Summer came right around the corner and with it brought plenty of warmth and sunshine. I spent most of the day in the office, but during my lunch breaks, I'd try to eat outdoors as much as possible.
And of course, evening runs were still an essential part of my daily routine to stay in shape. Back then, Derek and I would run together or hit the gym after work. Lately though, his job had consumed him to the point where he couldn't even get home until at least eight every night.
Since we came back from Minnesota, he'd gone on three out-of-state business trips, each one lasting almost a week. Our regular visits to the doctor together were long gone, and I'd simply been going by myself after work.
Derek's job as a CEO was demanding- I completely understood that- but I hated feeling like I'd been thrown to the side. I couldn't even remember the last time we went out to dinner together.
Honestly, I didn't need him to take me anywhere. I just missed being with him. We rarely had sex anymore because he always came home tired after work. Sometimes, he'd end up falling asleep in his suit, and on those nights, I absolutely pitied him.
The fact that I was pregnant definitely made it harder. My hormones were constantly raging, and every time I laid eyes on Derek, I desperately wanted him. Tired or not, he always managed to look so goddamned sexy.
I didn't want my sexual drive to keep him from getting the rest he deserved, though, so I tried my best to control it, which turned out to be a lot harder than I'd hoped. On nights he did make love to me, I was the happiest girl alive.
But in the morning, I'd wake up alone in our bed, feeling utterly alone.
Luckily, I still had Buster and Buttercup to keep me company. They'd both grown a lot over the past couple of months. Often, I'd take them on my daily runs to ensure they got the exercise they needed as well. Like me, their appetites were huge.
It was a rainy Saturday in June, and I was having lunch with Charlotte at our favorite French restaurant downtown. Her wedding back in April had been a huge success, and every time I saw her, she glowed like the sun. Elliot was probably doing a fantastic job keeping her happy at home.
"We need to go looking for maternity clothes after this," she spoke, taking a bite of her sandwich.
I looked down at my baby bump, which was becoming more noticeable each week. Next Friday was my appointment with Dr. Gillis, and we were finally going to determine the baby's gender. I'd been counting down the days since May.
Hopefully, Derek would be able to come this time.
"We do. My jeans are barely fitting me anymore. What am I supposed to wear now?"
Charlotte smiled, placing her hand over mine.
"Leave it to me, girl. We're getting you a wardrobe makeover. You're gonna look so hot, Derek will be begging to get in your pants."
"Hey, why so sad?", Charlotte inquired, her eyes searching my face.
"I'm not sad."
"Yes you are. I've noticed it at work, too. Is something going on between you and Derek?"
I could never get anything past my best friend. She read me like an open book.
"No. It's just...he's been so busy with work lately, I hardly ever get to spend time with him anymore." My shoulders slumped as I slid a piece of steak around my plate.
"Aww, that sucks. Is it bothering him, too? Not being able to spend time with you?"
"I would hope so."
Charlotte sighed, giving my hand a reassuring squeeze.
"Derek loves you, Claire. I know he hates it just as much as you do."
I managed to smile at her words, feeling like a weight had been lifted off my chest. We resumed eating our lunch, and I wondered why she'd never considered becoming a counselor. She always knew the right things to say.
Later that day, Charlotte dropped me off at my house, and I saw Derek getting out of his car just as I was about to head inside.
"Let me grab those for you," he called, jogging towards me.
I handed my shopping bags over to him, noticing that he was dressed in jeans and a plain black tshirt. Obviously, he hadn't been at the office.
"Where'd you go?", I asked.
"I had to run a couple of errands." He opened the door, and I followed him inside, feeling skeptical. His responses were never this vague.
He went to put my bags in our bedroom, and when he came back to the living room, I stood with my arms crossed.
"Are you hiding anything from me?" My voice was steady, but inside, I was shaking with anxiety.
He arched his brow in surprise then made his way over to me.
"Why would you say that?" He looked cool, impassive.
"I-I don't know. Forget I asked."
"Baby...," He cupped both sides of my face, closing the distance between us. "I would never hide anything from you. You know that."
