My current project is editing a story called Bruised which has a special place in my heart. Why? Well, Hunter Morgan. This man has stolen a piece of my heart and my soul and the thought of letting go of him physically pains me. As I return to the story, I feel the same rush of enthusiasm I felt when I wrote it. I wanted to share the first three chapters with you guys so you can maybe fall in love with him too.
Why was it so hard to get a single second of Hunter’s damn attention? Daisy Starling cleared her throat and edged closer to him on the couch. He seemed more interested in his cell than in his own girlfriend.
“Hunter?” She tugged his arm.
“What?” He shrugged her away.
“Mom and Dad are out for a while.”
Daisy nestled into the cushion of the sofa and pulled her legs to her chest. It had taken her days to encourage Mom and Dad to go out – Dad fought against her many times, his skepticism only increased. Worst of all, she’d have to tidy the house before he returned home. Her list of chores almost made time with Hunter impossible. Almost. “We only have until six.”
“We have ages.”
She huffed. A strand of hair escaped from her hairpin, teasing her eyelashes. She blew it away but it fell back into place. No good. With a side-glance at the clock, she counted every second that passed, easing the pin out of her brunette locks, the natural wave blocking her line of vision.
Finally Hunter looked away from his cell and shifted his focus to her lengthy legs, the skirt hung just above her knees. His warm hand soon found her thigh and he eased closer. “You look good.”
“Thank you,” her voice was quiet.
“Maybe I am.”
He leaned closer, his lips grazing against her neck. “You’re beautiful. God, I missed you.” His other hand gripped her waist, pulling her closer.
A part of her preferred it when he ignored her, but she’d never refuse his affection, not if he gave it so freely. She closed her eyes and tilted her head to the side, granting him access to her neck. A hint of a smile blossomed on her lips, but it quickly faded. The pang of nausea returned.
“Why don’t we go to your room?”
“We’re not allowed, Hunter, Daddy would be angry.”
“How is he going to know?” His soothing tone didn’t ease the whirlwind building in her stomach.
“Can’t we just stay here?”
Hunter loomed above her, easing her down to the lengthy sofa, using his right leg to tease her thighs apart. “I want you, Daisy.”
“I know you do … but we shouldn’t do this here.”
“Not here, not your bedroom. Where then?” His lips attached to her neck, scattering kisses.
“Just … get off me. I mean it.”
“Stop it, you know I like—”
Daisy pushed him away and sat up abruptly. She covered her mouth and waited for the sickly sensation to pass. It didn’t. If anything, it got worse.
“What is wrong with you?”
“I’m not feeling well.” She lowered her hand and gazed into his lifeless eyes, his attention shifting between the clock and his cell. “Maybe we can go upstairs. But don’t make any mess, I have to clean up before Mom comes home – I’ll get in trouble if the house looks like this when they come home.”
“You have four hours. All I need is one.” He cupped her cheek and pressed himself against her, gracing her with a tender kiss. “Just once, please?”
She mumbled against his lips. “Once.”
He slipped his arm beneath her knees and lifted her swiftly, like a princess he carried her from the couch to the staircase. She nestled against his neck and closed her eyes; his scent was strong, calming. Her grip tightened around his neck and fought the churning in her stomach. All she longed for was one night away from the disgusting sensation burning in her throat. There was only so many excuses she could make with Daddy.
Hunter slipped his shirt on quickly. He hardly looked at her. He’d gotten what he’d come for, he was done.
Daisy pulled the covers over her chest, pressed her thighs together, and watched him parade through her bedroom for his lost sock. She nibbled her lower lip. “You don’t have to go.”
“I do, I have plans, sorry, Dais.”
She nodded. “I could make you lunch—”
“I said I’m busy.” His cold tone cut her short. When he stared at her, his eyes cold as pewter, she felt nauseous again. This time, she could suppress it. There had to be something she could do.
“I love you, Hunter.”
“I know you do.” He leaned down, presented her with a quick kiss, then pulled away. “I’ll call you sometime.”
“O-Okay … well, I’ll miss you.”
He smiled at her. “See you.”
“Bye …” She watched him disappear from sight; the sound of his footsteps against the staircase and the wooden floor downstairs soon ended. The front door slammed. Daisy reached for her pile of clothes on the floor and pulled them closer to her chest.
