If I Had You, page 16
“I didn’t plan on it, but now, absolutely. Rose will love the idea of a sleepover, and after I’ve fucked you unconscious, I’ll move to the couch.”
“Zach!” She can’t even get my name out without laughing, bring her hand up to cover her mouth and making me groan by squeezing my cock to remind me of where the other is. “Watch your language!”
“They can’t hear me.” Stepping back, I snatch that hand in mine before she entices me to take things further than we should and glance around the kitchen. “Where’s the laundry room?”
“Um, over there.” She nods toward at the door on the opposite side of the kitchen. “Why?”
“Because Landon is sleeping, the other two are playing, and we’re going to take advantage of the moment while it lasts.”
Her voices rises in alarm as I lead her across the room. She tugs on her hand but doesn’t really endeavor to get away, and once we’re in the laundry area, I back her against the wall next to the door.
“See?” I tell her while unbuttoning her jeans, tipping my head to demonstrate my view into the kitchen. “I can see or hear them if they head down the steps or scream. Don’t worry.”
“Zach, we can’t have sex right now,” she objects while shoving her hands through my hair, her face flush with desire and embarrassment. “Let’s wait until they’re asleep.”
“No sex.” I tug her jeans and panties down far enough to slip my hands into the tight space between her legs, keeping her pressed against the wall and unable to escape with my body as I whisper into her ear, “Just you and this gorgeous body of yours coming while riding my hand.”
And she does, beautifully, clinging to me even as she falls apart in my arms.
Being alone with her tonight can’t come soon enough.
Long after the kids are asleep, Darcy rests her left hand on my chest and hooks a leg over mine with a contented sigh.
I skim my fingers down the soft skin of her bare back and bury my nose in her hair. She cuddles closer, breathing lighter and steadier as the second's pass, which cuts into any opportunity to talk if she falls asleep.
And we need to because I don’t want to push her into something she isn’t ready for, even if she’s naked in my arms two nights in a row.
“Me being here tonight…is it too much for you?”
“No.” She readjusts her position, not even bothering to lift her head while answering. “I thought it would be, but I’m glad you’re here.”
I wait for her to continue and she doesn’t let me down because, despite all these years, the way she shares her feelings hasn’t changed in the slightest.
“Yesterday, on the way to the dance studio, I thought about everything between us, wondering if we should be together; if we should risk messing things up now that we’ve got Wyatt to think about.”
She coughs and sits up, running a hand through her hair before resting it on my stomach. “Do you remember me mentioning a dream that day at the hospital?”
The one thing I remember from the hospital is wishing things were different and she was going home with me. Everything else is a blur. “Sorry, I don’t. My mind was on other things.”
“It’s okay. But, you’re the only person I mentioned it to. Not even Oliver knew about it.”
“Because it wasn’t a mere dream. I hit my head, and while you two were waiting for me to wake up, I was…” She shakes her head. “You’re going to think I’m crazy.”
“As if I don’t already?”
“Shut up.” She joins me in laughing for a moment before her expression turns serious. “Are you sure you want to know?”
“If you remember a dream after this long when I can’t remember what I ate for dinner every day last week, then it must be important.”
“You were in it.”
If she didn’t already have my full attention, that would certainly get it. “Oh?”
“Yep. But the life I woke up in, it was different. You and I had two kids — a boy and a girl — and were divorced. I was…I was remarried, to Oliver, with a baby on the way.”
Can’t say this out loud, but sounds more like a nightmare than a dream to me. “It wasn’t real.”
“That’s the thing. I woke up in the hospital with that in my head. It was what our lives might have been. Even if it was just a dream, it felt so damn real.” After she relays the entire thing to me, I have no idea what to say, and she waves a hand in the air. “Why do you think this whole situation has bothered me? I owned my choices when I woke up and yet, here we are, nearly six years later, right back in each other’s lives. What was the point?”
“Darcy.” I sit up, pull her into my arms, and lie back down with her on top of me. “We’re here because we fucked up and share a son who needs his parents. There isn’t a point or lesson or anything here for either of us, except to make sure we use a fucking condom if we aren’t actively trying to have a child.”
Her giggle is perfect — relief and amusement rolled into one — as she relaxes into my embrace. “You believe it’s that simple?”
“I’ve spent the last few years understanding everything isn’t always the way we want it, but it doesn’t mean our lives aren’t exactly what we need.”
“Whatever you want it to be, sweetheart. You know what I want, but even that’s not what happens, I’m not going anywhere. I’ll say those words as often as you fucking need me to.”
“The only thing I don’t want is for you to let fear of the unknown decide for you because nobody on this whole damn planet had any idea what will happen tomorrow.”
“Really?” She laughs when I roll her onto her back and start kissing her neck. “Feel free to share.”
