I only want us to be together from now on.
“Stay,” I whisper because I know he’ll be worried about it.
The feeling of him positioning me in his hold and the hope for him to stay with me, for tonight or much longer, is the last thing I remember as I slip off into dreamland.
When my eyes slowly open, I hear footsteps moving down the hallway and immediately glance down to find Sienna still pressed up against me. And we’re covered by the sheets and comforter on her bed. Thankfully.
I didn’t think about pulling my boxers on last night. I was too focused on the feel of my woman’s skin against my own. At least, if Callie came in, everything is covered. It’s a relief because I never want to do anything to upset my woman.
I climb out of bed and pull my clothes on so I can go down and grab the bag I threw in my truck last night. Just in case.
I wasn’t sure if Sienna would let me in. I wasn’t sure if she would let me stay. Either way, I wanted to be prepared.
I slip downstairs and out the front door, grab my bag and am back inside quickly. When I step into the living room, Callie is standing there with her hands on her hips. I’m sure she’s trying to give me a look of admonishment, but it’s ruined by the huge smile on her face.
“Did you spend the night?”
I blow out a breath and hope this conversation goes well. “I did. I wanted to see your mom because she calms me and everything in me tells me I should be near her. And you,” I add, swallowing hard. My voice is tentative, “Is that okay?”
She taps her chin like she’s thinking about it. “I don’t know,” she holds the words out. “Can you make pancakes?”
I scoff. “Can I make pancakes?” I push even more offense into my tone, “Can I make pancakes?”
“Well?” She taps her toes on the ground, goading me, and it’s adorable as hell.
I puff my chest out and wink at her. “Of course I can make pancakes. I have a little sister who loved pancakes growing up and I needed to know how to make them because my mom worked so much. There were times I was in charge of feeding Salem.”
Callie’s smile drops sightly, and my eyebrows pull together. “I kind of wish I had a little brother or sister I could help take care of.”
My heart aches, but it also soars because I want nothing more than to make her wish come true. If it were up to me, I’d already be working on it with my Starshine. I kiss the top of Callie’s head before clapping my hands together.
“Making pancakes is a good skill so you can take care of yourself as well,” I point out and Callie shakes away the hint of sadness around her and grins up at me. “That means you are now my kitchen assistant.”
“Sous chef,” she sasses me, and I can only shake my head.
I didn’t know she would know that term, which is why I went with assistant. I should have known better. She sure as hell is smarter than I was at her age.
While we get the pancake batter together, we talk in hushed voices. I wasn’t aware I could love Callie even more, but I feel it happening. She’s insightful and kind. She’s compassionate.
I see such a bright future ahead of her and I desperately want to be a part of it. I’ll take whatever I can and be there in whatever way she wants.
I think last night was a turning point for Sienna and me. It was a big step for her to let me stay with Callie in the house. I understand why she was hesitant, and I can’t blame her for it. She was being a good mom and I would expect no less.
I don’t ever want to push her too hard or too fast, but I want this so damn badly. I want to wake up with my woman in my arms. I want to help Sienna get Callie to school. I want to pick her up from school if needed and be there for dinner and homework. I want my family.
I swallow down the desire to make it happen now because I can’t force it. No matter how much I wish it were happening right now.
As we start to mix up the batter and talk about what else we should make for breakfast, I’m not sure who is the kitchen assistant and who is the chef. Spending time with this young woman, who I consider mine just as much as I do her mom, feels like champagne bubbles filling me and popping, leaving behind laughter and light.
She’s going to be a force when she grows up and I can’t wait to see it. I’ll also make sure she’s protected. If someone hurts her, they’ll have to deal with me.
I flex my hand thinking about the boys, who probably weren’t taught any respect and are filled with hormones, who will try and turn her head. I know she’s strong with a lot of self-confidence while also being levelheaded, but I hope whoever she lets into her heart is good enough for her.