Oh god. Oh dear god. How was this even possible?
Daisy rested her hand to her forehead; she closed her eyes and shook her head. Staring at her small feet, she analyzed the pattern of the carpet. The loose threads had never bothered her before. It was better to focus on the impurities than the revelation.
A quiet sob emitted. Her breath quickened, each one harder than the last. It couldn’t be possible. He promised. He said it wasn’t possible. He said, it wouldn’t happen. The chances were thin. Unlikely. Why was she so stupid?
Fumbling through her drawers for her cell, she dialed his number quickly, listening to every ring until it ended. “Hunter, thank god—” But she was cut off.
I’m busy. Probably. Leave a message and I’ll get back to you. Maybe.
Daisy stroked the thin chain around her neck, tracing until she found the daisy pendant. “Hunter, it’s me. Again. Look, I know we broke up and I know you’re probably ignoring me but I really need to talk to you. It’s important. Please, I’m going crazy and I don’t know what to do. Please just, call me.” She ended the call and dropped her cell to the bed.
There was only so long she could make excuses. Time was running out.
Daddy wasn’t stupid. She remembered the last time he had been in Hunter’s presence. Maybe she should have listened, ended things before it got out of control. Everything was falling apart. She lowered to her chair and stared at the photograph of Hunter at the beach on the desk. She loved that picture of Hunter. She stroked the outline of his smile and the ache in her chest grew.
He was horrible. He was a bastard. Daddy was right. She grabbed the photo and launched it against the wall. The glass shattered and she let out a painful cry. Burying her face in her hands, she rocked back and forth.
Footsteps approached. “Daisy, what on earth are you doing up here?”
“N-nothing, Daddy.” She lowered her hands and looked at him. He picked the picture from the frame and ripped it into pieces, throwing it into the trash. He sat on the bed and patted besides him.
Giving in to his request, she lumbered towards him then fell into his arms. Daisy’s tears returned; her sobs became sudden gasps for breath.
“Daisy, what is this about? You stopped crying about him months ago. I thought things were better. Come on, Princess.” He tapped her chin, urging her to look at him. But she couldn’t.
“D-daddy …” She whimpered, burying her face into his neck, she clung to him closely. “Please don’t be mad.”
His strong arms held her, patting her back as she rocked back and forth. “Why would I be mad? How could I ever be mad at you?” He tilted her chin up, but her exhaustion expression caused his brows to furrow, his chocolate eyes narrowed and his fists clenched the back of her shirt. He struggled to meet her gaze. “I’m gonna kill him.”
“Daddy, no. It’s not his fault!” Oh god, what had she done? He knew. He knew everything. The seconds of the clock slowed until each tick felt like minutes. It wasn’t his fault. She should have known better. It wasn’t his fault. At all. “Daddy, please don’t be mad.”
“Daisy, please come downstairs. Immediately.” He abandoned her side and walked to the door. “Don’t touch the glass, you could hurt yourself. Your mother will clean it later.”
He walked away before she could argue. What could she say? She covered her lips and gripped the chain around her neck. Her grip tightened and with a sudden snap, she dropped necklace into the trash.
Eight years later
Hunter stared at the animated characters bouncing across the TV screen, sipped his tumbler of Jack, and boredom took over him. How could he make an uneventful night interesting? He picked up his cell and searched his address book for one name: Astor Bennett. He listened to the dial tone, almost ready to give up after the third ring until he heard her voice. “Hey you.”
“What are you doing, right now?”
“Just watching a shitty movie on TV, why?”
“Wanna come over?”
“And do what?”
“I’ll be there in ten.”
Hunter dropped his cell to his lap, her words lingering in his mind. Ten minutes wasn’t too long, long enough for him to finish his bottle of Jack. With a quarter remaining, he filled the tumbler until the every last drop was gone. All gone. He tucked the bottle beside the couch, and stared at the screen.
She was right, it was a shitty movie. He recognized the high-pitched voices in the background of her call. Given the choice he’d rather watch Transformers or Firefly re-runs, but he was stuck watching an animated movie. Surprisingly, re-runs of Judge Judy, while entertaining, didn’t appeal tonight.
He wiggled on the lumpy couch until the broken spring no longer dug into his back. The couch had served him well for eight years, through several moves and many eventful nights. The flat screen TV was his most lavish possession he had, and it was one of the few pleasures he took from life.