She doesn’t, too distracted by my renewed attention on her body, and eventually she dozes off after requesting I don’t move to the couch as planned.
And with no desire to deny her, falling asleep with her in my arms becomes a perfect ending to the day.
Zach spending the night and waking up in the same bed with me had been a new experience for us. So had breakfast with the kids before he left with Rose to go back home.
Before then, he pulled me somewhere private and kissed me goodbye long enough to make me wish we could go back to bed.
Of course, we couldn’t. And now, almost a week later, I still can’t believe I let him stay the night nor that I asked him to remain in bed with me with the risk of Wyatt finding his way into my room during the evening.
Not that he did, nor had the kids noticed.
My parents, however, were an entirely different story, and my mother’s been waiting for me to tell her about it since after he left that morning.
The problem is, I don’t know what to say. I’ve got zero ideas about what the hell I’m doing, and I can only be extremely glad for the infinite patience Zach has developed as an adult.
He’s letting me lead the way forward, and part of me wishes he wouldn’t. He has no issue with taking me into the laundry room while the kids are wide awake upstairs and pinning me against the wall while getting me off with his hand or shoving a few condoms to protect me into his pocket just in case the opportunity to have sex with me again arises.
I know why he can’t do that when it comes to the relationship part of us. He can’t make me be with him, or choose him, or let him into my life unless that’s where I want him to be.
And I do. I really do. There’s no point in pretending otherwise, not to myself, or my parents, or him. How can I when he obviously cares for our son and me enough to wait?
That’s the crux of the problem; moving forward is what I’m struggling with the most. Trusting we’re different people who have grown up and can have a successful relationship not marred by the past we share. And we’re
Plus, the sex was fantastic — way better than ever before — and worth keeping in mind.
One good thing is, the guilt over me feeling this way less than a year after Oliver died has diminished. He would want me to be happy — there were so many times he made clear how my well-being was what mattered to him most, more than anything else in his life.
Zach called it when I told him about that dream, pointing out how I fear the unknown. Yes, I do, based on what’s occurred and knowing nothing is preventing my happiness from being ripped away from me at any moment in time with no warning.
And instead of embracing what he’s offering, I’m doing the opposite because the pain of losing the man I spent thirteen years broke my fucking heart to the point I’m not sure I want it to feel that way ever again.
So, the issue is me, and the only question is, how the hell do I get over it before it costs me a relationship with the father of my child and the man who’s never stopped loving me?
“Are you going dancing today?” My mother peeks at her watch and smiles at me as we sit in the living room watching some educational kids show with the boys. “You’ve got about thirty minutes to get there if you are.”
“I wasn’t planning on it.”
“Just hadn’t planned on it. Last week was fun…”
I trail off, unsure if I want to go into details, but of course, she won’t let me off the hook.
“Yes, I love dancing. And yes, it was nice, and I enjoyed it. At first, it became about me and how much I love dancing.” I smile at her sadly. “But then Louis paired me with this man who moved beautifully and reminded me of Oliver.”
“And this man is why you won’t go today?”
“Not the only reason. A part of it. Just hard to separate Oliver from dancing when we learned together.”
She reaches over and covers my hand. “I suspect doing so will become easier the more you go and enjoy yourself. There are many activities your father and I like together, but we are able to enjoy them without each other as well. And as for this man in your class…” She winks at me and glances at Wyatt. “I wouldn’t worry about him because it’s obvious where your heart is. All you have to do is accept the truth in your head instead of fighting it.”
“Do you?” Removing her hand from mine, she reaches out to Landon, who goes to her with a happy smile as I nod. “Then what are you waiting for, darling?”
“You don’t think it’s too soon?”
“No. I don’t believe you should follow an arbitrary timeline on anything. If you want Zachary in your life in more than just his role as Wyatt’s father, then that’s what you should do.”
I bite my lip, trying to keep my emotions in check, but tears find their way into my eyes anyway between mainly her permission to feel the way I do about Zach and my admission. “I’m scared of us not working out…and of losing him, too.”
Her eyes are sympathetic even as her words are logical and a tad critical. “There is no certainty things between you two will work out, just as there isn’t a guarantee it won’t. As for losing him, we all fear people we love passing away. Almost four decades with your father and last week, I watched him drop to the floor. Scared me, darling, but it wasn’t the first time nor will it be the last. And being afraid of Zachary dying isn’t a rational reason to turn him away.”
She makes it seem so simple. I wonder if Zach sees it that way if he also believes there’s no point in wasting time, since I know he doesn’t want me being afraid of something bad happening.
“You’ve grown so much,” my mother continues when I don’t say anything. “Don’t overthink it. Live your life, darling, and be happy. Whatever that involves. You and these boys deserve it.”
I can’t disagree there. Wyatt and Landon deserve every bit of happiness I can give them.
