“What do you think Peanut? Should we go see what Mommy’s doing?” Richie’s deep voice came from the hallway. The baby cooed in response. “Yeah? Me too. Where do you think she is?” A gurgle this time. “You’re probably right. She’s probably in the office. Your Uncle Jon works her too hard.”
“Actually, it’s Uncle Matt this time.” Tori looked up as they entered the office. “Hi Peanut! What have you and Daddy been up to?”
“Making dinner for Mommy.” Richie answered and handed the baby to her. “Are you sure you don’t want to go out? We could find a babysitter.”
She shook her head. “I’d really rather stay home.” She had plans and they didn’t include leaving the privacy of their home. She sat Stevie on her lap. “Is Daddy teaching you to cook?” They’d given Rosa the weekend off. Suddenly, Stevie got all excited. His arms and legs started waving and kicking and he laughed. His parents stared at him, wondering what had brought it on. Tori figured it out first. Following his line of sight she realized that her computer screen had reverted to her screen saver which was a picture of the four of them –Richie, Tori, Ava and Stevie – that Gail had taken at the Labour Day barbeque two weeks before. “What? Do you see the picture? Who’s that?” She pointed to each of them in turn. “There’s Mommy.....and Daddy..” Stevie kicked both legs and turned his head towards Richie, who grinned at him, then turned back to the computer screen. “And there’s Ava.” Stevie laughed again. “Do you miss her?” Ava had gone back to Heather’s when school started. “Me too. But she’ll be here next weekend.”
“What’s Matt got you doing that’s making you work on our anniversary?”
“He’s got some ideas for some new items.” She looked down as Stevie patted her face. “Uncle Matt and Aunt Desiree are going to give you a new cousin next year.”
Richie’s brows rose. “Really? He told you that in an e-mail? Why didn’t he pick up the phone?”
“I don’t think he meant to tell me. I sort of read between the lines. The items he wants me to look at are all baby stuff and it’s just something about the way he’s talking about it. The odd word slipped in here and there, that kind of thing.” She hit a key to bring back the e-mail and let him read it over her shoulder.
He nodded. “Yeah, sounds like they’re having a baby alright. John and Carol will be thrilled.
Tori nodded. “And having Matt and Desiree so close will take some of the pressure off of us being so far away.”
“Yeah from half of your family anyway.”
Tori stuck her tongue out at him. Richie’s eyes widened when Stevie watched his mother and his own little pink tongue came out from between his lips. “Look.” He murmured. Tori looked down, saw what he was referring to and chuckled. Richie picked up the baby and lifted him high in the air. “Are you sticking your tongue out at Daddy?” Stevie grinned at him. “You’ve been hanging out with Mommy too much. Come on Peanut, let’s leave Mommy to her work and I’ll teach you some manly skills.”
Tori snorted. “He already knows how to burp and fart.”
“Oooh, Mommy thinks she’s funny.” Richie informed his son as they walked out the door. “But we know who’s really the funny one, don’t we.” Stevie made a noise. “That’s right. Daddy.”
Tori smiled and shook her head at them, then turned back to the computer. She tried to focus on work, but she was distracted. Ever since the barbeque, things between she and Richie had continually progressed and were going extremely well. It felt like it had a year ago. She thought. Tonight she was going to put it to the ultimate test. If she could do it....if she could give up complete control to him...without fear...then she was sure they would make it. There might still be some tough times when the next tour started, but she was confident they would work that out. Some of that – like missing him when he was gone - she would have had to deal with anyway. All this with Heather was just going to make it more intense.
She blew out a breath and glanced at the clock to see how much time she had before dinner. She would need some time to prepare. She was nervous, but their anniversary....when there was a point not that long ago when she didn’t think they’d make it this far....seemed to be the perfect night to try to push aside that last obstacle, breach that last hurdle. Sort of like they were making a new start.
Upstairs, she changed her clothes, looking at herself critically in the mirror. She was hoping that Richie would get the message without her having to actually come out and say it. Since he was usually a very intuitive man, and knew her so well....and she had a few hints that should be obvious to the most oblivious man.....she figured it wouldn’t take long. She adjusted her top again. The floral skirt she’d worn to the luau in Hawaii still fit fine, but the top was a little snug. She smirked. He’d be glad she didn’t want to go out. He didn’t need to know that the fit of the bra top was one reason why she wanted to stay home. Here she didn’t have to worry if it slipped and she spilled out. The rich scent of Pikake surrounded her from her body lotion. She gave herself a last once over and nodded. She was ready. Now if only Peanut would cooperate. There was a small time window for him to have his dinner without interrupting her plans. Hopefully, he’d agree.
