He’d spoken with Shannon, and she said she’d get the papers ready for him. Now, he just had to speak with Anya about it. In theory, this took away his need for an heir, which took away his need for her.

But it didn’t. Damn, he couldn’t lose her. Not now that he had her in his life. The last four years had been torture when it came to Anya. The employer and employee relationship stopped him from crossing that line that was always drawn in these situations. He’d hated watching her go out on dates with random guys, getting pissed that they could touch her when he couldn’t. All the time, he’d tried to brush off his concern.

Since having her in his life, with her beneath him, he’d seen how wrong he’d been to keep her at a distance. She was beautiful, loving, caring, and everything he’d ever wanted in a woman.

When he was in foster care growing up, he would imagine being with someone when he was older, someone who loved and cared about him. Someone who meant something to him. The more he looked at Anya, the more he saw that she was the woman he’d always imagined. The woman he’d always wanted.

“Here, eat this,” she said, handing him a hot dog covered in lots of chili. “It may take the rancid taste away.”

The food tasting event had been one of the worst he’d endured.

“There were a few times I thought you were going to vomit,” Harold said.

“There were. It wasn’t exactly the best decision I had to let them do this.”

“You clearly upset a lot of people this year,” Anya said. “I didn’t vote for this though.”

“What did you vote for?”

“The waterslide. What else? Raising money should be fun. The whole tasting food that had a risk of being vile never appealed.”


He kissed her head. “I love you.”

Emma tapped Harold’s shoulder, and smiled. “See, honey, it is love.”

For him it was love. Wrapping his arms around Anya, he pulled her against his side, and inhaled the floral scent that he’d come to associate with his woman. She was perfect in every single way for him. He loved her, and it was damn hard at times having feelings for someone he didn’t know if she even loved him back.

“We’re following you home tonight, right?” Xavier asked.

“You sure are,” Emma said.

“You’ll be staying in the spare bedroom.”


“No, my house, my rules, and no naughty business in my house. It has never happened.”

Anya rolled her eyes. “How did I come along?”

“Not in the house.”

Anya’s face went bright red.

“We were wild once as well,” Emma said.

“I don’t need to hear this. Children do not need to know what their parents get up to behind closed doors.”

“Oh, sweetie, it wasn’t always behind closed doors.”

Xavier adored her parents. They clearly loved their daughter, and he’d seen so many parents who really didn’t care. There was a darkness that came with fostering that not many spoke about.

“The event is winding down.” Most of the kids had already started to board certain buses that would take them back to their homes.

“Do you need to stay ‘til the end?” Anya asked.

“No. I’ll be in touch on Monday, and settle everything.” He’d make a further donation, and then he’d start planning for the next event.

Taking hold of Anya’s hand, he made his way toward the car, and helped her inside. He liked securing her in, before he went toward his side of the car.

“Thank you,” she said.

Starting the car, he pulled in behind her parents, and waved back at them.

“I love taking care of you.” There, he told her the word again. A simple four letter word that was so hard to say, and yet he was telling her how he felt. If he kept on saying it, maybe she would get the hint that for him, it was starting to mean a hell of a lot more.

“I love you taking care of me, too.”

“There’s something I want to talk to you about,” he said.

“There is?”

“Yeah. Logan.”

“I adore him, Xavier. Is there anything we can do to put a smile on his face? It breaks my heart seeing him like that.”