“Do you mind?”
Gia Jefferson rolled onto her side, then propped herself on her elbow and stared down at her partner, Josh. “Should I?”
He bit his lip, his gaze flickering up to look at the ceiling rather than at her. After all these years together, his traits were still comically endearing.
She couldn’t read him like a book, but she tended to know where his thoughts were heading. Lucas was completely the opposite. Gia knew what he was thinking because he wore his emotions on his sleeve. Had he been here listening in on this, she’d have had to be careful with her replies.
Luke was more in touch with his feelings than Josh, and the last thing she’d ever want to do was cause him pain. Not after all the joy he’d brought her.
What Josh was suggesting should hurt her. Should make her feel twinges in the heart region. But this was about Lucas. About protecting him.
There was an irony there. Luke and Josh were the soldiers in the family, not her, and yet she was a little warrior in her own way. A tigress when the people she loved could be harmed.
“Don’t you want to wear the dress? Have the whole charade?”
She pursed her lips. “I think you know the answer to that. You wouldn’t be discussing this with me if you thought it was a big deal.”
His grin was like quicksilver. A flash and gone again in an instant¬. “Check.”
Gia huffed out a breath, then let herself fall flat onto her back again. They were both naked, and in the late afternoon, the sun was still boiling hot. The sweat from their afternoon-quickie-turned-afternoon-longie
had dried a while back. They’d both slept since Josh had fucked her in the ass and made her come with the constant attention of a bullet vibrator on her clit.
Her right eye twitched at the memory of the orgasm, but she pushed it aside. Now was not the time to think of sex. Lucas would be back soon, and they needed to talk about this now.
“I’ve never been a traditionalist. If I were, we wouldn’t be together, would we?” she clarified, head tilted to look over their bedroom. It was a mess and would take her ages in the morning to tidy up.
Like she didn’t have enough on her plate tomorrow.
It had been worth it, though. Josh, in that particular mood, was hotter than hell in high summer.
He jerked her from her musing by murmuring, “I feel like such a jerk for asking this of you.”
Gia frowned. “Why? Because I’m the girl here? Lucas needs this more than I do.”
His eyelids shuttered. “He does, doesn’t he?”
“Yeah. He does.” She grimaced. “If we do this, then maybe he’ll feel like this isn’t a temporary situation. That it’s permanent and he’s not going anywhere.”
Josh winced. “I want that for him too, but I can’t believe you’re taking this as well as you are.”
To a degree, she couldn’t either. “This is Lucas.” She sighed out his name. “I can’t… It’s for him. He needs this more than I do. I know you two love me. I feel it every day in all the things you do for us as a family. If I’d wanted marriage, I’d have asked you about it years ago. Hell, I’d have proposed myself. Screw waiting for you two to get your asses in gear.” She’d long since learned that the quickest way to get anything done was to do it without their knowledge.
That was how she’d gotten away with painting one of the downstairs sitting rooms bright yellow.
He sniggered. “You know me so well.”
“I know you both so well,” she corrected. “Maybe I’ve been waiting for this. When the SCOTUS ruling came through and we all partied like there was no tomorrow, did I think it would come to this? I don’t know. But it fits.”
“Yeah, he will, because he’s beautiful inside and out. He won’t want me to feel left out.”
“Will you feel like that?”
She shook her head. “Should I raise the topic with him? Present it as my idea?”
“Won’t that be weird? I-I thought I could propose to him. He’d like that.”
She smiled. Josh was right; Luke would. “I’m torn. He’d get off on that, but I want him to know I want this too.”
“What will Lexi say?”
Gia chuckled. “Can I be flower girl?”
He sighed. “Is it really this easy?”
“Freaking out over this, were you?” she asked, turning to look at him. When he glanced at her from the corner of his eye, she sighed at the sight of him.
The first time she'd met him and Lucas, things had been so up in the air. Up to her neck in debt, she’d resorted to being a womb-for-goddamn-hire. Yet, regardless of her precarious situation, she'd felt an instant affinity, a friendship that had immediately blossomed. It had been like fate stepping in.
How they had gone from that to this still amazed her, and it was something she embraced daily.
After the IVF had failed, twice, and an outré notion had come to her, fate had once again stepped in for her.
The idea of them touching her, of one of them being inside her, taking her and claiming her, had grown in her head. Overtaking her thoughts, dominating her days. Until she’d broached the topic that had been riding her hard.
Petrified but hopeful, she’d asked them if they thought the natural way would take better, and had been certain they’d reject her. That they’d say no, that they couldn’t get erections for a woman. But they hadn’t.
They’d looked at each other and laughed.
As her heart had started to shatter, certain they were laughing at
her and her foolish, stupid desires, Josh had shone his sunbeam smile her way. “Are you a mind reader?” he’d asked, and from that question, somehow, they were here. At this phase in their lives.
