“Your coffee is on the counter.” He points with the spatula in his hand while he flips the pancake.
“I can’t believe I slept so late,” I tell him, picking up my cup and taking a sip.
“Yeah, I snuck out before the girls woke up, and by the time I got out of the shower, Daisy walked out and asked if she could have pancakes.”
I put the cup down and look at this man. Two months ago, I didn’t even know him, yet I couldn’t picture my day without him now. A man who I hated, a man who slowly fixed my broken pieces.
“What’s wrong?” he asks, coming to me after he puts the last pancake on the plate.
“Nothing,” I say, shaking my head. “Just thinking.”
“We—” He doesn’t have time to say anything because the doorbell rings, and then the front door opens.
“I heard that my special two girls are in town.” We hear Nanny from the front room as she walks toward the kitchen. She sees the girls and claps her hands together. “There they are. I heard you were here, and I couldn’t stay away,” she says, going over to them and kissing their head. “Good morning, you two.”
“Good morning,” I say. “Would you like some coffee?”
“Oh, no,” she says, then sits at the table. “I heard you’re going to the zoo and then backyard camping.” She turns to look at the kids. “Joanne was taking the sleeping bags out when I dropped by there. She is so excited,” she says. The kids start talking, and they basically don’t stop the whole time we eat. I sit at the table, and it just feels right. Everyone helps clear the table and get ready to go to the zoo.
It’s hands down the best day. So easy and smooth, at one point, Blake carried Daisy on his shoulders when she complained she couldn’t walk another step. Henry and Joanne were pointing out all the new things to the girls, who hung on their every word. Nanny even entertained animal sounds as we walked along the path.
We all went back to Joanne’s house, and she dragged the kids into the backyard. I don’t know who was more excited about the tent—Joanne or the kids. Henry built a little fire right outside, and she got the sticks and hot dogs so everyone could cook their own hot dogs. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much in my life; my cheeks literally hurt from smiling.
My girls were at ease, and I was at ease. I walked the whole day without looking over my shoulder and without the fear I would run into someone who knew my in-laws or would want to see how I’m doing without Eric. Who would tell me what a great man he was and blah, blah, blah. I look over and see Daisy yawning.
“We should get going,” I tell Blake, who gets up. The girls say goodbye to Joanne and Henry, giving them each a hug.
We walk into the house, and I tell them it’s bath time. When the kids finish, I tuck them in, and they both fall asleep right away.
I walk out to the living room to find Blake, but it’s empty, as well as the kitchen. I walk toward the back, calling his name. “Blake,” I say. Walking into his room, I hear the shower running. The room is neat; a sitting chair in the corner with his clothes piled on it. I look around the bedroom, seeing that the bed is a king covered with a soft blue duvet and gray throw pillows. My eyes land on the picture of him and Frankie right next to his bed.
My feet move without my consent, my hand reaching out and grabbing the picture to look at them. Their smiles fill the picture. My finger moves over Blake’s face; he looks so young and so happy. His green eyes bright and shiny.
Then my eyes go to a smiling Frankie, her wild curly black hair blowing in what probably was a windy day. “Hey.” I hear him say when he walks into the room, holding a towel around his hips.
“I’m sorry,” I say, putting down the picture on the bedside table. “I shouldn’t have come in here without …”
He walks to me, bending his head down. My eyes land on a lone wet drop on his chest, and it hypnotizes me. I didn’t even realize he wasn’t wearing a shirt, showing me that he is all muscle. His abs defined, his chest broad, and his arms full. “It’s okay, Samantha,” he says softly, and my eyes snap up to his eyes.
“She’s beautiful,” I say softly
“She really was,” he says softly, coming closer to me, his scent hitting me right away. The need to run my hands up his chest, to pull him close, and kiss him is so big my heart beats so hard and loud.