Valentine: An On Dublin Street Novella
Joss & Braden. Ellie & Adam. Jo & Cam. Olivia & Nate. Hannah & Marco. Shanon & Cole. And one Valentine’s Day they’ll never forget.
It’s Valentine’s Day! How do Joss & Braden, Ellie & Adam, Jo & Cam, Olivia & Nate, Hannah & Marco and Shannon & Cole keep the fire burning in their relationships while trying to juggle busy careers and the joyful chaos of parenthood? Find out in VALENTINE, six sexy and emotional short stories, one for each couple in the On Dublin Street series so far, making up a short novella about one very special day.
VALENTINE: An On Dublin Street Novella is a special gift to fans of the series in thanks for supporting HERO, her first standalone contemporary romance.
Release date: February 11, 2015
Publisher: Samantha Young
Print pages: 75
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Valentine: An On Dublin Street Novella
Jocelyn and Braden
Braden threw back the rest of his coffee. “I need to go.”
“You haven’t even had breakfast yet.” I frowned at the scrambled eggs and toast I’d made him.
“I’m sorry, babe, I’m late for this meeting.” He put his mug in the sink, leaned down to brush my lips with his and then rounded our kitchen island to kiss Luke and Beth on their foreheads. “See you all tonight.”
“Bye Dad!” they yelled after him as he hurried out of the kitchen. Luke immediately eyed the scrambled eggs Braden had left.
“Are you kidding me?” I snorted. My six year old had just eaten cereal, two slices of buttered toast and a handful of raisins for his breakfast. “Where do you put it?” I scraped most of the scrambled egg onto my plate but gave him the rest.
Luke frowned at the disproportionate portioning. “How come you got more?”
“Because she’s got a baby in her belly, silly,” Beth said with a superiority she liked to lord over her brother whenever she could. If she weren’t also incredibly overprotective of him and willing to play with him despite their three-year age gap, and not to mention charmingly adorable, I’d call my eldest an unbearable smartass.
That’s just what happened when two smartasses procreated I guess.
“Don’t call your brother silly,” I reminded her.
Beth sighed heavily, like she was ninety instead of nine. “Sorry. I’m just cranky because of this Valentine’s Day stuff at school.”
She also talked like she was ninety. That’s where the charmingly adorable part came into play. “What Valentine’s Day stuff?”
“We have to make a card for someone today and then give it to them.”
I bit back my laughter. “Well, baby, that’s what you do when you make a card for someone. You give it to them.”
“I don’t have to make a card,” Luke said with a mouthful of scrambled egg.
“Remember talking rule number five.”
He swallowed and grinned at me. “No talking to people dressed as Santa when it’s not December because it’s not really him because he’s in the Northern Pole and it’s a stranger portending to be Santa.”
“The North Pole,” Beth corrected him. “Pretending. And that’s rule number seven.”
I wrinkled my nose at my daughter. “You are cranky today, Miss Wite-Out.” I turned back to Luke. “Rule number five is no talking with your mouth full.”
He stuck his thumb up as he chewed, letting me know he got it.
“Back to you.” I leaned across the island and tucked Beth’s soft hair behind her little ear. “What’s the problem with the card thing?”
She shrugged. “What if I make a card for Aaron and he doesn’t make his for me?”
Aaron was this adorable kid a full head shorter than my kid who followed her around like a puppy dog and had done for the last year. They were ‘boyfriend’ and ‘girlfriend’.
“I’m one hundred percent positive that Aaron will make his card for you, and it would be sad if he made a card for you and you didn’t for him. He’d be really upset.”
Beth stared at me, processing this like it had world importance, which we all knew at that age it kind of actually did. “Okay. Better feeling silly than hurting his feelings I s’pose.”
And another reason I adored my kid.
“Beth, you know you don’t have to make a Valentine’s Day card for anyone if you don’t want to, right?”
She nodded. “I want to.”
“Okay.” I looked at Luke who’d finished his scrambled egg and was now sitting with his head propped on his hand, his eyes half shut. “Oi, Narcoleptic Cool Hand Luke, let’s get you to school before we lose you to the land of nod.”
His eyes didn’t open all the way.
