“Yes, and she’s brilliant.”
“When is the big day?” Meredith asks.
“June 9th,” Meg replies.
“That’s only about six weeks away,” Nic replies. “I’ll need you in the shop this week so we can look at cake ideas.”
“Okay! Fun!” Meg agrees. “It took us a while to choose a date,” she tells Meredith.
“It’s because she’s lazy,” Will informs us all with a smile. Meg slaps his arm and rolls her eyes.
“I am not lazy.”
“I can’t wait to marry you,” Will says and nuzzles Meg’s ear, making her laugh. “Let’s go right now.”
“It’s Sunday,” Meg replies and pushes against Will’s chest. “Nothing is open right now.”
“I’ll make some calls,” Will replies with a smug smile.
“Miss Mer!” Josie interrupts, pulling on Meredith’s hand. “We love this song! Come dance with us. Please?”
Meredith laughs. “You like Starla, do you?”
“Yes, please come dance.”
“Okay.” She smiles up at me. “My dance card just filled up. I’ll be back.”
She lets Maddie take one hand and Josie take the other as they guide her to the open lawn area where the kids have been playing. She starts to move her body, showing the girls some new moves, laughing with them. Maddie concentrates, watching Mer with an intense look on her sweet face.
“She’s great,” Nic comments and sips her water.
“You brought a woman to a family function,” Will states soberly.
I just nod and watch as Livie joins the others and Meredith lifts her in her arms and twirls her around, dancing effortlessly with the toddler.
“He’s not even listening to us,” Matt comments.
“I can hear you, asshole.”
“She’s so good with the kids,” Isaac says as he and Caleb join us. I nod and shove my hands in my pockets as Mer glances up and winks at me, sending a punch right to my gut.
“Brynna rarely drops the girls off with anyone,” Caleb says, “but she and Stacy have no qualms about leaving the girls with Meredith while they go get pedicures during dance class.”
Sophie tries to turn and falls on her butt. Her little lip sticks out, but before she can start to cry, Mer squats next to her, Livie still in her arms, and calms her, then helps her back to her feet so she can continue dancing with the others.
Christ, she’s magnificent. She kisses Liv’s cheek and then sets her on her feet so she can dance in that awkward way that toddlers do, and finishes the song with the others.
“She’s clearly in the right job,” Matt says quietly. “Most of us can’t deal with two of them at once, and she has all of them around her effortlessly.” He points as baby Liam toddles over and grips her jeans, pulls himself up on his feet and bounces on his legs, dancing with the others.
“Mark’s a goner,” Meg says. I glance over at her and grin.
“I’m bringing her with me to Vegas.” I’m bringing her with me everywhere. If I’m invited, she’s invited.
“We wouldn’t have it any other way,” she replies and pats my arm. “I like her already.”
I’m fucking in love with her again already. I’m never letting her go. Never again.
She comes running back to us, out of breath and a wide smile on her beautiful face.
“They would dance all day,” she says with a laugh. “Maddie’s amazing. If she wanted to, she could go pretty far in the dance world.”
“She’s eight.” Caleb growls.
“Well, not today,” Mer agrees. “But someday.”
“She asked me if we could sign her up for one on one classes with you,” Brynna says as she pats Michael on the back. “Isn’t she too young for that?”
“Maybe a bit,” Mer says and purses her lips as she thinks it over. “You could add a second class a week for now. If she’s still interested when she hits about thirteen, I can take her on one on one and work with her.”
Brynna nods thoughtfully and glances up at Caleb who’s just gone pale. “What do you think?”
“I think I don’t want to even think about the day she turns thirteen.”
“Oh! That reminds me, I have something for Mom. I brought her birthday gift along with us, but it’s in the car. Meredith, will you hold Michael for me?”
“Oh, I…” Mer begins, but Brynna places the sleeping baby in Mer’s arms and hurries away. Mer looks at each of us with panicked eyes and then back down at the oblivious baby. “I’m not good with babies. Here, his dad should hold him.”
“You’ll do fine,” Caleb says with an amused grin.
“Here,” Stacy says and helps Meredith settle Michael on her shoulder. “There you go. He’s not going anywhere.”
“You were just swarmed by children and looked just fine, sweetheart,” Will says.
“I’m good with kids, but tiny babies scare the hell out of me. I’m afraid I’ll break them.” Meredith immediately sways back and forth, patting Michael’s diaper-covered butt and rests her cheek on his head. “Is this okay?”
“Perfect,” I reply quietly. Her eyes find mine over the baby’s head and she smiles softly.
“Wow,” someone—Meg?—says. I can’t look away from the gorgeous woman before me.
She looks amazing wearing that baby. I can see her holding our baby. Grandbabies.
Fuck, this is forever. She’s it for me.
“I’m going to need someone to take that baby,” I say calmly.
“Why?” Mer asks and frowns. “Am I doing it wrong?”
“No, I need to get you out of here. Now.”
“I got it!” Stacy takes Michael from Meredith and I immediately grip her hand in mine and tug her along behind me to the gate at the side of the house.
“Goodbye everyone!” she calls with a laugh and waves. “I had a great time! Thanks for including me!”
“Goodbye!” I can hear the guys laughing, and I don’t give a shit. I need her. I need to claim her, to remind her that she’s mine. To lose myself in her for hours, rediscovering everything about her.
“Mark?” she asks with another laugh. “Slow down, babe.”