Authors: Kate Davies
She smiled. “But I do,” she said, reaching for her purse again. This time, she pulled out a foil-wrapped package and held it up.
Oh, thank God. He reached for it, but she held it away, her smile wicked. Letting go of his cock, she tore the package open and took out the condom. Then she reached down and covered him, her hand stroking just a little more than necessary.
With one hand on his bare chest to brace herself, she straddled him again and guided the head of his cock to her opening.
He pressed up as she pressed down, and they both groaned as he filled her, inch by inch, until he was fully seated inside her.
She leaned over him, panting, as he held himself in check. Her hair had escaped the updo completely, and the brunette strands brushed against his chest. Wrapping his arms around her, he pulled back until just the crown of his cock was still inside. Then he thrust in again, drawing a cry out of her.
Bree clung to his shoulders, lifting up and pushing down in time with his strokes, riding him steadily. Even in the cramped confines of his vehicle they were in perfect rhythm, their movements getting faster and faster.
Marc could feel his orgasm building, his cock thickening inside her, but he fought to hold it back as long as he could. Sliding one hand between them, he stroked her clit, feeling her tighten around him.
Suddenly, she arched, her thighs clamping around him. “Marc,” she keened, and dropped onto his chest, body shaking as she came.
He thrust into her twice more, then followed her over the edge.
* * *
They dressed in awkward silence.
Marc tried to talk to her a couple of times, but she shook her head, not trusting her voice just yet.
What the hell had she done?
Twisting her hair back into some semblance of a bun, she glanced out the windshield at the darkened scenery. Some things never changed.
And some things changed almost beyond recognition.
Ten years ago, they’d been fumbling teenagers, with more desire than skill. Sex in the car had been awkward and funny and naughty, a teenage expression of their love.
And when they’d ended up here, all that nostalgia and longing came rushing back, and she’d wanted him. Wanted some of that connection she’d never found with anyone else.
But what had started out as a trip down memory lane, a chance to recapture something she missed from her high school years, had ended up so much more complicated than she’d anticipated. Because it wasn’t just sex, wasn’t just a chance to deal with the desire that had been bubbling under the surface ever since he’d walked in the bar Friday night.
Why the hell did Marc have to be so sweet?
She was never going to get him out of her system now.
It was her own fault. Sex for her had never been just for fun. Emotions had always been involved.
And there were so many emotions tied up with Marc, some of them she wasn’t ready to explore yet.
She didn’t know if she’d ever be ready.
“So, uh, I should probably be getting home,” she said finally, slipping her shoes back on. She knew her hair was a wreck and her dress was wrinkled beyond repair, but it couldn’t be helped. Maybe her mom would think she’d danced a lot at the reunion.
And she refused to think about how she was twenty-eight years old and still driving home with Marc, hoping her mother wouldn’t be able to tell that she’d just had sex.
“Okay.” He had that concerned look on his face again, like he just wanted her to tell him what was wrong so he could fix it.
But she didn’t think this could be fixed.
He turned the car around in the clearing and headed back the way they’d come. Once they were on the main road, he glanced at her and cleared his throat.
“I think we need to talk about tomorrow.”
Her throat tightened.
“Do you want to tell Ben at the picnic, or should I come by your house beforehand?”
His voice was quiet, almost kind, but there was a thread of steel underlying it. “It’s time, Bree. We have to tell him before someone else does.”
“It’s too soon.”
“No, it’s not.” He reached for her hand, but she tugged it away. There was a long silence. “Oh. I see.”
“No, it’s my mistake. I thought this meant something more than it did.”
“I just...I can’t deal with this right now.”
He nodded, his mouth a thin line. “But we are going to have to deal with it, at some point. After all, we’re going to be seeing a lot of each other.”
“Seeing a lot of each other?” She was equal parts elated and terrified. What did he mean?
“Well, of course. We’ll have to work out some sort of custody arrangement, visitation, that sort of thing—”
“Custody?” Her voice sounded shrill, even to her own ears.
“Of course.” There was a frown line between his eyes. “You didn’t think I would walk away from my own son, did you?”
“But you’re in the army. How is that going to impact Ben, you popping in and out of his life when your schedule allows? And what about when you’re sent into a war zone?”
