One eyebrow rose. “I know that.”
“I don’t know if you do.” I met his gaze. “Because if you did, then you wouldn’t automatically assume that your grandfather was going to be too much for me to handle.”
Nick opened his mouth but clamped his jaw shut. A moment passed and then he pursed his lips. “You know, you’re right.” It sounded like a lot for him to say those words, and I wasn’t sure how to feel about that. “What time do you want to do this on Thanksgiving?”
A part of me wanted to be churlish, to give voice to the sour feeling in the pit of my stomach that had nothing to do with the low level nausea that hit at odd times during the day. I didn’t want to do it if he didn’t really want me to, but then how childish would it come across if I pulled the brakes now?
All I could do was make Thanksgiving as awesome as I could and hope Nick would truly see that I wasn’t going to cut and run when things got rough. That even though he was in this to “make the best of it,” I was in it for the long haul.
I was such a baby.
I didn’t talk to him about my concerns about us, even when Sunday night would’ve been the perfect opportunity. But I couldn’t help feeling like I wasn’t grateful enough or I was being selfish for wanting to make this relationship more about me than the baby, and God, even that sounded so messed up.
Maybe this was the reason why I hadn’t fallen in love before now, because as I drove to Nick’s house late Thursday morning, I was convinced that when it came to love I was ridiculously neurotic.
I second-guessed so much. Like everything from calling or texting him to if we weren’t doing enough couple things with other couples. I wanted to smack myself.
I also needed to stop eating everything in sight, because I was sure the extra tightness in the waistband of my jeans had nothing to do with the baby. At almost eleven weeks, my lima bean was the size of a lime, and outside of making me want to belch every five seconds, I doubted it was the cause of the extra ten pounds I’d packed on.
At a stoplight, I glanced at the grocery bags on the passenger seat and smiled. I was going to start watching what I ate after I had my hamburgers and cylinder-shaped potatoes.
Following the directions on my phone, I easily found Nick’s grandfather’s house. It was on the other side of Plymouth, away from the city and on the outskirts. Suburbia. The businesses grew farther and farther apart, the subdivisions had more space than houses, and when the directions indicated that I turn left in the next two hundred feet, I found that I was driving onto a private driveway—to a house, not in a subdivision.
I don’t know what I was expecting when it came to his grandfather’s house as I drove up the driveway. Maybe something old? A farm, perhaps? But as the stand of trees cleared to a neatly manicured front lawn, I was surprised to be staring up at a newish home.
Slowing down, I parked in front of a double bay garage and turned off the engine. The house was a two-story, colonial style, with a massive front porch that appeared to wrap around the other side. It was the perfect porch for lazy summers, I thought, or for a baby to sit and play on.
My tummy twisted pleasantly at that thought.
Grabbing the bags, I stepped out and closed the door behind me. The sun was hidden behind fat gray clouds, and as I walked up the river rock path, there was a chill of snow in the air. When I stepped up on the porch, I noticed a wooden swing and smiled.
Goodness, this really was the perfect porch.
Nick opened the front door before I could knock, and for a moment I was sort of blinded with stupidity. He was standing in the doorway in jeans. That’s all. Jeans that hung low on his hips, revealing that damn vee shape of his lower stomach. His hair was damp, curling against his temple and forehead.
“Hey,” he said, grinning boyishly. “I’m running late. Just stepped out of the shower.”
He sure did. A drop of water caressed the line of his collarbone and then slipped down his chest.
My pulse picked up.
Oh God, I wanted to jump him. Drop the hamburger meat and everything and just jump him, right there in the entryway of his grandfather’s house.
His dark brows rose. “You coming in?”
I needed to get a grip.
“Of course.” I cleared my throat and stepped inside, and because it wouldn’t be appropriate to jump his bones, I stretched up and brushed my lips over his.
Nick snaked an arm around my waist, drawing me up against his damp chest before I had a chance to step back. I almost dropped the groceries as he took that kiss to a whole different level. He tasted of mint and a whole lot of sultry promises I wanted to fulfill. Like right there.
“Every time,” he said against my mouth.
I had to catch my breath. “What?”
“Every time you see me, I want you to do that.” His nose brushed mine as he tilted his head, kissing me once more. “I want the first thing you do is kiss me. I want that kind of hello.”
My heart swelled so fast and so powerfully that when he set me back down on my feet and stepped back, I could feel actual tears climbing up the back of my throat. “I can do that,” I said when I really meant, Oh my good God, I will totally do that every freaking single time. Turning around, I gave myself time to recover by taking in my surroundings.
The house embodied an open concept. From where we stood, I could see into a large living room and kitchen to the right, with an eat-in dining room. There was a closed door to what I guessed was a bathroom. To my left was what appeared to be a study and another closed door. The stairs heading up to the second floor were directly in front of us. Hardwood floors as far as the eye could see.
“Everything is so . . . neat,” I said as Nick took the bags from me.
He laughed. “What were you expecting?”
I shrugged a shoulder. “I don’t know.” I followed him toward the country-style kitchen—white cabinets, gray granite everywhere. “This place is neater than my apartment.”
“That is fucking true.”
Laughing, I smacked his arm as he set the groceries on the counter. “Hey!”
He grinned as grabbed the packets of hamburgers and placed them in the fridge. When he pulled out the tater tots, he shook his head. “You’re such a kid.”
“Shut up.” I leaned against the island as he placed the tots in the freezer. The house was so quiet I felt like I should whisper. “Is your grandfather up?”
“He’s actually asleep right now.”
“Oh.” I clapped my hand over my mouth. “Sorry. I was so loud.”
“It’s okay.” He stepped around the island and reached down, taking my hand. “When he sleeps, it’s pretty deep. A dump truck could drive through the garage and he’d sleep right through it. And he’s been sleeping a lot today.”
“Is that a good or bad thing? The sleeping a lot?”
“It’s . . . really neither.” He tugged on my hand. “Come on.”
Nick led me back to the foyer and past the study, to the closed door. When he opened it, I felt like a teenager again, sneaking through my boyfriend’s house so we didn’t alert his parents to what we were up to.
“Did you grandfather build this house?” I asked.