He unclipped his phone from his belt to look at the time. He was a few minutes early. He opted to flip through some emails. He’d hit a little bit of a snag with the Exclusivity Jetliners merger. The owner’s son, Paul, had found out about his father’s plans and was throwing a fit. Apparently he wasn’t pleased about watching his inheritance getting sold off. Gavin was paying a pretty penny for the company, but Roger’s son seemed to fancy playing CEO. Roger was starting to second-guess the sale.
He fired off a couple quick emails, but his attention was piqued by the sound of a child’s laughter in the distance. It was one of those contagious giggles that made you smile just to hear it. He looked up in the direction of the sound and saw Sabine and Jared playing in the shade of a large tree.
Slipping his cell phone back in the holster, he made his way over to where they were. Sabine was crouched down beside Jared, dressed in capris and a tank top. Her dark hair was pulled back into a ponytail and a bright red backpack was slung over her shoulders.
Jared was playing with another one of his trucks. In the mud. Apparently, the kid had managed to find the only mud bog in the park. He was crouched barefoot in the brown muck, ramming his trucks through the sludge. He made loud truck noises with his mouth and then giggled hysterically when the mud splashed up onto his shirt. He was head-to-toe filthy and happy as a little piglet.
Gavin’s instinct was to grab Jared and get him out of the dirt immediately. There had to be a restroom somewhere nearby where they could rinse him off. But then he saw the smile on Sabine’s face. She wasn’t even remotely concerned about what Jared was doing.
His mother would’ve had a fit if she had found him playing in the mud. His nanny would’ve had to hose him off outside and then thoroughly scrub him in the tub. When he was dry, he would’ve been given a lengthy lecture about how getting dirty was inappropriate and his nanny would’ve been fired for not keeping a better eye on him.
Jared dropped one of the trucks in the puddle and the water splashed up, splattering both him and Sabine. Gavin expected her to get upset since she’d gotten dirty now, but she just laughed and wiped the smear of muddy water off her arm. It was amazing. It made Gavin want to get dirty, too.
“Oh, hey,” Sabine said, looking up to see him standing nearby. She glanced at her watch. “I’m sorry to keep you waiting. We got here a little early and Jared can’t pass up some good mud.” She stood up and whipped the backpack off her shoulders.
“Not a problem,” he said as he watched her pull out an assortment of things including wet wipes, a large, plastic zip bag and a clean shirt.
“All right, buddy,” she said. “Time to go to the zoo with Gavin. Are you ready?”
“Yeah!” Jared said, immediately perking up at the suggestion of a new adventure.
“Give me your trucks first.” She put all the muddy toys in the bag and then used his dirty shirt to wipe up a good bit of the muck off his hands and feet before shoving it in there, as well. The baby wipes made quick work of the rest, then the clean shirt and the little socks and sneakers she’d taken off went back on. “Good job!” she praised, giving him a tiny high five and zipping up the backpack.
Gavin was amazed by the process. Not only did she let Jared get dirty, she was fully prepared for the eventuality. He’d always just thought of Sabine as the artistic type. She was laid-back and went with the flow as he expected, but she also had a meticulous bit of planning underneath it all that he appreciated. She had the motherhood thing down. It was very impressive.
“We’re ready,” she said, bending down to pick Jared up.
Gavin had to smile when he noticed the speck of mud on Sabine’s cheek. “Not quite yet,” he said. Without thinking, he reached out to her, running the pad of his thumb across her cheekbone and wiping it away. The moment he touched her, he sensed a change in the energy between them. Her pale green eyes widened, the irises darkening in the center to the deep hunter green he remembered from their lovemaking. A soft gasp of surprise escaped her glossy pink lips.
His body reacted, as well. The touch brought on the familiar tingle that settled between his shoulder blades and sent a shot of pure need down his spine. He wanted Sabine. There was no use in denying it. There was something about her that spoke to his most base instincts. Their time apart hadn’t changed or dulled the attraction. In fact, it seemed to have amplified it.
That night at her apartment, he had to kiss her. There was no way he could walk out of there without tasting her again. Once he did, he could feel the floodgates giving way. He had to leave. And right then. If he had lingered a moment longer, he wouldn’t have been able to stop himself.