“Angel! Dinner’s ready.” Richie called up the stairs.
“Coming!” She answered before taking a deep breath and heading downstairs.
Entering the dining room, she stopped dead and gasped. Tropical flowers like the ones that had been growing on the terrace outside their room in Hawaii scented the air and formed the centre piece on the table.
Richie looked up from lighting candles. His eyes licked over her, his gaze hotter than the flames. He grinned. “Looks like we both had the same idea.” To remember the happiest time of their lives. She smiled and nodded. He sat her formally, then leaned over to nuzzle his spot under her ear. “You smell.....incredible.” And he hoped that she meant it. Between the way she looked, the way she smelled, and the memories that particular scent evoked, he was already half hard and his mind was swirling with possibilities.
“Thank you. So does dinner.” She stroked his cheek and turned her head to kiss him. “Mmmm. But I bet it doesn’t taste as good as you.”
He growled. “You really like torturing me don’t you?”
She grinned. “As I recall you’re not above a bit of torture yourself.” Her gaze locked with his. His brow lifted and his lips twitched, but he didn’t respond.
Dinner was delicious and a bit erotic as they fed each other, cleaning up misjudgements with fingers and tongues. By unspoken agreement, they kept it teasing and within boundaries. Neither wanted to rush things. They wanted the night to last.
After cleaning up the kitchen they settled in the living room to exchange gifts and for Tori to feed Stevie. She made Richie open his gift first. He hefted the large box carefully and ripped off the paper.
Lifting the lid, he looked inside and his eyes widened. “Where did you get this?”
She grinned. “I called Les and he helped me out.”
Richie lifted the guitar out to take a closer look. It was one he’d been debating about buying for awhile now, but hadn’t been able to make up his mind. He crooked a brow at her. “Do I want to know what that conversation involved?”
She laughed. “He only tried to get me to run away with him twice. Oh, and he said with this you just might be able to write something worthy of me.” Richie grunted. She watched his face. “Do you like it?”
His head snapped up. “I love it. Thank you.”
She watched his hand run over the smooth curves of the instrument. “I never want you to lose the music again.”
When Stevie was finished, Richie took him to burp him and handed Tori her present. She opened the box to find two smaller boxes inside. She lifted the lid of the smallest one to reveal a heart shaped amethyst surrounded by diamonds in a brushed platinum band. “Oh Richie. It’s beautiful.” She slid it on her right hand. It fit perfectly.
“Just a reminder that you have my heart. Now and forever.”
She blinked back tears and reached for the other box. This one contained a digital picture frame. As she scrolled through the pictures...of Richie alone and she and Richie together – at the beach, by the pool, from their wedding, from the tour and from Christmas, all of them smiling, all of them happy.....In It For Love played from the tiny speaker. This time she couldn’t hold back the tears and they rolled slowly down her cheeks.
Richie laid the baby in his bassinet and took his wife in his arms. “For whenever we’re apart or you just need a reminder of what we’re fighting to hold onto. Us. What we mean to each other. The love we share. Never forget that Tori. I love you. Until the day I die.”
She nodded and cuddled closer. “I love you too. Until the day I die.”
They kissed to seal the vow.
It was fifteen or twenty minutes before Tori was willing to separate herself from their embrace. She sniffed, wiped at her tears and reached for the small bag that she’d left sitting at her feet. “I have one more gift for you.”
Taking the bag, Richie looked inside and frowned in confusion. He stuck his hand inside and pulled out the scrap of material and elastic. It took him a minute to recognize the pirate’s eyepatch. He turned to her and raised a brow.
She tried to look innocent, but she couldn’t prevent the smirk from twisting her lips. She shrugged. “I thought we were reliving Hawaii tonight.”
He searched her eyes intently for a long minute. “Are you sure?”
She nodded. “Positive.”
Richie framed her face with his hands and kissed her firmly..almost fiercely. He stood and pointed a finger at her. “Wait here me beauty. I’ll be back to get ye after I’ve put the youn’un to bed.” With that, he picked Stevie up and headed for the stairs.