“I’m right there with you,” I agree, as I take a bite of my now-cold food. My hunger forces me to continue eating even though it tastes about as appealing as a pile of woodchips. “I’m ready to take Lia and move away to another country where no one knows us.”
Aidan grimaces as he eats a bite of his burger. “This tastes like shit,” he grumbles, but like me, keeps eating. “So,” he says as he takes another sip of beer, “when are you going to make an honest woman out of Lia? You’ve already knocked her up, so let’s hear some wedding bells.”
Instead of panicking, I grin. “Why does everyone keep asking that? Even Cindy has taken to calling Lia my wife. Unless she’s had a sudden memory lapse, she’s trying to tell me something.”
“You bet your ass she is. You’re probably going to show up at the office one day and Cindy will have Lia standing there in a white gown and a justice of the peace ready to perform a certain ceremony. If you don’t propose to your woman soon, Cindy may just beat you with her keyboard until you do.” Aidan laughs. “Seriously though, Lia is amazing. If I had a woman like that, I’d never let her out of my sight.”
“She’s perfect,” I agree without hesitation. I pause as I debate telling him my reason for not proposing to her yet, then remind myself that he’s my brother in all ways that matter. I can talk to him about anything—even this. “I guess I’m just afraid of repeating my past mistakes. When Cassie got pregnant, I popped the question, thinking it was expected of me. In hindsight, things went completely to hell after that. I know that my proposal didn’t cause what happened, but the similarities are enough to freak me out a bit.”
Aidan doesn’t tell me that I’m crazy or laugh at my fears. He simply says, “You don’t want history to repeat itself. I get that. I believe anyone who went through what you did would feel that way. Even when Cassie was on her best behavior, Lia is about as different as night and day from her. But you don’t have to be married to have a baby together.” Wiggling his brows, he adds, “I think you two already proved that.”
“Smartass.” I roll my eyes. “Her father has already put me on the spot in front of Lia about it.”
Aidan gives me a disgusted look. “You’re kidding? The man didn’t even know he had a daughter until a few months ago and he’s giving you shit? I have to give it to him, though. He has some big balls on him. I hope you told him to fuck off.”
“I’m sure that would have looked really good to Lia. Cussing her father out for daring to suggest I marry her. I don’t know…do you think that would have offended her?”
Aidan throws his hands up in surrender. “Don’t ask me. I’ve offended more than my fair share of women through the years. I’m the last person who is qualified to give advice on the fairer sex.”
Before I can answer, my phone rings. My heart feels lighter and I can’t help but smile. “Everything okay, baby?”
“I’m fine,” she says with a hint of amusement in her voice. She thinks I’m overprotective, but I don’t care. She’s my world, and if she doesn’t know that, then I’m not doing something right. Maybe like asking her to marry you, asshole? Great, even my subconscious thinks I’m dragging my feet. “Just a little hungry…”
I chuckle, thinking if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that in the last few months, I’d be an even richer man. I know it’s bad, but I can’t help teasing her. “Really? I thought we just had a grocery delivery yesterday.”
“Yeah…we did. I guess I could find something. Maybe another sandwich.” I hear the disappointment in her voice and imagine that plump lower lip sticking out in frustration. My cock stirs to attention, which isn’t ideal with Aidan staring me down from across the table.
“All right. Good. I’ll be home when I’ve finished my cheeseburger.”
“Cheeseburger?” she parrots and I can literally hear her lips smacking. She’s had a real craving for red meat since being pregnant, which isn’t that healthy. I try to ply her with fresh fruits and vegetables in between to hopefully make up for it. “That sounds really good. Does it have pickles on it?”
“Mmm hmm, it does. It’s messy, though. You know the kind that gets all over your hands when you’re trying to eat it?” Aidan’s mouth looks like it’s in danger of dropping to the table. I can only imagine what he thinks we’re talking about. Probably not food at this point. Hell, I’m not even sure anymore. Lia’s groan over a burger has my cock hard as granite. It’s time to end her torture—and mine. “How about I bring you one home?”
“Really?” She sounds like a kid at Christmas. “You don’t have to, but I’d love you forever if you did,” she adds quickly.
I laugh at her obvious delight over something so small. I can’t resist screwing with Aidan one last time before I end the call. “If that’s all it takes, baby, I’ll keep you supplied with as much meat as you can handle.” Lia starts giggling at the same time as Aidan chokes on his beer. If nothing else, I’ve provided the comic relief for the evening. After Aidan’s startling revelation, it was much needed.
When I end the call, Aidan shakes his head. “I don’t even want to know.”
“No, you really don’t,” I smirk as I wave our waitress over to place Lia’s order. Serious again, I tell Aidan resolutely, “Don’t worry about anything; we’ll get to the bottom of it. I’ll call you when Max knows something.” Walking out the door with Aidan a few minutes later, I shake my head wondering to myself why all roads seem to lead to Cassie. I just hope to God that pattern changes sometime soon because I won’t let her or anything jeopardize my future with Lia. I will keep the woman I love and my child safe this time—no matter what it takes.