Granted, his home was decorated to the bare essentials. Simplicity was far more favorable to a show home. The walls had never been repainted; they were the same cream color that the previous owner had chosen. His only addition had been a small rug on the floor. A perfect, if not a little tatty, rug.
A sudden knock at the door captured his attention. He downed the contents of the tumbler and turned off the TV before opening the door.
Astor stood in her three-inch heels, a dress that stopped just above her knees, and her cleavage on full display. Her strawberry blonde hair tied into a fishtail plait. She strutted into his bachelor pad.
Closing the door, he admired her stroll into his home.
“Smells like sex in here.”
“Not yet.” He grasped her hips, bringing her body closer until her breasts grazed against his chest. The fluid movement from the lounge to the bedroom left a shirt and a dress left on the floor, followed by his pants, and the remainder of their clothes landed on the bedroom floor.
Hunter pinned her hands above her head against the pillow. His lips attached to her neck, and sucked against the skin until his mark remained. He lowered until he found her nipple, and she moaned in response.
Once he had released her hands, they pressed against his chest. Abandoning her breast, he stole a quick kiss, the gloss from her lips making his sticky. She stroked across his abdomen and twirling her fingertip against the soft fluff below his navel.
“Oh god, I’ve missed you,” she whimpered, “I’ve been thinking about this all day.”
“Were you thinking about this?” His left hand lowered to massage her other breast, the pace of his strokes quickening with every rub.
His hips ground against hers. He was almost in his full glory. The throbbing intensified, her hips lifted and pressed against his length.
“Wait here.” He picked up his pants and slipped them on, not bothering with his shirt. Peeking out of the small window, he saw a woman dressed in a suit with a stern expression. This meant one thing. Trouble. “One moment,” he called out to the woman behind the door. He picked Astor’s clothes up, and tossed them into the bedroom. “Get dressed, now.”
Hunter closed the bedroom door behind him, and took slow steps towards the front door. As he opened it, his gaze locked on the five foot one woman. He scratched his stubble, his body rested against the doorframe. Judging from the look on the woman’s face he questioned if she could smell the perfume.
“Can I help you?”
“Mr. Morgan?” she asked.
“Yeah, who’s asking?”
His gaze lowered from the woman down to the watch on his wrist. What was she doing here? His only unexpected visitors usually came dressed in lingerie, often bringing surprises. They never arrived dressed in suits, and they were usually happier to see him.
“My name is Natasha Simpson from Social Services, and I would like to speak with you. May I come in, sir?”
He looked back at the lounge, listening for a sign of Astor. She was silent, probably listening to every word. He gestured for the visitor to enter, walking towards the coffee table, and perched on it, cursing his lack of furniture. He gestured to the couch, specifically the cushion closest to the door. He could only imagine her face if she sat on the broken spring.
“What’s this about?”
“Are you familiar with Miss Daisy Starling?” she asked.
“Not that I know of.”
“Well, she is familiar with you. She was involved in a car accident last week, and passed away four days ago,”
Silence. What should he say? He blinked, and watched Natasha’s expectant expression. Apparently she wouldn’t speak before he did. “Sorry to hear that.”
“She has an eight year old daughter named Evelyn, who is currently in foster care, but we’re looking at a long term solution.”
“Okay…” The slight frown on Natasha’s face urged him to speak. What was he supposed to say? ”What’s that got to do with me?”
“Mr. Morgan, according to her birth certificate, you’re Evelyn’s father. I’m here to discuss living arrangements.”
The blood drained from his face.
Father? I’m a father?
“Do you, uh, have a photograph?” Scratching his stubble, his eyes followed Natasha’s hands. A photograph should confirm her assumptions, at least sooth his mind. It was possible. More than likely he had a child somewhere in California.
Natasha offered Hunter a photograph of Evelyn. The resemblance was uncanny, but this couldn’t be his proof. Putting a face to a name made it even harder to reject the little girl.
“May we speak outside?” He glanced back at the bedroom, urgency came through in his voice.
“Of course.” Natasha stood and followed him outside.
“There must be some kind of mistake. I don’t have a daughter.”
“You do, Mr. Morgan, and Evelyn’s grandparents are too weak to take care of her. They are in and out of the hospital. You’re her only living and healthy relative.”
