Finn’s heart picked up its tempo when the door creaked open, and he took an instinctive step forward, wanting to be as close as possible to Ivy. It seemed to take an eternity for her to open the door, but suddenly there she was, framed in the darkened hallway and every bit as vibrant as he remembered.
His breath wheezed in his chest as he drank in the sight of her. The long hair that he remembered was gone, traded in for a chin length bob, but it was still the same traffic stopping shade of red. Her pale skin was sun-kissed, making the sprinkle of freckles across the bridge of her nose stand out in sharp relief, and the urge to swipe his tongue over them nearly brought him to his knees.
Her eyes were the same clear green that he saw in his dreams, and as he gazed into them, they went wide as she saw who was waiting for her. “Ivy.”
“What the hell are you doing here?” she demanded, her voice low. A movement at her side distracted Finn from his perusal of her face, and as he looked down, she held out her arm as though trying to block his sight of the boy at her side—the boy with Ivy’s green eyes and his own shaggy brown hair.
“Who’s that?” the boy asked in a stage whisper, and when he lifted his head to look up at Ivy, the line of his profile told Finn everything he needed to know. He saw that nose in his mirror every day of his life.
He had a son.
“He’s nobody. I want you to go upstairs and get changed for bed,” Ivy instructed, her voice calm. Finn could barely hear it over the roaring of blood in his ears, and he doubled over, bracing his hands on his knees as the breath rushed out of him like she’d punched him in the stomach. He had a son that Ivy had never told him about, and Finn wasn’t sure if he wanted to shake her until her teeth rattled or fling himself at her feet and plead for her forgiveness for allowing her father to separate them.
“Mom…” the boy protested, but a sharp look from Ivy got him moving. Finn followed the boy with his eyes as he disappeared into the house with only the briefest backward glance, his green eyes narrowed with curiosity.
“What’s his name?” he rasped, drawing himself back up to his full height once the boy was out of earshot. He had a son, and he didn’t even know his name.
Ivy’s lips tightened as she sucked in a noisy breath through her nose, and for a moment she looked surprisingly like her father. Then her shoulders slumped and the resemblance faded. “His name is Casey.”
“Casey,” Finn repeated, testing the syllables on his tongue. It was a good name, and it suited the boy to perfection.
“Why are you here, Finn?” she demanded, and the door creaked as she tightened her grip on the doorknob, clearly tempted to shut it in his face.
“I had to see you.” When he reached to touch her face, Ivy jerked back, her eyebrows drawing together.
“And you have,” she told him, her voice brittle. “Now get lost.”
“Ivy!” He caught the edge of the door before she could close it, edging his shoulder into the gap between the door and the frame to prevent her from shutting him out. “You have to listen to me.”
All of the carefully worded speeches he’d prepared had fled his mind in face of the revelation of his son’s existence, and Ivy seemed less than impressed with his demand.
“I don’t have to do anything. If you wanted to talk, you had your chance eight years ago. It’s too late now.” Her green eyes flashed fire, and Finn groaned under his breath. He was making an utter hash of this.
“Does he know who I am?” he asked desperately. She’d answered his question about Casey earlier, perhaps their son was the common ground they needed in order to have an actual conversation. Finn didn’t have the slightest idea how he was going to make amends for leaving her not just alone, but alone and pregnant, but he had to try.
If anything, the question just infuriated her more. “Oh, he knows who you are,” she snarled, her voice deadly. “You’re nobody. You’re nobody to him, and you’re nobody to me. I hope the money was worth it.”
Finn gritted his teeth as she struggled to close the door, his shoulder creaking in protest at the pressure. “I don’t understand.” Ivy had every right to be furious with him but her reference to the money left him baffled. Just what had her father told her about his sudden disappearance?
Ivy let out a bright, artificial laugh. “I’m flattered that I was worth fifty grand to you. If you were going to cash me in, at least it was for a decent chunk of change. Newsflash, Finn—it’s too late for a refund. Now go away.”
Her words left him reeling, and Finn staggered back. That was what her father told her? No wonder she hated him if she thought he’d taken her father’s money in exchange for their relationship. “It wasn’t like that! Ivy, I can explain.”
