True, Deep and Forever: Part 1
Book 5 of The Dark and Damaged Hearts
One marriage ... a second chance at love
Eight years ago their love was instantaneous, all-consuming and intense. Garret Banks had to have Amy Shaw the moment he met her, and no one thought the flame would ever go out.
Now, they have everything they’ve ever wanted: great careers, a beautiful baby, and a rock-solid marriage. Or do they? Garret’s high-stress architectural job is taking its toll. Amy's predicaments would be hilarious if they didn't make her want to cry. And to make matters worse, her ex is back in the picture, demanding answers about the wild passion she left behind — answers she isn’t willing to give.
Garret and Amy grab quick, dirty sex while they can, but in between mommy wars, annoying in-laws, sleep deprivation and fears of betrayal, their marriage is put to the test time and time again. Once they were sure love conquers all, but how far can one marriage bend before it snaps?
Dream or reality? Sometimes when you’re that deep in sleep, you can’t always tell. Though my delightful reverie involving Ryan Reynolds and myself sharing a bar of chocolate in the backseat of a taxi whilst driving though the mountains sure as heck seemed real. Until the shrill sound of a wailing baby infiltrated the wonderful moment and caused Ryan to disappear, taking my chocolate with him.
The clock said four forty-five in the morning. Jesus, child, would it kill you to sleep in now and then? God, I missed the newborn days when they slept for like twenty hours a day. I sat up and looked at the mound of man sleeping next to me. His bald head with its five o’clock shadow peeked out from beneath the duvet; a light rumbling snore vibrated in his throat. His mouth was half-cocked open, with the bum-chin trembling ever so slightly on each inhale.
Must be nice to be such a sound sleeper. The whole damn Vienna Boys Choir could be playing with cymbals in here, and Garret would sleep through the entire thing.
“Don’t worry,” I said, louder than necessary. “I’ll get up. It’s not like I have to be at work this morning.”
“Hmmmm,” he moaned, rolling over and offering me a view of his nice muscular back, causing a pang of guilt to soar through me at my initial thought. He’d worked really late last night so that he could take Friday off, crawling into bed ever so quietly after the rest of the house had gone to sleep. All so that we could go over to Victoria this weekend for my brother’s wedding. I shouldn’t really begrudge him a few hours of sleep.
And yet I did.
“Mumma, mumma, mumma, mumma … ” And then, “Wahhhhhhhhh.”
“I’m coming,” I whispered, throwing back the covers, then snatching the robe that was lying haphazardly across the foot of the bed. “I’m coming, baby.” I opened the door to Henry’s room, and red-rimmed, green eyes stared up at me as he stood in his crib gripping the bars like a convict. His mop of curly brown hair stuck up in every direction.
“Mumma, mumma,” he said, trying to climb the bars but failing. His blue and yellow rhinoceros sleep sack impeded his efforts.
“All right, all right, angel-pie. Are you hungry?” I cooed, scooping him up and carrying him to the glider in the corner of the room. I popped out a boob with my free hand while he perched on my left hip.
“Mummmmma!” he cried, pulling at my tank top, frantically trying to get at the goods.
“Hold your horses, you little junkie. I’m going as fast I can. You’re not going to starve.”
As I cradled him in my lap, his mouth deftly found my nipple, and he began frantically sucking, while his hands came up and he held on to my breast as if it were a bottle, eyes fluttering shut with a contented sigh.
The first thing people usually said when they saw Henry was what beautiful eyes he had and how striking the contrast was with his darker skin and afro-esque hair. A “real chick-magnet” or “heartbreaker,” and I was sure they’d be right. My son was absolutely gorgeous. What with his father’s darker-colored skin and leafy green eyes, he was a looker, all right.
But all I saw was my sweet baby, cherubic and pudgy and perfect in every way, and I wanted him to stay that way for as long as he possibly could. I allowed my eyes to close as he continued to nurse, the whole experience calming and enjoyable.
“You want me to take over?” came a groggy voice from the door. Garret stood tall in the doorway, clad only in his plaid Fruit of the Loom boxers, knuckling the sleep out of his eyes just like his son did when he was tired. He was a handsome specimen of a man, my husband, with cyclist’s legs, toned arms and bright green eyes that seemed to shine in the glow from Henry’s ocean-themed night light, to match his ocean-themed room. His stomach was not as taut and chiseled as it’d once been—he’d put on what he liked to refer to as “sympathy weight” while I was pregnant, indulging in my ice cream sandwich cravings right along with me. But even with a bit of a dad belly, he was still damn fine.
“You lactate now, do you?” I asked, a small smile curving up at the corner of my mouth. Henry’s eyelashes trembled against his pink cheek at the sound of his father’s voice, but they didn’t open. He was off in a milky dream.
