Don't forget to stop in at the Mine!!
~ Chapter Thirty ~
Arianna popped her eyes open and scanned her immediate surroundings. Something warm and hard was keeping her from moving. She stifled a sob when she realized it was Justin. Sweet Justin. Sighing, she snuggled into his side.
“Are you awake?”
Arianna jumped, heart in throat.
“You scared me. I wasn’t expecting you to be awake.”
“That’ll teach you.” He pulled her back into his embrace, her jump having pulled her further away.
“I guess it will. It’s going to take a while to get used to sleeping with you.”
Justin was silent for a moment then said, “Once Mom leaves you’re welcome to the bed. I can sleep on the sofa.”
Rising up, she looked down into his face, one eyebrow cocked. “I’ll do no such thing. Are you trying to get out of being married to me?”
Justin tossed his head, irritation playing across his features. “Of course not. I just don’t want you to be uncomfortable.”
Arianna smiled. “Good, I’m glad.”
Surprise crossed his face. “You are?”
“Yes. I’m already attached to you, Justin. I can’t imagine my life without you in it.”
He locked eyes with her, as if trying to discern the truth of her words. “I’m attached to you, too. And Chance.”
As if on cue, the baby began to whine, and soon went into full-blown wails.
Arianna sighed, throwing back the covers with a small, bony hand.
Justin restrained her with one of his. “Don’t bother. I’ll get it. You still need to get your strength back where it needs to be.”
“Okay, but you realize I’m fine, don’t you? I’ve had to be strong since my kidnapping. It’s why I’m still alive.”
He shook his head. “I believe it, but you can relax now. I’m here to help you.”
He pushed the covers back over-top Arianna, hopped out of the bed and sped down the hall toward the kitchen.
The overwhelming feeling he’d felt before washed over him. He was happy about what was taking place in his life, it was just happening at a very fast pace.
He pulled a bottle from the fridge, unscrewed the cap and stuck it in the microwave. With deft fingers he turned the nipple over and had it ready to go on the bottle when the timer dinged.
Chance’s cries were frantic and angry now and Justin had to laugh at how cute it was.
As he raced down the hallway at a fast clip an unwelcome thought popped into mind; Would Chance have his father’s obvious insanity? Would he be a criminal like him? The thought was scary, but he shrugged it off. It wasn’t fair to Chance to think like that. He deserved the chance to grow-up without being labeled with a stereo-type. Justin snickered. Yep, Chance was the perfect name for him.
He pushed the bedroom door open, and his heart fell to his toes.
Arianna sat on the side of the bed, Chance in the crook of her arm, rocking him back with slow, steady motion.
When she looked up at him, he blurted, “You’re going to be a great mommy, Ari.”
She nodded. “You’re going to be a great daddy.”
He handed her the bottle and she tucked it in Chance’s already suckling lips. “And when Chance is close to two, and we have another baby, you’ll be a great daddy to her, too. She’ll be a daddy’s girl.”
The tender smile she gave him had his heart twisting in circles of love.
She gave a quick shake of her head. “Provided you want another child.”
“I did, I mean, I do. I always wanted at least four kids.”
Her eyelashes shot-up in amazement. “Four?”
“Yeah, but I’d settle for one to start.”
She smiled and sat the bottle on the night stand before pulling Chance to an upright position. She patted his back in gentle succession, like a pro.
“Hey, you’re good at that.”
“I hope so. I have no idea what I’m doing most of the time.”
Justin laughed. “You looked practiced and perfectly at home.”
She laughed. “Good, that’s what I was going for.”
They fell silent until Justin said, “He’s a beautiful baby.”
“Yes he is. I just hope and pray he doesn’t turn out like his biological father.”
Justin knew he should be surprised their minds had been mulling over the same things, but he wasn’t. He’d already accepted they knew each other like that.
“I don’t think he will. We’ll raise him right.”
Silent tears pooled-up and slid down her cheeks. “Thank you, Justin.
“No, thank you for allowing me to share in your joy.” He reached down and hugged them both, hiding his own tears as they slid down his cheeks.