“Oh, I’m sure you can. I’m just not interested in hearing it.” In all the time he’d known her, Finn had never known Ivy to refuse to hear someone out, and the alteration chilled him.
“I know you’re mad, and I don’t blame you. Ivy, please, we have to talk. We have to sort this out for our son’s sake.” He’d get down on his knees and plead with her if he had to. Somehow, he had to convince her to hear him out.
He’d hoped that his reference to Casey would soften her, but Ivy’s face hardened. Whenever he pictured her eyes, Finn always saw them sparkling with warmth and light, but now they were utterly cold and opaque, betraying nothing.
“Who says he’s your son?”
With that parting shot, she slammed the door in his face, and Finn could hear her turning the locks, shutting him out completely. Taking a step backward, he scrubbed his hands over his face as he tried to clear his mind.
Ivy stole the packet from his fingers, and Finn shuddered as she rolled the condom down over him. In her grip, he felt like iron, and she smiled at the proof of his desire for her. She ran her fingers over him playfully until he batted her hand away.
“You have no idea what you’re doing to me,” he accused as he took himself in hand.
“Oh, I think I might have some idea.” Ivy lay back and spread her legs a little wider, welcoming him.
Finn gazed down at her in wonder. “You don’t know how many times I dreamed about this. I missed you so much that I thought I’d lose my mind. I spent so many hours trying to imagine where you were and what you were doing… I was afraid I’d never find you again.”
Tears filled Ivy’s eyes as she held her arms out to him. For eight years, she’d assumed that Finn had forgotten all about her, but nothing could be further from the truth. “It’s over now. We’re together again.”
Finn groaned at her words as he settled himself on top of her, and Ivy wrapped her legs around his hips to hold him close. Brown eyes met hers, Finn lifting his eyebrows in a silent query that she immediately agreed to. She was ready.
The first press of his body against hers tore a loud moan from her throat. Instantly, Finn’s mouth covered hers, muffling her cry as he slowly entered her, the inexorable pressure making her feel as though her heart was cracking open to free all of the love she’d spent eight years trying to suppress.
Desperate to have him closer, she tightened her legs around his hips, holding him in place with all of her strength. She had Finn back, and she was never going to let him go again.
Ivy didn’t realize she was crying until Finn lifted his hand to her face to brush away her tears. He broke the kiss to look down at her in concern. “Am I hurting you?”
“No.” Far from hurting her, her body welcomed his as a missing part of herself. Finn was buried inside of her to the hilt, his love warming places that had been cold for far too long.
Bending his head, he kissed her wet cheeks, trying to lick away her tears. “Why are you crying?”
“I’m happy.” Even as she said the words, Ivy knew that they weren’t quite right. What she felt was less happiness and more a feeling of profound relief that despite everything— her father’s betrayal and the years of misunderstanding— she and Finn had managed to find each other again. They still had miles to go before things between them were okay, but they’d taken the first step onto that path.
Finn’s face cleared and he pressed an affectionate kiss to her forehead. “So am I.”
As he rolled his hips, Ivy allowed herself to forget all of the unresolved issues. She had Finn in her arms, and that was enough for now. With some effort, she relaxed her legs, giving him enough room to maneuver. As soon as she did, he pulled back to tease her with quick, shallow thrusts that made her blood sing in her veins.
After a few of the light strokes, he pushed himself deep, and Ivy groaned as she arched into it, grinding the back of her head against the floor. Finn took advantage of her bared throat to trail kisses down the length of her neck and swipe his tongue against the hollow at the base of it to lap at the perspiration pooling there.
She moaned in protest when he resumed his shallow thrusting, and when she managed to blink her eyes open, he gave her a smug smile.
“You’re teasing me,” she complained as she took hold of a handful of his hair and tugged.
“I’m trying to make it good for you,” he countered, punctuating his words with another deep thrust.
Despite his smile, there was a hint of nervousness in his eyes, and Ivy’s heart cracked. Finn claimed not to care that she’d had other lovers, but he clearly wasn’t as sanguine about it as he wanted her to believe. He was worried that he wouldn’t be able to live up to the standard set by those boyfriends, and he was determined to prove that he could satisfy her.
“It’s already good. It’s you.” Ivy used her grip on his hair to pull him down for a kiss before she murmured against his lips, “No one’s ever been better than you, Finn.”