Beth grinned at me and leaned into her brother. She planted a big smack of a kiss on his cheek.
“Blech!” He jumped awake, rubbing at his cheek.
I almost peed my pants laughing at the comical, exaggerated expression of disgust on his face.
“I’m telling Dad when he gets home!” with that he jumped off his stool to go get his school bag.
As I walked around the island I held my hand out to Beth and she gave me a high five.
“So is it true Will, Bray, Sophia and Jarrod are staying tonight?” she said as we followed Luke out of the kitchen and into the hall.
We set about putting on our boots and coats. “Not for the whole night. But for most of it, yes. You okay with that?”
“I am!” Luke shouted, grinning.
He would be. Ellie’s son Will was only a year younger than him and the two of them were best buds. “Shocker.” I winked at him and he giggled.
“It’s fine.” Beth grumbled as we stepped outside and I locked up. “As long as I don’t get left with the babies.”
“Yeah.” I just stopped myself from rolling my eyes. “Because it would be responsible of me to leave my nine year old to look after a six month old.”
“I could do it,” she said, contrary. “I just don’t want to.”
“You are so my child,” I muttered as we headed to our Range Rover. We bought a car and a parking permit when I was pregnant with Beth. It was just one thing that had changed as Braden and I became parents. We could no longer rely on public transportation to get us around the city. It was too inconvenient when you had kids and most of our friends had discovered the same thing as we all grew into parenthood.
“I’ll help with Jarrod though,” Beth said as I pulled away and started driving down Dublin Street toward their primary school.
“And why Jarrod and not Bray and Sophia?”
“Because they’re toddlers now. They can handle life themselves. Jarrod’s just a wee baby.”
I grinned at her reasoning but decided not to correct her. “Okay, then we have a deal. You’ll help out with Jarrod tonight.”
“Yeah, but only until my bedtime.”
“Gotcha. But you know Jarrod’s bedtime is before yours.”
I glanced out of the corner of my eye and saw her frown. “Does that mean I’m looking after him until his bedtime then?”
“Nappies and all.”
“Ugh.” She stuck out her tongue like a frog. “No thanks. I’ll take Sophia.”
“I thought you might say that. But it’s okay.” I gave her a quick grin. “We’ll just give Nappy Jarrod to your dad.”
They giggled at my conniving and nodded in agreement.
* * *
No matter how many times I stared into the mirror there was no way to change the image reflected back at me.
It was probably just as well that it was my and Braden’s turn to babysit this Valentine’s Day. It was hard to feel sexy when I was six months pregnant.
“Little Ellie.” I patted my stomach, talking to my unborn daughter, something I did a lot. “You’re killing my mojo and all my best moves. Bad timing little fetus, bad timing.” It was possible I was a little inappropriate with the sharing sometimes, but I was counting on the kid not remembering any of our one-sided conversations during her time in my womb.
“What’s bad timing?” Braden sauntered out of our bathroom, a towel wrapped around his hips. He’d just returned from the gym.
I immediately felt a tingling between my legs. My eyes hungrily followed a drop of water as it trickled down his abs.
And that was another drawback of being six months pregnant. I was freaking horny all the freaking time and yet I wasn’t one hundred percent comfortable enough to just jump Braden like I’d normally do.
That didn’t mean we didn’t have sex.
Because we did.
My being pregnant did not turn off my husband. In fact it seemed to flip as much of a horny teenager switch in him as it did me. He got all caveman and possessive. In fact he might as well have worn a T-shirt with the words “Me Man. Me Put Seed In My Woman’s Belly. My Woman. Mine!” on it.
“Being pregnant on Valentine’s Day.” I bit my lip so I didn’t sigh in pleasure as he unwrapped the towel to give his naked body one last rub down before dressing.
I swear a little bit of drool dribbled down my chin as I fixated on his ass. He had a gorgeous ass. I loved grabbing it while he pounded into me. I shivered, lust fogged.
His naked ass disappeared inside his suit trousers and I pouted.
“Why is that an issue?” Braden turned around and I quickly lifted my eyes to his face. I was a little too late though and he smirked, having deduced I’d been ogling.
