaxes more and in his sleep, the ghost of a smile appears on his lips. We’ve had three boys together and now we’re excited to have a daughter. Although if our boys are half as protective over her as Oliver is over me, then she’ll grow up to be a little spitfire.
Oliver makes a humming sound just as his eyes drift open. They’re still glassy from sleep but there’s no mistaking the joy in them. “Our little girl is eager to come out and play.”
“Soon,” I remind him. We’re only about three weeks away and the boys ask everyday when they’re going to meet their new sister. Yesterday, they helped their dad paint the nursery sunny yellow. Well, helped is a pretty strong word for what three boys under the age of six do. But Oliver seemed to love every minute of it.
He’d given up on the idea of getting to be a father before we got together, so now he cherishes our kids. He’s always looking for ways to spoil them and things to teach them and adventures to plan with them.
“I can’t wait to see you with her,” I tell him. He’s cried with the arrival of each of our babies. He calls them our little miracles, and he’d probably give them everything they asked for if I wasn’t around to rein him in.
She kicks Oliver’s hand as if telling us that she wants to be with her daddy. “It’s already making me look at everything differently,” he admits. “Things I didn’t think twice about as a man. Now I’m thinking that pretty soon I’m going to have a little girl. The world scares the shit out of me even more.”
“You’ll be an amazing girl dad,” I remind him as I snuggle closer. Well, as close as I can get to him with my big belly. It’s the one part of pregnancy I don’t like, not being able to easily cuddle with Oliver. “I think my daughter will be the luckiest little girl in the world because she’ll have you to watch her back.”
He presses a kiss to the crown of my head as I wiggle my hips, trying to get closer to him but not able to. I love it when he starts talking about fatherhood. It makes him so damn sexy.
“You need me to take care of you, mama?” Oliver’s voice has deepened. We both know what he means by that.
I make a noise of agreement just as something lands against our bedroom door. Our boys are knocking enthusiastically, waiting to be let in. They usually come and snuggle with us in our bed in the mornings. But normally, they sleep a little later giving me and my handsome husband alone time.
I groan and he chuckles. “Want me to send them away?”
“I like cuddles with my boys.” They won’t be young and willing to snuggle with us much longer. Our oldest starts grade school in the fall and I’m already dreading it. I want our boys to grow up and become independent men. But I’d also like it if their childhood could slow down just a tad.
“Then you and I will cuddle later,” he promises. I know he’ll make good on that too. Even though it’s been almost six years since we got together, Oliver still puts me first in every area of our lives. Including the bedroom.
“Daddy! Mommy!” Kevin, our five-year-old, calls out. “Are you awake?”
Oliver rolls from bed, landing on his one leg and hops to the door without bothering to put on his prosthetic.
For the first few months of Kevin’s life, he tried to hide the stump. Then I showed him an article about how kids who were raised by parents with physical disabilities are more compassionate toward others and more resilient when encountering setbacks. He loved it so much he framed the article.
Now Oliver lets the kids see him with and without it. They’ve grown up knowing that their dad’s leg comes off, so they’ve never thought of it as strange. To them, it’s just normal.
They still have questions about it sometimes. Like Kevin asking if he could take his dad’s prosthetics to kindergarten for show and tell. I had to gently talk him out of that while Oliver sat at the kitchen table laughing the entire time.
Last week, I learned that Stuart, our four-year-old, tells all of his friends that his dad was an Avenger before his leg got bitten off when he punched a shark. Oliver really liked that story, and I had to glare at him when he started telling our sons about his good old days as an Avenger.
As soon as Oliver opens the door, our boys are bounding into the room and onto the bed. “Be gentle with your mom and baby sister,” he calls after them.
Aaron, our eighteen-month-old, snuggles up to me with his pacifier still in his mouth. He pats my stomach and mumbles something around the binkie. I think he was telling her good morning.
Kevin announces as Oliver joins us in the bed. “It’s today, Daddy.”
After Kevin was born, Oliver got a tattoo of a lion cub underneath the snarling lion. With each baby, he’s had a new cub added. I love the way the artwork was done because it looks as if the fierce lion is standing guard over his cubs, just the way my Oliver looks out for his own boys.
