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Authors: Reana Malori

Finding Faith (16 page)

BOOK: Finding Faith
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Looking at the two of them standing there together, he got a sudden image of this being his everyday life. Coming home from work with Faith and Madison greeting him as he exited the car. Something twisted inside of him and he quickly realized that this is what he had been feeling all along, but refusing to accept.

It was more than just a physical attraction to the beautiful, dark-skinned, curvy woman standing only feet away from him. It was so much more than that, and he had been blind not to have seen it earlier. She was the type of woman he and Madison needed in their lives. Only problem was, he wasn't sure if he had blown it.

Examining his own behavior lately and why she had been so upset on Sunday during breakfast, he finally saw himself through her eyes. Every word out of his mouth was focused on what he and Heather had together. How he and Heather had lived their life. All of the things he did to keep her memory alive, not only for Madison, but for himself.

He had been a fool. Honoring Heather didn’t prevent him from loving again. It would just be a different kind of love, because he was now a different man. But it would be no less powerful and all-consuming. Faith was a different woman and her love for him came in a different package. There was no shame in that.

Comparing her to Heather or injecting his late-wife into every facet of the life they had built together, even before he realized that his feelings had changed, had not been fair. To himself or to Faith. No woman would want that thrown in their face at every turn. He had been a very selfish man to the woman he loved. Never again.

He had to fix the damage he had already done. Nothing would get in the way of him making things right with Faith. If he had to spend the next fifty years showing her just how much he wanted—needed her by his side, then that’s what he would do.

Cooper made up his mind while standing in their front yard. Faith would be his for life. From this day forward, all his efforts would go to proving to her how much she meant to him.

 Glancing at his watch, he saw that it was getting close to dinnertime. He needed to get his ladies in the house. Walking past them, he went over to her car and picked up her briefcase. "Come on, you two. It's dinner time and you both need to eat."

At Faith's look, he knew she was going to try and back out and go home. "No, Love, you're coming with us. Tonight is my night to feed you. You two can finish your conversation in the house."




Faith's heart was beating so fast, she would swear it was about to burst out of her chest. Did she just hear Cooper call her love? After the ups and downs of the last few weeks, she was hesitant to jump to any conclusions about what that actually meant. Positive she was hearing things, she almost asked him to repeat what he said, but chose to let it go. Still shocked at her reaction to that one word coming from his lips, if he had turned to look in her direction, he would have seen the questioning look across her features, which surely would have made him inquire into what had caused it.

Cooper and Madison had returned late on Sunday, so they only had the chance for a quick call that night. All he would say about the visit was that it had been “tough”. His words. They still hadn’t spoken in detail about his visit to his in-laws house, but she expected that conversation to take place tonight. To deny that she was somewhat nervous about what happened, would be the understatement of the year.

They had planned to see each other both Monday and Tuesday, just to catch up and talk. Work had been keeping her busy the last couple of nights and it had always been too late for them to see each other. Tonight was the first time they had both arrived home at the same time. Both early enough to see each other and spend some significant time with each other.

With one-ear, she listened to the litany of daily preschool adventures from Madison. As she looked over at Cooper, he was carrying her belongings as if it were the most natural thing in the world. Watching him as he walked in front of them, leading the way to front door of his home, she could not prevent that small ray of hope that flared in her chest. With everything in her, she wanted to believe that the uncertainty was over. That he finally realized that she was here for him. Wanted to be with him.

No matter how much she wanted to, she would no longer push him to move past Heather. That had to be his choice. Smiling at the little girl in her arms, she thought about the impact on Madison if she tried to erase her mother from her father’s memory. They had a full life together. Had been through trials and tribulations that she and Cooper may never experience. If she stayed stuck on this path, it would come back to haunt her in the future. That wasn’t the type of person she was, and she knew it.

It was time for her let things move naturally. No more pressing or pushing, but she would make her desires known. After that, the ball would be in his court. Either he wanted her in his life, or he didn’t. No more half-stepping. She deserved better.

Walking through the front door of the house into the foyer, she felt Madison lay her head on her shoulder and wrap her arms around her neck. She knew what that meant.

“Uh oh, the octopus has come out to play,” Cooper commented as he shut the door behind them.

“Yeah, but that’s okay. I love it,” she responded as she kissed the little girl’s forehead. Her skin was so soft. Cradling her little body in her arms, Faith couldn’t think of anything sweeter than having Madison’s trust.

Madison had a tendency to transform herself into an octopus when she wanted Faith to spend time with her, which mainly consisted of Faith just holding her in her arms. Kicking off her low pumps and pushing them to the side of the wall next to multiple pairs of shoes thrown about by Cooper and Madison, she raised one hand to rub along her tiny back.

“Hey, baby girl, want to sit with me while your dad gets dinner started,” although she asked the question, this was just a formality. A part of the game they played.

If Faith presented the idea first, it was then her idea and not Madison’s. That tended to make for an easier transition and the little girl relaxed a little faster. For such a young child, she had been through so much. Faith knew this and never hesitated to provide what she could to help with her continued adjustment.

Looking up at her with those beautiful blue eyes that she now understood were so much like her mother’s, despite the color, Madison continued their little game. “Yes, Ms. Faith, I can keep you company. Don’t you want to watch the movie about the princess and she turns into a frog and then she kisses the prince?”

