I looped arms with Teagan as we made our way down the rows and rows of vendors, content to let the boys do their bro thing as they trailed behind us. The market was endless and a bit crowded, but I relished the lack of paparazzi on the grounds. I didn’t know if they had an agreement with the owners or what, but I found myself so much more relaxed than on previous dates Nixon and I had gone on before that were a constant glance-over-the-shoulder situation.
Nixon, Roman, and Hendrix were all incredibly gracious when a fan spotted them and asked them for a selfie or quick autograph, and when the fans asked for all three of them to stand together? God, I think anyone could get pregnant from the sight. The Raptors were in no shortage of gorgeous players, and yet, Roman and Hendrix were genuinely good guys—even with Hendrix’s playboy status. He was kind, thoughtful, funny, and didn’t flinch at his Lothario reputation. No, he owned it to the nth degree with an explanation of the pleasure that came from multiple consenting partners and the fact that not everyone was made to settle down and fall in love.
I’d seen his type plenty of times, but never someone so at ease in his own skin. Not a scrap of insecurity on that one, but I did find myself wondering what would happen when the love bomb hit him so hard he couldn’t see straight. It would be hilarious as hell to watch and even more fascinating to analyze, not that I’d ever accept him as a patient due to the massive conflict of interest.
I shook my head, trying to use the physical action to get myself out of my own brain for a second. I had no right to be analyzing Hendrix’s confident personality when it came to matters of the heart, not when I couldn’t even bring myself to admit my true feelings for Nixon—and the true as hell fears that came along with them.
Smoothing my hand over my belly, I shoved down the doubts about our relationship and tried to throw myself one hundred percent into the beautiful day he’d planned for me. Such a rare thing, to have a day without practice or a game or me working. What would that be like when we brought a baby into the mix?
Nope. Not going there. Not now.
I turned to spot Hendrix dangling a pair of handcuffs in front of Roman as they checked out a vintage costume booth, and laughed as Teagan and I headed over to them.
“You’d need those,” Roman joked. “To keep a woman with you longer than a night.”
“Ouch,” Hendrix said, returning the handcuffs to their peg on the booth’s wall. “You certainly seem to have it out for me this morning, Roman. My nightly activities especially. Could this be due to a lack of your own exploits lately?”
Roman flashed him a severe look that screamed we were dangerously close to the not joking territory. I glanced at Teagan, who made herself occupied on the opposite side of the booth where the fedora hats rested. Nixon shook his head at Hendrix, who gave him an innocent look.
“I’m only playing,” Hendrix said, jerking Roman into a headlock. “I know he doesn’t kiss and tell.”
Roman easily escaped the hold, landing a light punch to Hendrix’s hard stomach. “Yeah, not everyone wants to broadcast their dates on Insta.”
I arched a brow at Hendrix, who shrugged. “She wanted the followers. Who was I to say no?” I laughed again, sighing happily as we returned to our hunt.
Two hours later, Nixon snaked his arms around me from behind while I gazed longingly at an old leather trunk full of vintage maps. “You haven’t bought a single thing today,” he said into my ear and chills erupted over my skin.
“I don’t need anything,” I said, but my eyes kept snagging on an ancient map that had been expertly preserved—the blues and reds and greens still pristine as they popped from the thin beige paper. I held the plastic covering over the map, my finger grazing over the teal of the Atlantic Ocean bordering Brazil.
“Just because you don’t need anything doesn’t mean you don’t want anything,” he said.
I set the map back down, spinning to grin up at him. “You don’t have to buy my lo—” I cleared my throat, cutting myself off as quickly as possible. “My attention,” I tried miserably to recover. Nixon visibly swallowed, and I hurried to change the subject. “You know I’m not attached to material things,” I said, guiding us away from the booth. “If I buy something, it’s because I can’t live without it. And there isn’t much I can’t live without these days.”
Soon that would change. There would be things the baby needed, and I’d have to figure out a way to buy them—not that Nixon wouldn’t help me. I knew he would. But I didn’t want it to all fall on him. He needed a partner, someone who challenged him as much as helped him, not a free-loader looking for a handout.