“You know, maybe it would’ve been better if we’d let them have quality time with you first.” Why had I thought coming to the airport with him would be a good idea?
Donovan snorted, making faces at Sam who was wiggling in her baby seat, on the floor between his feet. “Now you think that’s a good idea?”
He might’ve had a point…especially since we were in the airport waiting for their plane to land.
“They’re running late.” Kind of. “We might have time to drop Sam and me off at the house.”
Theoretically, if traffic wasn’t bad and we could fly.
Rolling his eyes, he wiggled his head to make Sam laugh. “Your brother is crazy if he thinks I’m going to show up without the two of you. Grandma Ann would kill me.”
I’d have laughed…but he was probably right.
She was just a little bit excited to see Sam…and me.
Her newest son.
Son-in-law would’ve been a better way to label me, but I had a feeling that would’ve given Donovan a heart attack.
“Grandma Ann is going to kill you when she realizes what you’ve conveniently left out.” I laughed as Donovan rolled his eyes, knowing I was teasing. “But I’m going to let her plan out Sam’s education, so she’s going to love me.”
He snorted, scrunching his face and making Sam laugh. “Give an inch and she’ll take a mile. Be very careful with the sneaky lady. I’m betting she already has a list of preschools picked out from every town within fifty miles.”
Laughing, I reached out and ran my hand down his back. “We’ll survive, and we’ve got plenty of time before we have to butt heads over preschools.”
I was thinking it was the flash cards I needed to worry about at this point. “Maybe she won’t notice anything interesting right off the bat, and she’ll have time to get used to it.”
Donovan snorted. “I am not an it. You are not an it. We are an us.”
Hmm, just being snarky, or was there a purpose behind his rude tone?
“There’s just been a lot going on.” He took a breath, puffing out his cheeks to make Sam laugh and to try to change the subject.
When he was breathing normally again, not even realizing how cute he was being with her, I gave him what he wanted…a new conversation topic. “Like groceries and errands. Was there anything we need to get while we’re in town?”
Well, kind of a town.
The regional airport they were flying into wasn’t Raleigh, but it wasn’t in the middle of nowhere either.
Donovan shrugged, but I could see his mind start to process, so I just waited for a few seconds. “Why don’t we see if they have a baby store? Oh, and more formula wouldn’t be a bad idea. I know we’re fine for now, but…”
“But it’s better to be safe than sorry.” I wasn’t sure what we’d find, though.
Everything looked fairly normal until it didn’t.
“As long as your parents aren’t too tired.” Because there were people everywhere.
The hotel parking lots we’d passed had been packed with so many cars it’d looked like every hotel guest had brought three cars each. The whole town looked like it’d at least doubled in size overnight.
Thinking about the long lines at all the drive-throughs, I wasn’t sure what shape the stores would be in. But I had a feeling they wouldn’t be as well stocked as Knoxville had been, which was the main reason we’d driven out that far to begin with.
Knoxville had also felt like a real town, not flooded with people who were basically refugees and starting over completely.
Yeah, I’d take a long drive for a normal town over this any day.
Still, more formula and diapers would be a good thing.
On the drive down, the talk radio station had been filled with nothing but stories of empty shelves and gas stations. Thankfully, we’d figured out that for now, as long as we avoided the main roads, we could find gas.
I wasn’t sure diapers and formula would be as easy.
“How early can you potty train a baby?” Donovan’s question said his mind was on the same track mine was. “You’re a smart little cookie, aren’t you? You would figure it out fast. I know it.”
I wasn’t sure about that, but I wasn’t going to argue about it.
“Um? Maybe we should find a used bookstore and look for some baby books and stuff like that?” That sounded old-fashioned even to me, but a used paperback had to be cheaper than satellite internet or any ebook we could buy.
Babies didn’t change enough between generations that we needed to keep constantly updating ebooks, right?
“That’s a good idea.” He turned his head and looked over at me. “Maybe we could see if they have a few baby books for Sam? I’m pretty sure the pictures and stuff are just as important, so I don’t know if an ebook would work.”
That was a good point.
“I’d say let’s ask your mother, but I’m pretty sure she’d lecture us for an hour before she got to the answer.” Donovan’s snicker said he agreed with me.
