Wait. Say what?
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Yeah. Lexie's life is a peculiar comedy of errors....but enjoy their first kiss. I sure did.
Shivers danced across my skin, and I shuddered—yes, shuddered—at the mention of the good doctor’s name. “F-fletcher’s here?”
I wanted to do a happy dance, and throw myself onto the floor for a tantrum at the same time. Andrea’s eyes screamed an apology as my brother and Fletcher entered the room.
“Hey, sis. You know Fletcher, right?” Corbin called, clapping Fletcher on the back. Andrea made a face at him, and his eyes widened. “Oh, right. Of course you do.”
Fletcher’s cheeks reddened when he saw me. In true Fletcher style, his hair had been tousled into perfect bed head, and his low-slung faded jeans accented his vintage Elvis (Elvis!) tee shirt perfectly.
“Lexie.” That was all Fletcher said. He shoved his hands in his pockets and stared at me.
“Fletcher.” I tugged my denim jacket around my belly as best I could.
Now, let’s get one thing clear: I was so grateful to be pregnant, and the thought of holding my baby in my arms soon was almost more than I could stand. But, if there was ever a time when I wished I could have my thin frame and flat belly back, this was it.
Fletcher’s eyes grazed over my whole body, from my faded Chuck Taylor’s to the bandana in my hair, leaving a trail of electricity behind as they moved. There was no denying the volt of energy surging between the two of us. Hell, if the lights had been on in the house, they would’ve blinked.
Brian cleared his throat, and I suddenly remembered that Fletcher and I weren’t alone.
“So, um, Fletcher,” he said. “Did you know Lexie found out the sex of the baby?”
Fletcher blinked a few times. “What? Did you have another ultrasound? I didn’t see the scans.”
When I shook my head, it felt like I was underwater. “No.”
“She came to make an offer on the house.” Andrea rubbed her forehead. “I feel so bad.”
Corbin stepped forward. “You want to buy the house?”
“I, uh, yes.” I held up a rumpled sheet of paper. “I got a loan. I didn’t get a realtor. I knew you’d make more money that way.”
“I didn’t, either.” Fletcher ducked his head. “Lexie, I’m so sorry, I had no idea you were interested in the house.”
“Neither did I.” Corbin pressed his lips together. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
Tears flooded my eyes, and I opened them wider to prevent them from spilling. Curse these damned hormones. “I didn’t want to say anything until I was completely certain. I came over as soon as I got the paperwork.”
Candace took my hand. “Oh, honey, don’t cry. It’s okay. There’ll be other houses.”
The tears escaped, and slid down my face. I didn’t want another house. I wanted this house. I practically saw myself holding my baby in the window seat upstairs, and making my morning coffee in the sunny kitchen. This was how I would prove to myself—and to my mother—that I didn’t need a husband to take care of the baby and me, that I could do it on my own. Being a homeowner was the ultimate proof.
Andrea and Candace wrapped their arms around me, while all three men stood in an awkward semicircle. “No, no, no.” I waved them away. “It’s no big deal. I’m just tired. That’s all. I’m just… I’m just…”
“Disappointed,” Andrea finished for me.
Fletcher turned to Corbin. “I’m tearing up the deal.”
“Wait.” A look of panic flashed across my brother’s face. “Lexie, are you serious? Are you sure you’ve got financing?”
Fletcher reached for the papers in Corbin’s hand. “Listen, she’s family, she—”
“No.” I straightened my shoulders. “Ignore the tears. They fall at random, I’m telling you. I’m really fine with this. I promise. Fletcher—” Saying his name gave a zap of hysteria right down into my core, and the baby flipped in my belly. “It’s your house. I promise.”
Corbin dragged a hand down the length of his face. “Argh. I don’t know what to do.”
Fletcher’s bright blue eyes bored into mine. “I’m so sorry.”
“You couldn’t have known.”
The air between us was heavy, and judging by the uncomfortable expressions on everyone’s faces, they could feel it, too.
After an awkward pause that lasted entirely too long, Candace cleared her throat. When I moved my gaze to her face, she widened her eyes. We’d been close our whole lives, and I knew this expression to mean, What in the world is going on with you?
I shrugged. It was all I could do.
“Why don’t we give Lexie and Fletcher a few minutes to sort this out,” she offered, corralling everyone towards the door. “Kids, come on. Let’s go look at the pretty landscaping Andrea did in the backyard.”
The sound of a toilet flushing rang out, and then the kids toddled their way through the living room and out the French doors. Brian, Corbin, Andrea, and Candace followed, and when the door clicked shut, Fletcher and I found ourselves standing alone on the gleaming hickory floors.
Fletcher took my hand, and by gosh, the thrill shooting up my arm was practically lethal. “Lexie, take the house. It’ll be a great place for you and the baby.”
“No, it’s perfect for you and Martha.” I turned my palm so our fingers laced together. It was like our hands had been cut to match each other’s. We fit together like puzzle pieces.
Fletcher was Marisol’s boyfriend. Not mine. Marisol’s. And Marisol was my friend. Good grief, I needed to rein it in.
“Where are your girls?” I asked, pulling my hand away.
