She’d heard about mama bears before. She believed in that animal instinct because it was roaring to life inside her. She held up a finger and Dorothy stopped talking in mid-syllable.
Looking up at the couple, who were both frowning now, Presley Ann said, “Get out before I ask the nurse to call the police.”
Dorothy halted the couple when they took a step back. “Now wait just a minute, missy—”
Presley Ann cut her off. “This is my son, Whitman Merritt Woodworth. He is not an it. I love him and he is mine. I’m not giving him up to anybody. Aunt Dorothy, you and I are done.” She glared at the couple and had to quell the urge to climb from the bed and chase them from the room. “You are still standing there.” The couple backed up another step and glanced nervously at Dorothy.
Dorothy faked another smile. “A mother’s instincts can be very strong. I was much the same way with my Wilhelmina. But let’s wait and see how you feel when you haven’t slept for three days. You’ll find out how expensive formula is when the newness of this…practice”—she waved her hand at Presley Ann suckling her son—“has worn off and you’re tired of having him at the tit night and day. I’ll never understand why a lovely woman would want to do that to herself…like a milk cow or something. Unsanitary.”
Presley Ann was reaching for the call button, when a deep, masculine voice from the doorway said, “Actually, ma’am, nursing is the healthiest thing she can do for either of them, and it’s more sanitary than using a bottle. I think Miss Woodworth has made it clear that you’ve worn out your welcome.” Jared and Kendry McCulloch stood in the doorway with fire in their eyes.
“And who might you be?” Aunt Dorothy asked as she looked down her bulbous nose at them.
“We’re friends of Miss Woodworth’s.”
An ugly gleam shone in her aunt’s eyes, and she smiled and nodded as if proving her point. “Ah, I see. Both of you, eh?” She pointed at Whit under the blanket and smirked. “That baby is neither brown-haired nor blond so I’ll hazard a guess neither of you is the father.” Turning to Presley Ann she said, “I see this as a win-win situation, dear. My acquaintances get their heart’s fondest desire and you”—she waved a negligent hand behind her at the men—“get to have yours.”
Jared and Kendry’s eyes were trained on Presley Ann, but she could see the anger glowing in those blue gazes as Dorothy kept speaking.
“Don’t you understand, dear?” Dorothy said, as if speaking to a simpleton. “If it’s them you want—both of them—just give up the baby and go your merry way. And I speak from experience, that even if you do everything right, he’ll still disappoint you. That’s just how it is for mothers. Why burden yourself and your poor, dear overworked father with an out-of-wedlock grandchild? He’s on the school board, the business man’s association man of the year for three years running, and a fine upstanding member of this conservative community. The shame. Why do that to him?”
“She really pulls out all the stops, doesn’t she?” Kendry asked in a rough voice unlike the teasing tone she was used to.
Jared took a step forward, his hands balled up into fists. “Lady, she can have us any way she wants us, and that invitation includes her baby. Looks to me like you’re leaving here disappointed.”
Persistent as ever, Dorothy curled her lip and waved her hand as if shooing a pesky fly. “Well of course they could always swoop in and save you, and then you’d have all the built in help you need. Just like your daddy swooping in to save you, only with a few added benefits.”
“Wait,” the man, Jules, said. “You’re both wanting this gal? What in Sam Hill is goin’ on in this town?”
Presley Ann held up the remote call button for the nurse. “You’ve got two seconds before I ask the nurse’s station to call the sheriff and my brothers-in-law, who are city cops. I asked you to leave nicely. They asked you to leave nicely. I’m done being nice. Getout!”
“Well!” Mavis gasped as she clutched her handbag to her and grabbed her husband’s arm nervously. “I never.”
“I can understand why,” Presley Ann said as she looked from one individual to the other. “But that’s not my concern. This baby is mine and you can’t have him.”
Jared lit the pillar candles on the bedside tables, adding to the golden light cast by the fire in the little fireplace. She stood before it, hands outstretched, although not because she was cold. She closed her eyes and listened to the rain pounding on the roof and the windows, and the distant roll of thunder. Amidst the sounds of the storm, she heard the rustle of fabric and the hiss of a zipper being lowered. Imagining him as the golden light shown on his nudity made her own body melt, and her pussy quivered and ached for his touch.