“Yeah, I wouldn’t chance it.” Straightening, he leaned against me, resting his head on my shoulder. “I don’t know how many errands we can run today. I just don’t know how tired they’re going to be, but at the very least, we can make a plan to come back for books and stuff.”
He looked around at the airport and then out toward the parking lot. “Or maybe we plan another road trip to some place a bit less intense?”
Yeah, we were both on the same page.
For some reason just seeing everyone looking so blank-eyed and sad brought back memories I wasn’t sure either of us wanted to relive yet.
“There were a lot of little towns we didn’t check out.” Mostly because with the supply chain all fucked up, we hadn’t been sure they’d have anything in stock, but it was worth a shot.
“This is going to sound…I don’t know, greedy?” Fuck it. “But your parents said they needed to buy another car, right?”
I wasn’t even going to pretend to be able to help with that kind of purchase, so when Donovan nodded, I charged back in. “If they take the SUV, maybe we steer them toward getting a truck or something long enough to haul things with?”
Donovan didn’t seem to think it was pushy of me or greedy. He just nodded. “That’s a good idea. If we wanted to buy wood or just get furniture, it would make it easier.”
Every time he talked about us or we, I wanted to smile.
That didn’t mean I wasn’t worried about overstepping or pushing for too much too fast. But we were headed in the right direction, and I knew I’d be more confident once I’d met his parents in person and they knew about us. Not that I wanted to…out us, I guess.
I was just a bit more nervous than I’d expected.
“Your brother is insane.” He puffed up his cheeks again to make Sam laugh. “Can you say obsessive worrier?”
Snorting, I rolled my eyes. “I’m not obsessive.”
He was just usually the worrier, so switching roles was a bit weird, and my cute dork liked consistency. But I was pretty sure it was my turn. There was a lot going on and planning things like buying a truck or even getting lumber for a project made me feel a bit greedy since they were already footing the bill for so much.
Donovan seemed to think it was a reasonable necessity, though. “The last thing we need with a baby, and a cabin that’s going to need work and new furniture, is a small car or a tiny pretend SUV. They’re going to realize that, and if they don’t, we’ll point it out.”
Shrugging, he scrunched his face up again, smiling as Sam squirmed and wiggled. “They know how much stuff a kid needs and how much we’ll need to buy when we come down to bigger towns or even Raleigh to visit them.”
Okay, he had a point.
“They’re going to want to see their grandbaby, so they won’t make it hard for us to travel.” Donovan still didn’t seem to talk about the future, but I was starting to take it for granted because it felt more normal with every offhand comment.
“As long as they don’t lose it when they figure the rest out.” I didn’t think they would, but I didn’t have the best reference point when it came to what regular parents would do.
Donovan shrugged, not looking as worried as he had a few days ago. “It’s going to be weird, but they’re not going to be pissed. We’re just still figuring shi—stuff out, and I don’t want to answer a thousand questions. Remember the flashcard lecture and then times that by a hundred.”
Laughing at his attempt not to cuss in front of Sam, I nodded. “Yeah, they’re definitely going to ask stuff we can’t answer.”
Like how everything changed so quickly to start, where everything was going…
What we were going to do with Sam…
How we were going to manage living together if we didn’t even have a good label for our relationship…
Then there was the fact that questions about the more personal side of our life were going to make my sexy dork insane.
Yeah…the list was ridiculous and would just keep getting more interesting the more I thought about it.
And yeah, at least a few more days would be helpful.
Just until we got used to calling each other boyfriend and shit like that.
“One thing at a time.” He glanced over, probably double-checking that I wasn’t upset, and cocked his head. “We get them figured out, then we’ll work on paperwork and plans, then the rest?”
“Sounds like a plan.” Smiling, I couldn’t help teasing him. “What would you say if I asked to kiss you?”
His eyes widened. “Right now?”
That wasn’t a no, but I wasn’t sure it was a positive sign either.
“Yes.” To keep his heart rate down, I tried not to look too wicked. “On the cheek. Very innocent.”
He immediately blushed, shrugging and trying to sneak a peek to see who was watching us. “I would be okay with that. You’re…I like…”
I wasn’t sure if his shy nervousness was because we were tucked away in the corner or something about his view on PDAs in general, but I wasn’t going to second-guess his answer. “Thank you.”
