“I’m really glad we finally are,” Bethany murmured.
“Me too.” Brows pulling together, Rosie smoothed the material of her dress. “If Dominic and I can make this work, he’ll have to get used to sharing me. I wonder if he realizes that.” They sat in silence for a moment until Rosie started to fidget, needing a distraction from her first-date nerves. “Sidetrack me. How was everyone else’s day?”
Georgie made a sound. “I hate to bring this super-fun, girly mood down, but . . . I worked a birthday party this afternoon—I don’t know if you can tell from my elaborate face paint. Anyway, there was a discussion at the adult table. You know that woman Becky, who worked in the supermarket?”
Bethany hummed. “I get my groceries delivered.”
“I know her.” Rosie frowned. “Haven’t seen her in a while, come to think of it.”
“Yeah.” Georgie’s swallow was audible. “Her marriage was rocky, from what people can tell. And one morning, she just . . . took off. Left her kid with the husband. But . . . he wasn’t really interested in being a single father. So Supermarket Becky’s brother is in town now. He’s taken over raising the little girl, but he’s not having the easiest time. She’s seven.”
A shoe dangled, seemingly forgotten, from Bethany’s index finger. “Oh my God.”
Remembering how close she’d been to her mother at that age—at every age—Rosie felt her stomach twist. But an idea occurred to her. “We should help. The Just Us League.” Rosie wet her lips. “We could start a schedule. Meals and babysitting? I can’t imagine everyone wouldn’t want to help.”
Bethany was slowly nodding. “Great idea. We’ve got, like, nine empty nesters in the league who would kill to have a little one running around once in a while. Not to mention Georgie, who is like foaming at the fucking mouth to put her ovaries to use—”
“True dat,” Georgie said, raising the roof.
“And, Rosie, you could create a meal schedule . . . that’s your department.” Bethany sniffed. “Of course, I’ll bully everyone into staying on track. Because obviously.”
“This feels like an emergency, right? Should we get started now?” Georgie jumped to her feet and whipped out her phone, her fingers flying over the screen. “I’ve alerted the league phone tree. If this brother is anything like Dad, he’s probably in the fetal position by now. We could head over, drop off some dinner, give him a breather . . .”
Bethany chewed her bottom lip. “Rosie has her date.”
As if on cue, the doorbell rang downstairs.
A few beats of silence passed.
“Sorry, Rosie.” Georgie dropped her hand holding the phone down by her side. “I didn’t mean to put a damper on things.”
“Don’t be silly. I’ll just go let him in,” Rosie said, leaving the closet. Bird wings flapped in her throat with every step as she descended toward the front door. Amazing that she could get this nervous and excited about seeing her husband of almost a decade, but there it was. Her mind was definitely preoccupied with the little girl and overwhelmed man across town, but nothing could stop the hot, delicious, butter-like melt that slid between her thighs when she answered the door and Dominic—dressed like he was playing to win—stared back.
The rich scent of his aftershave reached her first and plucked her senses like fingers on a harp. He wore a black sweater and dark gray chinos that molded to him almost indecently, drawing her eye to every ripple of muscle on the man. His knuckle tattoos were the only ones visible, reminding her that the sharp-dressed man was also a badass marine to the core.
When she finally managed to drag her attention to his face, the breath caught in her throat at the way he looked at her, like he was savoring every inch his eyes climbed, starting at the tip of her shoes and steadily ascending, definitely not in a rush.
“You look great, too.” Based on his lack of reaction, she wasn’t sure he’d heard her compliment.
“I haven’t seen you in that dress before. It’s new.”
Rosie tried to pull sufficient oxygen into her lungs, but it was almost impossible when his voice was nothing more than a rough scrape. “Um . . .” She tucked a curl behind her ear. “Do you want to come in?”
Finally, he met her eyes, and the heat there backed Rosie up a pace. “Sure.” He stepped over the threshold and kept coming, reminding her of a panther stalking its prey—and she liked it way too much. “Back in the day when you invited me in, your mom would put out a plate of alfajores. She’d make me eat at least nine before she was satisfied.”