He came up behind her and gathered the length of her hair into his hands. His lips were warm at her nape, and his breath tickled the silky hairs there against her skin as he said, “Kendry was disappointed tonight but he thought it would be good if you had time alone with me. Is that what you want?” He stole her breath with another kiss against that sensitive flesh.
“Of—Of course. Yes, I want that. I talked to Grace, Leah, and the others. It was one of the first things they suggested, to intentionally spend time alone with each of you, as long as it’s okay with you. I don’t want either of you more than the other, but I want both of you alone, as well as together. I’d hate for either of you to…I’m shutting up now.”
“Why?” he asked quietly as he looked at her over her shoulder. His smile was gentle and held no trace of mocking in it.
She turned to face him. “I’m presuming a lot.”
Jared chuckled and shook his head. “No, you’re not. We’re thinking long term, too, kitten. Now what were you going to say?”
“I’d hate for either of you to feel like you were second best, or to be the ‘backup plan.’”
Jared nodded in understanding but didn’t say anything. The silence stretched out, interrupted only by the occasional snapping sound from the fireplace. He finally raised an eyebrow and she couldn’t keep quiet any longer.
“I know how it feels to be the second best. Not now, of course, but there was a time when it was that way.” Thankfully, her relationship with her family was one of the many changes that had stuck. “Unfortunately, I also have some experience with making others feel that way.” Her cheeks burned as she said it. He needed to know.
Jared stroked her cheek. “You have no idea how much I want to be your clean slate, Presley Ann. All I can see are friends and family who love you and are proud of you. I trust in that…and in you.”
Reaching up, she skimmed her hands across the wide plain of his chest. She nestled her nose in the shallow dip between his pectorals and breathed in his masculine scent and rubbed her lower lip across his skin, raising more gooseflesh over her shoulders and down her back. Everything about him enticed her.
His breathing grew shaky as she lightly raked her fingernails down his torso, and over his abdomen, gooseflesh rose on his warm skin as well. She tugged at the tie at her hip, releasing the knot holding the sling in place. The stretchy fabric loosened at her waist, and then at her shoulders, and she allowed him to untie the crossover in front before slipping it from her, revealing her lightweight top beneath.
Raising her arms, she allowed him to remove it, and stifled a giggle when his callused fingertips tickled her spine as he unclasped her bra. She unzipped her jeans and pushed them and her panties down to her knees, bringing her to eye level with his cock.
For a heartbeat she glanced up at him, noting his widening eyes, and gave the head of his cock a gentle kiss, a little lick, and then a welcoming suck, enjoying the sound of his choked gasp. His hand was gentle in her hair, and without missing a beat she went to her knees in front of him. The fire was warm at her back as she wrapped her hands around the backs of his thighs and rubbed her breasts against the sprinkling of hairs on his thighs.
The faint muskiness of his scent filled her head and warmed her body as she listened to him groan and enjoyed the tender way he stroked her hair and held the back of her head.
Two syllables that spoke volumes. He drew a deep breath and the rushing sound told her that she was testing his control. When she slid him to the back of her throat and sucked as she withdrew, the muscles in his legs bunched under her hand. A flash of light bright enough to be seen through closed eyelids was followed closely by a peal of thunder, and she prayed a fervent prayer that the baby wouldn’t awaken. She didn’t want to leave him hanging, and they needed this time together. Three more up and down tugs with her suctioning mouth and he wrapped one hand around the base of his cock. “Stop.”
He helped her stand and kissed her hard on the lips. Hungry for more, she nipped at his lower lip. In response he clutched her ass cheek hard and said, “The bed. Now.” His dominating tone gave wings to her feet.
Backing up to the pillows at the head of the bed, she watched him climb onto the end of the bed, a predatory gleam in his eyes as he stared at her rapidly swelling cunt. She wanted him to shove his cock into her and fuck her like a wild animal, obliterate all other thoughts from her mind, making her clench with need as she imagined the moment of his breaching.
“Yes,” she whispered. “Please.”