“What happened to you?” I ask Gabe when he pulls out the chair next to me and sits.
“Someone sliced my brand-new tires again,” he says while he raises his hand to flag down the waitress. “Can I have two beers please?” he asks, then looks around the table. “Anyone else want anything?” Shrugging, he says, “That’s it.”
“You ordered two beers?” I ask him, laughing.
He puts his hands up. “I have two hands, and after the day I’ve had, I should have doubled that order.”
Crystal picks up a menu and mumbles, “Maybe if you weren’t such an a-hole, people wouldn’t slice your tires.” Gabe doesn’t say anything; he just glares at her. I look at them and then turn my head to listen to Blake and Mila’s conversation. She’s asking him about fifty different questions about being a firefighter.
“Do you run into the fire and save people?” she asks, wide-eyed.
“Yup. Sometimes we have no choice,” he tells her. “Once I had to climb a tree to save a kitten.”
Mila gasps. “Did you find the mommy?”
Blake nods. “Yup and his brothers and sisters.”
“I want a brother,” Mila says. I look over at Hailey to see how she is doing and find her eyes already looking at me. I smile at her and nod my head to the side.
“I’m going to the bathroom,” I say, pushing my chair back.
“I need to go also,” Hailey says, getting up.
“Well, isn’t that convenient,” Gabe says as he downs one beer.
I shove at his shoulder as I walk to the back where the bathrooms are. I look behind us and in front of us, then grab her hand and sneak us into the maintenance closet next to the bathroom. Her giggles fill the room while she squeezes into me.
“Hello.” I pull her to me, kissing her lips. Her body molds to me.
“Hello.” She kisses me lightly, then snakes her hands around me to pull me closer to her, my mouth taking hers.
“It kills me to walk into a room and not be able to kiss you hello,” I tell her, kissing her cheek and then trailing kisses down her neck as she laughs at me.
“We’d better get back out there,” she whispers.
“Are you okay?” I ask her, looking into her eyes for the answer.
“I’m good.” She smiles, and I see that she actually is fine. I grab her hand, then open the door, looking out to make sure no one is there when we walk out.
“Oh, good,” Gabe says as we both sit down. “We ordered for you guys since you were in the ‘bathroom’.” He makes air quotes with his fingers, causing Blake to laugh. I smile at him and nod my head.
“Did you see the house that just went on the market?” Gabe looks at me. My head nods, remembering the For Sale sign on Norma’s lawn. “Guess she got the point, right?”
The meal runs smoothly till the bill comes and everyone fights for it, well, everyone but Gabe. He sits there glaring at Crystal, who returns the glare with a big smile.
“Too late,” Gabe says. “I already paid the bill.” He gets up, looking at Crystal. “Let’s go.”
This doesn’t bode well for her as she folds her hands over her chest. “I’m not driving you home.”
Gabe shakes his head. “Let’s go.” Then he hisses out, “Please.”
“Fine.” She throws her napkin on the table. “This is the last time.” She grabs her purse, saying bye to us as they walk out.
“This was fun,” Blake says as his phone rings. When he looks down and sees the number, he excuses himself. “Hello.” We hear him answer and then he walks out.
“Let’s go, Mila,” I tell her while she puts her crayons away, then jumps off her chair, coming over to my side to hold my hand.
We walk out looking around for Blake who raises his hand still talking on the phone. “Do you want me to wait with you?” I ask her. She shakes her head, seeing Mila yawn.
“No, go ahead,” she tells me. I lean in and kiss her cheek, waving goodbye to Blake as I pick Mila up and walk to my truck.
Bedtime is fast since Mila is so tired. I’m in my room pulling my shirt off when I hear a faint knock on the back door. Walking to the door, I see it’s Hailey. “Hey there.” She comes in.
“Hi, yourself.” I close the door, turning to look at her. “You snuck out?”
She eyes me up and down. I’m not one to boast, but I work hard to make sure the dad bod is never a reality. She has never seen me without my shirt. “Blake crashed as soon as we walked in.” She walks closer to me, putting her hands on my stomach, making my body tremble from her cold hands. “I forgot to get a kiss good night,” she whispers, the heat in her eyes. I lick my lips as her face inches closer to me. “Kiss me,” she asks or maybe she demands—I don’t know because my hands fly to her hair. I grab it in my fist and tilt her head back, claiming her mouth with mine. As we groan into each other’s mouth, standing at the back door, I know that sooner rather than later I’m going to take her to bed.