Stay With Me

Stay With Me by Jenny Anastan

Book: Stay With Me by Jenny Anastan Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jenny Anastan
voice was shaky. I felt shy about sharing that moment with him. Not that it had been the first time. I’d cooked for him four years ago, but we’d rarely managed to enjoy the meal while it was still hot.
    “What about the string beans?”
    “They’re in that bowl. I’ve already added the condiments. If you like, you can take them outside. I’ll be right there.”
    He grabbed the bowl and went out onto the terrace. His presence made me feel like an adolescent with her first crush. I was at the mercy of my hormones. I transferred the stew to a casserole dish and went to join Andrew and Olivia.
    I was walking into a very bad situation, and instead of putting a stop to impending disaster, I stayed and enjoyed the moment.
    If I had to give a title to our evening together, I would have called it the Perfect Dinner.
    The three of us were perfect.
    This was how it should have been from the beginning: true and exciting and sincere like the smiles Andrew gave Olivia and the glances I reserved for him. But we couldn’t go back in time, and it was useless to even think about it. Even this moment wasn’t the norm, nor would it ever be. It was just a special occasion. Then after the wedding, everything would change again for the worse, dictating new and precarious balances.
    Once Andrew married Ashley, for all he might say and do to the contrary, he would not have all of that freedom. Perhaps it wouldn’t even last up until the wedding. No sooner would he confess the existence of a child then poof , Andrew might as well disappear into nothingness.
    I would never allow Olivia to suffer. I had to talk to him as soon as possible to plan our immediate future and decide what to do for the good of my little girl.
    Andrew balled up a piece of bread and threw it at Olivia’s face with a chortle.
    She popped her eyes open and gave me a shocked lock. I understood right away she was asking permission to retaliate. I nodded, taking a sip of water, and watched them play above the edge of the glass.
    I want to try again with him.
    I almost choked when I formulated the thought. What was I thinking? Was I going completely insane?
    God, was I fit to be tied. I was changing my mind every other minute.
    But my internal chastising wasn’t enough. The more Andrew smiled at Olivia, and the more they played and fell into their roles of father and daughter, the more my mind spun.
    He’s not married yet . . . I could give it another shot. I have a feeling he won’t reject me.
    I shook my head to drive away those forbidden desires and exhausted, I massaged my temples.
    “Everything alright, Zoe?” he asked.
    “Sure, sure, I just have a bit of a migraine. It’ll pass in a bit.” I forced a smile, and we all went back to our dinner.

    Olivia had fallen asleep on the corner of the couch with a plaid throw on top of her.
    She’d passed out immediately, having spent the entire day playing and running. She’d even skipped her afternoon nap.
    “Should I put her to bed?” Andrew whispered.
    The question warmed my heart. “Yes, thanks.”
    I watched his every move, even his breaths, because I was stupid and wanted to hurt myself.
    He got up, trying to move as little as possible, and bent over Olly with a strange expression. I wasn’t able to decipher it right away, but then I understood.
    His eyebrows were relaxed. There was a hint of a smile in his eyes, and caution in his movements from the time he picked her up until he held her head still against his chest.
    He was behaving like a father. He’d learned fast, faster than I would have predicted. He was a father and he’d understood it, felt it. It was the equivalent of the maternal instinct.
    I ran my hand on my throat and rubbed my eyes. I suddenly felt like moaning out of pleasure. It was a celestial vision, something I would always think back on.
    Perhaps I’d never again have the opportunity to witness a scene as beautiful as that, but I would safeguard it in my heart.
    Andrew returned to

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