She woke with a sigh as the morning sunlight finally reached her face, softened by the sheers decorating the window.
She blinked groggily, unsure of what time it was exactly. Taking a deep breath through her nose, she held it as her body worked out a languid stretch. Chris had told her once that she stretched like a damn cat.
She turned her head on the pillow to look at the other half of the mattress.
She slid her hand over to the vacant space, feeling for any warmth.
Did he not come home again last night?
Letting out a small groan, vocalizing her lack of enthusiasm for leaving her warm cocoon, she wiggled and rolled to sit up, her bare feet on the floor. She never wore slippers; she didn't like the feeling of them and how they promoted shuffling.
Standing to her full height, she raised her arms above her head and stretched again. Her tank top pulled up over her stomach as she bent slightly backward. She chuckled silently to herself. Cat indeed.
She straightened the bed before leaving the room, her mother's words about tidiness echoing in her mind. Even still, she just straightened her pillow and pulled the comforter up to cover the crisp white Egyptian cotton sheets. She brushed her hand over the maroon material of the comforter, more to feel the softness of the material than actually smoothing it out.
She strolled out of the bedroom heading for the kitchen, knowing her little man would be wanting breakfast as soon as he woke. Four year olds didn't understand the concept of sleeping in; a lesson she and Chris had learned long ago. She snagged a hair elastic as she walked by the dresser and corralled her curly brown bed head into a loose ponytail at the nape of her neck.
She poked her head into to her son's room, seeing he was still asleep. His breathing was even, and his small face was covered by his favorite blanket so that only the top of his head and a little of his light brown hair was visible. Smiling fondly, she backed out of the doorway quietly. No sense in waking him if he was so content. Besides, she could use the time to have a nice hot cup of coffee and enjoy the silence of the still morning.
With a smile still on her face, she continued down the hall towards the kitchen. Her hand ghosted a touch on her belly, right at the loose drawstring of her pajama pants… When she saw Chris today, she would tell him the news. She snorted to herself, thinking of Buck Wilmington suggesting Eve as a name if it were a girl. It would be just what she would expect from Buck… Adam and Eve.
Chris had called last night around dinnertime, saying he and Buck were going to be working late. Something about the case they were working on, but he didn't go into specifics about it. She hoped he didn't spend the night at the station again. Those seemed to be more frequent in the past month or so.
She never had a doubt that he was where he said he was, no doubt that he was doing exactly what he said he was doing. It wasn't his style to lie to her. Or her to him. Ever.
She knew he would have either a grumpy disposition from the lack of sleep having worked all night, or a stiff neck from trying to sleep god-knew-where in the station – if he did manage to sneak any sleep at all.
She knew he worked hard, and was very good at what he did. The same qualities that made him such a great husband and father – the dedication, the attention to detail, his easy attitude and how he could relate to people – made him a great detective. Even though, she joked often with him, his 'dedication' was going to cause him an ulcer.
She couldn't wait to tell him the news. A surprise, yes. A welcome surprise, absolutely.
She snorted again. Adam and Eve.
She got to the coffee maker, loaded last night with the fresh filter and new coffee grounds – a habit formed to ease the chaos of mornings for both of them.
As the brew started to rumble and grumble to life she fetched her favorite mug (the one with a cow lying comically dead on its back, legs straight in the air; the caption saying in squiggly writing 'Really… I'm Fine'). It had a chip on the rim, and a crack on the handle (which had been 'fixed' by her not-so-handy-with-glue husband).
She swung towards the fridge, some pep in her step as she came more awake, going for the half and half. And it had to be half and half or cream; milk made coffee look and taste funny. How Chris could drink the dark roast coffee they both favored black… it made her shiver. She found black coffee unacceptable – bitter and burnt-tasting. Chris's description of it was "rugged and manly".
She stopped with her hand resting on the handle to the fridge, but didn't open it. Was that…? She backed up in an exact replay of her path and looked over the marble-top kitchen island, getting her second look at what had registered in her peripheral vision on her way by.