“I remember,” Rosie managed, emotion clinging to the sides of her throat. “She loved you.”
“Maybe.” One corner of his mouth lifted. “Or she was trying to clog my arteries and kill me so I wouldn’t take her baby girl away.”
Rosie huffed a laugh. “She did have an evil streak.”
“Is that where you got it from?” He licked his bottom lip and perused her neckline. “Because that dress is damn sure trying to kill me.”
“Don’t look now, but your game is improving,” Rosie whispered.
When had they reached the kitchen? She wasn’t even aware they’d moved until her back met the kitchen counter, and Dominic planted his hands on the edges, leaning in to take a deep inhale of the air near her neck. “Our bed doesn’t smell like you anymore.”
“If you’re planning on taking me there tonight to fix the problem, think again.”
“Give me some credit.” His lips trailed across her cheek and locked their mouths together in a kiss that drew moans from them both. “I was just going to ask to borrow your perfume so I could spray a little on the pillow.”
“Oh,” she murmured. “That can be arranged.”
Bethany and Georgie chose that moment to burst into the kitchen, talking animatedly. They obviously thought Rosie and Dominic had already left because they both performed a double take upon discovering them in the kitchen. Georgie tried to go back up the stairs, but she ran into Bethany instead, and they both jolted, stumbling.
“Sorry!” Georgie called. “I didn’t . . . We thought you guys were gone.”
Bethany was staring at them like the cat who’d caught the canary. “Look at you two. You read about raw, primal urges in books, but you never see it—”
“Bethany.” Georgie elbowed her sister. “Are you drunk?”
Rosie hid her face in Dominic’s shoulder. The man had made zero move to free her from the trap he’d made with his body.
“When is her curfew?” he said, winking at the sisters. “I’ll try to have her back on time.”
Before they could answer, there was a knock on the door. Several, actually. Footsteps sounded on the porch and voices reached the interior of the house. With a wince, Georgie crossed to the entrance and opened the door—allowing at least half a dozen Just Us League members to pile in, a good number of them holding covered plates of food and casserole dishes.
“Where is the child?”
“Where is this poor man?”
Variations of the same question were asked while Georgie, Bethany, Rosie, and Dominic gaped at the intrusion. It wasn’t over, either. At least five more women walked in bearing aromatic offerings before Bethany spoke up.
“Seriously, everyone?” Bethany sputtered. “Georgie texted you less than ten minutes ago. How did you get here so fast?”
“We were all at a church potluck down the street.”
The women—young and old—traded nods.
“We received your text at the same time, collected our dishes, and piled into our cars.”
“Swiped this green-bean casserole right out from under the pastor’s nose,” one of them said, setting off a chain of laughter. “The poor man was mid-scoop.”
“This is more important,” said Candy, the woman who ran an artisanal-cheese-and-wine shop in town, making her a local favorite among, well, everyone. “We want to help.”
“Rosie,” called an older woman with a green wool cap—Melinda, if Rosie wasn’t mistaken. “Are you going to kiss that man or not?”
“We already—” Rosie squeezed her eyes shut. “Oh God.”
“What’s going on?” Dominic asked, his breath tickling her ear. “Fill me in.”
Forming coherent sentences when Dominic’s powerful body was heating her like a furnace was not exactly easy, but she forced the words out. “There’s a new man in town. His sister ran off, her husband followed . . . and he’s been left to care for their child.”
Dominic’s brows drew together. “You said he’s new in town?” Rosie didn’t have a chance to question the dawning realization in her husband’s expression before he spoke again. “Everyone is heading over there to help out, huh?”
“No.” She shook her head. “This is supposed to be our night.”
“That’s why I’m coming along.” He leaned in and kissed her forehead. “I’ll push the reservation a couple of hours and we’ll eat afterward.”