Though he racked his brain for any memory of a Daisy, he came up short every time. For the first time in a while, he felt anxious. A life depended on him, and the last thing he wanted to do was transfer the string of rejections onto the girl. Biological or not. He had a responsibility, not just to this little girl, but also to the Morgan family. Repaying the favor that had once saved him.
He could say no, turn her away and condemn her to a life of foster homes, temporary love and disappointment. But he knew better than that. Biological or not, this girl needed a miracle. She needed somebody to commit to her, and stick to it. Was he right the guy? “What happens if I don’t take her?”
“She’ll stay in the foster care and we’ll try to find her a suitable home.” The words ‘foster care’ made his skin crawl. Shoved from home to home, she was a makeshift child until a biological one came along. Until something better came along. “As her father, you also have the right to take care of her, and legally you’re her best bet. Foster homes can be tough on kids. It’s your choice.”
Faced with the biggest choice Hunter had made since renting his apartment for eight years, he stared into Natasha’s eyes. “I don’t know if that’s a good idea. I mean, I don’t even know if she want to live with me.” Whether or not she wanted to, she had to. Or did she? “She has nowhere else to go?” he asked.
Natasha shrugged. “Foster homes.”
That wasn’t an option. Letting a little girl get sucked into the system, get eaten up and spat back out, broken and abandoned? “Can you hold on a moment?”
Natasha nodded, and without a second thought he returned to the lounge, pushing the door ajar again and hurried to the bedroom. He opened the door and found Astor on his bed, fully dressed, arms crossed.
“Fuck, sorry, Astor, you’d better go.”
“Where?” she asked, her eyes widening.
He gestured to the window with a shrug. Hunter would rather drop dead than mix his life with Astor with the daughter he never knew he had.
“Out the window? Are you fucking kidding me?”
“Astor, I’ll call you tomorrow. Can you please go?”
Once Astor climbed out the window, he invited Natasha into his now empty home. They sat on the couch, and the broken spring dug against his thigh.
“Mr. Morgan, if you’re unsure, we can always do a DNA test. I understand some men wouldn’t want to raise another man’s child. You have every right to request one.”
The temptation was building; the words were on the tip of his tongue. He knew what he should say: yes, absolutely. “No, it’s alright,” the words even shocked him. “I don’t need to make a decision right now, do I?”
“No, but we’d like you think about it. The sooner Evelyn settles down the better. She’s had quite a shock, Mr. Morgan.”
“Yeah, I bet,” mumbling to himself, he scratched his stubble. “Alright. I’ll think about it.”
“We’ll schedule an appointment with you this week, I’m sure you’ll get along fine. How does Friday work for you? You can meet her and see how you feel about it. It’s a big decision, sir, and you shouldn’t make it lightly.”
“That’s fine, I’m usually home anyway.” He worked from home for an advertising agency; all of his work was in front of a computer. He didn’t need to leave his comfort zone; anything he needed was brought directly to him – mail, shopping, women.
As he knew well, he couldn’t be given the gift of a child unless he was deemed suitable, and what exactly was suitable? Hopefully he would pass. But the questions on his mind didn’t ease. Was he really the father? Even if he wasn’t the biological father, could he turn her away? No, he couldn’t. Not at all. Was he really ready for this kind of commitment? He could hardly keep a goldfish alive.
Whether or not he was ready, he was already in the deep end. Time had rewound and plonked in the same situation. Though the roles were reversed, it didn’t soothe the sickening sensation that consumed him. He was fucked.
He hadn’t moved from the spot since Natasha left over an hour ago. He was a father. Okay. He could handle this. Breaking the news down would make it easier to digest.
Daisy. He had no memory of who Daisy was. He remembered Diana, Danielle, Danika, but no Daisy. Why was this so frustrating? Calm down, I can work this out. He groaned. He needed a shower. An ice cold shower. That or a few bottles of Jack. Abandoning the comfort of his couch, he strolled to the bathroom and rubbed his forehead. Hunter threw his clothes into a pile on the bathroom floor. He rubbed his temples and gazed at the shower. What he really needed was Jack, but all he could allow himself was a nice cold shower. He turned on the tap and adjusted the temperature. The hairs on his arms bristled and he covered his face, rubbing his cheeks gently.