Two once-white-but-now-grungy stocking feet hung over the arm of the couch, one grayish sock spun slightly to throw it out of alignment and the other slipping from the ball of the foot making a floppy toe.
She smiled sweetly to herself. He must have gotten in late and didn't want to wake me, she thought. What a guy.
She came around the island and headed for the end of the couch opposite the floppy socks, gently dragging her fingertips along the fabric on the back of the couch. Her intention was to wake him softly; she knew he could be startled awake and she was anticipating a four-year old 'army of one' to be waking up any time now.
Kneeling down, she sat on her bare feet so she could look at his sleeping face, she felt almost bad waking him. His neck would hurt today, no doubt, judging from the angle it rested at on the very flat pillow. He slept on his stomach, as was his habit, with his head turned to his left toward her. At least one of his arms was bunched up under the poor excuse for a pillow. The quilt that usually made its home on the back of the couch was haphazardly slung over his body, only covering from mid back to knees.
She peeked under the blanket quickly, looking to be sure he was decent in case Adam came out any moment now. She could see his jeans cast aside on the nearby chair, along with his shirt, but she didn't put it past him to sleep commando. She had hoped that the old habit was less of a habit these days, now that he had a wife and a family, but you never could be sure.
His hair was getting long again, partially obscuring his closed eyes as he slept. She loved when his hair got to this length… the way it blew around in the breeze and shone in the sun.
She always thought he looked so sweet when he slept. She had told him that he made a 'pouty face' when he smooshed himself into the pillow like this. He had rolled his eyes and laughed at her description.
She sighed happily. Reaching her right hand forward, she swept the sandy-colored hair away from his face, then laid the back of her fingers on his cheek.
Hazel eyes cracked open, recognizing her instantly and blinking slowly. The edges of his lips turned up in a pouty-smile. He took a deeper sleepy breath and held it, working his body through a rousing stretch.
Yeah, I'm the one who's like a cat.
"Hey," she said quietly.
"Hey," he said back then yawned.
"Why didn't you come to bed when you got home?"
He blinked a couple of times, then dragged his hand over his eyes as he rolled to his side to see her better. He yawned as he spoke. "Got in late." His hand found hers and held it. "Didn't want to wake you. You looked so peaceful sleeping." He brought her hand to his mouth and gently kissed the back of it.
She smiled a half smile at him. "So you don't mind watching me sleep, like a stalker, so long as you don't wake me?"
He snorted quietly. "Something like that." He squeezed her hand, signifying he was going to let go. She released her grip and he swung himself up to a sitting position on the couch, stocking-clad feet now flat on the floor.
She stood from her kneeling position, then bent and kissed him sweetly. "You work too hard, Mr. Larabee."
"That's funny," he said with a smirk. "My wife says the same thing."
She stood to her full height and playfully smacked him on the shoulder. "I'm making coffee before the boss gets up. Interested?" She shook her hips suggestively as she asked.
He looked at her quizzically. Clearly he was very tired. "Does 'coffee' mean coffee in this offer, or does 'coffee' mean take me to bed and ravage me?"
She laughed softly. "Maybe later. Coffee means coffee."
"Then yes, I would love some coffee." He ran both his hands through his hair, ruffling it then smoothing it back down, bringing his hands to rest behind his neck.
"Well, come and get it; I'm not your servant." She smiled as she walked away. She knew he watched her go, so she wiggled as she walked for his viewing pleasure.
"Love, Honor and Obey, huh?" he said as he followed her out to the kitchen, the smell of fresh coffee already starting to perk him up.
She smiled as she retrieved his normal mug, the "Indiana State" emblem starting to fade from the years of patronage. "Something like that."
He slunk up behind her, wrapping his arms around her middle and leaned in and kissed the side of her neck. She smiled and sighed happily.
"New shampoo?" he asked.
"No. Same stuff." She turned to face him, his hands sinking to her hips as she leaned against the counter.
"Hmmm," he said as he leaned in for a less-than-chaste kiss.
She returned the kiss, wrapping her arms around his slim waist and holding him close. She broke the kiss first, but it wasn't for lack of desire.
