Authors: Tara West
Something More, Book Three
Copyright © 2013 by Tara West
Published by Shifting Sands Publishing
First edition, published December 2013
All rights reserved.
This book is protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America. Any reproduction or other unauthorized use of the material or artwork herein is prohibited.
This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents and dialogues are products of the author's imagination and are not to be construed as real.
Edited by Theo Fenraven
Cover Art by Tamra Westberry
Formatting by PyperPress
To my husband and little girl. Thank you so much for putting up with my crazy hours and moods while I worked on this book. Your support means the world to me.
Jodi, you are amazing. Thanks for the awesome swag and for motivating my fan club.
To my fan club, thanks for your faith in my books. You are the reason I keep writing.
Special thanks to Carrie, Raven and Tammy for your comments on my manuscript.
Emma Jameson, I humbly bow to your words of wisdom. Thanks for your advice.
Theo Fenraven, I don't know what I'd do without your edits. Thank you!
It's been three weeks since my screw up. Three weeks. According to the directions on the box, plenty time enough to know if I'm pregnant.
Don't be a wimp, Christina. Just do it!
I'm sitting on the toilet, staring at this damn stick, too petrified to piss on it. What the hell is wrong with me? And how is it that a tiny piece of plastic is causing so much turmoil in my life?
Because if it's positive, my new career is over, or at least it's put on hold. There's that whole issue of me being just twenty-two when I have my first child. Sure, I know other girls younger than me have had kids, but I'm not them. I'm not ready. I'm just not ready.
Then there's this other part of me, this twisted, crazy part of me that thinks about how adorable my little brothers are, and how Andrés and I would have a cute baby, too. My brothers are only three and four-years-old. My child could actually play with them in a few years. Or get into trouble with them, as my brothers are inclined to find trouble wherever they go.
Oh, gawd, how would I be able to cope if he or she turned out like my brothers, or like Andrés tells me he used to be as a kid?
And even though I hate myself for chickening out, I slide that little strip back into the box and hide it at the bottom of my cosmetics bag. I'm better off not knowing—for now at least.
Because if it's positive, I'll have to tell Andrés. Three weeks ago, on the night Andrés and I had unprotected sex (unprotected because I was stupid enough to forget my pill box at my mom's house in San Antonio) he'd shown me the most beautiful engagement ring. Then he'd put the damn ring away and said something about how he didn't deserve to ask me to marry him yet.
I know what's going to happen if we find out I'm pregnant. He's going to take out that ring again. And that's not what I want. When Andrés proposes, I want it to be because he's ready to ask me, not because he feels pressured by the baby news. And if I am pregnant, I don't want Andrés to think that swayed my decision, either. Baby or no baby, I already know what I'm going to say if and when he pops the question.
Even though we've only been together seven months, we're starting to finish each other's sentences. Whether it's eating Mexican food, enjoying the outdoors, going to art museums, or just curling up with a movie, Andrés and I are perfect together. And then there's the way he makes my heart hammer in my chest whenever he comes home from work and wraps me in his arms. When I place my hand over his heart, lean up and kiss him on the lips, I just want to melt into him. He completes me, and I couldn't imagine a future without him. Of course I'd say yes. Yes! Yes! Yes! Now if he'd just ask me.
I could forget old-fashioned conventions and ask him. Why does it always have to be the guy who proposes? But if I do turn out to be preggers, I don't want Andrés thinking that was why I wanted to get married. No, best to wait it out in agony, wondering if Andrés still has that ring, and if so, why doesn't he just ask me already?
I finish my business and pull up my pants. Then I grab my cosmetics bag off the floor and hide it at the bottom of the cabinet, not that Andrés will be going through my lipsticks, anyway.
I stare at my face in the mirror as I'm washing my hands. I look terrible. My normally bright green eyes have a dull haze to them, and they appear to be sunk in their sockets. My skin has this deathly pale pallor, except for my nose. I used to think it was on the smallish side, but now it has swelled up like a balloon about to burst, and it's as bright as a ripened strawberry.
The doctor said I have a case of sinusitis, so she put me on antibiotics. So far, the infection doesn't seem to be clearing, and I've been reduced to a booger blowing zombie all month.
Now that I'm on antibiotics, and my birth control pills aren't as effective (actually, they're not effective at all since I decided to quit taking them until I find out if I'm pregnant), Andrés has to wear a condom. He hates it. I hate it, too, but I'm not taking any more chances. Hopefully, it isn't already too late.
I shouldn't have shown Christina the damn ring. If I thought the weight of those unspoken words, "Will you marry me?" felt heavy before, it is nothing compared to the pressure I am feeling now, like the noose around my neck has been cinched and strung up, and the hangman is about ready to kick that stool out from under my feet.
I stir the spaghetti sauce and lick some of the red juice off the spoon. Needs sugar. Christina likes her sauce more sweet than tart, and I want tonight's dinner to be perfect, in case I get the nerve to ask her to marry me.
The thing is, I want to give Christina that ring, but the timing never feels right. First off, there's the fact that I acted like a total ass three weeks ago, and I don't feel like I've done much of anything to prove to her how much I love her. I've taken her to San Antonio twice to see her family. I bought her new seat covers for her car. I cleaned up the spill from the can of soda she left open in the fridge. Those things hardly count.
I open the sugar container and pour in a few tablespoons. Then I add more chopped cilantro. I always end up using a whole bushel, so I don't know why I add a little at a time. I survived two tours in Afghanistan, and I'm fucking afraid of spice.
