As I ate, my mind wandered to McKenna. She’d been a vision standing in the doorway of my bedroom last night, her skin flushed and her heartbeat racing in her neck. I couldn’t even imagine what she thought was going on inside my room. Finding Amanda in labor was probably the last thing she expected.
Anticipation coursed through me at the thought of seeing McKenna tonight. She had said there were some things she needed to tell me. Which meant I needed to delay pulling the skeletons out of my closet. That would have to wait. Tonight was about her.
As I cleaned up after my meal, my mind went to the events at the hospital last night. I shuddered remembering Amanda’s guttural cries when she pushed the baby out, along with a rush of fluid and blood. I didn’t care what anyone said; there was nothing natural about that process. It made me want to kick the ass of whoever put Amanda in that position and left her to deal with the consequences alone. He was a coward, whoever he was. Watching her hold her baby girl and sob just as hard as the tiny thing in her arms was a harrowing experience, and one I’d probably never forget. The baby was born prematurely, and though nothing major appeared wrong, she’d be under close watch for some time to come. I imagined both McKenna and I would be back at the hospital to visit both of them soon.
But right now, it was about me and McKenna.
When I picked up McKenna an hour later, she jogged down the stairs before I had the chance to go up and get her. Exiting the Jeep, I crossed around the front and met her beside the passenger door. She stood silently waiting for me to open it. But I wasn’t in any sort of rush.
Taking her face in my hands, I brought her lips to mine. “God, I missed you.” I held her close, drinking in her breath, the warmth I felt just having her near. “When you left, I thought…”
“What?” she murmured, her mouth brushing against mine.
“That I’d lost you. I thought you were choosing Brian and a normal life back home over me and all my mountains of baggage.”
Her eyebrows pinched together. “How could you think that?”
Moving my hands from her jaw to her waist, I tucked my thumbs into the back of her jeans and stroked the smooth skin of her lower back. “That morning you left…I shouldn’t have let you go like that.”
McKenna’s mouth lifted in a smile just before my lips claimed hers. Not needing any more prompting, she pressed her lips to mine, running her tongue along my bottom lip until my lips parted and her tongue swept inside, gently stroking mine. What began as a sweet hello kiss turned into something much more desperate. She felt it. I felt it. This time apart hadn’t been easy on either of us.
It was a damn good thing she was back. After getting a taste of how sweet and sensual she was, I knew I was ruined for all other girls. There was only McKenna.
I growled in satisfaction, a low rumble emanating from the back of my throat. “What are you doing?”
“Distracting you,” she said, her voice breathy.
“It’s working.” I pressed my hips into hers, letting her feel the hard ridge she’d inspired in my jeans. “We should go before I get arrested for public indecency.”
She giggled. “Where are we headed? Your place?”
I shook my head. “I might have something planned.”
This information earned me a smile. Good, because I’d planned my very first date and something in me liked the recognition. I’d never dated, and McKenna understood what this meant.
If it were summer, I could take her to the Navy Pier and ride the Ferris wheel, or to the beach where we could sit and watch the waves of Lake Michigan crash against the shoreline. Instead, I helped her inside the warmth of my Jeep. The frigid temperatures dictated we’d be doing something indoors.
I drove us to the downtown restaurant I’d researched online. Never had I spent so much time planning a meal. But this wasn’t just any meal; it was a second chance for us. Knowing it would take a small miracle to find parking even reasonably close to the restaurant, I pulled to a stop in front of the valet sign. McKenna shot me a curious glare. “We’re eating here?”
I nodded. I might not have much to offer her, but one nice meal out wasn’t going to break the bank. McKenna had done so much for me and for the boys. I wanted to treat her to something special and show her how important she was to me.
After I handed my keys to the valet, we headed inside the quaint Italian restaurant, Cucina Bella, and were guided to the table I’d reserved near the fireplace. McKenna’s answering smile was the only reassurance I needed. It was good to mix things up now and then.
We sipped our drinks—sparkling water with lemon for her and a draft beer for me—and made small talk. She’d hinted that there were some things she needed to talk to me about, and as insanely curious as I was, I allowed her to gather her courage without prying. When the server approached our table for a second time, I looked to McKenna. “Shall we decide on dinner?”
“Just a few more minutes,” I told the apron-clad server. He turned on his heel and strode away.
After flipping open her menu, McKenna scanned the length of the page before her gaze jerked to mine. “This place seems kind of pricey…are you sure this is okay?”
“Of course. Order whatever you’d like.” There were various cuts of steak and several types of seafood dishes.
She chewed on her lower lip. “I can pay for myself, don’t feel like you have to…”
Leaning in toward her, I placed my hand on hers. “I brought you because I wanted to enjoy a nice night out with you. One without loud, nosy boys, video games, and stale pizza.”
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