“My girls?” A wrinkle formed between his eyebrows.
“Martha and Marisol.” I stepped backwards to widen the space between us. He followed.
“Oh, right.” He cringed. “They’re getting pedicures today. Martha doesn’t know I’m here. It’s a surprise.”
I forced a smile. What a lovely mother-daughter outing for Marisol and Martha. I wondered how Marisol was tolerating it. She usually got her pedicures at high-end salons that didn’t exactly welcome children. Of course, they could be having the time of their lives, holding hands and gazing at each other in familial adoration. Jealousy pressed down on my shoulders.
“Pedicures sound fun,” I squeaked.
He chuckled. “I’m trying to help them bond a little.”
“Got it.” Nodding, I pressed a hand to my belly. Both the baby, and my nerves, were going wild. And when Fletcher inched closer to me, it didn’t help.
His cerulean eyes moved to my middle. “You all right? Nauseous?”
“No.” I shook my head. “Just nervous.”
His palm went to my stomach. “Baby moving? Sleeping okay? Eating enough protein?”
His palm went to my stomach. “Baby moving? Sleeping okay? Eating enough protein?”
“Yup. Everything’s good.” I backed away from his touch. It felt too freaking good. Like something that could melt me right into a puddle on the floor if I let it.
“Good.” We’d now moved into the hallway off the living room. Even though it was dimmer there, Fletcher’s eyes still sparkled. “Listen, Lexie, I won’t buy the house. There are other houses out there.”
My heart twisted. I pictured Martha running across the front yard after getting off the school bus, a backpack bouncing on her shoulder, her dark curls flying out behind her. “Absolutely not. This is yours and Martha’s home. I can feel it.”
He looked around, his eyes scanning across the crown molding and refinished built-in cabinetry. The corners of his mouth pricked upward. “I really do love this house.”
My palm covered his hand on my middle. “Then you should live here.”
His eyes came back to mine. “You really think so?”
And I meant it. I mean, I wanted the house. Bad. But I could see Martha cozied up to the fireplace with a cup of cocoa in the winter while Fletcher set up a freshly cut Christmas tree in the corner. It was the perfect house for them. “Maybe I’ll buy the house next door, and we’ll be neighbors.”
“That would be great.” Something flashed in Fletcher’s eyes, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. His lower lip pulled between his teeth while I was trying to figure it out. He looked so edible when he did that.
“So that’s settled,” I whispered.
Fletcher took hold of my upper arms and brought me against his chest. I could feel his heart galloping. “You really are something, Lex. Thank you.”
I opened and closed my mouth a few times, but couldn’t think of anything relevant to say. The scent that was so him flooded my senses, making my ears ring and my eyes slide shut against my will. He smelled like fabric softener, and minty toothpaste, and something else. Something musky and so, undeniably male it made my toes curl in my sneakers.
“I wish…” Fletcher’s words petered out, and we were left in the dim hallway with silence all around us.
His hands started tracing circles on my back, leaving trails of tickling heat behind them as they went. I shivered beneath his touch, knowing I needed to put a stop to it, but wanting it to go on for at least another hour. Maybe two. Or possibly forever. The moment stretched out from three seconds, to five, and then to ten. I felt Fletcher’s nose against my messy hair, and listened as he drew in a deep breath. The electricity between us was so strong, it nearly buckled my knees
“You wish what?” I pulled back and looked up at him.
“There’s something between us,” he whispered, his breath dancing across my lips.
I gulped. I wanted Fletcher. I’d wanted him for months. But this was wrong. So wrong. It was like I was at battle with myself.
He pressed one hand to the small of my back and brought the other up to cup the back of my neck. I loved that. “I can’t fight it,” he mumbled, walking me backwards slowly.
The little redheaded angel on my right shoulder shook her head solemnly. Tell him to fight it. Walk away, drive home, and eat some chocolate. That’s the right thing to do.
Fletcher brushed his nose across my cheekbone, and my heart started Irish clog dancing inside of my chest.
The little redheaded devil on my left shoulder joined in the dance. Screw doing the right thing. Tell him to kiss you, and to make it worth your time!
“Then don’t fight it.” The words came out of my mouth before I had any time to think about what I was saying.
That must’ve been the green light Fletcher was waiting for, because his lips were on mine before I could even process another word. They were full and warm, but surrounded by a glorious five o’clock shadow that made my limbs go weak and my eyes roll back in my head.
And roll back, they did.
Because when his head tipped to the side, and his tongue traced a path along my upper lip to encourage my mouth to open more, it was over. My hands dug into the back of his hair, tangling into his blonde locks, and securing his face to mine. His hand pressed my body into his even more, arching my back before sliding down my hip to my thigh, which he raised against his hip as we landed against the wall with a muted thud. An old painting swayed near the back of my head, but I didn’t care as Fletcher’s fingers kneaded gently against the back of my knee, and his teeth caught my lower lip with the softest of nips. His mouth moved down my jaw line to my neck, just below my ear, where his breath against my skin caused me to gasp—yes, gasp—as every nerve ending in my body hummed with utter awareness.
Self control: gone.