I already liked Sadie before, but she became something else on this book. She’s such a strong and amazing person. She deserves everything good in her life. And Liam. She deserves Liam, because he’s AMAZING. He was not only hot and funny, but he loved Sadie and the girls deeply and he fit with them.
I messed up. Big time.
These are my thoughts as I rush into the bathroom for the world’s fastest shower. The hot spray of water judges me as I hastily wash Liam off my thighs.
A better mother wouldn’t let this happen. I shouldn’t have a younger lover. If I didn’t, he wouldn’t be so deliciously appealing. I couldn’t lose my mind, wake him up out of a sound sleep to ride him like a pony. And then collapse beside him in peaceful, sated slumber.
Seriously, how did I let that happen?
You know how, my hormones scold me. Because he’s the hottest thing you’ve ever tasted.
Oh yeah. That.
After showering I get dressed at top speed. Poor Liam is currently shouldering all my parental responsibilities. Throwing on yesterday’s sundress, I pause for a moment to pop a birth control pill, because that’s one thing I won’t goof up.
Then I hurry downstairs.
The sight in the kitchen gives me heart palpitations. But not because there’s flour dusting much of the countertop. Rather, it’s the hot, shirtless guy holding my toddler and making a dump truck sound as Amy tips the measuring spoon over a bowl.
“Yes! Well done, little miss,” he says, relieving her of the spoon. “Batter up!” he says, easing her to the floor and catching Kate, who’s trying to climb him like a tree.
Aren’t we all.
Liam easily rests Kate on one of his perfect arms, measures a half teaspoon of baking powder one-handed and then hands the spoon to Kate. “Beep beep beep,” he says, making the sound of a truck backing up. “Look out below!”
Kate dumps the spoonful into the bowl and giggles.
“Awesome. Who wants to add the milk?”
“My do it!” Amy yells.
Boy, I need another minute of alone time to compose myself. Because I love this picture a little too much. I love Liam’s ease with my girls. I love how calm he is at the center of toddler-induced mayhem.
It causes a little pain in my heart as I allow myself one more comparison to my former life. The truth is I never once saw Decker elbows-deep in kitchen chaos with a kid on one arm. Starting breakfast with twins in tow? He was more likely to captain a NASA expedition to Mars than he was to do this simple Saturday morning thing.
I feel like crying for no reason at all. Clearly I’m on some kind of emotional overload. Maybe coffee will help.
Sliding into the kitchen, I go right for the coffee grounds.
“Mama!” Amy says. “Wiam making pancakes.”
“That is amazing,” I say in a wobbly voice. “What a lucky girl you are.”
“Sorry about the mess,” he says, casting a glance in my direction. And I know he doesn’t just mean the flour on the counter, but the bigger mess of waking up naked in my bed.
“You know,” I say with a small sigh. “Messes shouldn’t scare me so much. It’s going to be fine.”
Liam’s smile is so filled with relief, that I now feel like an ogre. This man wants to make pancakes with us on Saturday morning, and I said no to that before? I’m clearly insane.
“Which frying pan should I use?” he asks, casting an eye on the cookware hanging from the rack over the sink.
“Oh, no. You want this.” I pull a double-burner griddle out of a lower cabinet.
“Oooh,” he says. “Mommy has the fancy pancake griddle.”
Kate giggles. She’s gazing at Liam as if he invented fun.
And in my life, I guess he did.
Here’s the tricky thing about being a shrink — sometimes you notice that you’re doing something that’s exactly contrary to the advice you’d give your patients.
I’m having one of those moments right now.
If I had a single mom in my office telling me there was a lovely guy in her life who was kind to her kids—and yet she was giving him the stiff arm? I’d tell her: “Be kind to yourself. Don’t push away the good people in your life, especially if you think you don’t deserve them. Let people surprise you.”
I’m such a hypocrite.
Also, I need caffeine.
Ten minutes later I’m sipping from a mug of coffee, but Liam’s is cooling on the countertop. The man has his hands full right now as he puts pancakes on the griddle with “help” from my daughters.
“How about a few of these?” he asks, holding up a bag of chocolate chips. Meanwhile, Kate waves the spatula around like a ninja. “A guy needs to make smiley faces in his pancakes sometimes.”
Good. Lord. It’s a miracle I’m not just a puddle of my former self right now. This is some serious mommy porn I’m watching. Shirtless guy feeds toddlers before eight a.m. I walk over to the high cabinet where I keep the ramekins. “We could make smiley faces with dried organic currants,” I say, just to be a pain in the ass.
Liam makes a face of disgust as I take the chocolate chips from his hand and pour some into a ramekin. “Joking! Here.”
He gives me a big, hot smile. Okay, it probably wasn’t meant to be hot, but I feel flutters down below.
“Choc-it!” Kate yells, grabbing for the ramekin.
“Easy,” Liam says with a laugh. “That’s for my artwork. Come here and I’ll show you.”
I set the table and pour the sippy cups of milk. And Liam manages to serve up two smiley pancakes — one for each girl — at exactly the same moment, in exactly the same size. This is a man who knows his way around toddlers.
“Not cut it!” Amy yells when I approach her plate with a knife. She picks up the pancake in two hands and takes a bite right out of the side of its face.
“Okay, right.” I back away. Forks are optional today, then. No big deal.
Liam takes advantage of this moment of quiet to quickly pour six more pancakes onto the griddle. He leans over his work, dotting them with chocolate chips.
I step closer to him and put a hand on his lower back. “Thank you,” I whisper.
“For trashing your kitchen?”
“No.” He glances at me and I give him a shy smile. “For being so amazing all the time.”
His eyes get very warm, and I just want to stay right here in that blue-eyed gaze as long as I can. “This might be a good time to confess that I didn’t make smiley faces on my own pancakes.”
“No?” I look down at the griddle. Side by side, two of them have a different design — little bullseyes in their centers. “Those are…?”
“Boobs,” he whispers. “My inner fourteen-year-old has a dirty mind. He can’t shut it off sometimes.”
“Drink your coffee,” I whisper, handing him the mug. “Sit down. Let me finish these for you. Or go put on a shirt because my inner fourteen-year-old has her tongue hanging out all the time, too.”
He gives me a wicked, wicked smile and then runs upstairs to find his shirt.