Following my attention, she looked down at her chest. “I think I need to go shopping today. Everything is too small in the chest.”

“Don’t you dare get rid of that one.”

She pulled her lip between her teeth, blinking over to me. “Yeah?”

“Yeah,” I murmured, and the moment grew heavy. “You look bloody beautiful, Petal.”

“Is it . . . inappropriate, though? I mean, the way you’re looking at me makes me think this sweater is no longer very professional.”

“I guess it depends on where you’re headed.”

She shrugged, sitting down next to us. “I thought I’d go into the office for a couple of hours, just so next week doesn’t feel so disorienting. I’m meeting the girls for breakfast and then heading in.”

I kissed the top of Anna’s head. “Want me to take her with me?”

What was it about her face in that moment, right there, that made me feel so many things at once it was overwhelming? With her dressed and headed out the door, it was like I was seeing this combination for the first time: my lover, my wife, and also a mother, a nurturer and . . . fuck, a bird with the best pair of tits I’d ever seen.

Standing, I motioned for her to follow me back down the hall. I grabbed Annabel’s musical baby seat from the nursery and put it beside the dresser in our bedroom, facing the set of framed photographs of trees that she loved, and then guided Sara to the bed.

“Just a minute.” I retrieved my camera from the shelf, stabilized it on the tripod, and set it to automatic shots every five seconds. Sara’s breath was rapid and shallow when I bent low, kissed her neck, and told her, “I won’t keep you long.”

“Anna’s fine,” she said, pulling me closer. “Keep me as long as you can.”

Laying her back, I pushed her skirt up her hips and began kissing my way up her stomach, feeling my cock tighten with each nostalgic click of the shutter, with the feel of her hands digging into my hair. I moved her sweater up her stomach, revealing smooth, bare skin. She tasted like rain, like fruit, and had the same sweet scent I’d always worshipped on her body. Reaching behind her, I unhooked her bra and pushed it up over her breasts.

I’d always loved Sara’s breasts but I’d never particularly been a breast man until recently. The weight of them, the soft smell of her skin, and the odd spike I felt in my abdomen whenever she fed our child . . . it was an odd reflex to want to look at them, touch them like this, and one I realized I’d been fighting the last few months.

You don’t have to apologize for being turned on by that.

My mouth closed over the peak, tongue pulling her deeper into my mouth, and I groaned at the feel of it. She was warm and firm, so full—

I made her this way

—and when she reached for my track pants and pushed them down my hips to take me in her hand, the moment dissolved into frenzy.

I could imagine her looking through the pictures later, seeing how much I relished the feel of her in my mouth, the taste of her on my tongue. She would know, then, just by looking at my face, how I loved the slide of milk on my hand, the way her hips looked spread around mine. I worshipped her.

I rocked into her fist, groaning at the feel of her mouth sucking at my neck, her desperate, sweet little cries into my skin. Shoving her panties aside, I licked my hand and used it to make her slick so I could push deep inside with one sharp stab of my hips.

She gasped, eyes wide with thrill and relieved—fuck, she was relieved, as if I’d been missing and maybe I had. I pulled out and shifted forward, fucking her so hard and fast that within the span of a minute I knew I was coming; coming before I had time to get her there, before I even had time to consider whether she wanted me to spill inside her before leaving for work. I just . . . wanted with such intensity, with a kind of jagged need I hadn’t felt in so long that I couldn’t seem to slow myself down.

The tenderness and protectiveness had been pushed aside, just for the moment, by something older and familiar: a heavy need to claim her.

I reached between us, playing with her with my fingertips until she was bucking into my hand, gasping and squeezing around my cock. She cried out, three sharp pleas to drag her through her pleasure, and then she fell quiet, pulling me fully on top of her and exhaling heavily into my neck.

She’d seen me every day; we’d cuddled, talked, laughed, fallen asleep at the dinner table together, and done all manner of intimate things. But the relief in this moment was profound. I knew exactly what she meant when she whispered, “I missed you.”

And all I could say back was “I missed you, too.”

Mum was already at her desk when I arrived at the office wearing Annabel in the carrier. She jumped up, ran around the desk, and reached for her granddaughter without even looking at my face.

“Mum,” I hissed, laughing as I reached for her shoulders so she wouldn’t jostle the baby. “She’s asleep. Settle down, woman. You’ll get her in a bit when I’ve got a meeting with Levinson.”

My mother looked up at me and replaced her mild scowl with a sweet smile. “Mornin’, love.”

I’d never seen myself as a mum’s boy growing up but having her with us at Stella & Sumner for the past several years was one of my favorite things about coming to work. Especially since we’d had Annabel, I appreciated the proximity of family and their ability to tell us when we were acting like neurotic idiots.