Since this is a girls-only shower, Jackson is over at his bungalow, along with Jamie’s boyfriend, Ryan, Dallas, and the other men who accompanied the female baby-shower guests. As far as I know, they’re hanging out drinking and playing poker or doing other guy-type things. All except for Damien, that is. He was supposed to be there, too, but he got held up in a meeting in Santa Barbara.
Honestly, I’m feeling a little antsy. He said he’d be en route by early evening, but there’s a storm rolling in, and I’m not keen on him being either in the air or on the ocean during a downpour.
“Nicholas. Nikki.” Jamie bumps me with her hip, then lifts her brows. “Where the hell are you?”
“Sorry.” I realize I’ve been looking out the window at the late afternoon sky that is growing darker and darker as the storm kicks up. “I was just—”
“He’s fine, Texas.” Evelyn Dodge, a bold and brassy woman I’ve pretty much adopted as my surrogate mom, says from across the room. She’s read my mind, of course. I’m guessing everyone in the room knows that I’m missing Damien. And that with the storm on its way, I’m worried, too.
“I know he is,” I say, forcing myself to shrug off the worry. “Worst case he’ll just stay in Malibu or at the apartment. Or not even leave Santa Barbara at all.” All of which would suck, as I want him here with me in our bed. But I want him safe more.
“Come on,” Syl says, holding out a hand. “Help me out of this chair, then we’ll both take our turns. Nothing gets your mind off your man better than fondling paper sperm.”
Since I certainly can’t argue with that, I help her up, and we both grab one of the six inch long sperms from the card table set up by where the uterus poster has been taped to the wall.
“Who’s going first?” Lisa Reynolds asks, holding a blindfold. She’s a friend and a business consultant whose fiancé, Preston, also works in Damien’s universe. “Syl’s choice. The mommy-to-be always gets to decide if she’s last or not.”
“I’m already standing,” Syl says. “Might as well go for it.”
Lisa gets her all trussed up, turns her in a circle, then aims her toward the giant uterus—which Sylvia misses by approximately one mile.
Everyone is laughing as she pulls off the blindfold. “Wow,” she says. “With aim like that it’s a wonder I ever got pregnant.”
“Guess you have Jackson to thank,” Cass says.
Syl blows her a kiss and flashes a wicked smile. “In so many delicious ways.” She holds the blindfold out to me. “Okay, Nikki’s turn.”
I start to take it, but Lisa grabs it first and puts it over my eyes. As she does, I hear Jamie laugh. “What?” I demand.
“Just guessing this is the first time you’ve been blindfolded when Damien’s not around.”
I feel my cheeks burn, but I don’t deny it. What she says is absolutely true.
“Okay, now spin,” Lisa says, helping me twirl without falling over or knocking into the furniture. “And…go!”
I walk blindly forward, holding my free hand out until I reach the wall. Then I push the sperm forward, sticky side out, until it adheres to the wall. Once it does, I back away, and the women behind me burst into applause.
I pull off my blindfold and can’t help but grin—my sperm is right on top of the egg.
“Good job,” Jamie says, coming up from behind and giving me a hug. “Looks like you just made a baby.”
I smile back, laughing with my friends. But I can’t deny that my stomach is twisting a little. And I’m not sure if it’s in longing or fear.
Or maybe it’s just the mimosas.
The drizzle has turned to full-blown rain by the time everyone gathers on the front porch of my bungalow. The gifts are still inside—we’ll deal with those tomorrow, when it’s no longer raining—and the whole crew promises to make sure Syl gets home to Jackson safe and sound, with absolutely no slipping on the rain-slicked path as she waddles off to her bungalow.
“The rest of us are going to head to the club for drinks and dancing,” Jamie tells me as the others start down the path. “Why don’t you text Damien and tell him to meet you there?”
I glance at the clock, then shake my head. “His last text said he’d be here by ten at the absolute latest. That’s only twenty minutes.”
“And the club is that much closer to the dock and the helipad,” she points out. “You want to see him sooner rather than later, right?”
“What I want is to see him alone,” I confide. “Not on a crowded dance floor.”
She sighs and shakes her head in mock disappointment. “And here I thought that being married to Damien Stark had added a little spice to your life.”
I bite my cheek to keep from laughing. Jamie’s my best friend, but even she doesn’t know just how spicy my life with Damien is. “Just have fun,” I say. “And if you and Ryan decide to have too much fun, stick to the adult beach areas, okay? I can’t imagine any kids are out in the weather this late, but just in case I’d hate to traumatize them.”
A wide, wicked smile lights her face, and her eyes gleam with devious pleasure. “The beach in a rainstorm. Hmm. That does sound tempting…”
I can’t hold back the laughter anymore. “Go,” I say. “Catch up with them. And most of all, have fun.”
She gives me a quick hug, then runs off to do just that. I watch as she heads down the path toward Syl and Jackson’s bungalow, where I see the rest of the men emerging and meeting up with the girls so they can all head off to their rooms at the empty bungalows just past Dallas’s place.