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“Come here and let me see your powers, little man. I can already tell that the ninjas are going to be so scared of you! I bet they don’t even come near Nana’s house anymore!”

He stops his weird twirl kicking and jumps into my arms. “Can you feel my power?” he whispers loudly into my face. “Greg said that I have powers against you too,” he says still whispering loudly.

“Oh he does, does he?” I ask and look over at Greg, watching as his silent laughter shakes his body.

“Co, my man, not something you’re supposed to tell the ladies.” Greg laughs in response to Cohen and walks over to ruffles his hair.

“Alright, tell me, little guy, what kind of powers do you have against me?”

“I can make you love me!” He laughs and looks over at Greg nodding his little head, “Greg said that I can make you love me and all I have to do is smile! He told me it worked on him, so it has to be magic powers, Melwee! He told me. He said all I have to do is smile and everyone falls in love with me because I’m special like that.”

Well. Shit. My throat has closed up now and I can feel my eyes prickling. I am going to cry. “He did?” I croak.

“Melwee, what’s wrong with your face? You look funny. Like that time you dropped something on your foot and yelled that really bad word; your face looks like that.” He takes both my cheeks in his small hands and moves my head around, studying every inch. “Yeah, you look funny.” Then he wiggles to get down and takes off running through the house, yelling for the ninjas to watch out because he’s going to hunt them down.

“You should probably go make sure he doesn’t destroy the house,” I whisper to Greg, who is now pulling me into his arms.

“Don’t care about anything in the house he can break.”

“Not even your brand new flat screen?” I question, still trying to control my emotions.

“Nope.”

“Not even that really expensive computer?”

“Not even that.”

“You love him?” He bends slightly and places a kiss on my nose. When he pulls back, I can see it. His smile is huge, all the way to his eyes, making his laugh lines deepen. Those blue eyes I love so much are sparkling with humor, but clear as day, I can see it.

“Yeah, Beauty, I love him.”

“Oh.” Pathetic but that’s all I have for him. I am sure my ‘funny face’ just got funnier. I can’t stop the tears if I try. The thought of this man, who has already stolen my heart, loving Cohen as much as I do, is just too much to hold in.

“Babe, how can you can be so blind when your eyes are wide open? Even if he wasn’t the coolest kid I have ever met, even if I didn’t enjoy the hell out of my time reliving my childhood with the little guy, he is part of you. No, he isn’t yours and I understand that, but he is part of you, and Beauty, how can I not love that?”

Oh. God.

“Oh,” I repeat and crash my head into his chest. He laughs a few times before cupping my face and lightly pulling my head off his chest.

“Oh? That’s all you got for me?” He jokes. How he can joke right now is beyond me.

“What do you want me to say? You need to be clear with me, baby, because I don’t want to misinterpret something you could be saying right now.” My voice sounds funny and the tears have already started falling freely. He just keeps smiling down at me, both of his warm palms against my neck and his thumbs keep sweeping away my tears. All the while, he just keeps smiling.

“Alright. I love having you in my house, going to sleep with your body pressed close to mine and waking up with you still in my arms. I love coming home and having dinner with you in my house, watching movies on the couch with you laying on top of me. I love getting your calls every time something ridiculous happens that you just can’t wait to tell me about. I love Cohen. He’s amazing, and one day I would love to be a permanent part of his life. But, I don’t love him because he’s great. No, I want to be a permanent fixture in his life because I am deeply in love with his aunt. Beauty, I love you.”

“You love me?” I whisper again after a few moments of just taking him in.

“Yeah, I do. Completely.” His strong voice wraps around me and his love is like a blanket of warmth. I can feel it like a tangible thing taking over the room.

“I love you too. God, I do… so much.” My silent tears have turned into sobs now. He lets my face go for a second, but only to pick me up by my hips and sit me down on the countertop. My legs open automatically, and he steps in, arms going around my body as he tucks my head into his neck.

“Baby, best I can see, this is a good thing. Why are you crying about it?” he asks, his voice rumbling against my ear. He stands there with my head against his chest and lets me have my moment. Silently being my rock, my strength, and just lets me have this.

When I hear some loud bangs and Cohen’s battle cry of victory, I know it’s only a matter of time before our moment is interrupted. I pull back and wipe my eyes before looking into Greg’s eyes.

“You love me?” I ask again, but this time letting my happiness show, and I smile so big, it even hurts a little.

He throws his head back and his laughter rings out around us. “Yeah, I do.”

“That’s good.”

“You’re wrong, babe,” he says with a smile. “It’s not good, it’s fucking amazing.”

Since it is Sunday and Greg and I both start work pretty early, we bring Cohen home before dinner so that we can go out and have some us time before the week starts. This is also something we try to do during the week. When things get crazy at the Corp Security offices, it is sometimes past dinner when he gets home. So if we have time, we make it a point to spend special time like this together.

