Lina lifted her cellphone, her lips curving into a smile when she saw Phil’s name on the display. “I just turned into our neighborhood.”
“I know. I’m right behind you.”
“You’re behind me?” Her eyes lifted to the rearview mirror to see his BMW.
“Pull over,” Phil said. “Don’t turn into our driveway.”
“What? Why do—.”
“Just pull over,” he repeated before ending the call.
Moments later Lina was looking up in confusion at Phil who had opened her car door. “What are you doing?”
“Greeting my wife,” he answered, holding out his hand. “I haven’t seen you in a week.”
“It’s been three days.” She laughed as she placed her hand in his and let him help her out of the car.
“It feels like a week.” He pulled her flush against his body as one of his hands cupped the side of her jaw and the other splayed over her lower back. “Fuck I missed you,” he said before covering her mouth with his.
She wound her arms around his neck as he pressed her back against the car, one of his legs moving between her thighs. She kissed him back, forgetting momentarily that they were standing on the side of the road. “What’s gotten into you?” she asked when he finally lifted his head, her whole-body humming in awareness.
“I told you. I missed you.” His hand stroked down her back to her butt.
“Phil,” she laughed, pressing her hands into his chest. “We’re on the side of the road. Anyone could drive by.”
“So, our house is right here. Let’s go home.” She brushed her lips over his.
“Let’s go out to dinner—just the two of us.”
“What about the kids?” She’d been looking forward to seeing Liam all day.
“Who’s going to watch Liam. It’s almost six. Isn’t Katie expecting us?” Katie usually relieved the babysitter by five each day and then watched Liam until Lina or Phil arrived home.
“She’ll survive. I’ll pay her to survive.”
“But I’ve been gone for three days. The kids are–“
“Their fine. They’re all fine. When was the last time we had dinner alone together?”
Lina frowned, trying unsuccessfully to remember.
“Exactly,” Phil said. “I don’t remember either.” He shifted her slightly so he could reach around her into her car. “I’m not ready to share you yet.”
Lina watched him take the keys from the ignition and grab her purse from the passenger seat. “Are you sure they’ll—”
“Positive,” he interrupted. “I’ll text her from the restaurant.”
“Stop thinking about him,” Phil said an hour and a half later. He’d just topped off her wine glass and was leaned back in his chair watching her. “He’s fine.”
“I’m not thinking about him,” Lina lied. “I just—I want to see him before he goes down for the night.”
Phil raised his eyebrows. “Do you actually think Katie is going to make him go to bed? He’ll be up.”
“How was he last night? Did he sleep through the night or—what? Why are you shaking your head?”
“Because you can’t go five minutes without asking about him.” He motioned to a passing waiter for the check.
“I just want to make sure he’s okay. It’s only been a few weeks. It’s a big change.”
“He’s fine. I promise.” He clasped her hand on top of the table. “I’m the one you should be worried about.”
“And why is that?”
“Because I need you.” He squeezed her hand. “Let’s go home and put Liam to bed. And when we’re done with that, you can take off all your clothes and put me to bed.”
“Momma!” Liam scrambled off the couch as soon as he saw Lina.
Phil slowly followed Lina into the family, watching her embrace Liam who she’d picked up.
“I missed you,” she gushed, brushing her lips over cheek. “Did you miss me.”
Liam’s response was a vice like grip around her neck as he buried his face into her hair.
Phil watched them, taking in the obvious bond between them. It was clear Lina thought of Liam as her own son.
“You’re late,” Katie said. “You owe me another twenty.”
Phil reluctantly pulled his gaze from Lina and Liam. “No. I told you fifty and I’m giving you fifty.”
“You said you’d be home by 7:30. We agreed.”
“It’s been two hours,” Phil said. “Fifty is more than fair.”
“Daddy!” Logan finally noticed him.
“Hey buddy.” Phil held out his hands, but Liam tightened his grip around Lina’s neck. “No!” He frowned at his father.
“Alright.” Phil held up his hands. “I won’t take you.” He stroked his hand down his back. “Did you miss Mommy?”
“Want cookie,” Liam said to Lina. “Cookie.”
“Okay.” Lina kissed him again as she headed toward the kitchen.
“I’m going to go change,” Phil called after her. “Bedtime in fifteen minutes Liam.”
“No!” Liam yelled. “No bed, Daddy.”
A week later……
Phil became conscious of an object poking into his side. Barely awake, he reached under the comforter, encircling his hand around a small foot. “Lina,” he groaned without opening his eyes. “Why is Liam here?”
