“It’s not funny,” she half-wailed. The soreness between her legs had her waddling like a duck, and anyone who saw her now was sure to guess why.
Appalled that her words had him thinking she was blaming him, she said quickly, “It’s fine—”
“I’m so big.”
Her glower had him laughing again.
“God, you are so conceited—ah!” He had her up in his arms again, and she quickly protested, “There’s no need—”
He cut her off by sucking on her lower lip, and her toes curled at the sensation.
I really do have the world’s sexiest husband.
As they descended the stairs, Nicholas felt her head rest against his chest while her fingers played with the top button of his shirt.
“I guess Hearts’ Match had it right,” he heard her mumble almost as if speaking to herself.
“Right about what?” They reached the foot of the stairs as he spoke, and Nicholas reluctantly let her go when she started wriggling insistently in his arms.
“The consummation clause,” she told him. “It didn’t seem right at first. It felt like we’d be moving too fast too soon, but…”
Tabitha smiled up at him, and Nicholas thought, God, she was beautiful.
“Last night wasn’t just perfect,” Bee whispered shyly.
Too damn beautiful.
“It also felt completely right.”
The words struck his heart like a bolt of lightning.
Too damn beautiful, Nicholas thought again. Inside and out. Just too damn beautiful for him.
He took a deep breath, knowing that he couldn’t let the words go without saying something in return.
She looked up at him hopefully…just as someone coughed behind her, asking in an amused drawl, “Are we interrupting something?”
Billionaire stud farm owner Sean Northwood gave the redhead next to him an incredulous glance. Do you see what I’m seeing?
Isla stepped on her husband’s foot under the table and smiled sweetly at his wince. Don’t. Jinx. It.
Seated across them, another couple was having almost the exact same silent conversation, with billionaire rancher Devon Montgomery similarly struggling to contain his disbelief. Although he and the others had been friends since childhood, not once had any of them seen Nicholas Sutherland acting so blatantly protective towards any woman.
Not even Carly, Devon thought, and that girl had been Nick’s baby mama.
Harry’s eyes widened in alarm when she saw her husband start smirking, and she quickly forestalled him with a pleading shake of her head. Don’t ruin it. Please?
Devon grimaced. Damn. He had just been about to make fun of Nicholas, but having Harriet look at him that way left him no choice but to play nice. Lucky son of a bitch. With their wives’ presence ensuring they were on their best behavior, there was only one person left on the table who still had a chance of giving Nicholas hell.
“What was that again about the secret Daniel shared with you?” Logan Hardwall smiled charmingly at Nicholas’ wife. “Two words, right? Every time he’s trying to avoid PDA, he’d say—”
“I see.” Bee could barely suppress her smile at the way Nicholas rolled his eyes.
There was a moment of silence, with Nicholas’ friends exchanging a seemingly significant look. Another second passed, and then the three other men said simultaneously, “I see.”
Even though it didn’t make a whit of sense, Bee couldn’t help bursting into the laughter and so did the two other women.
Nicholas gazed darkly at his friends. “Fuck all of you.”
And now, the other men were chuckling, too.
Ah, fuck it. Nicholas gave up trying to keep a straight face, and a slight smile eventually tugged at the corner of his lips. He could live with everyone having fun at his expense. Better him than her, he thought, and his gaze flicked towards Tabitha. She was smiling and talking animatedly to his friends’ wives, the loose set of her shoulders telling him that she was relaxed and having fun.
Thank God for his friends, Nicholas thought. The moment he had introduced her to his friends as his wife, everyone had simply taken it by stride, with the men teasing Tabitha for choosing a ruthless bastard like him while Isla and Harriet readily offered their felicitations and chatted with her nonstop until Tabitha’s tension had visibly eased.
Having forgotten today’s brunch turned out to be a good thing, after all, Nicholas thought idly. He would’ve canceled it if he had remembered, but with this, he was at least able to fulfill another condition in their marriage contract. Since it had specifically requested Nicholas to introduce Tabitha as his wife to any long-term resident of Evergreen, he couldn’t think of anyone better than the people in this room, each of whom he would trust his life with.
When his friends finally left, Nicholas turned to Tabitha, thinking to ask how she was but she beat him to speaking. An uncertain look on her face, she asked haltingly, “Do they know about…how we met?”
Nicholas took hold of her hand and brought it to his lips. “You have nothing to worry about,” he said softly. “Sean and Devon are just like us.”