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Life is full of ups and downs. Events that shape who you are, even those that are filled with heartbreak and tragedy.
What do you do when actions bring devastation?
How do you pick up the pieces and keep moving forward?
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I make my way toward Mark with Reagan’s words, “He assumes you’re his while you’re standing here wondering if he’s yours. Talk to him,” bouncing around in my head. Does he really already think I’m his? Sure, I want to be, but like I told her, we’ve never talked about it. I’m not even sure how we ended up where we are. We just kind of started hanging out with everyone as a group, and before we knew it, we were hanging out just the two of us. Hell, we didn’t even start sleeping together until a few months ago. Things are always easy and fun. I just assumed that’s what we were. A good time. Now, I’m not so sure. I know what I want. What my heart wants. But Mark is one of those guys. You know the type. The one that every woman is drawn to. He has that “bad boy” vibe with his tattoos adorning his arms and back. He’s not the type to stick with one woman. Then again, from what Kendall has told me, neither was Ridge or even Tyler for that matter. Now look at them.
I can’t help but smile as I think about Mark and his group of friends. They’re the poster image for badassery, but when it comes to the women and now kids in their lives, they’re big softies. It’s endearing.
It’s sexy as hell.
I stop next to Mark, and he immediately slides his arm around my waist and pulls me close. “It’s hard to believe she’s already a year old,” I say, observing as Everly laughs at Knox. He’s dancing around being goofy, and she’s loving every minute of it.
“Right, and those two,”—he points to Tyler and Reagan’s twin boys—“they’re going to be next. Time is passing us by.” He laughs.
He’s right. Time is flying by, and as I stand here watching our friends and their kids, I know that’s what I want. I want kids of my own, and a husband. My gut twists because I don’t know if he does. I need to just ask him. After all, communication is key to every relationship. Right?
Before I can reply, Knox makes a beeline for us and wraps his arms around my legs. I lift him into my arms and settle him on my hip. He rests his head on my shoulder and my heart melts. This little guy is so full of love.
“What are you doing, birthday girl?” Mark smiles down at Everly, who pulls on his pants leg. He lifts her effortlessly and holds her in his arms. “I think you need to tell your daddy it’s time for cake,” he whispers, loud enough for me to hear. He winks at me then addresses Knox. “Look at you moving in on my girl.” He reaches out and tickles his belly, which causes Knox to wiggle in my arms.
“No.” He chuckles. Mark eases up and Knox wiggles to get down. He rushes across the room to his dad, who swings him in his arms upside down, pulling a deep belly laugh from him before settling him on his hip.
“Are you tired, sweetie?” I ask Everly. Reaching over, I push her brown locks out of her eyes.
“I think we better get to the cake and presents before this little one passes out,” Kendall says, appearing beside us. At the sound of her mom’s voice, her eyes open a little wider and she turns toward the sound. She immediately holds her arms out for Kendall, who takes her from Mark after he kisses her on the cheek and whispers another “Happy Birthday” to her.
By the time Everly opens her gifts and smashes a handful of cake in her face as we sing “Happy Birthday,” she’s done. It’s not just her. All the kids seem to be cranky and ready for a nap. When Everly rubs her eyes and gets cake in them, she starts to cry. Daddy to the rescue. Ridge scoops her up and cradles her in his arms.
“You ready to head out?” Mark asks, his voice low and only for me. All the kids are exhausted, and I’m sure Ridge and Kendall are ready to have their house to themselves.
“Yeah. We heading to my place?”
“Thought we could go to mine.” He playfully wags his eyebrows and it’s such a contrast from his usual intense stare. That’s something I’ve noticed he saves for those closest to him.
“We can do that,” I agree, stepping a little closer to him. “I was hoping we could talk.”
His eyes, full of intensity, are back and focused on me. “Everything okay?” His concern is evident in the tone of his voice.
“Yes.” I smile reassuringly.
“Oh, I get it.” He smiles. “I like the way you think,” he says with a wink. “Talking.” He wags his eyebrows again. “Sounds like a grand idea.”