Once she left the bedroom, the delectable aromas of breakfast food emanating from the kitchen were even more enticing. Before she had even managed to take a step, Aidan stood from his spot on the floor outside her door. Right next to him was a fire engine set he’d been playing with as he’d waited. He sent her a smile that made her heart do flip-flops.
“Daddy said I should let you sleep.”
“That was mighty nice of him,” Ruby said, stuffing her hands into the pockets of her jeans.
Big brown eyes that looked a lot like her own gazed up at her. “Are you hungry? We’re having bacon and flapjacks.”
She rubbed her tummy and let out a contented sigh. “Bacon. I love bacon.”
“Me, too,” he said, his voice ripe with enthusiasm.
She winked at her son. “And flapjacks ain’t so bad, either.”
“Daddy made them specially for you. And I helped stir the batter.”
“That’s wonderful. I always say it’s all in the stirring.” She smiled at him, noticing the way he was staring at her with a hopeful expression on his face. She felt a burst of sympathy for him. He was so little. Way too young to wrap his head around his mother unceremoniously showing up in his life after having been presumed dead for two years. She wished there was a manual for how to deal with this situation with grace and wisdom. As it was, she felt scared to death about saying or doing the wrong thing.
She bent at the waist and peered into his perfect little face. “Is there anything you want to ask me?”
Aidan shifted from one foot to the other. “How can you be my mother if you don’t remember me?” His lips quivered.
Aw. It was a sucker punch straight to the gut.
She swallowed past the lump in her throat. “Well, unfortunately, due to my accident, there are lots of memories I can’t access. And I may not remember everything about you, but I do recall certain things.”
His eyes widened. “You do? Like what?”
“Smells. I can’t be around talcum powder without thinking about holding a baby in my arms. One who had dark hair and chubby little legs. That was you, Aidan.”
His jaw dropped. “Wow. That’s so cool. Daddy showed me a picture once of you holding me like that when I was a baby. Maybe he can find it so I can show you. It might help you remember more things.”
Tears misted her eyes. His voice was filled with such hope and innocence. She prayed he didn’t get hurt in all of this. There was still so much to sort out. How would Aidan react when she left to go back to Colorado? Was he imagining that his parents would reunite and live happily-ever-after? As an almost-five-year-old it was entirely possible.
“I’d like that very much,” she murmured, overcome with emotion.
“After we eat, can I show you my Christmas list I made for Santa?”
She reached out and palmed his cheek, shocking herself by the intimate gesture. “Sure, Aidan. That would be great.”
“Let’s eat before the flapjacks get cold.” He reached for her hand and tugged her down the hall into the kitchen. Once she crossed the threshold, she stopped in her tracks. Liam was standing at the stove, looking impossibly handsome in a pair of dark jeans and a long-sleeved, oatmeal-colored shirt. Although she had noted her husband’s good looks immediately upon meeting him, she couldn’t help but notice that he looked even more handsome today. With his dark brown hair, rugged physique and ice-blue eyes, he was a looker. It was no small wonder she had fallen in love with him and sealed the deal with a ring and a wedding. He was definitely an Alaskan hottie.
“Good morning,” he said, spatula in hand as he flipped the flapjacks on the griddle. “I hope you had a good night’s rest.”
“I slept like a log,” Ruby admitted. “It must be the Alaskan air.”
Liam nodded. “I was born and bred in Love, so I’m a little biased about the benefits of this little town.”
She shifted from one foot to the other then jammed her hands into the back pockets of her jeans. “Is there anything I can do to help?”
“Not a thing. I’m just about done. Why don’t you and Aidan sit down at th
e table?” Liam nodded in Aidan’s direction. “Put some napkins by each place setting, okay?”
Aidan quickly placed the napkins on the table and beamed as if he knew he’d done a good job. Liam walked over and placed platters of flapjacks, bacon and eggs on the table.
As they dug into the breakfast Liam had prepared, Ruby found herself surprised by the lack of awkwardness between the three of them. Strangely enough, she didn’t feel nearly as uncomfortable as she usually did in the presence of people. Aidan entertained them with stories about his friends and a little girl down the road who wanted to marry him.
Liam and Ruby exchanged a smile as Aidan explained very solemnly that he didn’t have any plans to settle down until he was a grown-up. As soon as he finished eating, Aidan asked to be excused, then jumped up from the table, placed his plate in the sink and ran toward his bedroom.