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all this devotion

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She might be holding her shoes in one hand but Tessa keeps her other hand clasped in Morgan’s right up until they get to their room. He lets go long enough to fish the key out of his jacket pocket and even then she still curls her hand around the crook of his arm, leaning against his side. He kisses her temple quickly, before tapping the card and opening the door. She’s about as relaxed and happy as she’s ever been but all the same, walking into their hotel suite immediately makes her shoulders drop just a little more. 

“Oh, I almost thought we’d never get here,” she says, exhaling as she drops her shoes by the closet and the rest of her things on the nearest available surface. The room is warmly lit and silently comforting. “You’d have thought we of all people deserved to have at least a little say in when we got to escape.” 

“Not a chance, turns out.” He slips out of his jacket and shoes and then sits down heavily on the side of the bed. Then he falls backward, flopping out completely.

Tessa laughs. She’s still in her dress but her husband does paint an appealing picture. He turns his head towards her and then reaches out a hand towards her. She steps towards the bed and takes his hand in hers and then sits down next to him, and then leans back so she’s lying next to him. He lets go of her hand to wrap his arm around her instead, kissing the side of her head once again. For a long moment she just rests against him, enjoying the feeling. 

“Hey. We got married today,” she says, an excited almost-whisper. 

“We sure did,” he answers, his tone just as happy. 

It had been a lovely ceremony. Not without a few minor delays and hiccups - unsurprising given that they’re only a day away from New Year’s Eve and had been at the mercy of winter travel for all of their guests and bridal party to arrive. But then once they’d gotten everything started it had been just about perfect. The chilly temperatures outside had made the indoor ceremony and reception all the more warm. And thanks to the help of their wedding planner and a few extra-supportive family members, Tessa had needed to do very little in the end. She knows Morgan has done more than he’s been letting on, too - and she’d decided to let him. She loves him so much. 

She leans her head against his shoulder and wraps her arms around his. For a moment she lets her eyes close, breathing in the scent of him next to her - breathing in how this feels right now.

“You’re good?” His voice is quiet, almost a giddy whisper. 

“Mm,” Tessa murmurs, her eyes still closed. “Very good. You?”

“The best,” he breathes out. “What a day.”

“I’m so glad we took the suite for tonight,” she says, opening her eyes again. “I can’t fathom going anywhere else right now.” They could have headed back to the house if they’d wanted to, their west end home is only a twenty minute drive away. But the hotel had offered them the suite as part of their reception package and it had been the easiest thing in the world to accept. 

“My bride gets the best,” Morgan says emphatically, giving her a squeeze for good measure. He's called her that several times today and over the last week, and she's loved hearing it every time.

She’s got one arm wrapped around his middle, tucked against his side with her head resting against his shoulder. This feels all too comfortable and part of her doesn’t want to move ever, but she’s still wearing her dress and a few too many layers of makeup to stay like this for long. “Better take care of all this,” she says, looking down at her dress. The veil, at least, had been put away before the reception. She lifts her head to glance around the room and spies it resting inside a box just beside the desk - one of several things their wedding planner had packed up and sent back to the hotel ahead of her and Morgan.   

“I could help you with that, you know.” Morgan runs one hand along her shoulder, and then her hip. 

“Don’t I know it,” she answers, winking at him as she finally sits up. She leans in and kisses his lips once, and then moves to stand. 

“Wait,” he says gently. She pauses in her step towards the bathroom, and looks back at him. He stands too, moving to follow her. He puts his hands on her hips, and then runs one along her side. “Let me do this part.” 

Tessa nods, a smile still curling at her lips. She stays where she is and lets him turn his attention towards the little clasps at the back of her dress. His fingers are warm against her skin, the wide slightly off-shoulder neckline exposing the bare expanse of her neck and shoulders. It’s a lovely kind of intimacy, one she’s enjoyed receiving from him ever since their early months together. He often likes being the one to unzip her, at the end of the evening when they’ve come home from a fancy event or when she’s returned from a solo appearance. This particular dress has a more complicated set of closures than her usual evening wear, and she can’t help laughing a little as he takes a long moment to figure it out. 

“Hey, this is a hard one, you know,” he says, defending himself. “You had all that help getting into this.” She did, too. Her mother and sister have been the best, all day.