“He came on his own,” she said her voice husky with sleep. “It’s almost morning. Just go back to sleep.”
“I would if he’d stop kicking me.” He rolled onto his side and away from a sleeping Liam. Moments later Liam’s flailing arm smacked him in the back. “That’s it.” Phil threw off the comforter and got out of bed. “He’s going back to his room.”
“Phil?” Lina pushed herself up on her elbows as Phil reached for Liam. “You’re naked. You can’t leave the room like that.”
Phil sighed before crossing to his wardrobe, reappearing moments later in lounge pants. He carefully scooped Liam off the bed and into his arms. He padded to the door and left the room, making his way to Liam’s nursery where he gently laid him back into his bed. After watching him for a few seconds to make sure he remained asleep he returned to the master bedroom.
“I don’t know why you bothered,” Lina said as he stretched out beside her. “It’s almost six. He’ll be back in an hour.” Without fail, Liam appeared in their room at seven each morning.
“Yeah,” Phil agreed, sliding his hand up Lina’s thigh and beneath her silk nightgown. “There’s a lot we can do in an hour.”
“I thought you were trying to sleep.” Lina stroked her hands up his bare chest as he moved over her.
“I was, but now I’m awake. And I’m going to take the opportunity to fuck my wife.”
“Maybe I’m not ready to wake up,” she said even as she lifted her arms so he could remove her nightgown.
“Why were you wearing this.” He tossed her nightgown on the floor beside the bed.
“I put it on when Liam came into the room.”
“You have to stop letting him do that,” he said as he turned his face into her neck. “He thinks it’s okay.” He began to kiss a trail toward her ear.
“He’s a baby.”
“The other kids didn’t sleep with us.” He nipped her ear.
“They did the same thing.” She gripped his shoulder’s, tilting her head to give him better access to her neck.
“God you smell good,” Phil said before thoughts of everything but Lina left his mind.
“What are our plans today?” Phil asked a couple of hours later after coming out of the bathroom with towel wrapped around his waist, beads of water on his chest and back from a recent shower.
“Daddy!” Liam yelled throwing a tennis ball toward him.
“We have dinner with Adele and William at seven. My mom is watching Liam. I’m going to a nine o’clock yoga class and then stopping at the grocery store.” She stopped before him, placing her hand on his chest. “You need to stop letting him throw balls in the house,” she said before brushing her lips over his. “I’ll be back by eleven.”
Phil watched Lina leave the room and then his eyes were dropping to Liam who had picked up the ball. “Don’t throw that.” He held out his hand, but instead of handing it to him, Liam launched the ball toward the sitting room. Phil raised his eyebrows, impressed with how well Liam could throw. “Let me get dressed and we can go outside and do that.”
Ten minutes later, Phil carried Liam down the stairs and into the kitchen. As soon as Liam saw Logan sitting at the table, he demanded to be put down, making his way to his brother who was leaned over a bowl of cereal.
“Lo Lo.” He held out the tennis ball he’d been clenching like it was his favorite stuffed animal.
Logan sighed as he held out his hand and let Liam place it in his palm.
Phil crossed to the coffee pot, watching Logan patiently toss the ball back to Liam who tried unsuccessfully to catch it.
“You have to keep your eyes on the ball,” Logan said. “Give it back to me.”
Liam retrieved the ball before throwing at Logan. “Ball!”
“Woah.” Logan reacted quickly, catching the ball before it landed in his cereal. “Good throw. Knight?” he called out. Seconds later Knight was trotting into the room. “Watch Knight get the ball,” he said to Liam. He threw the ball up and Knight plucked it out of the air.
“No! Mine,” Liam said to Knight as he scampered after him. “Mine,” he said again as Tyson ran past him and back Logan. “No Knight—mine ball!” Liam yelled.
“Here.” Logan took the ball from Knight and handed it back to Liam. “He’s just playing. You can throw it and he’ll bring it back.”
Phil leaned back against the counter, drinking his coffee and watching as Logan continued to interact with Liam.
“He can really throw it,” Logan said, his attention turning to Phil. “Could I throw like that at his age?”
Phil nodded, a vision of a young Logan throwing a ball flashing in his mind. “Just like that.”
“Cool.” Logan returned his attention to Liam. “Here. I’m going to throw the ball and you catch it. Don’t take your eyes off it okay?”
“Ball.” Liam said, holding out his hands.
“I want you to catch it.” He tossed the ball at Liam, who managed to catch it against his stomach. “Good job!” Logan said.
Phil felt a surge of feeling as he watched Logan pat a beaming Liam on the back.