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Chapter 19 – Bittersweet Romance

“I can’t believe that little thing is pregnant…” Kevin murmured with astonishment, leaning on the kitchen counter in order to peer out into the living room. Sure enough, there Cheyanne sat in the living room with Austin, giggling about some goofy story they were exchanging. He had managed to pry the information from Howie last night while they were enjoying a round of beers. Howie had caved easily beneath his lies, confessing that Cheyanne was indeed pregnant, though he managed to leave out the details of Noah. So, Kevin took on a whole new perspective of Cheyanne from that night. He didn’t understand how she could look so sweet and innocent in that moment, remembering how Austin swore up and down that she was a virgin and had been under her ex-boyfriend’s ultimate control. Kevin narrowed his eyes at that thought. She could play the game well and he worried now that Howie would be dragged amongst the flames, even as he and Howie prepared a special spaghetti dinner for the girls, compliments of his Mama’s recipe.

"Kev…" Howie began softly, shaking his head as he stirred the sauce. "Is it almost ready? I'm starving," he announced, trying to change the subject. He still couldn't believe Kevin had wormed the truth out of him, despite his promises to Cheyanne. Well, he decided, moving to retrieve a cold soda from the refrigerator--no more alcohol for him--he hadn't exactly broken a promise. She'd never said not to tell Kevin, she'd only made him promise not to tell Austin. Still, he couldn't help but feel as though he'd betrayed her. Lord, if she ever found out… He would be a dead man, that was for sure. It would be bad enough when Austin finally found out the news, which couldn't be but too much longer. She'd have his ass for not telling her.

“Just let me drain the noodles. You get the sauce off the stove,” Kevin instructed, moving his gaze from the women to go about his tasks. Moving the pot toward the sink, he dumped the water and noodles into the drainer. Though, he was unable to help himself as he tossed his oven mitts to the side. “Do you realize how lucky you are? If she hadn’t fallen off that horse, she could have pinned you in that pregnancy…”

"Kevin, don't start," Howie warned, shooting his friend a glare as he jerked the pot of sauce off the stove. "You know Chey would never--"

"How am I supposed to know that?" Kevin asked defensively, returning the glare. "All I know is what she's shown me, and she plays the sweet and innocent act pretty damn well. So well, in fact, Austin said she was a virgin."

Howie groaned in dismay, “Kevin--”

“You’re vulnerable. Both of us know that. Her putting a little bit of attention into you has you hooked. She definitely knows how to play the game and I’m sorry if I’m worried about you. This vacation is supposed to be a release. Not a snare – Girls! Dinner!”

"Food!" Austin shouted excitedly, already coming into the kitchen. "I'm so hungry I could ride a horse," she said, collapsing into a chair.

"Austi!" Chey cried, blushing as she moved to take a seat across from her. "You mean eat a horse."

"Eat, ride… whatever!"

“You should be famished, too, huh, Chey?” Kevin murmured, carrying the now mixed spaghetti to the already set table while Howie walked behind him with the Caesar salad and breadsticks. And, Kevin distinctly noted the displeasure in Howie’s mind as he threw a sharp kick to the older man’s shin. But, Kevin knew he was doing it out of the best interest in his heart, so he didn’t become too fazed.

“I’m… My stomach still hurts from the fall…” Cheyanne fumbled in confusion, refusing to meet Kevin’s blistering stare as she reached for the iced tea.

Austin narrowed her eyes at Kevin, her gaze flickering from one man to the other. "What the Hell has gotten into you?" she hissed, snatching her napkin into her lap. She could already tell he had another stick up his ass about something. He'd been so damn rude all evening, despite the sweet gesture of fixing his Mama's famous spaghetti.

“Nothing has gotten into me,” Kevin murmured, making sure to connect a sharp gaze with Cheyanne. Though, she barely held it as she dropped her gaze to fiddling with her napkin, obviously guilty. Resisting the urge to roll his eyes, he gestured toward Austin’s plate. “How much do you want?”

"Of your bullshit or the food?" Austin asked, kicking him hard under the table.

“Damnit Austin!” Kevin cursed, dropping the plate to the table as he reached down to rub his tender knee, trying to ignore the fact that Howie was so amused with the situation. He was too concerned about his knee. It throbbed heavily and burned with the marks of Austin’s pedicure.

Turning her attention to Howie and Cheyanne, Austin smiled sweetly. "Forgive Kevin. He's nervous about the upcoming surgery."