Lexi was Josh’s, and no matter how hard they tried, Gia couldn’t get pregnant with Lucas’s baby. It was that
which made Lucas so insecure and she hated that. She’d do anything—anything—to take such an unnecessary fear from him.
She hated she was one of the reasons behind Lucas’s insecurity. It wasn’t like she could do anything about it, but it hurt. She loved him, basked in his love for her every day. It wasn’t fair that life was wrecking something as perfect as what they had together. And the fact Lexi was Josh’s made it worse. Whenever anything came out at school, Lucas broke down. Like last week, when Lexi had come home in tears because someone had teased her about having two daddies.
He’d actually asked her if it would be better for Lexi if he left. The memory made tears prick her eyes. She rolled onto her side once more and snuggled into Josh.
“I love him, Josh. It hurts how much he means to me. I wish he knew. I wish he realized.”
“He does, but he forgets.”
“Then he can’t know it enough.” She sucked in a breath. “He asked me last week if he should move out.”
Josh stiffened. “What? Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I handled it. I wanted to forget about it.” She pressed her face into his arm. “You remember when Lexi came home all upset?”
“Yeah,” he bit out.
“It was because that boy was teasing her again about the two daddies thing.”
He growled. “That fucking school. We’re pulling her out of it. I swear to God. How many fucking times do we have to talk to the principal about this shit?”
“I know. She’s seeing me tomorrow.”
“You’ll just make it worse.”
He rolled upward to glower down at her. “You think this could get worse? Lucas wanted to move out, Gia. For fuck’s sake, how could it get worse?”
“It’s not as easy as moving her to a different school. You know how long it took Lucas to pick this one, and all the crazy shit he had to do to get her in there. He wants her there.”
“Yeah, well, I don’t want her to be schooled with bigots. I don’t give a shit how good their French program is. She’s five, for fuck’s sake.”
Gia’s lips twitched. “You know how important that is to Lucas.”
“Yeah, not as important as us
. What we have here.” He shook his head. “I’ll clear it with Dana tomorrow—get her to reschedule the morning's appointments.”
When relief flooded her, she knew she should have broached this topic earlier. He must have seen it, because the muscles in his jaw started working. A warning sign he was pissed. .
“Am I an ogre, Gia? I mean, seriously. Why didn’t you come to me about this? You’re obviously in over your head with the principal.”
She glowered at him. “I am not
. Well—” She faltered when he cocked a brow at her. “Maybe a little. I should be able to handle this, but she just…she rings circles around me.”
“I repeat, why not come to me?”
“Don’t go all commando on my ass. It might work with your officers, jumping up and down to salute you, but you don’t frighten me, Brigadier General.”
He tightened his jaw. “If I don’t, then why didn’t you tell me about this?”
“Because I’m her mother
, Josh. For Christ’s sake, this is my thing. I do this. It’s all I do. And I’m not doing a good job of it.” She frowned, trying to ignore how much that admission hurt.
Her words made him relent, and his sigh released some of the tension from his jaw. When he rubbed his hand along the length of her thigh, she bit her lip, relieved that he was forgiving her for being a screwup.
“This isn’t your fault. Lexi is a beautiful little girl, and you did that. Luke and I…” He blew out a breath. “We’re not around as much as we should be. You’ve made our Lexi into the diamond she is. The fact the principal intimidates you isn’t surprising. The woman’s supposed to. But in this, she needs dealing with, and I’ll handle it. Tomorrow.”
His words were a warning, but she nodded, jerking upright to fling herself into his arms. He chuckled, wrapping her tighter in his embrace and rocking her a little.
In his arms, she always felt safe, protected. They clashed in some ways because they were similar, but Josh was her strength.
Though they’d only just woken up after a marathon bout of sex, and the topic was serious, she was helpless in her desire for him and the security he made her feel when he took control. Blindly, she reached for his lips. She aimed her mouth aimed for his, her tongue peeking out ready to play.
She moaned a little at the connection, needing him, reveling in his taste when his lips opened, welcoming her touch. He savored her mouth, suckled her tongue, and drove her insane with need when the tensile muscle penetrated her and began to fuck hers in earnest. The gentleness of moments before had gone, replaced with the burning fire the two always ignited when they were together.
It was a different kind of domination, one she was used to with him but never grew tired of. The instant it happened, her pussy felt red-hot with need. Almost like the earlier fuckfest had never happened.
She submitted because this was Josh. Her warrior. The man who could protect her from the bogeyman in any given situation. Physically, mentally, emotionally. She gave herself to him as she always did, as she always needed to.
There was no need to fight her urges, because he welcomed them. He praised her, and these moments when she let him take charge were beautiful to him.