“You’re my husband.” I refused to be embarrassed for drooling over him. “I can objectify you if I want to.”
He snorted as he pulled on his shirt. “Why is being pregnant on Valentine’s Day an issue?” he repeated.
“Because I can’t wear sexy lingerie and heels and we can’t have rough, hard sex against a wall. You know… typical Valentine’s Day stuff.”
He finished buttoning his shirt and walked leisurely over to me, sliding his hands around my rounded stomach and drawing me as close to him as baby bump Ellie would allow. “You can still wear sexy lingerie and we can have slow, hot sex with you on your knees or faster, hotter sex with you riding me.”
“After we babysit.”
“All that time we could be having sex, and you made us stick to our babysitting promise.”
I glowered at him. “Believe me, the queen of pregnancy hormones agrees, but last year Ellie and Adam looked after Beth and Luke so it’s only fair we take a turn.”
He nodded reluctantly. “You’re right.” He kissed my nose and released me to finish getting dressed for a night of babysitting fun. “A quiet night in then.”
“Yup.” I made a face and rubbed my hands over my stomach. “You better be ten million times funnier than your brother and sister, and that’s asking a lot because they’re pretty darn funny.” I opened our bedroom door to go in search of said siblings. “Although we won’t tell them that because they get their ego from their daddy.”
“I heard that,” Braden called out to me as I wandered down the stairs to the second floor.
“You were meant to,” I muttered.
“I heard that too!”
I bugged my eyes out at my stomach as if Little Ellie could see me. “Jeez Louise, he has radar ears.”
* * *
Braden stood with his hands on his hips, surveying our large double sitting room. I knew exactly what he was thinking.
Three down, three to go.
Somehow, against all odds, we got Jarrod, Sophia and Bray sleeping in the nursery next to our bedroom on the top floor of the house. We had the main nursery on the second floor that was all ready for Little Ellie arriving, but Braden was determined to tire our remaining three kids out and didn’t want to wake up the younger kids while we did it.
He had a baby monitor tucked in his back pocket so he’d know if they needed us.
“How about a game of hide and seek?”
“Yes!” Will and Luke nodded excitedly.
Beth eyed us skeptically but it was that kind of ‘I really should act like I’m older and above it but I want to play’ skepticism.
“It’s me and Dad against you lot,” I said to her. “You can be their team leader.”
“No fair!” Luke crossed his arms in a huff.
“She’s older,” Braden said. “When Little Ellie comes along you’ll be older than her and therefore her team leader in games of hide and seek. It’s just how it works.”
Luke screwed up his face as he thought about it and clearly decided it made sense because he nodded. “Okay.”
“Now the wee ones are sleeping,” Braden reminded them, “So no squealing or shouting or waking them up. You’re sticking to the ground floor and the basement. The first and second floors are off limits to you three.”
The kids nodded, their little expressions so serious I couldn’t help but grin.
“Mum and I are hiding. You lot are seeking.”
“We’ll find you in under five minutes,” Beth boasted.
“You wanna bet on that?” I said.
She narrowed her eyes on me. “What’s the bet?”
“If I win I get foot rubs for the next four weeks. If you win I clean your room for you for the next four weeks.”
Beth’s eyes lit up. “We’re so winning this!”
Braden grinned at her confidence. “Right. Your mum and I have sixty seconds to find a place to hide.”
Beth played with her digital watch. “Okay… starting… Now.”
I grabbed Braden’s hand and we dived out into the hall. “Which way?” I whispered.
In answer he dragged me to the very back of the house to what used to be the servant’s staircase. When he started to go up them I tugged on his hand. “That’s totally cheating,” I hissed. “First and second floor are off limits.”
“I said they were off limits to them.” He winked.
I grinned. “You sneaky bastard.” I pushed him playfully and tried to swallow my giggles as I hurried quietly up the back staircase after him.
His large hand curled around my wrist and he gently tugged me along the hallway of the first floor, into the dark of our main guestroom and inside the bathroom. He locked the door behind us and lowered himself to the floor, positioning me on the floor between his legs, my back to his chest.
“Are we just going to sit here in the dark?” I whispered.
“Yeah,” his voice rumbled with amusement.
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