"Surgery?" Cheyanne repeated, raising one brow in confusion.

"To have that giant stick yanked out of his ass," Austin replied with a wave of her hand as she reached for her tea. "Howie, did you do the salad?" she asked casually, ignoring the daggers being sent to her from Kevin's eyes.

“If I say yes does that mean you’re going to take some?” Howie approved, glancing sideways to see Kevin muttering a string of sharp expletives, reaching for Austin’s plate to dish out the steaming spaghetti. Though Howie had butted heads with Austin several times, he felt proud that she managed to control Kevin’s temper so easily. In fact, he relished in that, knowing Cheyanne didn’t need Kevin’s stress.

"I did the spaghetti. And the breadsticks. But does she give a fuck? No," Kevin grumbled under his breath, still rubbing his knee.

"What the fuck is your problem?" Austin asked, whirling around to face him. "Are you still pissed because I turned down your offer of sex last night? I told you, when I fall asleep to Cinderella, don't expect me to wake up for sex!"

“Y’know… I’m not really hungry anymore…” Cheyanne whispered softly, not really in any mood to get thrown into this fight. When Austin and Kevin butted heads; it was explosive. And, her stomach was already cramping terribly for the evening and she had an unsettling feeling that Kevin was perturbed with her more than anything. Though, she didn’t know what she did wrong. Setting her napkin aside, she attempted to stand from the table.

"Chey," Howie said softly, covering her hand with his. "Do you want me to bring you a plate in the living room?" he asked worriedly. "You should eat a little something…"

“She’s not going anywhere,” Austin answered, reaching to grasp her friend’s shirt to pull her back to the chair. Taking the plate Kevin had almost purposely dumped in her lap, she handed it over to Cheyanne. “We’re going to enjoy this dinner that Howie and Kevin made us and pray to God that Kevin doesn’t get kicked in the nuts during the course of dinner for being such an asshole.”

“Alright, Austi…” Cheyanne trailed, shaking her head softly in disbelief.

"She needs her rest," Howie said, scraping his chair back. "Come on, Chey."

"Look, I'm sorry, alright? I've just been in a pissy mood since Brian called the other day. Sorry, Angel." Kevin looked at her intently. He would never forgive himself if his being a jackass sent her into a nervous breakdown and caused a miscarriage. Despite his feelings that she was a manipulative minx, he still liked her.

“It’s okay…” Cheyanne promised with a soft trail to her voice, watching Howie slowly slide back into his place at the table. She glanced curiously toward Kevin, to see if he meant it, but noticed an unfamiliar flicker in his emerald eyes. So, she still remained slightly uncomfortable, lifting her fork to pick at the spaghetti. She honestly wasn’t hungry as her stomach began to cramp violently, but didn’t say nothing as she felt Howie’s hand find her upper thigh. Glancing up yet again, she looked at him with confusion. “Who’s Brian?”

Howie glanced at Kevin, patting Cheyanne's thigh lightly. "He's…"

"Our business partner," Kevin provided, reaching for a breadstick. "He and the others are holding down the fort for us."

"He's Kev's cousin, too," Howie said softly, giving her a look that told her Brian wasn't really the greatest guy in the world. Looking over at Kevin, she wondered if it was genetic.

“He and the others?” Austin was quick to ask, snatching the breadstick Kevin had hoped to seize. She smirked with triumph as he glared at her, leaning over to nip playfully at his bottom lip. Since he apologized to Cheyanne, it seemed as if Austin had taken to a completely different personality. Or, maybe it was the fact that she was finally stuffing her face with sweet morsels of food.

"Yeah… Aje and Nick," Howie said, serving Cheyanne some salad. She flashed him a quick smile, and he felt a shiver when her hand brushed his thigh under the table. "They… They kind of take over things when we're not around," he continued.

"And when we are around," Kevin added, swirling the dark wine in his glass.

“Is that your way of telling me that you’re not the boss of things? Because I think it’ll be a little chilly in Hell then,” Austin snorted playfully, reaching to take his glass when he finished the last bit, knowing he needed a refill.

"Are you kidding? Kevin's the Dad of our little family," Howie said sarcastically.

"Only because I'm the oldest. Those three don't give a fuck. Just do what they want, when they want, never bother to ask us if we agree with it or not," Kevin grumbled, his eyes following Austin as she came back with his wine. "Thanks, Princess."

“You’re welcome,” Austin promised, scratching his back before plopping down into her seat to enjoy the rest of her meal.