And perhaps I am putting too much thought into this.
That’s why later on, after making sure my mother will watch the boys once they are in bed, I send Zach a message asking him if I can come over to talk once Rose is in bed and am out the door the moment he answers yes.
Zach greets me with a hug and a sweet, short kiss after opening the door, then lets me inside and slips his hand into his pockets while leading us into the living room.
Sitting on the couch, he tugs me down beside him, puts an arm around my shoulder, and draws me into the comfort of his embrace before simply saying, “I’m listening.”
Resting my arm around his waist, I close my eyes and tease him, “You don’t want to guess the reason I’m here?”
He answers with a smile, his tone suggestive. “If teasing is what you came over for, sweetheart, I’m happy to oblige after you tell me what you wanted to talk about.”
Nervous as hell, I take a deep breath and keep my eyes shut tight while diving right in. “I came over to talk about us.”
“Mm-hm.” His hand strokes my bare arm, his head tilting to rest against mine. “Go on.”
I’m glad he isn’t looking at me in the eyes. I think it’ll be easier to get it all out this way.
“My fear goes deeper than things going wrong between us. I lost Oliver, and it was devastating.” My voice quavers as it always does when I think about him and I inhale slowly before letting it out just as slow before continuing on. “I realize I don’t and can’t control everything, but it doesn’t stop the worry. That’s what holds me back the most — the terrifying possibility of losing you, too.”
He sucks in a breath, his hand on my arm pausing in its caress. “Darcy—”
“Wait. Let me finish, please.” He remains silent instead of replying, and I sniffle, snuggling further into his warmth. “Against so many odds, we’re in each other’s lives again, and you were right that day in the park. I never thought I would see you again then, and after that day in the hospital, the same thing. I had this whole life with Oliver, and I thought that was it. And so did you.”
“That is true.”
“So, here we are, and nothing is like I thought it would be. And despite me telling myself how being with you is not a good idea, my heart won’t listen. Because it’s you; after all this time, you’re the one my heart wants. And I’m scared.” I’m too upset now despite my attempts to control my emotions, and the tears start falling. “You want me, and I want to give us a chance, and I’m just s—so afraid—”
“Baby.” He pulls me onto his lap, kissing the top of my head when I bury it in his chest and wraps his arms around me tight. “I wish I could say the words you need to hear, but the only promise I can make is this one: as long as I have some say over what’s going on, you won’t lose me. That’s a fucking guarantee.”
I cry harder at that. Not because I don’t believe him, but because hearing him say it brings such unexpected relief to my mind and the ache in my chest. While the fear is still there and may take some time to get past, the feeling of being suffocated under the weight of my distress dissipates a bit.
And when I can finally say something without stumbling over the emotional words, it’s to make sure he understands what this means. “I need you to promise we can go slow, for all our sakes. Not forever, but…”
He picks up where I trail off with ease. “Enough for the progression to feel natural instead of out of nowhere?”
“Of course.” He runs one hand down to my waist and begins playing with the edge of my shirt. “We’ll go at whatever pace makes you comfortable.” He pauses and then laughs softly into my hair. “I have one final question before we go celebrate this decision.”
My stomach tightens at the implications of his statement even as the anxiety rears its head once more even though I don’t know what he’s going to ask. “What is it?”
He pauses and then whispers in my ear, “Are we done having children?” When I jerk in his hold, he releases me, and I lift
“Nothing. It’s a legitimate question.”
“I haven’t thought about it. Oliver and I…um, we didn’t try for Landon, but we weren’t avoiding it either. Why?”
He slides a hand behind my neck, pulls me in for a long, passionate kiss, and then murmurs against my lips, “Because I would love to have another child or two with you when we’re ready for it.”
There are a dozen things I could say to that, but in such a happy moment between us, I pick the one closest to the hope in my heart where everything works out between us.
“I would like that, too. One day.”
In response, he stands up and carries me toward his bedroom to make good on his promise of a celebration and loving me forever.
18 months later…
“Sweetheart, have you seen my damn ties?”
“No,” I call out to Zach through the closed door as my mother presses her lips together to keep from laughing. “I assume they’re in one of these damn boxes littering the house because they haven’t been put away yet.”
“They were in their own box and marked to go to our bedroom,” he retorts. “They aren’t there.”
“Your ties require their own box?” My mother loses her battle, snickering softly at the absurdity like I want to, but remains silent while buttoning up the back of my dress. “Perhaps next time you’ll pack them with something important, such as your suits.”
“Next time?” He growls at me and makes a promise we both know he’ll keep. “Just wait until I find those ties.”
After he walks off, my mother rolls her eyes and stands up, her hands grabbing the veil off the nearby chair to place it on my head. “I hope you are prepared for decades of those sorts of everyday conversations.”
VIOLET HAZE SERIES:
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