The baby was asleep and Mark was in the kitchen. Bridget let out a slow, steady breath as she closed the door to the nursery, wincing as it clicked shut behind her. The tension in her shoulders bled out as the other side of the door remained silent, and she gave the tiniest of victory dances before heading towards the kitchen.
When she walked in, Mark was leaned up against the counter, his hands leaning behind him on the edge of the granite and his long, seemingly never ending legs crossed at the ankles. She couldn’t help smiling as she looked at him. He was out of his suit, the armor of his day shed in the master bedroom with his oxfords and tie. Instead, he now wore a pair of well worn jeans and a dark blue henley that stretched across the expanse of his broad shoulders in an absolutely tantalizing kind of way. The hair that she had gripped in her fist more times than she’d care to admit was now haloing his head, one errant curl falling across his forehead as if it were self conscious about being too uptight.
“Hello, there,” he said, his voice rumbling across the kitchen. “Everything go alright?”
Bridget nodded as she pushed a stray hair out of her face. “Flawlessly,” she said, crossing the space between them until she stood in front of him. Mark uncrossed his legs, and Bridget slotted herself between his socked feet, wrapping her arms around his waist and looking up into his face. “To think, you could’ve missed out on all of this magic if you didn’t come back.”
Mark’s arms were now securely ensconced around her waist, and Bridget could feel him fisting the fabric on the back of her cardigan as she spoke. His eyes had gone from clear and bright to concerned and hurt. Mark dropped his gaze down from Bridget’s, suddenly very interested in the front of his shirt as he swept his thumb back and forth against the small of her back.
“Why did you leave?” Bridget murmured, bringing one of her hands from around Mark’s waist to pick at a piece of lint that clung to his henley.
Mark lifted his eyes and studied her face. Bridget fought against the lump in her throat, already kicking herself for even bringing the subject up. He looked so sad. “You deserved to be happy. So I left,” he said.
“Oh, Mark. How could you ever think that would make me happy?”
“It seemed like the best choice at the time. I can see now how sorely mistaken I was.”
At this, Bridget smiled. She let it play on her lips as she looked into his eyes. They were different eyes than the ones she had fallen in love with fifteen years prior--these were a bit older, a bit wiser, bracketed with laugh lines (or perhaps worry lines). They were still that beautiful, liquid amber color, though. Shimmering and mischievous and the only eyes she ever wanted to look into for the rest of her life.
“You were very mistaken,” she said. Without shoes on, Mark towered over Bridget. She desperately wanted his mouth, to kiss away the sadness that came with his confession. Going up on her tiptoes, Bridget tilted her face up towards Mark, knowing he’d take the hint. Like muscle memory, Mark tilted down and claimed her mouth with his own. She felt the palm of his hand come up and cup her jaw, his fingers long enough to bury themselves in her hair as his tongue explored her mouth.
When they broke apart, the mischievous glint in Mark’s eyes had returned, and the frown on his lips had disappeared. Bridget grinned at him, running her hands up underneath his shirt and splaying them against the flatness of his stomach. He winced, saying, “Jesus, your hands are cold.”
Bridget threw her head back and laughed. Nothing could replace the look of sheer adoration in Mark’s eyes as he watched her, his gaze hungrily drinking her in as his eyes sparkled in the lowlight of the kitchen. Hooking her thumbs into the waistband of his jeans, Bridget said, “I love you, Mark.” Her thumbs unhooked and snaked around the soft, warm skin of Mark’s torso and settled on the spot just above his arse. Instinctually, Bridget’s head leaned forward and came to rest on Mark’s chest. His heart beat steadily under her ear, and she closed her eyes to try and commit the moment to memory.
As she stood there flush to Mark’s body, her head under his chin and her ear on his heartbeat, she could hear Mark’s voice roll through them both as he said, “I’ll never finish falling in love with you, Bridget. It’s impossible to stop.” He gave her a squeeze, pressing his lips to the top of her head and letting them linger there.
“Good,” Bridget whispered, squeezing her eyes shut to ward off the tears.
They stood like that for a bit, just holding each other and breathing in synch. Never one to handle awkward silences well, Bridget eventually spoke.
“What are you thinking about?”
“You. Always you,” Mark replied. Bridget let out a snort of derision. “Sometimes naked. Sometimes not. Depends.” Bridget could feel Mark’s smile pressing against the top of her head.
“So which is it?”
“Originally it was not, but the more we stand here, the more naked you’re becoming.”
Bridget pulled back from Mark’s chest, her eyes glimmering as a grin cut across her face. “You’re a pervy old man, Mark Darcy.”
Mark bent down and softly kissed the spot behind her ear, sending a shot of sheer lust through Bridget. “Let’s get you out of this cardi and, what are these again?” He pulled on the stretchy black fabric of her leggings. “Yoga pants?”
He let out a hum of acknowledgement, his mouth vibrating against the skin of her neck. Bridget let out a small moan of appreciation, pressing herself closer to the front of him. “How quickly do you think you can divest yourself of them?”
Bridget unhooked her hands from the back of Mark and brought them around front. In one swift motion, she shucked the leggings off of her body and kicked them across the kitchen where they landed in a heap next to the dishwasher. She arched an eyebrow in his direction, a challenging smirk on her lips. Bridget could see the heat rising in Mark’s face, settling itself across his cheeks and above his collar in a beautiful rose hue.
“Right then,” he growled. Palming her arse cheek in one of his large hands, Mark nibbled on her pulse before whispering in her ear, “You have ten seconds to get this pert little arse upstairs before I carry you up there myself.”
Tweaking his nipple, Bridget pulled away from him and sauntered towards the staircase, throwing her hair over her shoulder as she shot a glance back towards him. He looked beautifully undone, the errant curl still settled across his forehead, his cheeks flushed and his eyes blown wide. Stopping in the doorway, Bridget lifted the hem of her cardigan and gave her arse a little shake, allowing him full view of the pair of white knickers she was wearing.
She had started having to wear “granny panties” since having Will, and with a self deprecating chuckle, she had shown them to Mark as a joke. “So sexy, I know. Try not to salivate at the sight of them.” She had meant it as a jibe, but the look on Mark’s face was far from amused. There was a lusty hunger in his whiskey-colored eyes, and Bridget had been taken aback at it.
“I’d find you sexy in a paper bag, Bridget. I say you go give them a try.”
Ever since then, Bridget loved to parade around in the knickers, knowing that they ignited something exciting and arousing in Mark. That excited and aroused look was exactly what was written on Mark’s features as she lifted the hem a little higher on her cardigan. The panties were so high on her waist that she couldn’t even allow him a sliver of skin, but she watched him slowly lick his dry lips, and she knew that skin wasn’t necessary.
“See you upstairs, old man,” she said with a wink.
It wasn’t a matter of seconds before she heard Mark’s quick strides behind her as she hurried up the stairs, nervous, excited giggles escaping her the entire way.