With every breath he took, the rain cloud above him continued to pour, thunder and lightened shattered what little intoxication had consumed him. Reality was a cruel thing. Life usually got in the way. Gone were the days when his biggest dilemma was whether or not he could handle one more client atop of his workload. He shuddered from the icy pellets against his skin and he lowered his hands, his eyes firmly closed.
It didn’t seem fair. One little girl shouldn’t be reason enough to uproot his life. One little girl couldn’t be the reason he abandoned everything he believed in. He opened his eyes the second the burning sensation in his stomach returned. Was it his duty to prevent another social tragedy like himself? Would his parents ever forgive him if he turned her down? He longed for a moment of lucidity, flashing neon lights to guide him to the correct conclusion but everything he found a sign it pointed to one thing – Evelyn. Responsibility overwhelmed him. Guilt consumed him. Sadness lingered in his heart.
He turned the shower off and grabbed a towel from the rack. He wrapped it around his waist and tucked the corner in. The cold chill against his wet chest sent shivers through his spine. With each step he took the cold floor beneath him attempted to trigger memories he refused to let resurface. Not a chance.
Where to start when you have no clue what you’re doing?
Hunter moved to his workstation, turned his computer on, opened Safari and began his search on Amazon.
Parenting books. There were many options. Too many. What books were helpful? He browsed, and settled for five books with the highest ratings. Next day delivery. Done.
His mind lingered on the little girl. The reality that he was a parent was still foreign to him. The man who loved a rug more than people, was willingly accepting a child. He would laugh, but it was rather tragic in all honesty. His fingers slid through his hair, tugging as he continued to browse the Internet.
His weakness was being exploited. The memories were stuck on repeat, words that stuck with him, etched in his subconscious. Don’t worry, Hunter, we’ll find you somewhere nice to live. Somewhere by the beach, would you like that? I’m sure they will love you. His brows creased, fist clenched and his attention averted.
Mail. What was in his mailbox? Astor Bennett.
Subject: Saw this and thought of you. He opened the mail and clicked the link, red lingerie set with white polka dots. While it looked great on the model, it would look even better on her.
He hit reply: You should invest in it. Can’t wait to see it.
Anxiously waiting for Evelyn to arrive at the building, Hunter fiddled with his car keys, jangling them as he paced. God, it felt like he was making the biggest decision of his life. Well, he was. What if Evelyn didn’t like him? What if he had nothing in common with her? After reading the books cover to cover he was still clueless. With no useful advice on parenting forums he was left with one option. Improvise. That’s all he could do.
He recognized a distant voice and he turned towards it. Natasha walked towards him with Evelyn holding her hand. He tried to smile at her, but she didn’t look at him.
“Would you like to go to lunch first? You guys must be hungry. Would you like that, Evie?”
Observing the smile on the child’s face, a gut-wrenching sensation took over. Her brown eyes, and the dark ring around them, captured his attention. They were almost identical to his. Her hair hung just below her shoulders, and it had a natural kink. This limited the various women ‘Daisy’ could have been. Whenever Evelyn cracked a smile a shiver ran through his spine. It was like looking into a mirror. She was cute, and with age she’d grow into her beauty. He knew where she got her looks.
This girl needed him, and it hit him like a ton of bricks. Rejecting her was no longer an option.
They found a quaint little diner close by. Evelyn rarely left Natasha’s side unless to use the bathroom. It might have only been a diner but Evelyn seemed to enjoy herself. There were more than enough options for children.
If Hunter’s small talk was bad, and it usually was with people that weren’t worked related, he didn’t know where to begin. “Hi Evelyn.” He waited for a verbal reply but she just looked at him. “Are you hungry?”
“Good, well this place is pretty good. What do you like eating?”
That was a good start. They ate in peace with Natasha driving the conversation, trying to ease Evelyn from her quiet shell. But even her efforts were fruitless. This was going to be a lot harder than he had imagined.
“Evelyn, tell Hunter about your hamster, I’m sure he’d love to hear about it,” Natasha encouraged, offering a bright smile.
“He’s white and ginger.” Evelyn didn’t look up from her lunch as she mumbled.
“That’s … good.” Despite his best efforts, an insincere smile plastered across his face. Animals. Well, that’s three he would be taking care of.