By now, her arms had come from around Faith’s neck and her little hands were cradling Faith’s face. Little imp that she was, her eyes gave Faith a long look imploring her to play along. “You know, honey, I think I do. I haven’t seen that movie in almost a full week and it’s my most favorite one.”

Feeling Cooper’s gaze on the two of them, she fought the urge to turn around and look at him. Fear that her own longing for the man himself would come through, she tried to focus her attention solely on his little girl. This shyness around him was new. They hadn’t been shy or reserved around each other since that first day.

But things had changed so much and she didn’t think they could ever go back to the way they were before the last few weeks. Knowing that it was childish to try and avoid eye contact, she tried to gather her nerves. Standing in the middle of his home in her bare feet, it would be quite rude to not say something.

Turning in his direction, she caught his gaze and noticed that his eyes seemed a little bluer than usual. His eyebrows were dipped down, as if he were contemplating the secrets of the universe. Her briefcase was on the floor, and Cooper was leaning up against the wall, his arms folded. Staring at her with a look in his eyes that promised things she had never seen from him before.

She almost took a step back at the sight, but knew that would be foolish. There was no reason for him to be looking at her with such intensity. At least not right at this moment. Their sexy interlude happened days ago and while she wanted to repeat it again and again, now was not the time.

He opened his mouth to say something, but she beat him to the punch. Not sure why she was concerned about what he was about to say, she only knew that she needed to fill the silence herself.

“Unless you need my help in the kitchen, the princess and I are going to go watch a movie.” Already turning toward the living room, she glanced over at him awaiting acknowledgment, “Do you need me for anything, Cooper?”

It seemed as though he took an inordinate amount of time to answer, and while he paused, she waited. For what, exactly? She wasn’t sure.

His chest rose and fell as he took a deep breath and straightened away from the wall. “Yes...I…” he began.

Arms uncrossing, he took a step toward her and stopped, shaking his head as if to clear the cobwebs. “No, I’m fine, sweetheart. You two go ahead. I’ll take care of everything for my girls tonight.” Coming over to the two of them, he leaned down to kiss his daughter on her forehead as she rested on Faith.

Lifting his face, his eyes captured hers and he paused. Her breath sped up and she was unable to break his gaze and turn away. For the briefest moment, she was tempted to lean in, ever so slightly, and touch her lips to his. Just to capture another taste of him.

To feel his tongue slide in her mouth. To feel his body press against her again. Just one more time. She wouldn’t be greedy. But with him so close, looking at her as if he wanted to devour her, she almost gave in. With his eyes boring into hers, flitting across her face as he gazed at her cradling his only child in his arms, it was so very tempting.

Couldn’t he see that she wanted this? Wanted him? Everything she had done in the last few months had to have shown him just how much she needed both of them in her life.

Ever so slowly, she saw him lean in as his gaze dropped down and focused on her parted lips. Her breath was beginning to come faster, the nervousness and anticipation beginning to course through her veins that he would close the gap and kiss her. Please, Cooper! Kiss me.

“Daddy, why are you so close to Ms. Faith? We have to go watch the princess movie.” Cooper jumped back in shock. His hand came up to his face and ran along his jaw, rubbing the slight day’s growth of his beard. Averting his gaze from her, he seemed upset by what he had done in front of his daughter. Well, almost done—but that was just semantics. However, what his reaction did do, was make Faith feel like a heel.

“You’re right, honey, Daddy didn’t mean to hold you up. You go on ahead. I’ll let you know when dinner is finished.” With those parting words, he turned and walked into the kitchen, away from Faith.

Bitter disappointment was all Faith felt at the moment, but she would not allow that to dampen her fun with Madison. “All right, sweetie, let’s grab our favorite spot while your daddy makes dinner.”

Going through the motions of getting her and Madison settled on the couch, she pulled her favorite throw from the back of the couch. Madison sat on her lap while Faith helped her take off her socks and shoes. Because this happened so often, with Faith over at their home while Cooper made dinner after a long day of work, or a lazy weekend day, they had a ritual for this,
too. All of the little things they did with each other, things a family would do, made her desire for Madison’s father, and his repeated rejections, whether it was to appease himself...his late wife...or even his in-laws, made the situation even harder for her to bear.

Returning her attention to the little girl wiggling her little toes like worms, Faith pulled up one foot and pretended to sniff. Giggles rose from the little girl sitting on the couch as she scrunched up her nose and waved her hand in her face. “Oh, Madison, you have stinky feet! I don’t want to smell your stinky feet. Pee-eewww, stinky feet!”

Falling back in a fit of uncontrollable laughter, Madison yelled, “This one Ms. Faith! Smell my other foot! It’s not stinky.”

“Are you sure? I don’t know, Madison. Can I trust you?” She loved this game, it brought things down to the silliest level. It was just the two of them, hanging out and doing what families do. Tears almost came to her eyes as the thought entered her head that she may never find this level of closeness, this intimacy, again. Not wanting Madison to see her tear up or cry, she quickly blinked her eyes to clear the wetness away.

BOOK: Finding Faith
9.44Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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