Garret rolled his eyes. “You know what I mean. I can put him back down when you’re done if you’d like to go grab some more sleep. Or I can take him downstairs if he’s up.”
“I think he’ll probably go back down for another hour or so,” I said. “But thank you. You go back to bed. You look like hell.”
“Thanks.” He yawned, stretching up and grabbing hold of the doorjamb before turning around and heading back to bed.
A few minutes later Henry popped himself off and snuggled into my chest, his little mouth making the perfect O shape while a tiny stream of milk ran down from the corner of his lips. After laying him down in his crib and making sure he wasn’t going to just pop right back up, I headed back to my own room, determined to catch even thirty more minutes of shuteye before I was forced to start the day.
Pulling the covers up to my chin, I closed my eyes. I was just drifting off when a warm arm snaked around my torso and pulled me across the bed until my body lay shrouded by a dominating frame. I wrapped my arm over his and melted into him, welcoming the warmth and comfort of his big body. And once again sleep was just about to claim me, beckoning me into its delicious embrace, when I felt the all too familiar poke of arousal on my butt and a curious hand wandered over my body and beneath my pajamas.
I moaned. “Really?”
“It’s been ages. Come on.” He growled, leaning over and biting my earlobe, a gesture that generally revved my engines but was doing nothing for me at the moment.
“Fine,” I mumbled. “Just try not to wake me in the process.”
“That’s no fun,” he purred, shimmying out of his boxers and diving beneath the covers, flipping me onto my back. “Come on, Ames, out of those jammies, I want to see if I can beat my record.”
I rolled my eyes. “Fine.”
I had to admit it, my husband was an incredibly skilled lover, and his tongue work was unsurpassed. Before Henry joined the team, Garret was able to get me screaming his name and bucking wildly into his face in under a minute, all with the flick and roll of his tongue and some well-placed fingers.
But ever since Henry, things had been different. Sex wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t as enjoyable, at least not for me. The birth hadn’t been easy, and now … things were not so easy.
So, even though I was all healed up now, and the doc had given the go-ahead many months ago that it was okay to get jiggy with my hubby, I certainly wasn’t enjoying things the way I used to. No one told me that after you have a baby, you have to re-learn how to have sex. That you’re essentially a teenager in high school again, figuring out how to orgasm and fumbling around with your lover quietly in the dark, choosing ten minutes of “pleasure” over ten minutes of sleep.
Only this time you’re trying not to wake the baby instead of your parents or the neighbors in the unit next door. You and your man pant and kiss and bump uglies under the covers, because God forbid he actually sees your body, all jiggly and lumpy in its depressive postpartum state. Meanwhile, milk squirts him in the eye as he kneads your engorged breasts.
Oh yeah, so hot!
And don’t even get me started on lubrication! Normally Garret would just have to look at me the right way and I’d be a slick mess in my pants. Now I was as dry as a fucking desert. Just call me Sahara or Gobi or … those were the only deserts I could think of right now, but you know what I mean.
What used to be fun foreplay was now like heading into the salt mines. If he wanted to get me off, it was hard work and hours of repetition.
But I let him try, and try he did. His diligent tongue worked my clit until it was achy and needy. Tiny circles and long lavish licks up my cleft left me a squirming, panting mess. I was seconds from reaching my destination when a screech over the baby monitor jolted me to attention and out of my loopy, lusty dreamland.
“Waahhhhhh, mum, mum, mum, mum … ” I could practically hear the tears streaming down his little cheeks. I was pretty sure he was teething again. I tossed back the covers and motioned to get out of the bed, only instead Garret pulled my legs down and covered my body, impaling me in one solid thrust.
“What the fuck, Garret?” I yelled, swatting him on the back. “Get off of me. I need to go.”
“He’s fine, come on. You were so close. We can get you there again,” he said with a masculine growl, bending his head low and nipping my ear.
“I’m not going to get off,” I said matter-of-factly, lying there like a limp noodle as my husband pounded into me, the muscles on his arms bunching from having to carry all his weight. “And you need to put a condom on. I don’t want to get pregnant.”
“Come on,” he said again with a grunt, picking up the pace and continuing to hammer into me. He wedged his hand between us and began rubbing circles around my clit. I wasn’t going to lie, it felt good, and for a moment I was tempted to shut my ears off, wrap my legs around his waist and meet him thrust for thrust. But I couldn’t. The screaming was too loud, and the way my body reacted to my crying child killed any other feelings inside me. Even desire for my husband.
“We can’t,” I said with remorse. “Condom or pull out.”
“It’s not going to happen. I’ll be quick.”
