Falling For My Dad's Friend - Page 24

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The attention span of my child still amazes me. Magnus stands in front of the sun, making sure it's not in my eyes and I run a hand down his leg, smiling softly.

“Why do you want to get a dog, sweetheart?” Magnus asks our little girl, crouching down in front of her.

Willow’s dress is encrusted with sea salt and her wild, dark hair is in knots. There are leaves and colorful flowers in the curls and I suspect that she did her own hair again while I was in town getting breakfast. Magnus can never say no to her. It’s endearing and ridiculous.

“Grandpa says that dogs are like people, but he likes them more,” Willow says knowingly. “I want a doggy. I want to name him Willow.”

Magnus covers his mouth to stifle his laughter and I shake my head, pulling Willow into my bathing-suit clad lap. She wraps her sandy little arms around me and everything feels perfect.

After a moment, she wiggles out of my arms and runs back to the beach house. Seconds later I can hear the tv going, playing some loud cartoon throughout the house. She’s just figured out how to use the remote.

Magnus sits on the hammock, pulling me into his lap. His hand, warm and oh so very familiar, slides over my growing belly. Our baby kicks softly against his hand and Magnus laughs happily.

“Our little man is happy to see me,” he says, still glistening from the water.

“Magnus,” I murmur, reaching up to press a hand to his cheek. “I love you.”

“I love you more,” he tells me, kissing my cheek fondly. “And I love you, little Magnus Jr.”

I turn to him, looking at him as if he’s gone completely insane.

“Oh no,” I tell him, letting out a burst of laughter. “We are not doing that to him.”

Magnus swoops down to my warm belly, pressing open-mouthed kisses onto my skin.

“What do you mean?” He looks up at me with his intense dark eyes and I want to melt.

I smack his shoulder. “Don’t give me those eyes. Our son is not getting your name.”

“Magnus is a perfectly acceptable name,” he says, puffing out his chest.

I pinch his nipple and he lets out a chuckle.

“Magnus is a fine name,” I tell him, agreeing. “But you’re not going to tell me that you didn’t get bullied for it, even a little?”

“Okay, well yes,” he says, shrugging. “What did you have in mind?”

“Well, Willow is named after your father,” I say. “So maybe we can name him after a place, you know? Like River, because that’s where he was conceived.”

I say it with a straight face, but Magnus lunges for me, wrapping me in his arms.

“Oh, I remember that day,” he says, nuzzling my ear. “That was a good day.”

“You said we were going to pick berries for a pie,” I say, rolling my eyes.

It was a good day and I can still remember the sweat on our skin, our bodies moving together under the cover of the trees by the rushing water.

“It was sweet either way,” Magnus says in response and I smile.

He scoops me up and carries me inside the little cottage, I can hear Willow singing along to some cartoon that sounds bright and happy. Magnus closes the door behind us and puts me on the kitchen table. I run my fingers through his graying beard as he turns away to the counter.

“You know,” he says, pointing at me with a spatula. “Years ago, I would have taken you right there on that table, pushing inside and feeling your—”

“Magnus!” I screech, laughing like I'm a teenager again. He makes me feel so giddy. “We still do things like that. That hasn’t changed.”

“But now,” he says, grinning slowly. He points to the backyard. “Now I’m going to start up the grill in my swim shorts and fulfill the dad stereotype. Do you see what you’ve done to me?”

I know that he means everything he says and that he’s so very happy in his life now.

“You don’t regret any of it,” I ask him, brushing my fingers over his cheek. It’s not a question.

“I could never regret you, Cassie,” Magnus says gently. He takes my hand, squeezing softly. “I could never regret our life and I’ve never been happier than where I am right now.”

Sometimes, like right now, the love that I feel for him is so overwhelming I feel like I might burst. With the tiny baby in my belly kicking me softly and my husband so strong and steady in front of me, I can’t think of a place that I would rather be than here. I was so in the dark before Magnus came along and he brought the light to me, pressing golden warmth into my life and my heart.

I open my arms and he comes to me, kissing my neck gently. I wrap my legs around him and my belly presses against his stomach. This is my happy place with Magnus all around me, warming me with his love for me. His lips on my ear and his warm breath on my skin.


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