"Pace, I heard her," I say, standing my ground, even though his words have pierced the very center of me. He doesn't respond so I storm past him, and look around the room, searching out the bathroom and his large walk-in closet as well. The room is empty. Well, that's not entirely true, because upon hearing our voices, Max has wandered in and is now in Pace's arms.
Pace grabs the remote control from the bed and presses a button. The TV screen comes to life, displaying a man and a woman.
"I was watching a movie," he says.
When the woman laughs, I realize that is the sound I heard.
My relief is instant, and sobering. "I'm sorry," I say.
"For not believing in me or for leaving?" he asks.
"For everything." I sink down onto the edge of his bed, my heart feeling heavy. The adrenaline surge I felt just moments ago, thinking I was about to discover him in a sordid act, makes my pulse plummet. I feel drained. "I was scared, Pace. Scared of feeling something real for you. Scared you couldn’t possibly return those feelings."
"This is as real as it gets, angel," he says.
"I know that now."
"So what happened with you and Elan?" he asks, his voice guarded.
"If Elan wants a relationship with Max, I won't keep him from that. But I have no interest in him, not romantically, anyway." I glance up at Pace, unsure of what he's thinking. He's never normally so guarded. "If you'll still have me…" I start.
Pace steps closer and reaches for my hand. I place my palm against his and he pulls me up so I'm standing before him. "I'm keeping you for always. I thought I told you that."
He leans in, and with Max still in his arms, he kisses me right on the mouth. I kiss him back, my heart thumping wildly. I'm sure he understands that he's the first man I've let kiss me in front of my son.
"You're stubborn as hell, you know that, right?" Pace asks, pulling back with a smile hot enough to singe.
"What makes you say that?"
"You fought my every advance. I've never worked this hard in my damn life."
I laugh softly. "I did put up one hell of a fight, but you're a hard man to resist," I admit.
"Did something happen this morning? Did Elan do something to change your mind?"
"No. It was all the things he didn't do. He doesn't connect with Max like you do. He doesn't make me feel safe and secure. And he certainly doesn't make me feel out of control with desire."
"Out of control?" he asks, his voice dropping lower. "Last night was…incredible," he admits, planting a kiss on my forehead.
"Yes, it was," I agree. I'd never felt so deeply connected to a man when he was inside of me like I did with Pace. Sex was just sex, but with him, it was something else entirely. It was so much more. I could lose control and let go, something I rarely did in my day-to-day life. The sensation was freeing.
I had no idea what would happen next, and as it turned out, Pace proved to be anything but an ordinary boyfriend.
It feels so good to finally have my arm out of the cast. I stretch my arms leisurely above my head, wincing at the small ache when I bend my elbow. I study myself in the full length mirror in my bedroom, and smooth my black sleeveless dress over my hips. My poor arm looks pale and scrawny. I add several long layering necklaces, hoping the bling will draw the attention away from my arm. I have no idea what we're doing tonight. Pace said to be ready at six o'clock, and when I'd asked about Max, he just smiled and said he had everything covered. I wasn't sure what his vague answer meant, so I'd probed my nanny for details. I'd asked if she was staying late tonight and watching him, she'd merely smiled and said that she'd been sworn to secrecy. Then she added that I shouldn’t worry, and yes, she was taking care of Max tonight.
I hadn't been on a proper date in forever, and Pace and I had never actually been on a real date, sans baby, since we started dating six weeks ago. I was almost giddy at the thought of being alone with him. I hoped I could control myself long enough at a restaurant, because I was majorly looking forward to being alone with him. Alone, alone.
Glancing at the clock, I see it's just now six, so I step into my black heels and grab my miniature handbag. Carrying this thing is a treat – normally my extra-large purse also housed pacifiers, diapers and baby toys.
I hear voices from the living room and when I enter, Pace is standing talking to my nanny, Lynn. They both fall silent as I enter the room.
"What's with all the secrecy?" I ask, grinning at my adorably sexy boyfriend.
He treats me to a crooked grin and drags his eyes down my body. "You look stunning."
"Thank you," I murmur, my cheeks suddenly heating. I take a moment to admire him as well. Pace is dressed smartly in tailored black pants, and a white dress shirt with a black tie knotted loosely at his neck. His shirtsleeves are rolled up several times, exposing strong, tanned forearms. He looks delicious. Good enough to eat. And suddenly, I'm starving, but it's not for dinner.
"We better get going, we've got a schedule to maintain," Pace says.
I nod, then turn to Lynn, who is holding Max on her hip. "Are you sure you guys will be okay? I have a leftover chicken casserole in the fridge for dinner, and…"
She stops me with a dismissive wave of her hand. "We will be just fine, Kylie. You deserve a night out. Enjoy it."