‘Super Co’, which is what we have been instructed to call Cohen now, takes off into my mom’s house the second Greg parks. His cape flaps in the wind behind him, and we can already hear him starting his speech with my mom. Greg walks over and takes my hand before we head into the house.

When we make it to the kitchen, Cohen is still screaming about all his magic. “Oh my, that is some good news, baby.” My mom smiles at us and gives Cohen a big kiss before he runs off to his room to make sure there aren’t any ninjas.

“That boy is so funny sometimes,” she says shaking her head. “Meli-Kate, come here baby.” I let Greg go and walk into her arms. “You look happy today,” she whispers in my ear.

“I am,” I whisper back. “I really am.”

“That’s good, baby. You deserve that.” She pulls back and gives me a kiss on my forehead before turning to my man.

“Come here handsome and give this old lady some thrills.” And here starts my mother’s weekly enjoyment in my boyfriend and embarrassing me at every turn.

“Lilly,” he says and walks up, wraps his arms around her, and lifts her off her feet in a big hug.

She laughs loud and slaps him playfully on the arm when he lets her down. “Such a strong man! Take my girl home and show her a good night.” She giggles and I turn beat red.

“Mom! Jesus!” They both laugh, enjoying this new tag team effort to embarrass me.

We stay in the kitchen for a while before Greg excuses himself to go say goodbye to Cohen. How did I miss how much he cares for my nephew for so long?

I don’t realize that I have been looking at the empty hallway in a daze until my mother’s soft laughter curls around me. “Oh, my darling girl, you have it bad.”

I look over and smile at my mother. Her eyes are misting with emotion but sadness isn’t one of them. Her smile is huge and you can tell she is happy for me to have found this. “You have no idea just how bad I have it. He’s incredible mom and he loves Cohen. Can you believe it? He loves that crazy kid just as if he were his own. Just like we do.”

“I know that, baby. Could’ve saved you the trouble of figuring out all this on your own but I knew you would get there. He’s a keeper, Meli-Kate. I know I don’t have the best record when it comes to judging men. First with your father and then… well, I just don’t. But, with a man like that, there is no doubt. He is the kind of man you dream of baby. Don’t ever let your past cloud that knowledge.”

“I won’t. I love you, mama.”

“I know that, sweetheart.” We give each other a hug and sit down to chat about things happening this week while we wait for the boys to do their thing. About thirty minutes or so later, Greg comes walking back in laughing.

“He was just mid-sentence and fell asleep. We were sitting there talking about the best ways to take out flying ninjas and bam, his little head just face planted into my lap and he was out. Lilly, I went ahead and changed him into pajamas so you wouldn’t have to bother with that.”

She smiles brightly at him, leans in, and whispers in my ear, “Keeper.”

Not long after that, we leave and head downtown to our favorite burger joint. We have just sat down when his phone rang and he excuses himself to take the call outside. He has only been gone a few minutes when he comes back inside looking agitated.

“You okay?”

“Yeah, I’m okay. Just some shit from Axel but no big deal. Look, I ran into Mandy outside. Nothing happened, but let’s get out of here, okay?”

Damn. Just when you think that woman is gone for good. “Sure, baby.”

We pay the bill and get our meals boxed up. On the way out, I see Mandy standing next to a few girlfriends. Doesn’t bother me to see her, but what does bother me is the look she gives me. She might fool others, but I can see the pure evil behind that carefully crafted mask. And I just know she isn’t done with us.

That night, after three mind-blowing orgasms, I lay wrapped in Greg’s arms and asked him about his call with Axel. I had forgotten that when he mentioned Mandy that he looked upset, more upset that he normally is when seeing her face. I don’t like knowing he is bothered with anything if there is a chance I can help it.

“Baby?” I question, lifting my head off his chest.

“Hmm,” he responds, still running his fingers across my back. His eyes are closed and his face is blank but peaceful.

“What did Axel want tonight?”

His eyes snap open, and a look that I don’t like at all replaces his blank expression. He’s hiding something and doing a shit job at it. “Nothing Beauty. Just some shit we have been discussing for a while now.”

I could press, and my gut is telling me I should, but my pride is stopping me. I know him, and whatever is bothering him is cutting him deep. He’ll tell me when he’s ready, but I hate thinking there is a secret between us.

“Okay. If you want to talk, just let me know.”

His eyes flash but whatever it is that was there is gone before I can figure it out, “I know. Love you, Beauty.”

“Love you too.”

For the first time in weeks, my sleep isn’t peaceful.

Chapter 20

I have been lying in bed with Melissa draped across my body for the last two hours, unable to fall asleep. Today had been a perfect day, but when Axel called, and two seconds into the conversation asked me if I had told her yet, my mood quickly went to shit. When we weren’t doing this back and forth debate over why it was so important that I do it right now. It turned heated before I could stop it.

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