“You asked how my day was.” He grins and stuffs a whole cookie in his mouth.
“No, I don’t believe we did, actually.”
“Well, you were gonna. I could feel it.”
“Never a dull moment with you two, that’s for sure.” Jill wipes the tears from her eyes and then coos down to Thor, “No, buddy, you can’t have these cookies. Chocolate is very bad for puppies. Yes it is.” She cups the canine’s face in her hands and kisses his forehead, points to his blanket, and turns around when Thor obeys her, lying down.
“I’m glad we’re here,” I murmur to her and brush my knuckles down her cheek, wiping a speck of flour away with my thumb.
“Pizza!” Seth exclaims when the doorbell rings and he runs to the front door to retrieve the food.
“I’m glad you’re here too,” Jill replies softly. “I’m having fun.”
“We are having a blast, sugar.”
“Jill, can we eat our pizza in the living room and watch a movie?” Seth calls out.
“That sounds perfect,” Jill calls back and then turns to me. “Snuggle up on the couch with me?”
“There’s nowhere else I’d rather be,” I reply.
Jill loads Transformers into her DVD player. Seth and Thor settle on the floor with blankets and pillows, and Jill and I are on the couch. The pizza is devoured within minutes, so we settle back to watch the movie.
“We have to frost the sugar cookies,” Jill announces halfway into the movie, then glances down and laughs. Both Seth and Thor are out cold, snoring deeply. “Or not.”
“Can we stay tonight?” I ask without thinking, and then decide fuck it. I want to be with her.
“We can’t . . .” she begins, but I hush her with my fingers on her lips.
“No, we can’t. But I can hold you, and Seth and Thor are out for the count. They won’t stir until morning.”
“I’ve missed sleeping beside you,” she admits with a whisper, and the tension I didn’t know I was holding melts out of me. I hug her close and bury my nose in her hair, breathing in scents of vanilla and chocolate.
“Me too, baby. I say we take it where we can get it. I want to hold you tonight.”
“Okay.” She smiles up at me and finally presses her lips to mine. She drags her small hand down my face, and before I can push the kiss any further, she backs away, leans her forehead to mine, and brushes her fingers through my hair. “I’d love nothing more.”
“So what you’re saying is, you like bacon,” I say dryly while Seth chomps on his sixth strip of crispy bacon.
“Yeah.” He nods. “Bacon should be on everything.”
“I’ve seen it on doughnuts. And ice cream,” Zack mentions, pouring me another cup of coffee.
“Really?” Seth perks up and slips half a slice of bacon to Thor, who is sitting patiently at Seth’s feet. “Did you try it?”
“I tried the doughnut. It was good.”
“That sounds . . . interesting,” I reply with a laugh and sip my coffee. “It’s snowing pretty hard out there.”
“It dumped another eight inches, easy,” Zack agrees and grins knowingly at me as I stretch my lower back. We ended up falling asleep on the couch before the movie ended. At some point in the night, Zack turned off the TV, covered Seth with a blanket, and just tucked me against him on the couch, and we had our own version of a slumber party in my living room.
We woke to Seth and Thor both peering at us with wide smiles, demanding to be fed.
“My lower back is a little sore,” I murmur.
“You’re too old to sleep on the couch,” Seth remarks matter-of-factly and stuffs more bacon in his mouth.
“How old do you think I am, Seth?” I grin and watch while he narrows his eyes, giving his answer a lot of thought.
“Maybe twenty-six? You know, old.”
“Well, I’m twenty-nine,” I inform him with a sniff and then tickle his ribs. “And I’m not old!”
“Old lady!” He giggles. “What are we doing today?”
“We have to frost those cookies we baked last night.”
“I’m going to take Thor outside with me and shovel.” Zack walks around the table to me and kisses me softly. “Have fun with your cookies.”
“Have fun in the snow,” I reply. “And thanks.”
“Be good, brat.” Zack ruffles Seth’s hair, then whistles for Thor to follow him outside.
“Are you about finished?” I ask Seth. He nods and immediately helps me clear the table and load the dishwasher. “You’re good at cleaning up.”
“Dad and I share the cleanup, since it’s just us guys now.” He takes a plate out of my hands, rinses it under the faucet, and sets it in the dishwasher. “It’s kind of fun to talk to Dad while we do KP duty.”
“Kind of catch up on your day?” I ask and hand him a glass.
“Yeah.” He shrugs and places the glass in the dishwasher.
“Your dad loves you very much.”
He nods, fills the soap compartment, and starts the washer. I gather the frosting, knives, and the trays of cookies and carry them to the table.
“Red or green?”
“Green, please.” Seth dives for the green frosting and begins coloring his cookies. He sticks his tongue out as he concentrates on outlining a gingerbread man with the frosting, doing a pretty good job of it.
He looks so much like his dad it’s startling. The only difference really is that Seth’s eyes are a light hazel rather than chocolate brown. He has the same dark hair, dimple in his left cheek, and square jaw. He’s going to be a knockout someday.
I reach over to ruffle his hair, but he flinches out of my reach, his eyes suddenly wide and wary.
“Sorry, buddy. I was just gonna touch your hair.”
His shoulder jerks up in a shrug, and then he pins his eyes back on his cookie, avoiding my gaze. “Sorry,” he mumbles.
“You didn’t seem to mind being touched last night,” I comment casually and frost an ornament in red.
Geez, what do I say? The playful, carefree boy from just a few moments ago is gone and has been replaced with a pensive, wary kid, and my heart breaks for him.
“Wanna talk about it?” I ask and set the finished cookie aside, then reach for another. My voice is calm and casual, as if I asked him what he thought about the movie we watched last night.