For the remainder of our visit, I spent as much time with my mom as I could. Yesterday, we'd gone shopping and ate lunch at Benihana's. Later, both Ellie and Becca joined us for a spa retreat, and we wrapped up the night at a concert downtown.
Coincidentally, a new project had also launched yesterday for Derek's company, so he spent the entire day at home busy with work and teleconferences.
Tonight was our final night in Minnesota, and the thought of having to leave my mom devastated me. I'd constantly talked her into moving back to California, but she always refused, saying that her true home was here. Abandoning it would feel like she'd abandoned my father.
For a long tine, I knew that my mom would never get remarried. Sure, she'd been on a few dates, but none of them were serious. Mark Delaney was the first and last man to have ever claimed her heart, and she'd love him always.
On a different note, my brother finally proposed to his girlfriend, Lauren, two days ago, and we'd all gone out to celebrate. I was incredibly happy for them.
It was sad, though, knowing our dad wouldn't be there to see him get married. When I was little, I used to always dream about my wedding day. I'd seen tons of movies where the bride's father walked her down the aisle as they both beamed with joy.
Unfortunately, I didn't get to experience any of that.
Instead, my wedding day had been filled with resentment and grief, but it didn't matter. As long as Derek and I loved each other and were happy, then our not-so-happy wedding could just be locked up along with the rest of our bad memories.
Justin and Lauren came over for dinner, and my mom made her famous spaghetti and meatballs. Afterwards, we headed to the living room to watch the Wild game while Justin brainstormed baby names for his future nephew.
Yes, he also believed Derek and I were going to have a boy.
When it was becoming late, my brother and his fiancé went home, and my mom headed upstairs to bed, leaving me alone with Derek.
"Are you sleepy yet?", I asked him.
"Umm...well, you see, there's something I've always wanted to do but haven't gotten the chance to."
His mouth curved into a lazy smile.
"I want to go jump in that lake down the street. With you."
His eyes widened in horror, and immediately, he shook his head, protesting.
"Are you out of your mind?"
"Please. It'll be fun. Trust me."
I didn't mention that this was on my bucket list of things to do with Nick, but Nick or no Nick, I still really wanted to do it. My other friends had participated in the Polar Plunge previous years- an annual event to raise money for the Special Olympics that involved jumping into a tub of ice cold water- and they said it'd been loads of fun.
"Explain to me how getting hypothermia is supposed to be fun." Derek crossed his arms, staring pointedly at me.
"We won't get hypothermia. Besides, it's not that cold outside right now. Forty-two degrees is above freezing."
"So, is that a yes or a no?"
"Yes. But if I don't find it fun, then you're in big trouble."
I watched his retreating back as he went downstairs to grab towels and then I did a victory dance.
Ten minutes later, we were approaching the edge of the lake. Most of the ice had melted off, and next to me, Derek stood in his tshirt and jeans, eyeing the deep, dark water with an apprehensive look.
"You do know we're not even allowed to be out here this late," he said matter-of-factly.
"It adds to the excitement." I smiled at him, proceeding to take off my shoes.
"What have I gotten myself into?", he grumbled, stepping out of his Converse.
I laughed, and then suddenly, a brilliant idea came to mind. I remembered back during the fall when I'd messed with Derek's head- telling him that I'd gone skinny dipping with Grant Easton, a college friend, when in fact, I never did. It was just a way to get him all riled up.
With a mischievous smile, I began to pull my shirt over my head, leaving me in a red lace bra. Goosebumps formed all over my arms, and I shivered from the cold, but the instant Derek's hooded gaze was on my body, I felt hot from head to toe.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?", he rasped, grabbing my waist and pulling me towards him.
"Isn't it obvious? I'm stripping."
"The hell I'm gonna let you do that." His voice was a harsh whisper.
"You're such a grump. Live a little." I flashed him a smile, and reached behind me to take off my bra, tossing it to the ground.
Derek's eyes grew dark with lust at the sight of my full breasts, and when his fingertips gently brushed over my nipples, I shuddered, aching for more of his touch.
"We better get in the water," he breathed.
I nodded, and then we quickly undressed, the charge of sexual tension between us like electricity in the air. Derek finished before me and stood there in all his naked glory in the pale moonlight, stealing my every breath away.
"Ready?", I asked as soon as my panties were off.
"Nope, but who cares?"
Together, we jumped into the lake as the frigid cold water engulfed our bodies. It felt like a million icicles were piercing my skin, and my teeth began to chatter loudly.
"Holy fuck, my balls are gonna freeze!", I heard Derek exclaim.
I burst out laughing, momentarily forgetting about the fact that my blood was probably starting to freeze also. Keeping my head above the water, I swam the short distance over to him.
Before I could say a single word, his arms latched around my waist, and I could feel every inch of his hard muscles pressed against my soft curves.