Back at the meeting room, they entered together. She didn’t hold his hand. She walked inside without looking back at him and sat comfortably on the floor. This place was a child’s paradise, patterned carpet and boxes of toys in the corner of the room. Hunter looked at the little girl sitting on the carpet, his eyes taking in the newest addition to his life.
Whether or not he was ready, it was decided. Becoming a father was a big transition, but this was beyond insane.
Evelyn needed a home and he was the first call. He didn’t know how to talk to children, he hadn’t communicated with them since he left school. The brief communication was enough to confirm his fears – he was out of his depth.
“How you doing?”
She shrugged, not removing the thumb from her mouth. Did all eight year olds suck their thumb? Maybe it was the trauma, but what did he know?
“That’s good, I guess,” Hunter looked through the box of toys, then gazed at the social worker in the room, observing them like wild animals behind a pane of glass at the zoo. Though she sat in the corner, he felt incredibly self-conscious. He remembered this scenario clearer than he wanted to, family after family asking the same questions, making the same commitments.
He pulled a robot, with moveable arms and legs out of the toy box. He had one exactly like this when he was young, the first Christmas present the Morgan family bought him.
His attention returned to Evelyn when she pulled a Barbie from the box. She adjusted the doll’s dress, and found the missing shoe.
“You like Barbies?” he could have kicked himself when he asked, what little girl didn’t? “Does she want to play with Mr. Robot?” He picked up a stuffed panda plush, and wriggled the toy’s arms.
She smiled. The weight on his shoulders lifted as she removed her thumb and reached for an Action Man, and then offered it to him.
“Beer … and cheese?” Natasha gazed back at Hunter, judgment thick in her stare.
“Um. Yeah.” His hands slipped into his pockets. Was that bad? Evidently, it didn’t please her.
She moved to his cupboards and opened them, peering in. Again, she turned back towards him, head tilted to the side. “Mr. Morgan, your cupboards are almost bare.”
“I shop when I run out of food. I hate buying food and then it sits there, uneaten. It’s waste of my time and money. Admittedly, it’s bare at the moment, but I’m planning to go shopping soon.” He gestured to the jars of hot dogs. “Plus, I don’t plan my meals. I usually buy before I cook.” If he cooked at all. “I’m not a man of routine, I just, go with the flow.”
“May I suggest you establish a routine? Children need them, a clear bedtime, dinner time, and a routine will help Evelyn settle in.” Natasha closed the cupboards then walked to his lounge, looking around.
She would find nothing wrong with it. Nothing at all. What little girl didn’t love a large flat screen TV, and masses of DVDs to watch? A crazy one. Natasha stepped towards the corner of the room and picked something up. Turning back towards him, a shirt hung off her fingertip.
“My bad. I forgot to pick it up.” He took it and held it tightly. Fuck. Maybe he should start cleaning up after himself, especially if visits from Astor were still frequent. “I’m usually tidier, but you caught me on a bad day. I was up till late working.” Good enough.
“When you have a child, you need to put her needs first. You need to awake at a reasonable time for her, and she certainly needs a tidy environment, Mr. Morgan.” Natasha’s tone was sharp.
Evidentially, not good enough. He followed her through to the bedroom.
“This is your bedroom?”
“Where will Evelyn sleep?”
He laughed nervously, but Natasha quickly snapped back towards him. Okay, maybe he shouldn’t laugh. “Well, I haven’t had time to clear out my spare room. I need to move the stuff to storage, or find somewhere else for it. But I’m busy with work. I find my own clients so I work overtime for it. If I lose a client, I lose a lot of returning business so I’ve been pre-occupied.” Oh no, he needed more. “If I lose my clients, I lose my money and I can’t care for her. She’ll take my bed and I’ll take the couch until I can take her shopping and decorate it. I don’t really have the time.”
Natasha nodded then left the room, walking through the hallway. This woman was tough. He stayed close behind as she opened the door to the spare room. Boxes piled, a treadmill, stuff he hadn’t unpacked (and probably wouldn’t) filled the room. “It’s a good size. But when will you have it done by?”
“I don’t know. When I’m done with the next few weeks, I have more time. It will happen, it’ll be … I don’t know, pink, or whatever. But I can’t do it now.” He followed her through to his workstation that would not become Evelyn’s bedroom. “I’m a graphics designer so all of my work is at a computer.”