"He'll be up soon. I don't want to have to explain the birds and the bees to a four year old." She turned and poured the two coffees.
As she poured, she heard the tell-tale pounding of small feet in a frolicking run on carpet.
She snorted. "How can something so small be so loud?"
Chris didn't have a chance to answer. "Papa!" a small voice squealed, and Chris turned to catch the flying mass of small boy that was hurling himself towards him.
Catching him smoothly, as only parents can, he swung the small body around and picked him up to his face, blowing a raspberry on the small round belly. He was rewarded with a squeal of delight.
"Hey buddy," Chris said in a voice that had a smile in it. Sarah didn't have to turn around to know that the face-splitting grin her husband would wear from time to time was making an appearance.
"Mum said you were at work when I went to bed last night, but she said you would be here when I woke up!" the little voice rambled, full of excitement.
"Your mother's a very smart woman," he told his son.
Sarah turned and looked at her two boys over her shoulder, shooting her biggest boy a grin, then scrunched her nose playfully as she turned back to the coffee.
"Papa, I drew you a picture in school yesterday!"
"You did? Well, you should go get it then," he said, putting his son down and ruffling his hair as he tore out of the room.
Sarah turned to Chris when their galloping son left the room. "Hey, I want to talk to you later."
He shot her a confused look. "Everything all right?"
"Oh, yeah," she waved her hand dismissively. "It's nothing bad."
His gaze was still locked on her, as though looking for a sign that something was wrong. After a moment of scrutiny, he slowly said, "All right."
"We can talk when you get home tonight. I'm gonna make chicken. Dumplings if you're lucky."
"Ooh," he said huskily, reaching for her hips again. "I hope I'm lucky then."
"So how's Buck?" she asked, thwarting his advance.
He sighed, keeping his hands to himself. "He's good. Working as hard as I am every day and night." He blew out his breath and ran his hand up and through his hair. "We have too many open cases. People aren't happy. But, Buck and I think we're getting close on this one case, and if we're right, we'll be locking up a lot of bad guys."
"Papa look!" Adam yelled as he came flying back into the kitchen. He held a piece of construction paper with many colors on it, looking more like abstract art than a four-year-old's finger-painting.
Chris crouched down to his son's eye level. "Wow buddy, that's amazing," he said as he took the paper and looked at it. "You might end up being an artist when you grow up."
Sarah smiled as she went over to the fridge again and opened it. "Dammit," she said quietly.
Chris looked up towards her. "What?"
She sighed dramatically. "I used the last of the creamer last night. I forgot."
"I'll go get you some," he said and started to stand.
"No, no. I'll go. I'm the one who forgot," she waved her hand again. "I'm gonna go throw my jeans on."
"Why don't you just go like that?"
She looked down at her Pink Floyd sleep pants and the gray wife-beater tank top she wore. She looked back at him. "You are kidding, right?"
He smiled. "I've seen people out in worse. You're just going down the block, right?"
She shook her head adamantly, but was still smiling. "I won't be that guy. Pajamas should only be for home. Doesn't matter what other people do."
Chris, now standing, looked down to his son. "What do you think, Adam? Should Mum go out in her PJs?"
Adam looked at his mom, then back at his dad, and started laughing.
"See?" Sarah said. "He's four and he gets it."
"All right, all right. You win." He looked at the still giggling four year old. "You know, you could side with me once in a while."
Adam continued his little giggle, then Chris swooped in and scooped him up again, blowing louder and wetter sounding raspberries on his tummy. .The squeals of delight were also louder this time. Sarah shook her head in amusement as she headed for the bedroom to put on yesterday's jeans for her run to the store.
Not five minutes later when she returned to the kitchen, Chris and Adam seemed to be deep in conversation with Adam sitting at the kitchen island, a sippy cup of milk in his hand and Chris with his black coffee.
"We need anything else while I'm out?" she asked, announcing her presence to the two coconspirators.