Finally he gets all three of the clasps open and then he’s drawing down the zipper. As the dress loosens she exhales and feels herself relax more fully. It hasn’t been uncomfortable to wear - the dressmaker had taken care to loosen a few of the seams in strategic places, and substituted softer, more flexible boning in the bodice - but she’s been wearing it all day nonetheless and it’s still got enough fabric and beads in it to put any of her gala gowns to shame. 

“Better?” He brings his hands up once more to her bare shoulders and massages them a few times, and that on its own is enough to elicit a slight moan from her. 

“Oh, if you do feet, too, then we’re seriously never leaving here ever,” she sighs, leaning back a little so she’s resting against his chest.

She feels the breath of his laughter, and then his lips on her cheek. “Well I guess we could do that, too ,” he says, a mild attempt at subtlety. “Now that we’re hitched you can officially call it part of my husbandly duties, I suppose.”

Her laughter joins his, then. She turns again, letting her hands come to rest on his chest. “I will be very, very happy to accept.” 

He grins back at her and pulls her close, kissing her long and slow. When they part again one of her hands has clasped around his tie. She takes her time undoing the knot, her cheeky smile still mere inches away from his. When she releases the length of silk she’d swear he lets out a similar breath to hers from a moment ago, so she goes the step further and opens up the top buttons on his shirt. 

“Better?” She repeats back to him, and instead of answering he just leans in and kisses her again. 

It carries on long enough that eventually she’s winding one arm around his neck and pressing her whole body close against his. He’s the breathless one when they separate again.

“Keep thinking those things,” she murmurs. “But just give me one minute, okay?” She wants very much to keep going where this is going, but also wants very much to put her dress to rights first. And, bless him, he understands.

“Yeah, me too. I’ve been in this rig all day,” he says, looking down at his silk waistcoat and trousers. 

“And you’ve done a fine job of it,” Tessa replies, giving him one more kiss for good measure.  Morgan squeezes her hip once more and then they part. He steps towards the ensuite as she heads for the wardrobe and dressing table. 

She’s still smiling to herself as she steps all the way out of the dress and hangs it carefully inside its garment bag. It really is a lovely gown, one that the boutique had taken extra care with over the last month. Tessa’s just shy of the four month mark now in her pregnancy - far enough along to give them enough comfort they can start telling people outside their immediate circle. Not quite far enough to require significant changes to her clothing, but enough that her normal clothes have been feeling more snug lately, especially in the last week. The extra attention at the dress seams, and to making everything a little looser around the hips had been more than worth it. 

Just now she slips out of her bra and stockings, pulling on a short, sleeveless silk nightgown to replace the dress. As she runs her hands over the fabric she can’t help but wonder if there really is more to her curves than she’s realized, that maybe she really is showing more now. And for the last several days there’s been so much constant flurry of distracting activity. In her dress today she’s felt put together enough that maybe it wasn’t obvious to the casual eye just yet. 

Or, at least that was the case up until they’d made the announcement during their reception speeches. Tessa can’t remember the last time she’d heard so many cheers go up all at once in the same room. She’d been the one to actually announce it, and then after that she’d been so overwhelmed by everyone’s reaction that Morgan had taken over then. The response was enough to almost knock her over, if she hadn’t been next to Morgan right then. After that point any conversation she had with someone shifted entirely towards their plans for the baby, as though all wedding reception thoughts were forgotten. It was when she was on the dance floor later that everything about the day started to catch up to her all at once, and Scott had been there holding her up. She hadn’t expected to need to hear his I got you, kiddo, but she’d been so very glad of it then. 

Tessa sits at the dressing table now, taking a deep breath and just letting all of the good memories of the day sink in, here in the comfort and quiet. When she and Morgan had started planning this day so many months ago they’d never imagined in their wildest dreams everything else happening in their lives now. But in so many ways they couldn’t have asked for a better day. 

She removes her jewelry one piece at a time, placing each one carefully into their cases. Next she starts on removing her makeup, the package of prepared cloths waiting ready. After a moment she hears Morgan humming to himself, the same tune he’s had running through his head all week. As she finishes up Tessa lets herself admire the pair of rings now glittering on her left hand. She remembers the day they went to pick out the rings together. Those in their circle who know the story of Morgan’s proposal were incredulous to learn that it had happened without a ring in his hand. 