“So, wait… They don’t care what you say? So, it’s not like you even really need to go back?” Cheyanne asked in confusion, hoping she didn’t sound that hopeful about the situation. Not that she was happy Howie was so miserable in his job, but she dreamed about him coming back to North Carolina, no matter how far fetched it sounded. She knew they had to part on good terms, but it hurt. So, to make sure she didn’t look too desperate, she carefully forked some lettuce into her mouth.

"Angel, I hate to break your heart, but we do have to go back," Kevin said gently, sneaking a glance at Austin as he spoke, wanting to see what her reaction would be. "We, uh… have to do some traveling soon."

"Travel?" Cheyanne asked around a mouthful of lettuce. "What kind of travel?"

“We’re looking to expand our business…” Howie said as simply as he could, hating that Kevin was getting so technical with their lies. It was hard to keep everything straight, especially as the girls became far more curious than either had anticipated. It was only a matter of time before they would get caught.

“Sounds like you need some entertainment,” Austin laughed, allowing her bare foot to trail up Kevin’s leg and to his lap. “You can write it off as a business expense.”
Catching her ankle in his hand, Kevin held her foot to his growing arousal. "You're charging me now?" he teased, lightly running his fingers over her skin.

"Hell, as much as she makes him scream, she should," Cheyanne muttered to Howie as she reached for her tea again.

"Chey!" Austin cried.

“I was just stating the truth,” Cheyanne answered innocently, chewing the last piece of ice in her tea. Though, it looked as if her favorite animal had died when she noticed. Her bottom lip puckering with disbelief, knowing she’d have to get up and get the ice, which just seemed like a painful ordeal.

Stretching out one leg, Kevin nudged Howie under the table. "My Angel needs ice, man," he drawled, smirking when Howie shot him a glare. Sliding his hand up Austin's leg, he pressed her foot harder against the arousal in his jeans. "So… Princess… about entertainment," he murmured.

"God, don't you two ever stop?" Howie muttered, taking Cheyanne's glass and heading for the freezer.

"We didn't do a thing last night," Austin said defensively, slurping a noodle into her mouth.

“Because Kevvy was drenched in alcohol and couldn’t manage to salute…” Cheyanne mumbled in a slight daze, obviously assuming she thought the answer instead of speaking it aloud. That is, until she noticed Austin and Kevin’s wide eyed stares and she blushed furiously. “You two were reeking of beer last night. Don’t deny that.”

"Chey…" Chuckling, Austin reached for her tea. "Pretty Boy managed to salute, I was just too tired to--"

"Salute back," Kevin interjected with a grin. "Though, she did wake up about three and--"

"Way too much information," Cheyanne said quickly as Howie returned to his seat. "Thank you, Tea," she cooed, smiling sweetly when he set down her glass, filled to the brim with ice.

“The idea of discretion really isn’t in your vocabulary, is it?” Howie groaned, sliding his chair closer to Cheyanne’s chair so Kevin wouldn’t be able to reach him anymore. Not to mention he’d be closer to Cheyanne, freely able to touch her without worrying.

"Nope, not really," Kevin admitted. "In fact," he said with a wicked grin at Austin, "I'd like a beer and I'd like to see something naked!"

“How about you take your wine and we both get naked,” Austin suggested, abandoning her food as she pulled Kevin up by the collar of his t-shirt. Spaghetti could always be warmed, but waste Kevin’s proud erection at this point would be devastation.

“Oh, not that! Not that!” Cheyanne howled painfully.

"To Hell with the wine," Kevin said, setting his glass down. "D, I'll take care of the dishes… later," he muttered as he lifted Austin over his shoulder.

"Oh, good Lord," Howie muttered, shaking his head as the two headed down the hall. "Now we can eat in peace." Smiling, he slid his hand to her neck, caressing lightly. "Do you feel okay, Honey?"

“I’m fine,” she promised, chewing on the chipped ice Howie had gotten for her, though she shivered at the feeling of his soft hand on her neck. Trying to be oblivious to the sharp slam of the bedroom door and Austin’s squealing.

"You want to go sit on the porch for a little while?" he offered, pushing his chair back. "I heard down at the office this morning that there should be a meteor shower tonight, and I can't think of anything I'd rather do than snuggle with you and watch it."

“Sounds perfect to me,” Cheyanne agreed, taking his hands so he could help her up.