Kissing his cheek softly, I dropped my voice and whispered, “You look so cute when you’re playing with her. It makes me want to do naughty things to you.”
And the blush was back.
God, he was so fucking cute.
“You’re evil.” Sitting up, he shot me a glare that did wicked things to my imagination. “Why would you do that? Now I’m going to feel weird when I’m practicing.”
Being good with Sam?
“Everyone knows being good with kids makes a guy sexier.” I shrugged, loving the way he was bouncing between squirming and frustration. “It’s not my fault. It’s genetics.”
Okay, maybe I was evil.
“We could ask your parents?” Yep, that definitely made me evil, but he was so funny when he went all bug-eyed.
“No, I just…” He started shaking his head, dropping his voice to a whisper. “They’d answer.”
Glancing around nervously, he looked like his stomach had started to ache as his brain skidded to a halt. “They’d answer.”
Clearly, conversations about sex and reproduction hadn’t gone smoothly when he’d been growing up.
Making a mental note to save him if it came down to it, I kissed his cheek again. “Then no questions we don’t want them to answer.”
His eyes widened. “Really?”
He was fascinating.
“Really. I won’t let your mother drive you nuts if I can save you.” I thought it was just the right thing to do since he was helping me out so much, but his brain jumped in a different direction.
Studying me like I was a fascinating test question. He made me smile. “Because you’re my Dom or because you’re my boyfriend? Is it a Dom thing?”
Before I could answer, he looked down at Sam, all panicked again. “Don’t say that word around Grandma.”
Yeah, fuck would definitely be better than Dom.
“We’re going to do our best to be just boyfriends if she figures out anything before we’re ready to talk about it.” I wasn’t going to even tease about anything else.
My cute dork would have a heart attack.
“And yes, taking care of you is a Dom thing.” It was just who I was when it came to him. “But you’re also just important to me in general, so if anyone is going to make you insane, it’ll be me.”
“Yes, boyfriends.” Letting out a long breath, he nodded and leaned into me. “That would be…just too much.”
I’d have to agree about that.
“Your parents are very enthusiastic.” I wasn’t sure what they’d do about the BDSM stuff, but I had a feeling it would involve lots of invasive questions and long lectures. “I think it’s just safer to leave that out.”
Not that I thought any parent needed to know about that part of their kid’s life, but his family didn’t seem to always understand traditional boundaries.
His mother’s immediate open-arm welcome to Sam and me was a good example.
Sure, people were nice, and I knew there’d have been a lot of people who would want to help us, but the way she’d jumped right into us being family and the lectures about flash cards and stuff for Sam hadn’t exactly been typical.
Just the idea that we might want to take things slower hadn’t occurred to his parents at all.
“Much safer.” Donovan sighed, studying Sam seriously. “Don’t forget. We don’t talk to Grandma about personal stuff like the things Trey and I do together. Oh, and try not to curse. I really don’t want to hear her lose her shit over that.”
“Fuck.” He froze, frustration dripping from his voice. “I said shit.”
And he’d said fuck, but I wasn’t going to point it out.
“We just need to make sure she hears other words more, and we need to try not to react to the words we don’t want her to copy.” I had a feeling it was our reactions that would make the words more memorable.
It seemed to work that way with the dogs.
Nodding, Donovan sat up and took a deep breath. “That makes sense. We just need to figure out what words to focus on.”
As his brain started to churn out ideas, I was saved or maybe punished by the sound of Donovan’s phone starting to go crazy with notification after notification.
His parents were here.
Starting over should’ve been Donovan’s biggest concern after the tsunami and hurricane that changed his life completely. However, instead of being able to focus on his future and rebuilding his life, he’s left with a thousand questions. What comes next? What does a baby need? And most importantly…what does he think about the surprising new side of himself Trey brings out in him?
Trey knew there were more important things he should be focusing on…but the only thing that he can think about is Donovan. Well, his cute dork and the thousand questions he can’t answer. Like, where is his mother? Is college still what he should be focused on? What will Donovan’s parents think? And even scarier ones…like what makes a family?
With their world in limbo, it doesn’t take long for everything to boil down to one simple question. How do you know when you’ve fallen in love?