Natasha nodded and walked back to the couch, sitting down and scribbling down some notes. “Would two weeks be enough for a bedroom? I’ll be back to check, Mr. Morgan. She needs stability, starting with a bedroom. Somewhere to sleep.” She paused and stared at him, like an officer interrogating a criminal. “Do you fully understand the extent of your responsibility?”
Hunter sat on the couch but the reminder of its broken state almost impaled him. He kept a straight face, and nodded.
“There’s a lot more to having a child than just food and a place to stay, there’s things like …”
Fuck. His home would be turned upside down. His stuff out, her stuff in. Goodbye freedom. What about Astor? Could he still see her frequently, or would a child in the house seriously damage his sex drive? No more surprise visits.
He missed it already, as he watched her lips move, he didn’t pay attention to words. Then he remembered … maybe he should have been.
“… Do you understand?”
He blinked. “Yep, got it.”
“Good. I’ll bring her over on Thursday, some time in the evening. We’ll take her to dinner first so you don’t have to worry about feeding her. But please be prepared, and a tidy home for her. First impressions mean everything, Mr. Morgan.”
He nodded. “I got it.”
Evelyn was due to arrive that evening, for good. His home would become hers. The nerves intensified as each hour passed. How was he expected to focus? His peaceful home would soon be filled with chaos. The very thought made his skin crawl. There was only one way to ease his anxieties. A new bottle of Jack.
Oh, how he loved Jack.
No longer worried about passing inspections, he could relax. While her bedroom remained unfurnished, he hardly had the time to decorate it, or shift his boxes into storage. Shaking his head at the thought, the couch was soon to be his companion for a few weeks. Well, he may as well get comfortable.
Time seemed to pass quicker when he switched the TV on, watching whatever channel was most appealing. He didn’t care for it, but the sound kept him company. While his mind was pre-occupied with his JD, he heard a knock at the door. Evelyn? He walked towards it slowly.
Opening it, a wicked grin spread on his face. A surprise visit from Astor was his top priority, and exactly what he needed. She opened the nightgown, and revealed the fitting lingerie, capturing his complete and undivided attention. The see-through material left her perky nipples clearly visible. He had time for Astor. Shouldn’t be more than an hour, right? It was only six. Evelyn wouldn’t be here for a while.
After admiring the view, his body’s reaction was almost instant. Astor’s eyes lowered to his midriff, clearly pleased. When their eyes locked again, she stepped into his apartment and closed the door. Dropping the gown to the floor, she allowed him to admire the view.
Unsure of where to look, he started with her plump breasts but the tattoo on her hips brought his attention lower. He scooped her in his arms and carried her to the bedroom, dropping her to the bed he crawled atop of her. He lifted his shirt, tossing it aside. The rest of his clothes were on the floor in a matter of seconds, followed by the lingerie.
He explored every inch of her body with his lips, almost tasting her vanilla scented soap as he kissed her thighs. Her soft groans guided him through the various requests Astor gave. As her breathing settled, their lips locked as the combination of fluids mixed.
His hands grasped her thighs, pushing them open, and his lips pressed against hers eagerly, almost ready. With a swift thrust, her tightened grip around him caused his eyes to close, easing himself closer until he filled her. Her hands grasped his shoulders, nails digging in until the sharp pain caused him to grunt.
His eyes opened suddenly, panic struck him. Astor wasn’t fazed by the knock, but the look on his face caused her concern. He looked at the door, then at his watch. Shit. She was here already?
He withdrew and grabbed his boxers.
She huffed and puffed as he picked up her clothes.
“What the fuck are you doing? Ignore it!” Astor raised her hands.
Maybe it was karma, just as he could finally release the built up tension, responsibility got in the way. He hoped this wouldn’t become a habit – with Astor abandoned mid-action he was in her debt. He knew she would re-claim that debt, and truth be told, he couldn’t wait.
“You need to leave. Now.”
“Fuck you, Hunter. You’re such an ass.”
He closed the door behind him without looking back at her. What an impression Astor leaving the front door would be. His first impression needed to be positive, a model father (excusing the stench of sex.)
After he calmed himself for a minute, he padded over to the front door Natasha and Evelyn greeted him, though Evelyn seemed more interested in the hamster cage in her hands. The little white and ginger hamster ran in its wheel oblivious to its move.
Natasha smiled, her hand on Evelyn’s shoulder.