*~*~*


“You know how to drive me insane, y’know?” Kevin breathed heavily as he slammed his back into the door to close it, practically tossing Austin onto the bed before eagerly crawling on top of her. He wasted no time bending down to capture her mouth in a hot kiss, actually nipping at her tongue when her nails dug into his back. He was already painfully tight from her little foot fetish at the table and the intoxicating scent of her shampoo mixing with the cologne of his t-shirt that she was wearing was enough to drive him into a loud tizzy. Groaning with obvious pleasure at her hands peeling his shirt away in order to have a better grasp at his flesh, he dipped his tongue into her mouth to cause a sharp squeal of excitement. And, if anything, he surely was looking for security in Austin’s loving tonight. To know that she wasn’t like Kristin and Cheyanne. That she would truly love him until the end of time, despite his obstinate flaws.

"I try," Austin gasped into his mouth, rolling him to his back in order to attack his neck and chest with her tongue. His hands were all over her body, seeming to lightly tug on her hair and unbutton her tight jeans at the same time. Lifting her hips slightly, she squealed when one hand slid inside her panties, teasing her folds. Raising her head to meet his eyes, she was about to speak when she saw a flicker of emotion in the emerald depths. "Kevin," she breathed, moving up his body to lightly kiss his lips. "I've never felt for anyone the things I feel for you," she admitted.

“I know, Princess,” Kevin promised, holding a hand underneath her chin to deepening the sweet kiss she offered. Slowly, he withdrew his hand from her pants, moving to slide them easily down her legs. As though he were peeling a second layer of skin. But, he wanted top, so he easily rolled her while taunting her with kisses. “I’d do anything for you, Princess. Anything in the world. You’d just have to ask…”

"I… Right now all I want is for you to make love to me," she whispered, sliding her hands through his hair. "But… later… we can talk about this traveling you have coming up," she added with a smirk, her hands trailing down his firm chest, lightly grazing his nipples before skimming to the button of his jeans. Hearing his pleased moan, she smiled against his lips, loving his response to her touches.

“I can definitely make love to you,” he gasped as her hands painstakingly undid each button before slowly sliding down the zipper. Then they eased inside, sliding beneath the waistband of his boxer-briefs to cup his firm erection. Sharply, he bucked at the sensation of her cool hands against his flaming skin, leaning down to press a powerful kiss that broke into a loud moan of delight in her mouth.

“Well, stop wasting time,” Austin purred with a laugh, pulling down his jeans and boxer-briefs till he kicked them to the floor. She smiled at the gift she had just unwrapped. Kevin nude was just a magnificent piece of art. He cared a lot about his body, which was defined in the smooth, sleek contours of his chiseled muscles, allowing Austin to easily line where one began and one ended. But, what drove her wild was the small garden of dark hair brewing below his lower abdomen, leading to her Garden of Eden. Men definitely matured with age.

“Sorry,” Kevin actually apologized as she gently rubbed him while he furiously worked on removing her clothing. He felt his entire body tense with her soft hands cupping him, toying with him. He worried that he might be wasted if she kept playing games. So, holding his breath, he slid her bottom garments away, immediately probing a finger into her moist inner lining so she knew what it felt like.

"Kevin, baby," Austin moaned, arching her hips off the bed. He always knew just how to touch her to make her want to scream. Gripping him tightly, she nipped at his bottom lip, squealing when his thumb pressed against her clit. "Kevin…" Her nails raked his length, and she felt a surge of desire when he jerked against her hand.

“You done teasing me?” he breathed against the crook of her neck, smiling at the sharp squeal that echoed throughout the bedroom. The noises she made during their foreplay was astounding, not to mention how passionate she became when they were actually making love. Slowly withdrawing his hand from her, he licked his fingers, causing her to whimper with dissatisfaction. Easily, he moved to kiss her, allowing her to taste herself against his lips while she guided him deep into her inner being.

Whimpering, Austin tangled her legs with his, sliding her arms around his neck. "This," she whispered breathlessly as she arched to meet him, "is where I belong." Pulling him down over her, wanting to feel as much of his body as possible, she nibbled at his earlobe, one hand flailing out to grasp the sheet as her wave of passion began to swell.

*~*~*


“I think I’m starting to get baby fat,” Cheyanne announced quietly as she stood at the floor length mirror tacked to the closet of Howie’s bedroom, bunching her light yellow camisole and rolling Howie’s baggy boxers to further examine her changing abdomen. She was unaware that Howie had returned from the bathroom and was watching her intently. In fact, she was more mesmerized with her body than anything. Just the slightest amount of fat had started to layer in the pit of her stomach, bringing just a soft roundness to where she was usually concave. She could only count the days till she would be permanently condemned to wearing baggy clothing. Not that she mourned the idea of getting fat. In fact, it was much the opposite. She couldn’t wait for her pregnant belly.

