Joe woke early. He rubbed his tired eyes and
stared at the ceiling. So much for the blissful
escape of sleep. Hannah came to him every
night. If he couldn’t have the real Hannah, he’d
settle for a dream of her, even if it was driving
He glanced at the alarm clock. Just after
6:00am. Great. The kids had stayed at his
mothers last night since he worked late due to
staffing problems. He’d arranged to pick them
up at midday, which left him with a whole size
hours to fill.
He rolled out of bed and reached for his jeans.
Barefoot and bare chested, he walked to collect
the newspaper from the mailbox. He was
scanning the front page when he heard the low
rumble of a motorbike engine in the distance.
His head came up and his muscles tensed.
Which was silly, because there was no way it
The engine noise grew louder as he started
towards the house. He glanced up over his
shoulder, his pace slowing. Sure enough, a
motorbike turned into the street.
His hands tightened around the newspaper. He
stopped in his tracks and turned and stared as
the bike slowed and then stopped in front of his
It was her. It had to be her.
He barely stopped himself from breaking into a
run as he made his way down the driveway,
dropping the newspaper behind him. Hannah
slid off her helmet, shaking out her hair. He
stopped in front of the bike.
“You’re back, ” he said.
It occurred to him that something pretty
serious must have happened to bring her home
“Is everything all right? ” he asked. “Is Robyn
“She ‘s fine. I came back because I forgot
There was a look in her eyes …
“What did you forget? ”
She held his gaze and stepped closer, so close
her jacket brushed his bare chest.
“This,” she said. “I forgot to do this.”
She reached up and curled a hand around the
back of his neck and pressed a kiss to his lips.
For a moment he was blown away by her
return, by the fact that she was kissing him,
that this was real. Three weeks of dreams.
Three weeks of calling himself an for letting her
go without even trying to get her to stay……
Hunger and lust and relief rose inside him in
equal measure. He wrapped his arms around
her, her mouth opened under his.
She tasted of sunlight, like salvation, a new
After long, breathless moments they broke
apart to stare at each other.
“Come inside? ” he asked.
She flicked a glance towards his house. He
knew what she was thinking, what she was
“The kids are with mom ”
She sighed in relief. “That’s great. Because I
don’t think I can wait a minute longer. ”
He lost track of time for a while. The world
became only her and him and soon they were
touching one another, exploring, encouraging,
Pleasure rushed through him and he tried to
hold off, but it had been so long and he’d been
dreaming of this for weeks. It had been a long
time since he’d held anyone or been held.
“I missed you, ” he said.
“I could tell.”
He curved a hand around her cheek. Thank God
she came back. He thought to himself.
She lifted a hand and traced his lips with a
“You have the best smile. When I first saw it my
knees literally went weak.
“When I first saw you, I thought you were a
man, ” he said.
She gasped and punched him on the shoulder.
He laughed and caught her hand.
He kissed her, and things soon became heated
all over again. Afterward, she fell asleep in his
arms, he must have drifted off as well because
he woke to a gentle nudge in the ribs.
“Wake up, sleepyhead, ” she said. “What time
did you say you had to pick Ben and Ruby up? ”
“Well, its eleven. ”
She rolled toward the edge of the bed.
“Ruby will jump out of her skin when she hears
you’re back, ” he said.
He watched as she pulled on her underwear.
“How do you think she’ll feel about this? ” she
asked, her gesture taking in the rumpled bed
and him lying in it.
“I don’t know. There hadn’t been anyone after
Beth. Probably the best thing for us to do is to
take things slowly, ” he said.
She nodded. “Sure. ”
“Maybe you should come out for dinner with us
tonight. Let the kids get used to you being
around them again. ”
She smiled. “That sounds good.”
She zipped her jeans and tugged her tank top
on. He stared at her, barely able to believe that
the past few hours had really happened, that
she was here. That she’d come back for him.
For a moment, all his doubts and uncertainties
Hannah was home. The rest they could make
up as they went along.
Hannah was nervous as she got ready that
night, sweaty palms, shaking hands all for a
casual dinner at Joe’s.
The thing was she had thought about Joe and
his kids the whole of her journey. She’d thought
about the way Ruby looked at her with so much
trust. If things work out between her and Joe,
she would be stepping into some pretty big
shoes, and it would be foolish to assume that
everything would go smoothly. She couldn’t
believe she was standing in her mothers house
thinking about becoming a stepmom.