“Soldiers manage it all the time, Bree. Besides, I’m assigned to a non-deploying unit now. I’ve served multiple tours overseas. I’ve earned some stateside time.”
They were on her street now, her house just down the block. Marc pulled the car into the driveway and put it in Park. “I think what you really need to ask yourself, Bree, is if you’re more afraid I won’t be in Ben’s life—or that I will.”
Bree was washing the breakfast dishes when the doorbell rang.
Pressing a fist to her suddenly jumpy stomach, she glanced at the entry to the family room. Ben was on the couch, playing a video game.
So he’d decided on before the picnic, then.
He pressed the doorbell again, a little more impatiently, and she rolled her eyes. Snapping off the water, she headed to the door.
Marc was standing on the porch in the bright morning sunlight, holding a small wrapped package in one hand. “Morning,” he said.
“Hi,” she answered, holding open the door. He stepped inside, blinking a little as his eyes adjusted to the light.
“I know we didn’t decide this last night, but I thought it would be better to take care of this in private.”
She nodded. Much as she dreaded this moment, she knew Ben deserved to find out without an audience. It was better than Marc had gotten.
“He’s in the family room.” She led the way through the house, Marc right behind her.
She rapped her knuckles on the door frame of the family room. “Ben, honey, we have company.”
He looked up from his game, his eyes widening as he saw who was standing beside her.
“Hi, Ben,” Marc said. He followed Bree into the room.
Bree walked over and turned off the TV. “Aren’t you going to say hi, Ben?”
“Hi,” he mumbled, dropping the video game controller on the couch next to him. He looked at Marc, then Bree, then back again. “You guys aren’t going to yell at each other again, are you?”
Marc winced. “No, we aren’t. I’m really sorry about that, Ben. It shouldn’t have happened.”
Ben looked at him for a long moment, eyes narrowed. Then he nodded. “Apology accepted.”
Bree bit her lip to keep from smiling.
“Thanks.” Marc looked down at the package in his hand. “Oh, I almost forgot. This is for you.”
Ben scrambled off the couch to take it from him, then looked at his mom for permission.
“Go ahead and open it,” she said, curious herself to see what Marc had brought with him.
He tore the paper off, whooping a little when he saw the Lego set inside. “I’ve been wanting this one! Thanks!”
“I just took a wild guess,” Marc said. “It looked like something I would have liked when I was your age.”
“Cool.” Ben started to open the box, but Bree shook her head.
“In a minute, Ben. We’ve, uh, got something to tell you first.” She sat down on the couch next to her son, her legs suddenly weak. Then she looked up at Marc, at an utter loss what to say.
She’d had ten years to figure out how to tell Ben the truth. But now that the moment was here, words escaped her.
Marc cleared his throat and sat in the armchair next to the couch. Even seated, his posture was military-straight. “So, you know I was a friend of your mom’s in high school, right?”
Ben nodded. “You told me that yesterday.”
“Well, what we didn’t tell you was that I was your mom’s boyfriend.”
“Oh.” Ben glanced at the TV, probably hoping they’d get this over with so he could go back to his game.
Bree took pity on Marc and said, “We dated in high school.”
“Oh, wait. You’re the guy from the picture, aren’t you?”
“The picture?” Bree looked at Marc, just as confused as he looked.
“You know, the one in the yearbook.” Ben tore out of the room, running back with the book in his hands.
“Where did you get that?” Bree stared at her old yearbook.
“It’s on the bookshelf in the computer room,” he said, sitting down again and flipping through the pages. “I got bored one day when the internet was down. See, look here.” He held the book out to Marc. “There’s Mom. And that’s you, right?”
Marc nodded slowly. “Yeah, that’s me.”
Bree could see the picture over Ben’s shoulder. They looked so young. Marc had his arm around her, the two of them smiling at the camera with enthusiasm and a little embarrassment. “Cutest Couple,” the caption read.
“So, is that it?” Ben looked from one to the other.
“No,” Bree said slowly. “That’s not all. See, Marc is—”
Her voice trailed off. She couldn’t say the words.
“I’m your dad,” Marc said quietly.
“No, you’re not.” Ben glared at him.
“Yeah, honey, he is.” Bree put her hand on his shoulder, but he shrugged it off.