“Henry happened on the first try. We’re fertile. Either pull out and finish yourself off or put a condom on and get the job done.” I knew my husband needed the release, and even though I wasn’t going to find mine, I was willing to let him find his. “Just make it snappy,” I sighed, the shrieking on the baby monitor picking up vigor.
He let out his own big sigh. “Never mind, just go deal with our child.” And with that, he pulled out and headed to the bathroom, muttering, “Kids are fucking cock-blockers.”
I loved my kitchen. I loved my entire house. Seeing as we’d built it from the ground up, I’d been awarded the privilege of picking out everything from cupboards to floorboards. The morning sun burst in through the window behind the sink and caught the green jewel-toned backsplash, making it glow. I loved jewel tones and had decorated our home (tastefully of course) with the rich hues of green, amber and burgundy with the odd splash of brown and plum. I wiped crumbs off the gold-veined white granite counter before turning to face my husband. He was still in his flannel robe nibbling on an English muffin with raspberry jam and mindlessly reading the newspaper. His carbon-copy was perched in his highchair with said jam smeared across his cheek and a mushed and mangled English muffin with bite marks squished tightly in his little fist. The other fist pounded on the tray like a slave ship drum.
“Could you get him to stop that, please?” I asked, perhaps a bit too snippy as I packed all of our lunches.
Garret grabbed his son’s fist and gave him a stern look while gently saying “no.” Henry seemed oblivious to the discipline but found interest in his sippy cup and started gnawing on the nipple of it.
“We should see if your parents will take Henry one night for a sleepover so that we can have some grown-up time. What do you think?” Garret asked later, switching gears, seeming to have ignored my bitchy snap.
I had planned to take a full year’s maternity leave and was thoroughly enjoying my time with my son, but the gallery I worked for had lost two employees in the span of a week, and another one had taken medical leave. I’d been asked to return to work three days a week with a serious increase in my pay, enough so that it was worth giving up the employment insurance I was getting paid each month. So I returned to work part-time when Henry was eight months old. Yet, despite the fact that I’d been back at work for nearly two months, it was still a huge change for our little family, especially for me as I attempted to balance work, a social life, motherhood, and being a wife.
Everyone demanded something of me. Always.
Some days it felt as though I couldn’t catch a break and was failing in at least one facet of life, whether it be friend, mother, wife or employee. Other days it seemed as if I was failing at all of them and disappointing the world. It helped in the transition back to work, though, that Garret’s parents had offered to take Henry. So while I was at work, I had the peace of mind knowing my child was being well taken care of by people who loved him nearly as much as we did.
Three days a week, I packed snacks and a couple of bottles of pumped breast milk for Henry and dropped him off with his grandparents on my way to work. Then his father picked him up on his way home around five-thirty. Our system had been working like a well-oiled machine for several weeks, but lately Garret had been texting me midday, asking me to pick Henry up because of an unexpected work “thing,” and he was arriving home after his son had gone to bed. Last night had been one of those nights.
“So what do you think?” Garret asked again. I’d drifted off into my thoughts and hadn’t bothered to answer him. Shit. He really was the most patient human being on the planet.
“About what?” I wrapped up his sandwich and put it in his lunch bag, along with a bag of chopped veggies and an apple. The same things made their way into my lunch bag as well.
“Getting your parents to watch the little man for a night.”
“Uh, yeah … maybe. It’s going to be pretty hectic, what with the wedding and all. Might not be doable.” My brother was getting married on Saturday, so there would be absolutely NO opportunity for us to get out for drinks with him and Emma. And my mother was spazzing out, much as she had over our wedding, and would be in no frame of mind to babysit. But I’d already denied my husband an orgasm this morning and snapped at him at least once, so instead I just nodded and hummed another “maybe.”
Garret came up behind me and wrapped his arms around my waist while bending his knees, our height difference making it a tad awkward. We began to sway.
“I miss the crazy sex we used to have. I miss having sex, period. God, when was the last time we did it?”
I honestly couldn’t remember.
“I miss the naughty pictures you used to text me in the middle of the day. Send me a picture of your boobs this afternoon, would ya?”
I smirked. “We’ll see. I’m really busy this afternoon. We have a new artist coming in. He wants to do a show, so I’ve got a lot to do.”
He spun me around so that we were facing each other. “Okay. Remember, you show me yours and I’ll show you mine.” His eyebrows playfully bobbed up and down like two dark caterpillars on his forehead before he swooped in and pecked me hard on the lips. “All right, you’ve got the little man? I’m going to go shower.”
I nodded before turning my back to him and then rolling my eyes as I finished packing our lunch. I had no problem seeing his, but like hell was I going to take a selfie of mine and have that floating around the internet. No freaking way.
LAST DAY to Enter here to win a copy of Sex, Heat and Hunger: Part 1