"We're almost out of milk, so a gallon of that," Chris answered. "Otherwise, I think we're good." He stood to his full height and took a long swig of his coffee. He came around the island going for the coffeepot for round two. She noticed immediately that he now wore his jeans as well, but still no shirt. Seeing her question coming, he said, "People should not run around the house only in their underwear, apparently." He nodded back to the island where Adam was looking out the nearby window at a bird.
She snorted. "I see."
"Well, I guess he has a point." He refilled his cup. "Mmm… Coffee is good," he said with a smirk.
"Jerk," she answered, but her smile softened her words. She grabbed her keys off the hook and headed for the door.
"Sarah," Chris said.
She turned and looked at him.
"Take mine. I forgot I blocked you in last night." He took his keys off the hook and went to hand them to her.
"Why do we have such a big driveway if you insist on blocking me in constantly?" she asked, switching keys with him.
He seemed to consider that for a minute, then smiled and said, "Cuz I know it bothers you." He leaned in and stole a quick kiss from her and then pulled away, looking rather pleased with himself.
She nodded slowly. "Ok then." She turned towards their son. "Hey, Adam?" The boy swung his attention from the bird to his mother. "You wanna go to the store with Mum? We can get donuts."
Chris nodded just as slowly, then dropped his chin to hide his smile.
"Can I pick?" Adam asked excitedly.
"Of course you can, baby. If you're good, you can even get some donut holes and have one or two on the ride home." She looked triumphantly at Chris.
He let out a single laugh. "Crumbs in the new truck, huh?"
"Well, if you didn't block me in…" She held her hands up in a patronizing shrug.
"All right, all right. Well played. While you two are gone, I'm gonna grab a shower."
"You should. You're a little ripe." She waved her hand in front of her nose. He smirked at her.
"Will you be here when we get back, Papa?" Adam asked, shrugging into his coat as best he could.
Chris bent to help him get his arm into the elusive sleeve. "Yeah buddy. I can't go to work in Mum's car." He shivered dramatically.
"You won't get in trouble?" Sarah asked him seriously.
"Nah. I was there late last night. And the night before that. And the two nights before that…" He reached for her, pulling her close.
"You make a very good point." She leaned in and kissed him. "Well, if you're gonna be here for a while, maybe we can talk before you head in to work?"
He nodded, still not knowing what she wanted to talk about. "Sure." He paused. "If this is about that hooker at my bachelor party, Buck said—"
She held up her hands for him to stop, speaking through her laugh. "I don't want to hear it!"
He smiled at her; the same smile that she had fallen in love with all that time ago. He kissed her again.
"I'll bring you a donut." She smiled and turned to her son. "You ready Adam?"
"Yes!" he announced. He then ran over to Chris and gave him a big hug and a kiss.
"Have fun. I'll see you in a bit." He stood up and waved once at the two of them.
Chris turned towards the bedroom to get ready for the shower as the kitchen door clicked shut.
She opened the door for her son, who insisted on climbing into the large truck all by himself. Thankfully, the thing had running boards. Chris and his big manly truck. She shook her head. Hope there won't be too many crumbs.
"Can you do your own seat?" she asked.
"Yeah. I'm a big boy Mum."
She smiled. "I know you are, baby."
"I'm not a baby," he whined.
"You're my baby." She leaned in and kissed the top of his head.
He seemed to accept that for now. She waited until he was in the carseat, then she shut the door and made her way over to the driver's door. She opened it and scaled her way up, quite grateful for the running boards and the 'Oh Shit' handles.
Boys and their toys.
She adjusted the seat for her shorter legs, then the mirror. She turned and looked at Adam in the back seat and checked his belting attempt.
"Wow, great job Adam!" she said, tightening the straps better than small fingers were able to and checking the buckles.
"I told you I'm a big boy!" he said back to her, a huge proud smile on his little face.
"You did. I'll never doubt you again. Ready?"
"I wanna pick a donut for Papa."
She couldn't help but smile at the little face that looked so much like the man she loved. She couldn't wait to get back and tell him the big news.
"Absolutely, baby. You'll pick the best one."
Sarah turned to face forward, glancing into the rear view mirror. She slid the key into the ignition and turned it...