“If he’s my dad, how come I never met him before now?” He turned his accusing gaze on Bree. “You told me he was in a different country.”
“I was,” Marc said. “That’s why I didn’t know about you until this weekend.”
“Are you going away again?”
“Not for a long time.” Marc gave a hesitant smile. “I’m looking forward to spending a lot of time with you.”
“Are you moving in with us?”
Bree looked at Marc. “Uh, no, Ben. Marc lives near Tacoma.”
“Oh.” Ben looked down, frowning. “Do you have other kids? Are you married?”
Marc leaned forward. “No, to both. But I have a mom and dad who are going to love meeting their grandson. And you’ve got cousins a few years younger than you.”
“Do they live around here, too?” He gave his mom another accusatory glance.
They both were starting to realize just how much Ben had missed out on over the years.
Marc laughed. “No, they’re pretty much spread out all over the country. But I’m sure they’d come visit if they had a chance to meet you.”
“Okay.” Ben stood and looked at his mom. “Can I be excused now?”
She nodded and he ran out of the room, carrying his new box of Legos.
* * *
That had gone swimmingly.
Marc sighed, rubbing his temple. “Is he okay?”
Bree threw her hands up in the air. “I have no idea.”
Part of him wanted to snap, “He’s your son,” but he held it back. Ben was his son, too, even if he had no clue how to act around him yet.
“Maybe he’s just overwhelmed right now,” she said. “It’s a lot to take in, especially for a nine-year-old.”
Marc nodded. But really, what had he expected? That the kid would launch himself in Marc’s arms, declaring that he’d always wanted a dad like him?
Real life was not like one of those made-for-TV movies he never watched.
“I’m sure he’ll come around, once he gets used to the idea.” Bree gathered up the wrapping paper and took it into the kitchen, throwing it in the recycle bin under the sink. “And if you’re serious about spending time with him...”
“I am,” he interrupted.
“Then you’ll have to expect days like this. It’s not all fun and games.”
“I never thought it was.” He leaned back against the wall, watching as she started wiping down the counters.
She maneuvered around him, focused on her task. “You can’t just be a Disneyland dad.”
“Bree.” He touched her arm, stopping her frantic cleaning. “I’ve had forty-eight hours to get used to the idea of being a dad at all. How about you cut me a little slack, and I’ll do the same for Ben.”
She swallowed. “Okay.”
He checked his watch. “I’d better go. I need to check out of the hotel before the picnic. You’re going, right?”
“Yeah. I promised Tess, and Ben’s been looking forward to spending time at the park with his friends.”
“I’ll see you there, then.”
For a moment, he had an overwhelming urge to bend down and kiss her goodbye. But she’d made it clear that last night had been about closure for her, not the start of something new.
Whatever would be between them from now on had everything to do with Ben, and nothing to do with who they had been to each other.
No matter how much he’d hoped for a different outcome.
* * *
The picnic was in full swing by the time Bree managed to get there.
Ben, not surprisingly, had been in a foul mood all morning, and argued every last issue with Bree until she was ready to leave him with a babysitter and go by herself.
But she’d promised Marc they’d be there, and she had no intention of adding to her credibility problem by leaving Ben at home. So she’d talked Ben into a better mood, mostly by promising him he could have both a hot dog and a hamburger for lunch if he really wanted, and headed to the picnic only about forty-five minutes later than she’d planned.
Marc’s car wasn’t in the parking lot when she arrived. Ignoring the fact that over the course of three days she actually knew what his car looked like, she pulled into a spot and killed the engine. “You can go to the playground if you’d like,” she told Ben.
“Okay.” He was out of the car and racing across the grassy field as soon as she’d finished the sentence. Maybe he’d work off some of that energy on the monkey bars or swings.
She walked over to the picnic area at a far more sedate pace, greeting Kelsey and Tess with hugs. The hotel manager was there, too, helping to set up the barbecues.
He must be really good friends with Tess, to give up his weekend to work at a reunion that wasn’t even for his own class.
Tess put her to work organizing the side dishes on long tables under the picnic enclosures. She could see the playground from here, so she kept an eye on Ben while he played.
Kelsey was talking to Nathan, off to the side a bit, so she couldn’t hear what they were saying. Both of them looked unhappy, though.
