IT was sunny and warm when she woke, and the air smelled like summer roses. She snuggled in for a moment. Warm sheets carrying the faint scent of her man, the soft drift of silence.
She rolled over lazily, blinked. Something odd hung over her mind. Not really unpleasant, just odd.
The dream. The strangest dream.
She sat up and stretched, feeling the healthy pull of muscles. Naked, and easy with it, she slid out of bed, sniffed the butter-yellow roses on the dresser before picking up her robe. She paused by the window to admire her garden, draw in the fragrant air. She pushed the window open wider and let the sound of birdsong follow her out of the room.
The odd feeling was already fading—as a dream does on waking—as she glided down the stairs, trailing a hand over the silky wood of the banister. Jewel lights from the window over the door played on the floor. More flowers, exotic sprays of white orchids, speared out of the antique vase on the entrance table.
His keys were tossed beside them, in the little mosaic bowl she’d bought just for that purpose.
She wound her way through the house to the kitchen, then grinned. He was at the stove, sliding a battered slice of bread into the skillet. There was a tray beside him, already topped with a flute of sparkling juice, a single rose in a bud vase, her pretty coffee cup.
The back door was open. Through it, she could hear the birds continuing to sing and the dog’s occasional happy barks. Blissful, she crept forward, then wrapped her arms around his waist, pressed a kiss to the nape of his neck.
“Watch it. My wife could wake up any minute.”
“Let’s risk it.”
He turned, caught her up in a long, hard kiss. Her heart leaped, her blood fired, even as she thought, Perfect. It’s all so perfect.
“I was going to surprise you.” Flynn ran his hands over her back as he eased her away. “Breakfast in bed. The Hennessy Special.”
“Make it a better surprise, and have breakfast in bed with me.”
“I could probably be persuaded. Hold on.” He grabbed a spatula, flipped the bread over.
“Mmm. It’s after eight. You shouldn’t have let me sleep so late.”
“I didn’t let you get much sleep last night.” He winked at her. “Seemed only fair to let you catch a little this morning. You’ve been working so hard, Mal, getting ready for your show.”
“I’m nearly done.”
“And when it’s over, I’m going to take my incredibly beautiful and talented wife on a well-deserved vacation. Do you remember that week we spent in Florence?”
Sun-drenched days, love-drenched nights. “How could I forget? Are you sure you can take the time off? I’m not the only one who’s been busy around here.”
“We’ll make time.” He flipped the French toast onto a plate. “Why don’t you grab the paper, and we’ll crawl back into bed for an hour . . . or two.”
Sleepy cries began to sound from the baby monitor on the counter. Flynn glanced toward it. “Or maybe not.”
“I’ll get him. Meet me upstairs.”
She hurried up, part of her mind acknowledging the paintings lining the walls. The street scene she’d done in Florence, the seascape from the Outer Banks, the portrait of Flynn sitting at his desk in his office.
She turned toward the nursery. The walls there were decorated with her paintings as well. The bright faerie-tale scene
s she’d done the entire time she’d been pregnant.
And in the crib with its glossy spindle bars, her little boy cried impatiently for attention.
“There now, sweetheart. Mama’s right here.” She picked him up, cuddled him close.
He would have his father’s hair, she thought, as she cooed and swayed. It was already coming in dark, with those hints of chestnut shining through when the light caught it.
He was so perfect. So absolutely perfect.
But as she carried him toward the changing table, her legs went weak.