Then she thought about the way Joe had looked
standing in the street this morning wearing
nothing but jeans. The look on his face, the
hope in his eyes ….. this was about more than
s*x. This was real. And more than anything she
wanted it to work.
A knock sounded on the door and her mother
popped her head in.
“I knew you’d come back! I knew you were too
smart to throw away something so good, ”
Robyn said throwing her arms around Hannah.
Hannah met her mom’s eyes. “Thanks for being
so patient with me, Mom. ”
“I had a feeling about Joe the moment I met
him, ” Robyn said. “He’s a good man. I think
you can make each other happy. ”
“I hope so.”
“And those children need you so much,
“They have to get used to their dad dating me
“I’m sure they’ll be fine with it. It’s not like
you’re some stranger he’s bringing into the
“Maybe. Anyway, we’re going to take it easy to
start with. I’m meeting them for dinner as a
friend, that’s all.”
Her mother frowned. “You mean you are going
to lie to them? You gave up your dream for him.
What more does he want? ”
“It’s okay. Really. I understand his kids have to
Hannah grabbed her purse and left.
Joe was waiting for her up front when she
arrived. Inside, Ruby was sitting on the edge of
her chair and she shot to her feet the moment
she saw Hannah. Her arms wrapping around
Hannah ‘s waist.
“You’re back, ” Ruby said.
“That’s right .”
Ruby’s arms tightened and Hannah had to blink
back tears. It wasn’t until that moment that
she’d realized exactly how much she’d missed
Ben had remained with his father, but he
offered her a shy smile when she and Ruby
finally made their way to the table.
“I thought you’d planned your trip for years, I
thought it was your big dream. ” Ben said
Hannah met Joe’s eyes for a moment before
looking away. “It was. But it turned out that I ‘d
outgrown that old dream. I realized I wanted to
be here more than I wanted to be there. ”
The conversation shifted to food and Hannah let
out a silent sigh of relief.
She’d thought the evening was going well until
Joe and Ruby left to check the cake and Ben
turned and nailed her with a direct stare.
“Are you and my dad going out with each
Hannah blinked, her mind a complete blank for
a long, long moment. She’d always been a
crappy liar, one of the many reasons why she
preferred sticking to the truth. She felt
particularly bad lying to Joe’s child. “Wow.
Where did that come from?” she finally said.
“I known you like him,You look at him all the
time.” Ben said.
“I think your dad is a really cool guy. But we’re
just friends at the moment,” she lied. It was
what Joe had asked her to do, after all.
Ben stared at her for a moment longer before
shrugging. “Okay. Whatever.”
When they walked out to the street after their
meal, Joe let the kids go ahead and caught her
hand in his in the darkness.
“How’re you doing?” he asked quietly.
“Good. How about you?”
she took a deep breath, “You should probably
know ___ Ben asked if we were dating when you
and Ruby went to check out the cakes.
There was a short silence.
“What did you say?”
“That we were just friends.”
“Thanks for that.”
She shrugged. “Well i will see you guys later,”
“Can I come over tomorrow to work on the
bike?” Ruby asked.
Ruby kissed her goodbye, Ben gave her a wary
nod, Joe raised a hand in farewell. When she
got home, Joe had slipped a note beneath the
MEET ME OUT FRONT AT 10:30?
She’d been waiting for ten minutes when she
heard Joe’s front door close later that night.
straightened from her position. He smiled when
he saw her.
He stepped closer and slid his arms around her.
They kissed long and sow, taking their time.
“You taste good,” Joe whispered near her ear.
“So do you.”
They fooled around a little more until they were
both hot and bothered. Finally Joe broke their
kiss and let his forehead rest against hers.
“The kids go to school at eight thirty on
Monday,” he said. She could hear the
frustration in his voice.
“You wouldn’t happen to be setting up a booty
call, would you, Mr. Joe?”
“I’m interested in a lot more than your booty.”
He tucked her hair behind her ear, his fingers
caressign her neck. “Thank you for tonight. For
your patience. I know it’s not easy—-”
“Don’t. You don’t have to apologize or explain.
This is going to be tough for Ben and Ruby. I
He gazed at her, warm with appreciation. “Have
I mentioned yet how happy I am that you came
home?” There was a serious not to his voice.
“It’s good to be back,” she said.
“Hannah, You drive me crazy, you know that?”
Joe woke early. He rubbed his tired eyes and