By: Penelope Ward

He stared down at the music box for a while then up at me. “My doubts were never about her, just whether I was worthy of her love. I didn’t want to be a disappointment to someone that meant so much to me. But being away from her made me realize that she’d already become a part of me. My fear of inadequacy aside, she was already my daughter in every way that mattered. Stepping away helped me see that even more clearly.”

Earlier, I’d explained to Justin my realization about the timing of his text. He refused to take responsibility for saving Bea’s life, insisting I deserved all of the credit for that. I hadn’t addressed the actual subject of his text until now.

I leaned my head against his shoulder, so grateful to have him home with us, even if just for a couple of days. “I love you, Justin. You know, I’d been so fixated on the fact that you hadn’t used those three words toward me yet. I’d placed so much importance on hearing you tell me you loved me. By the time you finally did—in that text—it came as no surprise, because deep down, I already knew. You’ve taught me that love isn’t about words. It’s a series of actions. You’ve shown your love for me in how you look at me, how you treat me and most of all, in how much you love my daughter as your own.”

He leaned in to kiss me then said, “I love you both very much. That night, I realized how foolish it was that I hadn’t said those words. But the truth is, it almost felt unnatural to announce it, because it’s not like I’d just recently fallen in love with you. It’s something that’s been there for years. I never stopped loving you. There may have been times when I tried to hate you, but even then, I never stopped loving you.”

“I never stopped loving you, either. It was wrong of me to just assume that you didn’t love me because you didn’t say it.”

He wriggled his brows. “You know what they say about assuming things…”

“You end up in a porno theater watching anal?” I chuckled.

“Good girl. That is correct.” He winked.

Having gotten no sleep since Bea’s ordeal began, I was quickly losing steam. The three of us turned in early for the night. Putting Bea back into the crib alone tonight was just not something I was ready for yet. Instead, she slept right in between Justin and me—her parents. I could definitely get used to that.

We had one more day with him—the day after Christmas. Then, Justin would be leaving us again, flying out of New York to London.


It felt like a dream to wake up to the smell of Justin’s coffee fusion brewing in the kitchen.

Bea was still sleeping when I went downstairs and snuck up behind him, looping my arms underneath his. My braless chest pressed through my nightgown into his broad back. We both gazed out at the frigid waves rolling through the wintry ocean. I was already pining for summer, not only because of the balmy weather, but because Justin would be home with us by then.

He turned around and covered my mouth with a hungry kiss. Now that my nerves had calmed down over Bea, my sexual desire was slowly escalating to a normal level. Justin’s hair was sticking up in all directions, and a small beard was growing out. As it scratched my face in a pleasurable way, I felt wetness between my legs. Pressing my body into his erection, I took a deep breath in, savoring his masculine smell that was mixed with the aroma of the percolating coffee.

I wanted him more than I wanted my morning cup of Joe, and that was saying something. Surviving the next few months without him wasn’t going to be easy, but at least, I knew now where things stood between us. He stopped kissing me and caressed my face, looking like he had something on his mind.

“I have a couple of questions for you,” he said.


“I was thinking…I would love it if you and Bea could come to the last show in the spring. It’ll be in New York, won’t be too far for you to travel. I can book you a flight if you don’t want to drive. Then, we can all come home together in my car. It would be nice if you could at least see me on the big stage once before it’s over. What do you think? We could get noise reducing headphones for her if it’s too loud.”

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I’ve been thinking that I should at least get to see you on tour for one show. New York would be the perfect location.”

“Good. I’ll make all the arrangements.”

“What’s the other question?”

“What are the chances I could fuck you raw on that counter before she wakes up?”

I hesitated. I wanted him so badly, but my period had just come this morning. I was never comfortable doing the deed on the heaviest day of my cycle.

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