"You're crazy," he spoke gruffly in my ear.
"For you." I smirked, grinding my hips against his. He growled, biting the sensitive flesh on my neck, and I let out a moan.
"If I'm not inside you the next five minutes, I'm gonna lose it."
The next thing I knew, he scooped me into his arms and carried me to shore. We quickly put our towels on then grabbed our clothes from the ground, running down the dark, empty street towards home. The rush of adrenaline pounded in my ears.
"We're gonna be such terrible influences on our kids," I said breathlessly.
"They'll never know about this." He gave me a roguish smile.
The moment we made it home, I rushed to the backyard, turning on the hot tub. After the near-hypothermia experience we just had, I was more than grateful to jump into some nice, warm water.
And of course, make hot, sweet love to my husband.
Two weekends before Charlotte's wedding, I threw her the greatest bachelorette party in the history of parties. There were a total of fifteen girls in attendance- all of whom were close friends and relatives of the bride.
I'd specifically made sure that her "Final Fling Before the Ring" was as wild and raunchy as possible without crossing the line. It tailored perfectly to her crazy, outgoing personality, and of course, love for the hot male species.
I'd chosen Spin for the location, an upscale, multilevel nightclub that had a rooftop bar. None of us had ever been there before, but I was certain we'd love it. In addition, I also booked a suite at the US Grant for us to crash in following the party. That had been Stacy's idea.
All of us wore little black dresses, with the exception of Charlotte, who wore a bright red dress that accentuated her curvy figure and highlighted her blonde waves.
Heads turned the moment we stepped into the club, and a bunch of guys in the back were catcalling, their eyes roaming over us in appreciation.
The past week, I had planned a scavenger hunt for all of us to participate in. There were twenty tasks total- each one worth different points depending on how "risky" they were. In the end, whoever had the most points would win a Victoria's Secret gift card worth $500.
Already, I was betting on the bride herself to win it.
We were at the bar getting drinks when I showed the girls my list for the scavenger hunt. Since I was pregnant, I had opted for a non-alcoholic Miami Vice.
"Oh my god, this is too good," Charlotte squealed. "Have a guy show you their favorite sex position."
"Number eight is my personal favorite. Drink a blow job shot between a guy's legs," Stacy quipped.
We all burst out laughing.
"Jeez, how'd you come up with all of these?", Charlotte asked.
"The Internet," I said with a nonchalant shrug, taking a sip of my drink.
"Of course. Now, let's go make this an unforgettable night." She beamed happily, hooking her arm through mine as we headed to the dance floor.
J. Dash's Wop pounded through the speakers, a timeless hit they always used to play at Homecoming back in high school. And yes, we even did the Wop like the crazy white girls that we were. The guys in the crowd loved it, hooting and hollering as we wiggled our asses in the air shamelessly.
I loved the feeling of being able to let loose on the dance floor. It brought out the wild, reckless side of me, and even Charlotte was surprised when I was the first one to complete a scavenger hunt task.
While we were dancing, I managed to get a condom from some blonde guy, which had been number ten on the list. All I had to do was ask, and he handed it over.
But of course, I turned down his offer to sleep with me. Instead, I'd told him that it was my friend that needed one, not me.
"Whatever happened to the old Claire? The one that used to yell at me for grinding on guys?", Charlotte teased.
"I guess Derek was finally able to bang some sense of fun into her. We should thank him," Hannah said, her eyes twinkling with mischief.
I blushed, and Charlotte playfully pinched my cheek.
"You're too cute, Claire."
About an hour into the party, we decided to head on up to the second level where the male strippers I'd hired were. They put on a private show that left the girls and I feeling hot all over, especially Charlotte, who looked like she'd died and gone to heaven.
Throughout the night, we danced, drank, and played the wildest games. By eleven, the scavenger hunt was completed. Charlotte ended up winning, which was what we'd all predicted. No one could drink as many shots or handle guys as well as she did, and we had the photos to prove it, too.
"I've never had this much fun in my entire life," Charlotte slurred as I dragged her up to to the rooftop to cool off. She was completely wasted.
"You're the best matron of honor ever." Her arms wrapped around me in a big bear hug, and I smiled. I loved being able to make my best friend this happy.
Around one in the morning, we all crashed at the US Grant hotel. I couldn't even imagine what a hot mess I looked like right now. My dress stuck to me in the most uncomfortable places, and the soles of my feet ached from dancing all night.
Those of us who still had energy left went downstairs to the indoor pool, but as for me, I passed out on the luxurious queen bed within seconds.
A/N- Looks like our beloved Claire is a secret party animal after all (; I know this chapter was kind of a filler, but hey, we could always use some drama-free moments every now and then. At this point, I'm thinking that there will be probably be about 4 or 5 chapters left of the story. Until then, remember to like and comment!