Hunter remembered this moment clearly, a new home – for a little while, until someone got bored and returned him. “Sorry, I was in the bathroom, come on in.” He gestured for them to enter. As Evelyn sat on the couch, she placed the cage on the coffee table. He offered her the remote, and she turned the TV on to the channel he’d previously been watching. And thank god it wasn’t porn.
“I love Spongebob Squarepants!” Evelyn’s eyes grew as she sat back and settled into the seat. Hunter’s gaze never left her and he tried to analyze the child. Nothing. He felt nothing.
Natasha sat with her for a while, engaging in general chitchat. He observed, taking note of everything that was said. Despite his efforts, he retained absolutely nothing. Maybe Jack wasn’t the best idea … but it was too late to change it now. If anything the sudden responsibility hanging over him made him feel perfectly sober.
“I’ll be back to check on you both. See you soon, Evelyn, okay?”
Evelyn nodded in response.
“Have fun, and thank you again, Mr. Morgan.” Natasha looked at Evelyn then smiled in his direction.
When Natasha left the apartment, Hunter carried Evelyn’s bags and piled them against the wall. He looked at the hamster in the cage, running on its wheel and felt Evelyn’s eyes on him.
“He doesn’t bite. Well, he does, but only if you surprise him. Would you like to hold him?” Evelyn reached for the small cage door hooked with a latch.
“Uh, I’m okay, thanks.” He turned toward the bedroom. “You’ll be staying here with me, are you okay with that?” His attention returned to her, waiting for a response.
“Okay, well, I’m not sure where you’ll sleep yet but we’ll find room. Is the couch alright?” Kids slept anywhere, she wouldn’t really need the bed, would she?
Evelyn wrinkled her nose and fiddled nervously with the loose bows on the side of her bag. She looked at the couch, then poked the broken spring. Clearly the couch wasn’t adequate, which meant only one thing. His bedroom.
His thoughts returned to Astor. Knowing her, she was waiting – the feeling around his shaft was enough for him to crave more, and Astor rarely took ‘no’ for an answer. Honestly, he’d loved that about her, the only thing better than sex with her was when she forced herself upon him – which he gladly accept it.
“Wait here, okay? Don’t follow me.”
Hunter approached the door and opened it slightly before slipping in, closing it behind him. As expected, Astor sat clothed, with a sour face. How could he get Astor out without Evelyn noticing? The door was no option. At least until she had settled in.
“Astor, you’ve really got to go. I mean it.”
“Again? Really, Hunter?”
“I’ll call you tomorrow.”
Huffing as she pushed the window up, she climbed out, struggling to slip her leg out, while he admired the view of her rounded backside. He could clearly see a wet patch on her lingerie.
He returned to the lounge and smiled at Evelyn. She didn’t return it.
He walked towards his spare room. Opening the door, he’d forgotten about the treadmill he’d purchased months ago. He hadn’t needed it so much recently, Astor had enough energy. He closed the door behind him, sighing in defeat. She couldn’t sleep there.
As he entered his main bedroom, the stench of sex struck him, and the sheets – he couldn’t imagine a child on these sheets, not after Astor had been on them. Quickly changing the sheets, he threw the dirty load into the hamper, and replaced it with an identical set. He pushed the door opened, inviting her inside. She looked around, nose wrinkling.
“Okay, do you want to sleep in here?”
She looked around the room, wrinkled her nose then turned her attention back to Hunter.
“It’s this or the couch.”
Evelyn glanced from the bedroom to the couch. She walked into the bedroom and put her bag to the floor before perching on the edge of the bed, bouncing. He watched her intently. The lack of complaints, or dissatisfied expressions, meant he was on the couch.
“Where can Hestor sleep?”
Hestor, he assumed, was her hamster. As he cleared his bedside table of his alarm clock, and watch he made room for the fur ball. His apartment was completely turned upside down, thanks to a woman … a very little one.
“He can sleep here. The bathroom is there…” He pointed down the hall to the door directly in sight. “The laundry room is next to it … we’ll go grocery shopping tomorrow.”
“Hestor needs more food, and bedding, and his ball broke last week.” Evelyn tugged her small pink suitcase into the bedroom.
“OK, remind me tomorrow.” Hunter put on his watch and grabbed the first clothes he could find the closet.