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Some Kind of Perfect (Calloway Sisters #4.5)
Author:Krista Ritchie & Becca Ritchie

“You do when they award themselves the title of MVP.”

“It’s not my fault I’m the most adept at determining who should be awarded what.” Before she starts referencing guillotines again, I add, “You could’ve been saved from feeling devastated. It wasn’t necessary, and it only hurt you.”

Rose eyes me head-to-waist since I’m partially blocked by the table. “What’s the tradeoff, Connor? Not having a friend?”

“You still could’ve had Amy as a friend. What I’m saying is that there wasn’t a need to be that invested in someone who you knew might leave.”

“I was a child. I thought she’d stay around forever.”

“Then that was your first mistake.” I pick up my empty teacup and pretend to take a sip.

She pretends to take another one out of hers, eyes drilling into me. Rose presses her lips together like she’s smoothing out her lipstick, and then she says, “You can’t bubble wrap her emotions, Connor.”

I’m not advocating to strip away their childhood the way that my mother did to me. They can fantasize about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. I’m even willing to play tea party with an imaginary cat and a stuffed animal.

“It’s not bubble wrap,” I reply. “It’s just self-appreciation to the highest degree. To feel so important that no one comes before you, not a friendship, not a thing, nothing that could make you feel pity, rejection, remorse or devastation.”

“No.” Rose places her elbows on the table, combating me. “She will feel those things because she will love more than just herself. And she’ll be better than you were.”

I was well off, but Rose values love above all else. I never did until I fell in love with her. I know why I want to save Jane from this.

Selfishly, I don’t want to see our daughter dig through these emotions, not ones that I could’ve helped her avoid. “You want me to watch a trainwreck?” I ask Rose.

“Multiple trainwrecks,” Rose says strongly. “And when she needs you to pull her out of the wreckage—”

“I’ll be there.” Remember love? I have to remind myself of this feeling that overcomes me, swelling my entire chest. I watch Jane kiss her lion on the cheek.

I have to remind myself that they need love as much as I do.

Remember love.

Charlie accidentally smacks his saucer of Cheerios, flipping it over. The cereal scatters the rug, and Charlie bursts into tears, crying at the top of his lungs.

Rose and I are about to stand to console our son, but we stop almost instantly. Beckett has dropped off his chair to help collect the dry cereal. And Jane sets down her teapot in haste.

“Charlie?” Her face is full of worry. “Don’t cry, Charlie.” She wipes her brother’s tears with her hand and then joins Beckett in picking up the Cheerios.

Rose and I pull our gazes off our young children and onto each other, face-to-face, across the tiny table. I extend my hand and tenderly clasp hers, my thumb skimming her knuckles back-and-forth. I see their love for one another, and I wouldn’t want anything less.

She nods to me, reading my gaze well enough, and then she drifts into deep thought. I wish I could hear the chatter inside her head.

After a long moment, I whisper, “What are you thinking?”

“That I’d love to have another little monster with you.” She rolls her eyes at herself, but my chest has already risen. “I’m insane for wanting more stress.”

“More happiness,” I amend.

“More children screaming.”

“More children laughing.”

She thinks for another second. “How can I love it all equally?” she wonders. “The vomit and the dirty diapers and the ridiculous things they do that end up being endearing and cute.” She watches Charlie wipe away his tears with a tiny fist while Beckett and Jane fill his saucer with cereal. “I don’t even think I’d want only the good moments without the horrible ones. I’d ask for it all again.” Rose says again like pregnancy is tantamount to torture.

If she truly believed this—if she truly felt this—I’d never want her to go through it again. Rose’s health and happiness might as well be mine.

“You love it all equally because you’re entirely and unequivocally in love with them. Love isn’t a weakness,” I say with complete certainty.

She smiles a very rare smile, but it lasts shorter than I’d like. “It’s not just about wanting a sister for Jane. Though I want another girl…sooner or later.” She glows at the word later like she hopes for that outcome.

Once she has another girl, we’ve agreed to stop having children. And she clearly wants more.

“Do you have any reservations?” I ask, my hand tightening around hers. I haven’t broached the topic of having more children. I never do after Rose gives birth. It’s her body, her physical timeline, and I’ll always be respectful of her wants and needs.

“It’s been almost a year since the twins,” she says. “I could probably wait another year, but I’ve recovered better than I thought…” Her gaze drifts to Jane who wiggles in her teal tutu, her cat headband sliding back. “Are you holding your bladder?”

Jane shakes her head and tries to fix her headband. I spot her guilt and the fib in her eyes.

So does her mother. Rose points at the bathroom. “Go now.”

“I can’t leave, Mommy!” she whines. “I’m hosing.” She means hosting.

My grin broadens.

Rose rotates more to face Jane. “Hostesses are allowed to excuse themselves to use the toilet, just like every other person. If anyone—including Mr. Lion—gives you heat about it, Mommy will disembowel them.”

“What’s disemem…” Jane loses track of her thoughts, clutching her tutu, wiggling more.

“Go.” Rose motions to the nearby door, right beside a white bookshelf.

Jane hurries off and closes the door behind her.

Rose captivates me to the point where she has all of my attention. My eyes, my mind, my heart.

She catches me staring and snaps, “What?” Her cheeks flush. “Stop looking at me like that, Richard.”

“Je t’aime.” I love you. I stand, walk around the table, and near my wife. Towering above her, I run my hand across the base of her neck, up to her hair.

A shallow breath expels from her lips, her head near my crotch and eyes at my belt. She strains her neck to look up at me. “I still want to continue working during every pregnancy,” Rose reminds me.

I expected no less. We both enjoy our current schedule, and it won’t shift.

Mondays: I’m at the Cobalt Inc. offices in Philadelphia. Rose works at home and watches our children.

Tuesdays: Rose is at the Hale Co. offices or her boutique in downtown Philadelphia. I work at home and watch our children.

Wednesdays: we both work at home together.

Thursdays: a repeat of Monday Fridays: a repeat of Tuesday.

Eventually we’ll need at least one more set of trusting hands when we both can’t be home. We’re both in agreement on hiring a nanny in the future.

Beckett and Charlie babble to one another, filling the silence, and my thumb skims Rose’s bottom lip.

I’d take her in the next five minutes, if I could. I’d push her up against our bed and tie her hands behind her back. Spread her legs open. Fit my cock deep inside my wife, fuck her hard until she dizzied.

I wear my desire in my eyes.

She crosses her legs now. “When you were a teenager, did you ever fantasize about me?” Her neck reddens, not in embarrassment but longing.

“Sexually?” I ask.

She nods.

Just as I’m about to answer, the toilet flushes and Jane calls, “Daddy, I can’t reach the sink!”

Rose swats my hand away from her face, about to rise to find the missing stepstool.

“I’ll take care of her.” I can just lift Jane up to the sink. Rose stays seated while I walk to the bathroom. Hand on the knob, I pause and look to Rose. “We’ll continue this later, darling.”

She nods tersely, but I’m not sure if she’ll ask that same question again. I can’t promise that I’ll bring it up soon, but we have years. Many, many years together.

{ 5 }

August 2018

The Golf Club

South Hampton, New York