“It’s okay for you to be nervous. As long as you know he loves you, Gabe.” Nic squeezed his hand and then leaned across the seat, curling her other hand around the nape of his neck. She brought his mouth to hers, and she kissed him softly. “As long as you know I love you.”
“Mmm,” he murmured against her lips. “We better get out of this car before we end up engaging in inappropriate behaviors.”
Nic laughed as she drew away. “Let’s go.”
They climbed out, and walked to the front of the car. Gabe took her hand in his and they made their way through the cars and entered the park. He knew where the Rothchilds would be meeting them, by the playground area. His boy was an active little man and Gabe knew from experience that he’d run from the swings to the seahorses to the jungle gyms.
“There they are,” he said as they crested a small hill. The Rothchilds were sitting on a bench while William hung from one of those metal bar contraptions.
They must’ve said something, because William quickly untangled himself and turned from his grandparents, spotting them before Gabe could say a word. The little boy’s face broke out into a wide smile. Some of Gabe’s fear began to fade. William recognized him. It was a stupid fear, one he had every time he saw his son. Would William forget him in the days that passed between visits? It was a fear that probably wasn’t going to go away until things became more permanent, but William recognized him. That . . . that was good.
“Oh my word,” Nic whispered under her breath, but he could hear the thickness to her words. “He looks like you, Gabe.”
“He does, doesn’t he?” Pride filled his voice. “He’s going to be a little heartbreaker.”
Nic laughed. “Yes—yes, he is.”
She squeezed his hand as William took off toward them, racing around the merry-go-round, his little arms and legs pumping. Gabe felt the rest of his fear evaporate. Not only did William recognize him, he appeared ecstatic to see him, and that—yeah, that about broke Gabe in all the best ways. Nic slipped her hand free, just in time, too. Gabe lowered himself to one knee as William all but launched himself at his father. The little guy threw his arms around Gabe, and even though his weight was slight, he almost bowled him over.
“Hey, little man, it’s so good to see you.” His voice was hoarse as sandpaper. “Real good.”
William could hug. Gabe already knew that. It was a full-bodied hug, one without reservations. The kind of hug a son gave to his father. The kind of hug that could bring fresh tears to the eyes of a full-grown man.
Then William pulled back and lifted his head, his blue-green eyes filled with curiosity as they fixed on Nic.
She grinned down at him, wiggling her fingers. “Hello.”
“Hi.” A tentative smile tugged at his son’s mouth.
“William, I want you to meet someone very special to me.” Gabe kept an arm around his son’s narrow waist as he looked up at Nic. Their gazes met, and Gabe felt this swelling in his chest he’d never really experienced before. “I know you’re going to love her just as much as I do.”
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