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Marriage Material(5)

By:Alexa Riley

“No, I actually hate it. It makes me feel insignificant.” There’s truth in her words and I nod in understanding.

“I think that’s why I have so many boxes.” She smiles, and I point upstairs. “Let’s go pick out your room.” When we get to the landing I point down one hall. “There are three down there that are completely empty.” Then I point in the opposite direction. “The master is this way, and there’s a small room next to it I’ve used as the nursery.”

We walk in that direction and I open the door to my bedroom and step aside. There’s nothing in here besides a dresser and a bed. Even the lamp is on the floor. When I show her the small room beside it, she quietly looks in. The nursery is completely put together, and I even hung some pictures on the wall. I wanted Charlotte to feel like she was home instead of just crashing like we were at my old place. I look at Robin as she looks at Charlotte and smiles. Then we step out of the room quietly so we don’t wake her up and close the door. I show Robin the empty room on the other side of the nursery and she agrees this one would be the best choice.

“I’m sorry, but there’s nothing in it. I’ll have a bed and furniture delivered tomorrow. I wasn’t sure what you’d be bringing with you,” I say as I put her bag down by the door. “Charlotte’s room was the priority when we moved in, but she’s been that way since the day she showed up.”

“You mean the day she was born?” Robin asks, and there’s a tone of teasing like I got it wrong.

“No, I really mean the day she showed up.” And I explain how Charlotte came to be mine.

“Oh god, I’m so sorry,” she says, eyes wide.

“I didn’t know my cousin, but I do feel bad that Charlotte lost her mom. I don’t know how I’m going to explain it to her when she’s older, but I keep reading books on the best way to do it. I guess I’ll know when the right time is. I just want to be her dad and love her. The rest of it I’ll figure out as I go.”

“You will, and I think it’s really beautiful of you to take care of her.” She reaches out and touches my arm.

It’s so casual, but to me it’s so incredibly intimate. I think about how easily I brushed my thumb across her cheek and what it made me feel. Things stirred inside of me that I didn’t know were possible. I always thought I’d end up alone, but moving to Deercreek might have been the plan for me all along. Now that I’m here, possibilities like never before are right in front of me.

“She was mine the first time I saw her. I’ve never had that happen before,” I say, looking straight into her eyes. “I sure didn’t think it could happen twice.”

The doorbell rings right at that moment and Robin drops her hand away from my arm. I didn’t realize how close I’d gotten to her, and I step back as I look around.

“That’s probably another delivery,” I say and see her cheeks are flushed. “Why don’t you unpack what you can and then you can come pick out what you’d like for your room when you’re finished? We can go over everything with your pay and all that, too.”

“Yeah, that’s great,” she says, and I duck out of the room.

I’m reminding myself more than anything that she’s here as my employee. I worked with countless women in the company and I never once felt tempted by any of them. But with Robin it’s more than temptation, it’s a fucking siren’s call, and I don’t know how long I can hold myself back.

When I open the front door the UPS guy is standing there with a hand truck full of boxes.

“Are you Anderson Davis?” the young guy asks, and I nod.

“Yeah, that’s me. Sorry, but I think I’ll have several days of deliveries since I just moved in.” The guy doesn’t say a word but just unloads the boxes on my doorstep and hands me a clipboard to sign.

I’m sure he’s busy, but everyone in this town has been so friendly that I’m taken aback by how cold he is. Oh well, they can’t all be nice. He goes back to his truck to get another load as I bring the boxes inside. I hear Robin coming down the stairs and it makes my heart happy that she’s here. Not just that there’s another person in the house, but it’s her that’s filling the space. It feels right.

“Hey, Anderson, can I leave my toothbrush in the hall bathroom?” Robin calls over my shoulder.

“Why don’t you put it in mine. That’s where I’ve got all the towels and stuff.”

There’s a loud crash outside the door and I turn around to see the UPS guy has knocked over the stack of boxes and is glaring at me.

“Hey, be careful, man,” I say as I walk over and grab some of the boxes, but the guy doesn’t move to help me. When I look back up at him I realize I was wrong. He wasn’t glaring at me, he’s glaring at Robin. “Is there a problem?” I ask him as I step in his line of sight.

“No.” He blinks a few times and then looks down at the mess he’s made.

“Good,” I say and slap the clipboard against his chest. “I can handle it from here.” There’s a moment of silence, but I’m still standing in his line of sight and I’m not going anywhere.

Finally, he grabs the cart and goes back to his truck. I stand on the porch and cross my arms as I watch him load it up and then get in and leave. I wait until he’s all the way down the driveway and out on the main road before I go back in and close the door.

“Is there something I need to know?” I ask as I go over to her. I can feel the anger still simmering on the surface just because of the way he looked at her.

“No, there’s nothing between me and him. We went on a date once and I think he thought it was more or that I had a good time.” She shrugs, but she looks sad and I can’t take it anymore.

“Hey,” I say, putting my hands on her arms and bringing her close. “I’m not mad at you. I just want to know if I should kick his ass.”

She laughs as I pull her against my chest, and I feel some of the worry leave her. Holding her right now is like holding Charlotte when she’s upset. I pat Robin’s back, and she must have the same thought because she starts to laugh.

“You’re pretty good at that,” she says as she looks up at me.

“Thanks.” I brush her hair off her cheek. “But I want you to let me know if you don’t feel safe. Or if you need me to take care of you.”

She nods, and after a moment she steps back from me. I don’t want to let her go, but I decide not to push things right this second. She’s living here now, and we’ve got time to let things grow. I have no idea what I’m doing anyway, so this is something I’m going to have to let her help me figure out. Just like being a dad.

“Why don’t we pick out what you want while Charlotte is napping?” I offer, and Robin smiles excitedly.

If this is all it takes to get that look on her face, then I’m going to let her buy every stick of furniture in this whole damn house.

Chapter 5


“I like this one.” I bite my lip as Anderson leans closer to me and looks over my shoulder. I can feel his breath against my neck. “It’s too much, though.”

The website he pulled up only has top-of-the-line stuff. It’s way over anything I’ve ever even glanced at, though it’s all beautiful.

“Does it come in a king?” he asks, ignoring another one of my comments about the price.

“It does, but I don’t think I need a king,” I laugh. “I sleep on a twin right now.”

He hums. “The room is big. I think a king will be perfect.” My hand pauses before clicking the add-to-cart button when I swear I can feel his breath on my neck. “Make sure you get everything that goes with it.”

I swallow and nod, unsure of what else to do. What I really want to do is turn my head and brush my lips against his, but that’s wrong on so many levels. He’s my boss and I’m sure I should try and keep this professional. Right?

My new bedroom is going to be a dream, but everything about today feels that way.

When I finally get up the nerve to turn my head to look at him, his green eyes lock with mine. My mouth opens a little and I can’t stop myself from licking my lips. He stares at me for a moment as if he didn’t realize I was so close. The tension is so thick I can almost taste it, but all I do is stare as he leans down and I close my eyes.

The baby monitor screeches to life and a cry fills the room. I jerk back as my eyes fly open and I jump up from the couch.

“I’ll get it.” We both get up, and I nearly knock him over as my body collides against his.

“Finish the order,” he tells me as he pulls out his wallet and places a credit card next to the computer. He stares at me for a moment before he turns to leave.

I plop back down on the couch in shock. I can’t believe what almost happened. I groan and close my eyes. I need to get it together because that can’t happen again.

I pick up the credit card and stare at the black American Express. Jesus, doesn’t someone have to be super rich to have one of these things? Not that I would know. All I have is a debit card because Ma says credits cards are evil.