But it makes her smile every time she remembers it. They’d been halfway home walking back from a very nice dinner in a very nice restaurant, and she doesn’t even remember what they’d been talking about at the time but she does remember the way he’d stopped in his tracks all of a sudden. She’d gotten a step and a half ahead of him before pausing, her hand still clasped in his. And then he’d just asked her. Like it was the only question left to ask, like he’d known it was the right time and couldn’t wait any longer. 

Tears spring to her eyes thinking about it - not far off from her reaction at the time. And that’s when she realizes she’s far too far apart from her husband right now. So she moves to correct that. 

With bare feet she steps over to the ensuite, just as he’s finishing cleaning up. He’s drying his face with a towel, having already changed into his tee and boxers. But she notices the hint of a fold line on the dark grey cotton, and she smiles easily realizing that he’d packed his own new set of sleepwear for their stay here. They hadn’t planned their day and evening in quite that much detail in advance. But she loves that he thinks about those details. 

Morgan catches her eye in the mirror and smiles back at her, tossing the towel aside. Then he gets an even better look at her and turns to face her properly. He’s still smiling, but his expression has shifted, become more soft. 

She can’t help preening a little, putting a hand on one hip and smoothing the lingerie fabric with her other. “I’m glad you like it,” she says, happy with the reaction.  

“You look beautiful,” he answers, nodding easily. “You look…” He steps towards her, his hands halfway reaching for her and that’s when she realizes where his eyes are trained.

“Oh…” She follows his gaze and looks down towards her midsection. “Is it...can you really tell?” Even she can hear the cautious excitement in her voice. Her hands shift, coming to rest just underneath the very gentle curve of her stomach. 

He nods once again, his smile broadening again as he blinks a little. “Yeah, you can.” He brings one hand to rest at her waist, moving slowly across her stomach. 

“Really?” Tessa repeats. “Even since yesterday?” She looks from his face to the mirror, trying to see more of what he sees. They’d spent the night together yesterday as usual, but by the time they’d gone to bed they’d both been dead on their feet and crashed hard. And she’s been pretty well bundled up in sweaters ever since Christmas and all the snow that had arrived with it. But now that she looks more closely she thinks he’s right. That maybe she hadn’t been imagining it before, either. 

“Oh man, I barely remember yesterday,” Morgan says first, making her laugh again. He’s only partly kidding. But he thinks about her question, half-shrugging as he answers. “I’m not sure. Maybe? I didn’t notice it today, maybe your skirt covered it up or something like that. But now…” He keeps moving his hand, feeling for the small firm bump that she can’t un-see, now. They’re in front of the big mirror and she’s turned almost completely to the side and it really is visible. Their new little one is going to be more obvious to the rest of the world, soon. But for now, this is just for them, she reminds herself, letting out a breath. 

She rests one arm on his shoulder as he cradles her with his other arm. It’s not far off from the way they held each other during their dance, easy and close. Once again she lets herself be in the moment, lets herself feel how this feels and remember how good the day has been. His arms are strong and comforting, and she feels so loved and so, so lucky. 

His broad hand is still covering her stomach, his thumb brushing back and forth. Then he looks at her again, his expression hopeful. “Have you felt anything yet?”

Tessa’s answering laughter is gentle, and just as loving as his question. She shakes her head. “No, not yet,” she tells him, her hand stroking through his hair, playing at the soft strands at his temple just like she’s done so many times. He looks a little disappointed but not surprised. It’s a question he’s asked once or twice before. “Still lots of time for that,” she adds, a reminder of what her doctor had told them at their last appointment two weeks ago. They both know it will probably be another few weeks before she feels any movement, and that everything is looking normal and healthy, so far.  

He blinks slowly, happy. “Lots of time,” he echoes, his hand travelling around her waist so she’s completely encircled in his arms now. They kiss again, easily. 

“Lots of time for lots of things,” she murmurs against his lips. 

“Mm hmm,” he says back. And it’s then that he shifts, crouching just enough so he can put one arm under her knees and lift her all the way up into the air. 

“Oh,” she says, not so much startled but happy. Morgan walks them towards the bed and she kisses him, both of her arms wrapped around his shoulders. When they stop she lets herself down again, kissing him again, firmly and insistently. They part and they’re both breathless, just like a little while ago when they were standing right here. 

“I want to make love to my husband,” she tells him, her voice low and gentle, but no less wanting.

His arms are secure around her body, his hands ready to adore her. And when he answers his voice is just as low and loving. “Good, because I want to make love to my wife.” 

And that’s exactly what he does.