“Rhys O’Shaughnessy? The baseball player?”
“Yes, that’s him. You watch baseball?”
“When I can. Sam loves baseball, thanks to Beau.”
“Where is Sam’s dad?” I ask, as Eli takes an exit off the freeway and we merge onto a two-lane highway, headed deeper into the bayou.
“He’s never met Sam.” Eli shrugs, then shakes his head. “Gabby got pregnant right out of high school. When the boyfriend found out, he cut out right quick.”
“It’s probably for the best. Sam is loved by a great family.”
“I agree with that, but it has to be hard for Gabby.”
“We help her,” he insists.
“Of course you do, but Eli, it’s not just about being a single mom. She’s single. I’m not saying that men make everything better, but I imagine she gets lonely. She has a young boy to care for, a business, and a large, successful family. She has a lot of responsibility.”
He rubs his hand over his lips, thinking. “True. I don’t think she’s dated since Sam was born.”
“Maybe she’s not interested, and it’s certainly none of my business, but I doubt it’s as easy as she wants all of you to believe it is.”
His eyes slide to mine. “You’re an intelligent woman, Kate.”
“Well, that we knew.” I laugh and lean over to press my lips to his shoulder. “I’m excited to see her inn.”
“Oh, my God, Eli,” Kate gasps and grips my thigh with her strong hand. It’s the same tone she uses when she’s about to come, and it makes my cock twitch reflexively, but I just grin over at her in the passenger seat.
“Pretty, isn’t it?”
She turns her wide green eyes to me, her mouth dropped open, and then back to the plantation as we drive up to it. “Those oak trees are incredible! And the house! No wonder Gabby loves running this place. I’d never leave.”
I smirk and look at the green, lush land, trying to see it for the first time. The white, three story home with it’s pillars, black shutters and wrap around porch, and second floor balcony sits back from the road about one hundred yards. Leading to it is a row of oak trees, creating a tunnel to the majestic home and the land it sits on. Sunlight filters through the leaves and limbs, sprinkling the green grass in light.
“How old are those trees?” Kate asks.
“About six hundred years,” I reply, and pull around the side of the house. “They’ve been here far longer than the house.”
“They’re amazing.” She bites her lip and continues to stare at the trees, and I can’t resist reaching over and tugging the delicate skin from her teeth, then smoothing the pad of my thumb over it. “I want to see everything,” she says, as she nuzzles my palm with her cheek.
“And I’ll show you.” I kiss her lips quickly before we climb out of the car and walk around to the front of the house.
“Uncle Eli!” Sam exclaims and tosses his ball in the air, catches it, and runs over to hug me. “Are you really stayin’ here tonight?”
“We are,” I confirm. “You remember Miss Kate?”
“Hello, ma’am,” Sam says, and holds his hand out for Kate’s, making my lips twitch.
“You can call me Kate,” she offers with a smile, but Sam shakes his head no.
“I’m not supposed to call adults their real names,” he says seriously.
“Can you call me Miss Kate?” she asks, and squats down so she can look him in the eye. Sam looks up to me for confirmation.
“Okay, Miss Kate.” He offers her his toothless grin just as her phone rings.
“Oh, this is Rhys FaceTiming me. Sam, do you know who Rhys O’Shaughnessy is?”
“Only the best baseball player on the whole Chicago Cubs team,” he replies in awe. I step back, shove my hands in my pockets, and watch Kate with my young nephew. She grins and accepts the call.
“Hey. Whatcha doin’?”
“Actually, I have a young man here who is your biggest fan. Would you mind saying hi?”
“I get to say hi?” Sam asks with a big smile.
“Sure, here.” Kate turns the phone for Sam, and instead of getting embarrassed or shy, he launches into a million questions.
“Oh, my gosh! You’re the best batter in the league! What kind of bat do you have? How do you hit the ball so hard? Do you have to practice every day?” He takes the phone and sits on the porch, chattering at Rhys, who is chuckling and trying to get a word in edgewise.
“That’ll keep them both busy for a few minutes,” Kate says, and loops her arms around my waist, her face tilted up to mine. “Rhys loves kids.”
“You might have just made my nephew’s year.”
“Well, I have ulterior motives.” She grins as her hands travel up my back and down again, over my ass.
“Do tell,” I reply and kiss her forehead.
“I was thinking about doing this.” She stands on her tip-toes, but she’s still too short to kiss me, so I happily oblige her, leaning down to take her lips with mine. It starts as a soft, simple nibble, and quickly escalates to tongues and panting and me gripping onto her lower lip with my teeth.
“There’s a child ten yards away,” she whispers against my mouth.
“I know.” I cup her face in my hands, kiss her forehead one more time, and breathe in her fresh, Kate scent, then lead her down the brick walkway between the enormous, ancient oak trees. “They were planted hundreds of years before the house,” I begin.
“It’s so cool out here,” she says.
“Yes, thanks to the river just on the other side of that levy, and with the way the trees were planted, it creates a wind tunnel effect. No one ever imagined that air conditioning would be a thing. This was the first form of AC.”
“Amazing. Look at how some of the branches rest on the ground!”
Jesus, I can’t take my eyes off of her. She’s pulled her thick, auburn hair into a knot at the back of her head. She’s wearing a strapless sundress and flip flops.
I wonder if she’s wearing panties under there.
I intend to find out very soon.
“This is seriously the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”
“You’ll get no argument from me,” I reply, my eyes trained on her gorgeous face, just as she turns to me and smiles shyly.