This time, he promised Kevin that he could go and see him get the cub that will represent his new sister. “Are you going to come, Mom?”
“No, I don’t want to see your daddy getting poked by the tattoo gun, remember?” I love the artwork that adorns Oliver’s body but the one and only time I tried to watch him getting a tattoo, I threw up.
“It’s not bad. Dad doesn’t even cry. He said I can get a tattoo when you say. So, can I today? I want Thor’s hammer, so I can be tough.”
I glare at Oliver over the top of Kevin’s head. He loves our boys fiercely, and he really hates having to tell them no. Half the time, he encourages the boys to go ask mom about it. He says that in our house “mom makes the rules”.
But it’s kind of nice because I never have to look at our boys and tell them to wait until their father comes home or that their dad will deal with them later. They respect my authority and know that their dad will back me up.
“It was late. I was tired,” he mouths.
“You can get it when you’re older,” I promise as Stuart wiggles underneath the covers. Before he can make it to Oliver’s side of the bed, I haul him close to me. “Put the rubber lizard down. Now.”
Ever since the boys discovered that their dad is terrified of lizards because “they blink funny”, there’s been a sudden increase in the number of realistic amphibians that are hidden in his shoe, underneath his side of the bed, and even in his suitcoat last week.
I’m sure this new influx of plastic creatures has nothing to do with their uncles Ben, Jeb, and Gage. The four men have formed a tight friendship and they regularly hang out when they can get together.
Stuart drops the toy in the floor beside the bed and Oliver sends me a grateful look. He laughs about it when the kids scare him with one. He knows they’re just being little.
“Can I go too?” Stuart wants to go everywhere that his older brother goes.
“He can’t. He’s a baby,” Kevin insists right before he gets bitten on the arm. He immediately goes for his little brother’s leg.
Oliver pulls the two boys apart and ushers them out of the room before they can disturb their sleeping little brother. Aaron is our sensitive boy. While the older two are rough and tumble, he’s the one who likes to quietly follow mom around the sewing room. I ruffle his baby hair as my own eyelids grow heavy.
When I wake again later, Oliver is back in the room. He’s freshly showered and already dressed for the day in blue jeans and a t-shirt. “The boys and I are going to the park this morning before the tattoo parlor. I’ll get them to run off some of that energy.”
Aaron is gone and I’m sure he’s with his brothers. “Did they kill each other?”
He chuckles. “Not today. But now they know we don’t bite each other and also that lizards are of the devil. You want me to make you breakfast before we go? You know that gourmet corn flakes are my specialty.”
“Just help the pregnant lady,” I tell him, reaching for his arm.
He leverages me up and out of the bed before pressing a gentle kiss to my forehead. I step into the bathroom and immediately call his name.
Oliver is barreling into the room seconds later. “What’s wrong?”
I point to the puddle on the floor. “It’s time to meet our daughter.”
Five hours and a flurry of activity later, Oliver is holding Miss Luna Aspen in his arms while I peer sleepily at our girl from the hospital bed. She’s so tiny and perfect.
I make a vow right now that I’ll never treat her like my mom and sister treated me. Every day for the rest of her life, she’ll know just how amazing and special she is.
“She’s got your eyes,” he points out, bringing her close. “That same beautiful blue.”
“She’s incredible,” I sigh sleepily, tracing her little fingers. I don’t know how I keep getting the world’s cutest babies but I’m not going to complain. They’re nothing short of little miracles.
“She’s perfect like her sweet mama,” he agrees as he presses a kiss to my forehead. “You keep giving me beautiful little cubs.”
I fight a yawn and lose the battle. My body aches in a million different places but it’s worth it for that little bundle in my hunky husband’s arms. “It’s not my fault. You keep the cub-making process enjoyable.”
He chuckles then and cuddles her even closer. She looks so tiny in his big strong embrace. “And I always will. Now sleep. I’m watching over her.”
I drift to sleep again with a smile on my face as I think about how perfect my life is. I couldn’t imagine anything better than this.
If you liked Gage & Connie, they’re starring in Tempting Curves, the final book in the Lake Bliss series. Read their story now for a sexy bartender who falls for his curvy waitress with a secret to hide in this older man, younger woman romance!