Stepping up behind her, Howie slid his arms around her waist, one hand moving to gently cover her stomach. "I love it," he murmured, resting his head on her shoulder and looking at their reflection. "I can't wait to see how much you grow," he told her, lightly kissing her neck. "How is our little Cinnamon doing tonight? She settled down so I can make love to you?" he whispered, his lips trailing over her shoulder, dragging the strap of her camisole between them. Moving his hand up, he gently cupped her breast, felt her shiver slightly as he nibbled the soft, sweet skin of her neck.

“Will you still sing to me first even though she’s sleeping?” Cheyanne teased, holding her breath as long as she possibly could while Howie tickled her skin. Little shocks of delight quaked over her already overly sensitive body, sending her into an ocean of sheer delight. She actually started to tremble underneath Howie’s hold from the power of her brewing ecstasy, whimpering softly at the sensations of his fingers lightly dancing over her covered breast.

"What's your pleasure?" he asked with a wicked grin, moving to pay the same attention to her other shoulder. Gently stroking her breast, he nibbled at her earlobe, his other hand teasing the waistband of the boxers she wore. Feeling her tremble, he turned her in his arms, easing her against the wall. Her hands landed on his shoulders, her lips meeting his in a fevered kiss. Bracing one hand against the wall, he released a soft moan when her hands tangled in his hair, drawing him closer to her. Kevin's warnings played in the back of his mind and he quickly pushed them away, wanting only to think of Cheyanne, of her luscious body, her sweet smiles, her gentle touches, the way she--- "Chey," he gasped when her hands slid down to cup his backside, pulling him tightly next to her.

“You’re my pleasure,” Cheyanne whispered against his lips, allowing her tongue to gently tease his bottom lip. When his body practically melted against hers, she brought her hands up the length of his bare back, tightening her grasp as a powerful wave of elation attacked. Her whimpers labored with slight frustration at the sweet torture he was bringing to her aroused body, knowing there was no possible way she could keep herself upright for much longer. Especially as she ran just the tip of her tongue along the corner of his mouth, working her kisses against his jaw to finally suck his earlobe gently.

Moving his hands lower, Howie grasped her thighs, gently pulling her legs around his waist as he stepped back, holding her up against him as he moved to the bed. Lowering himself on the edge, he eased her camisole over her head, dropping light kisses over her chest, teasing her soft skin as she wriggled in his lap. "Chey… Sweetheart, do you have any idea what that does to me," he breathed against her collarbone as her hands stroked his back. The slightest touch from her aroused him, and coupled with her shivers and soft whimpers made him want to bury himself deep inside her center. "I love you, Honey…"

“I love you, too, Tea, so much,” Cheyanne promised as he glanced up, lowering her lips to his for several gentle kisses. Though, as she started to rotate her hips against his in a slow, circular fashion, her kisses hardened. Her entire body was heightening to pleasure that Howie had yet to show her. Every time with him seemed to bring another level of pure bliss. She craved him more than he would ever know. Especially as she nibbled tenderly on his bottom lip, wrapping her arms around his neck for protection. “You’re everything I’ve ever wanted. And, I thank God for the time I do have with you. Every moment of every day…”

Wrapping his arms around her, Howie returned her kiss, pulling her with him as he lay back. "You… you're more than I could have ever hoped for," he whispered, smoothing the curls from her face as he cradled her body next to his. What did Kevin know, anyway, he decided, gently moving her to her back. Her legs tangled with his, and he felt his heart surge with love for her as she began sliding his shirt up. "Can I keep you forever?" he murmured, lifting his head to gaze into her eyes.

“Please?” Cheyanne answered sweetly as she cast his shirt toward the floor, sliding her hands down his bare back with much delight. Her sapphire eyes shimmered within the soft lighting of the room, showing a depth of truth that Howie could never fully appreciate. Everything she felt for him, love, desire, wanting, hope, adoration, reflecting back against his chocolate eyes. She held no secrets. She offered him everything she had, asking for not a single desire in return. Though, she loved the way her soft skin seemed to melt into his, blending them into a soft caramel joy as she framed his face to pull him down for several long, supple kisses. There was nothing more than she could have possibly asked for. For him to keep her forever was a dream. Her Heaven. “Please, keep me forever.”
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