I take a swig of beer and stir the sauce. I've been too much on edge lately. Things were tense around here last week after Christina took her finals. We didn't think she'd pass psychology, but she squeaked by with a C minus.
Last weekend her family came up and we held a surprise graduation ceremony at my
house. I could have asked her to marry me then, in front of our family and friends. But, seriously, what guy does that? What if she said she wasn't ready? Everyone would have thought I was a total dick, and my cousins wouldn't have let me live it down.
I could wait until after Christmas. Or I could wait until next Christmas. She should be ready after a year. Maybe by then I would have done enough to deserve her.
But I don't know if I can stand the noose around my neck that long. And then there's that way I catch Christina looking at me. Every morning when we kiss each other goodbye, she's got this wistfulness in her eyes and in her voice. I keep telling myself it's her sinus infection, but I don't know. There's something off about her, especially when she talks about her baby brothers. Why do I get the feeling she's longing to have a baby of her own?
Just last month she was saying she didn't want to ever have kids. She asked me a totally unexpected question last night when she was sitting across from me at dinner. She wanted to know if my teeth were naturally straight or if I'd had braces. When I told her I'd never needed braces, her eyes lit up. She dropped her hand to her stomach, resting it there for a moment before she picked up her fork and flashed a bright smile.
What was that about?
Is she subtly trying to tell me she's ready for kids? Now?
She's been wearing those earrings I got her a few months ago almost every day now, too. The earrings look a lot like the engagement ring I had made for her, with one diamond in the center, surrounded by a circle of emeralds.
Why does she wear those earrings every day when she hardly wore them before? Actually, she never wears jewelry to her temp job airbrushing cars. At least, until now. What is she trying to tell me?
Does Christina want me to propose? If she does, why doesn't she come out and say it? Is she ready to have kids? How in the fuck am I supposed to know? I wish women came with instruction manuals. My life would be so much easier.
Now I'm debating what I should do. Do I suffer in silence and put it off until next year? Do I ask her soon, like maybe this week, knowing if she refuses, it might ruin our Christmas?
I hate how fucking confused I am right now. If I'd been this indecisive when I was deployed in Afghanistan, I wouldn't have made it back alive. Usually, when I know I want something, I set my mind to it and do it.
Just fucking do it, Andrés. Just ask her.
The sauce is starting to bubble. I turn down the burner and stir the pot real good, so the paste doesn't stick to the bottom. I add a ton of parmesan, wine, and portabella mushrooms. Then I cover the simmering pot.
A small pot of water on the other burner starts to boil, so I add the pasta. Christina sent me a text a few minutes ago telling me she's on her way home.
I pour her a glass of soda water and add some fresh oranges and stevia. For the past three weeks, Christina has refused to drink my homemade sangria. She said the doctor told her alcohol weakens her immunity. Christina is taking the advice pretty seriously. She won't even take a sip of my beer now. Too bad she's still feeling sick after three weeks. I think the stress from finals has worn her down.
After the table is set, and the pasta and sauce are almost finished cooking, I reach into my pocket and finger the drawstring on the velvet pouch—the pouch with the diamond and emerald engagement ring. I wrap my fist around it and c
lench it tight. My whole body tenses up as determination strengthens my resolve.
Goddamn. I'm proposing tonight!
"Mmmm. Smells delicious."
Even more delicious is the sight of Andrés, wearing nothing but a fitted T-shirt and jeans, slaving over the stovetop. I stand back for a moment and admire his physique. He's taller than most guys, about six feet, with thick wavy hair, broad shoulders, and a tight body. Very tight. Even though he's been out of the Army for eight months, and works long hours managing his uncle's businesses, he himself in prime condition, getting up at the crack of dawn at least three times a week to run and lift weights.
I don't know how he does it, but I sure do appreciate it, especially now as I continue to drool at him. Even more impressive than his backside is his front, the real reason I call him my Spanish Adonis. I close my eyes and recall the image of his face, which looks like it was chiseled out of stone, a beautiful square jaw, full, sensual lips, high cheekbones, and large dark eyes, framed by thick lashes.
Why do I torture myself like this? As sick as I've been all week, I shouldn't be horny, but I am. I wrap my arms around Andrés's waist and nibble on his ear while he's trying to scoop our pasta into bowls. I giggle when the big wooden spoon he's holding clatters to the counter. I have the feeling if I keep this up, dinner may have to wait. Even though I came home hungry, sex always trumps food.
"Spaghetti and meatballs, mija," he rasps.
"I'm not in the mood for meatballs," I say to him on a growl, leaving the rest of the words unspoken.
I trail my hand down his abdomen. He's standing rigid, like a soldier at attention, as I slide my hand even lower. As I press my breasts against his back, I don't even feel the rise and fall of his chest anymore, which means he's holding his breath. Good. I've got the boy under my spell.
I deftly unzip his jeans, and when I lower the elastic on his underwear, his erection springs to life. He throws his head back and groans as I wrap a hand around his cock.
Still holding his erection, I smile coyly up at him as I lead him to the kitchen table. I release him long enough to pull out a chair. I tug his pants and underwear past his knees and then with a gentle push, he falls obediently into the chair.
I take a cushion off a nearby seat, throw it at his feet, and then drop to my knees before him. He flashes a seductive half-smile as he stretches his long legs out and leans his head back. His large erection juts out before me, a beautiful display of prime man-flesh, ready to be devoured. I lick my lips as I brace my hands on his thighs and eye him with a feral hunger. I gently swirl my tongue around the tip of his cock, coaxing clear juices out of the slit.