“Who’s Nick?” I asked again.
Harper opened and closed her mouth several times. “He told you about his ex?” She ignored my question.
I blew out a breath. “Yeah. He kind of had to after the way he reacted when I told him about this.” I motioned to my stomach, and she nodded. “But now that reaction makes sense. And I really hate that woman for it.”
“Yeah,” Harper said, backing toward the door.
“Harper?” I asked, following her. “Are you going to answer me?”
“It’s not my story to tell,” she said.
I narrowed my gaze at her but appreciated her fierce loyalty to these brothers. It spoke volumes about her character and her love for them both.
“I’ve never seen him so…cheery,” she said as she pushed through the doors.
I snorted. “Yeah, he likes to brood.”
“That’s an understatement,” she said as we returned to the table.
“What’s an understatement?” Nathan asked as we reclaimed our seats.
“Girl talk,” she said and planted a kiss on his lips.
I flushed again as I sat next to Nixon, knowing I’d wanted to do the same thing but didn’t know if that is where we were at—kissing in public—or if we should ever actually go there. Cameras were never far away, and honestly, I didn’t know what he wanted when it came to his public life.
“All good?” he asked, tucking an arm around my shoulders.
“Yes,” I said, leaning into his embrace. “Baby has decided it doesn’t mind this restaurant.” I tried to laugh off the statement, but emotion and doubt and questions clogged my throat.
Harper’s knowledge of both Nathan and Nixon’s history only made it that much more obvious how little I really knew about the father of my child.
An hour later, we settled into the guest room at Nathan’s giant house in what he’d called Reaper Village. Nixon had climbed into bed while I’d occupied the shower for nearly an hour, and I hovered in the doorway, marveling at the sight of the man. Nathan had offered us separate rooms, and Nixon said it was my choice. No expectations. But ultimately, it was silly for us to mess up two different guest rooms for such a short trip.
I padded barefoot to the bed, sinking under the covers as quietly as I could. Nixon’s eyes remained closed, a steady rise and fall to his sculpted chest. His dark hair was a bit unkempt, like he’d ran his fingers through it a few times before falling asleep. The heat from his body sizzled like a live current between us as I laid there, facing him, scanning the hard line of his jaw that somehow softened during sleep.
I wanted to trace a finger over those hard edges and lower, over the bare chest peeking from beneath the covers. Wanted to explore him with my tongue, as he had done with me. A need tightened inside me, a coiled spring of hunger I couldn’t explain as I settled peacefully against my pillow.
I rested my hand over the little swell to my tummy, silently ensuring the baby that I’d try harder.
Because while every day I grew more and more fond of Nixon, I knew it was time to dig a little deeper. We owed it to the baby to wade through the tough stuff and see if we came out whole on the other side.
I just hoped like hell he’d let me in.
The sun had already set by the time I hit the remote that opened the driveway gate. The thing was bulky, and honestly pretty damned ostentatious, but after a fan walked right up to my door and rang the doorbell my rookie year, I quit playing around and bought this house…and the damn gate.
Besides, now I had Liberty and our kid to protect.
I drove through the gate and parked in the garage, shaking my head at Liberty’s very loved wreck of a car that sat in the space next to me. She needed a new car. This week. God only knew how many more miles she had before that thing stranded her on the side of the road, and the safety standards were at least three decades old.
After making sure both the gate and the garage were closed, I grabbed my away bag and a much smaller one and headed inside. My pulse jumped up a notch, and I couldn’t deny the smile on my face as I walked in through the mudroom, dropping my bag at the washing machine and ditching my suit coat. I’d unpack later, after I’d seen Liberty.
“Honey, I’m home,” I called out like we were in a fifties sitcom as my feet hit the hardwood of the kitchen.
“Nixon?” Liberty dropped her pencil onto a pile of open notebooks that lay scattered across the island. “I thought you weren’t going to be home until later?”
“Don’t look too happy to see me or anything,” I teased, setting the gift bag down on the counter and grabbing two recovery drinks from the refrigerator.