“It does sound kind of sexy when you pull out the genius-speak,” I say and kiss his cheek. “Kind of like a foreign language.”
“You like that do you?” He smiles that naughty smile. “I’ll tell you all kinds of things later.”
“Does my vast rocket science knowledge turn you on?” Colin asks Lena while wiggling his eyebrows.
“Oh, yes, definitely.” She snorts and sips her sparkling water.
He leans down to whisper in her ear and to my surprise, she blushes bright red. “Now that turns me on,” she says.
“Why do I feel like we just witnessed something we shouldn’t have?” Mark asks with a frown. “Should we leave you alone?”
“Nah, I just gave her something to think about for a while,” Colin replies and winks down at his wife.
Lena clears her throat and sips her drink again.
“I need more dirt on Mark’s college years,” I inform them. “Tell me everything.”
“There isn’t any dirt,” Mark insists.
“Come on. Frat parties? Girls lined up at his door? Spring Break trips to Daytona?”
“Not really,” Colin replies. “He was too focused on graduating early. Which he did. A full year early.”
“I’ve never known anyone to get both a bachelor’s and master’s in five years,” Lena says and shakes her head. “He was like a man possessed.”
“I told you,” Mark says with a shrug. “If I worked my ass off, I wasn’t thinking about you.”
The table grows quiet at that admission until Lena finally says, “We did have fun together. We worked hard, but vacation breaks were fun. Mark usually invited us to come stay with his parents and they were cool.”
“His parents are the best,” I reply and hold Mark’s hand as he leans in to press his lips to my hair.
“You two are adorable,” Lena says as she leans on Colin’s arm and watches us with a soft smile.
“So are you guys,” I reply. “This was fun.”
“We’ll do it more often. Colin needs to learn to work less, especially now.” Lena grins at him then announces, “We’re going to have a baby.”
“No way!” Mark exclaims. “You said you weren’t planning to for a while.”
“I didn’t know I was pregnant when I saw you.” She shrugs and tosses her long dark hair over her shoulder. “I just found out this morning. Peed on a stick.”
“That’s awesome,” I say and squeeze the other woman’s hand. “Let us know if you need anything.”
“Our parents are going to freak and buy this kid way more than it’ll ever need, but I’ll keep you posted.”
“I’m excited for you,” Mark says. “It’s about time.”
“We might need you to remodel the bedroom we’ve been using for storage into a nursery suite,” Colin says.
“I’m happy to. I’ll come look at it next week.”
“He’s crazy good at the remodel thing,” I say, so proud of him. “We’ll invite you over to see the house. He’s made it incredible.”
Lena’s eyebrows raise as she glances at Mark then back at me. “We’d love to see it.”
“We picked out kitchen stuff today, so when it’s all done, we’ll have you over for dinner.”
“Sounds like a date.”
I glance up to see Mark staring down at me with deep blue eyes and a happy smile.
“I just love you.”
“I love you too.”
“And now, ladies and gentleman, I’m going to escort my knocked-up wife home so I can do all the things I whispered in her ear earlier.” Colin claps his hands and leads us out into the mild evening air. “It’s been great to meet you, Meredith,” he says and kisses my cheek.
“You too,” I say and am surprised to be swept up into a hug from Lena.
“I’m glad he found you again,” she whispers in my ear. “I’ve never seen him this happy.”
She pulls away and smiles at me before hugging Mark and walking away with her husband.
“What did she say?” Mark asks.
“Just that she’s happy for us.”
“Aside from my family, those are two of the best people I know.” He takes my hand in his but instead of leading me back to his Jeep, we set off in the opposite direction toward a nearby park. “I’m glad you finally met them.”
“Me too. I’m also very glad that you’ve had them in your life all these years. They’re kind of your Jax.”
He nods and purses his lips. “Yeah, I guess they are.”
This park is in full spring bloom, a riot of color in pink, purple and red. Kids are running and playing, dogs on leashes are walking on the paved paths with their masters. There’s a fishing pond with benches on the shoreline. Mark leads me to one and sits down, then tumbles me onto his lap.
“It’s beautiful out here,” I murmur and push my fingers through his hair. His arms are wrapped tightly around my middle, his face buried between my breasts as he hugs me close.
“You feel good.”
“Mm… just enjoying the way your boobs feel against my face. I need a moment of silence.”
I chuckle and kiss the top of his head then pull back so I can look down at him. “There are children around.”
“They can find their own boobs.”
We laugh together for a long moment until I take a deep breath and tilt my forehead down on his. “Are you excited for Vegas?”
“I am. It’ll be fun. There are some surprises planned.”
“I can’t. Then it won’t be a surprise.”
“Spoil sport.” I kiss his forehead then stand and hold my hand out for him. “Come on. Let’s go pack for our trip.”
“You do know we’re getting very dirty in Vegas, right?”
“I was counting on it.”
“I wanna double-down, bitches!” Meg exclaims and sips her drink.
“No, you don’t,” Nate informs her with a shake of his head and stares at Will in exasperation. “Dude, control your woman.”
“Yes, I do,” she insists. “I like the way it sounds when you say it. Double-down, bitches!” The dealer laughs and follows Meg’s instructions as I lean back against Mark’s hard chest and laugh my ass off.