“Hi, baby. Sorry I’m late.”
Amber Montgomery crawled out from under the mountain of baby clothes she was folding and scowled at her husband. Late? Dinner was so cold Dr. Frankenstein couldn’t bring it back to life. The baby decided her food looked better on mommy than on her plate, and when Amber finally got Kaylee to bed, she spent half an hour cleaning up that disaster—by herself.
“I missed you.” Paul leaned over to kiss her cheek.
But Amber recoiled. “Where the hell have you been?”
“My last appointment wouldn’t stop talking, and by the time I got out of his office, traffic was a bitch. Did you hear about that accident on the interstate?”
“I didn’t have time to watch the news. I didn’t have time to eat dinner. I didn’t get a damn thing done today because your daughter decided she didn’t need a nap.”
Paul cringed. “Tough day, huh?” He retreated to the kitchen, wincing when he found the stone-cold remains of dinner.
Amber followed him. “Why didn’t you call me?”
“Battery died.” He held up his useless phone, showing her the black screen.
She snatched it from his hand and plugged it in. “I need to be able to call you. What if there was an emergency?”
“Did something happen?” His head popped up over the refrigerator door, his eyes worried.
“No.” Amber crossed her arms. “But if it did, you wouldn’t know.” She looked around the kitchen. Paul’s briefcase was lying on the counter, his coat tossed over a dining room chair. Everything was as it should be. Nothing extra…nothing special. “Do you know what day it is?”
“Um…Tuesday?” He looked at the calendar. “Yeah, Tuesday…all day.”
His adorable little boy smile wasn’t going to get him off the hook so easy. “It’s Valentine’s Day!”
“So that’s why you’re pissed. Shit, baby. I forgot.”
Amber forgot too until she checked the expiration date on an ancient container of sour cream, but she wasn’t going to tell him that. “When you were late coming home, I hoped you were getting me last-minute flowers or chocolate or at least a sappy card. But no, you walked in empty-handed.” She stomped to the dining room and grabbed the unused dishes, throwing clean silverware back in the drawer.
“I don’t see any flowers or cards for me.”
“You want flowers?”
“That’s not the point. You forgot too.”
She seized a plate and pondered throwing it at his head. “Yeah well, I’m too busy–”
Amber gasped, her mouth falling open but words failed her. Paul’s eyes turned panicked, and he backed up a step when she grabbed another plate. “Don’t you even…do you have any idea…? I work—all day! I cook, I clean, I try to raise a baby and run a business—which, by the way—I missed a deadline for because Kaylee decided she didn’t need a nap today. I barely had time to apologize to my client.”
Paul held up his hands in surrender. “I’m sorry. I know you do a lot. I wasn’t thinking.”
“Damn right, you weren’t thinking.”
“But I’m busy too. They let a sales person go last week so I’m covering his territory and mine. I don’t know when—or if—they’re gonna hire someone new, and I can barely breathe as it is.”
Amber put the plate away and leaned against the cabinets. They were both overworked and overwhelmed, and she didn’t see a way to escape. Life—even the things she used to enjoy— smothered her like a musty old bathrobe. “Kaylee missed you.”
“I know. I missed her too. I’m gonna go kiss her good night.” He dashed up the stairs before she could warn him not to wake the baby up.
The dining room was clean when he got back. The laundry was folded and put away. The kitchen was dark, and Amber was sitting in the living room on the couch, flipping through channels with the remote. “Nothing good on.”
“She’s down for the count.” Paul stood in the hallway, bracing himself against the wall as if he was afraid to enter the room. “She’ll sleep all night.”
“Good.” She yawned and stretched, knowing he was watching. She used to love it when he looked at her like a starving man. His dark eyes glittered in the evening light, and he ran his long fingers through his black coffee hair. A tingle shot through her when she remembered how his hands felt on her skin, how his lean, hard body felt on top of hers. The fluttering desire disappeared too soon, replaced by an urgent need for sleep.
Paul sat down beside her, a charming smile on his sweet, dangerous lips. He took the remote from her hand and turned the TV off. “It’s not too late to do something.”
“For Valentine’s Day. We can get dinner–”
“We’re never going to find a babysitter on such short notice.”
“We’ll order pizza. Open a bottle of wine, light a couple candles.”
She smiled and cuddled close to him. “That sounds nice.”
He wrapped his arms around her. “When was the last time we had sex?”
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