“What’s going on?”
Tess looked up at her whisper. “I don’t know,” she whispered back. “But it doesn’t look good.”
Bree shook her head. She’d had high hopes that things would turn out differently for the two of them.
“Now that, on the other hand, does look good,” Tess said, looking over Bree’s shoulder.
She turned around and almost dropped the casserole dish in her hands.
Marc was striding across the park, right toward her.
And he was wearing his uniform.
* * *
“What are you doing?”
As greetings went, it wasn’t in his top ten. He looked at Bree quizzically. “Attending the reunion picnic. What does it look like I’m doing?”
She grabbed him by the elbow and dragged him away from her friends, to an area that was a little less busy. “I mean the uniform. Why are you wearing it?”
He looked down at his outfit. “I have a meeting with my CO this afternoon. I figured I wouldn’t have time to change on base. Why?”
“It’s just—I haven’t had a chance to tell Ben that you’re in the military yet.”
Marc stopped and stared at her. “What difference does that make?”
“I wouldn’t want it to be an issue.”
He shook his head. “The only person it’s an issue for is you, Bree. My God, you make it sound like you’re trying to find the best way to tell our son that I’m a drug dealer or something. My military service is something I’m damn proud of. And I won’t hide who I am from Ben or anyone else just to avoid stepping on your toes.”
“I’m not asking you to—”
“Yes, Bree, you are.” He sighed, walking a few steps away. On the other side of the field, he could see Ben playing tag with a couple of friends. “I should go.”
“You just got here,” she protested.
Marc nodded in Ben’s direction. “I’m going to go say goodbye to him. If that’s all right with you.”
“Of course.” She followed him to the playground, her hair tangling in the light breeze off the water. He wanted to brush it out of her eyes. Instead, he clasped his hands behind his back.
“Ben, look who’s here.”
The boy looked up from his game, eyes going wide as he saw Marc’s uniform. He hurried over, his friends trailing behind. “Why are you wearing that?”
, Marc thought wryly. “I’m in the army,” he explained. “It’s my uniform.”
“Cool!” He looked at the boy standing next to him, then back at Marc. “Have you ever jumped out of an airplane?”
“Lots of times,” Marc replied, smiling at the boy’s enthusiasm.
Then he glanced at Bree and all his good humor drained away.
Her face was tight, every negative emotion she had toward the army written across it in bright flashing neon.
He held out his hand to Ben. “I have to go now, buddy, but I’ll call you this week, okay?”
Ben nodded and shook his hand before running off with his friends again.
Marc turned to Bree. “I’ll call you, too, so we can start working out visitation plans.”
Her eyes welled with tears. “I’m sorry,” she whispered.
“So am I,” he replied, and turned to walk away.
Then he turned around and walked back to where she stood, her arms wrapped around her stomach. “You want to hear something funny?”
She nodded wordlessly.
“Last night, you said that you thought I was going to propose after graduation. Well, you know what? You were right.”
“What?” Her mouth was open, her eyes wide.
“Yeah. I had the ring and everything. I was going to ask you that night.”
“But you didn’t. You told me you had joined the army instead.”
“I told you I had joined the army
. I figured once we got that argument over with, I’d pop the question. But we never did get over that argument, did we?” He gestured at his uniform. “We’re still arguing over it today.”
“You know how I feel about the military,” she protested.
“You’ve made it very clear,” he said wearily. “So I guess we’re at an impasse.”
She pressed her lips together, eyes bright with tears.
“Here.” He dug in his pocket for the package he’d retrieved from the locker yesterday. “You might as well keep this.”
She took it from him, unwrapping it as carefully as if it might suddenly explode in her hands.
The sunlight glinted off the tiny diamond setting as she held it up. “Oh my God.”
“You were always home to me,” he said, his voice low. “The one constant I could count on. But I guess I have to accept that we’re both too different now. And maybe we always were.”
With one last, searching look, he turned to go. Head high, posture military-perfect, leaving his past behind him once and for all.
* * *
She held on to the ring with both hands.
She had to. She was trembling too hard to trust herself with it otherwise.
Bree looked up. Kelsey and Tess had approached her from either side, and were now flanking her, their expressions equal parts compassion and confusion.