His eyes gazed into mine with such sincerity, I felt like an idiot for having doubted him at all.
"No need to apologize." He smiled, pressing a light kiss to my forehead, and I was reluctant when he let me go.
Just like I had expected, Derek wasn't able to attend my doctor's appointment on Friday. It turned out he had a business meeting in New York scheduled for Wednesday and wouldn't be home until tonight.
At least I only had to wait a few hours to tell him the news.
"No Derek today?", Dr. Gillis asked when I stepped into her room.
I shook my head sadly.
"Let me guess. He's off somewhere trying to get the best contract for his company?"
"My husband's the same. He works in the executive department of an insurance company downtown. When we first got married, I didn't get how he could dedicate so much of his time to his job. But I realized that like me, he also loved what he did."
"And that's why we're happy for them."
"Exactly." She smiled kindly then transformed into work mode. "Now, let's see if you're carrying a boy or girl."
Like usual, I climbed onto the examination bed after changing out of my clothes. As Dr. Gillis rubbed the wand over my abdomen, I kept my eyes fixed on the screen.
The image was fuzzy at first, but eventually, it became more distinct and clear. That was when Dr. Gillis made the big announcement.
"Congratulations, Claire. You're having a boy!"
I looked more carefully at the screen, and sure enough, my child was indeed a boy. The certain anatomy between his legs was hard to miss.
Right away, I thought of Derek. His hunch had been correct after all. It must've been some sort of fatherly instinct.
I hugged Dr. Gillis as tears of joy streamed down my face. If Derek were here, he'd probably be doing the same. She gave me a copy of my ultrasound picture so that I could show him, and with an extra skip to my step, I headed out of the building.
Tomorrow, I'd call my mom, brother, and Charlotte to inform them of the news. It was only right that Derek would be the first to know besides me.
At six, I was in the kitchen, preparing seafood pasta and a garden salad for dinner. I'd even bought a bottle of Chardonnay to celebrate. I wouldn't be able to drink it, though, but Derek loved that stuff.
Once everything was ready, I went upstairs to take a quick shower, changing into a light blue summer dress. Then, I went to sit at the dining table and waited.
An hour passed, but Derek still wasn't home. It was almost eight already, and he said he'd be here at seven. Growing frustrated, I grabbed my cell phone from our bedroom. There were no calls or texts from him. Nothing.
A part of me was angry, but at the same time, I couldn't help but wonder if something had gone wrong. Hating feeling this uneasy, I dialed his number. He picked up right away.
Why on earth was he whispering?
"Where are you?", I asked in an urgent tone.
"I can't talk right now. I'm in the middle of something important." He spoke so quickly, sounding irritated, it took me a minute to comprehend his words.
"But you said you were coming-,"
The line went dead before I could even finish my sentence.
I threw my phone to the ground and with an aching heart, I went back to the kitchen to put the dinner I'd made into the fridge. Eating was the last thing I felt like doing right now.
The ultrasound picture of Derek Jr. remained on the counter, and suddenly, it hurt to look at him.
I dragged my feet up the stairs to my old room and changed out of my dress, slipping on a silk robe instead. Then, I lay down on the bed and cried myself to sleep.
I was stirring awake from a dream when the mattress suddenly dipped beneath me. I thought I was simply imagining it, but then I felt a pair of strong arms wrap around my waist from behind.
Blinking back tears, I turned around and the sight of Derek lying there was just too much. My mind couldn't decide whether I wanted to punch him or kiss him senseless. In the end, I simply buried my face in his chest and cried.
"I'm so sorry, sweetheart," he whispered, holding me tight.
I honestly didn't know what to say to him; I was surprised he was even home.
"There was an issue during the meeting. Turns out the other guys didn't wanna pay their fair share of the investment. It took hours to reach an agreement, so I had to catch a later flight," he explained.
"How long have you been home?"
He brushed his fingers through my hair, and I wiped away my tears with his tshirt.
The moonlight illuminated his handsome face in the dark, and by simply looking at him, I had a strong sense of how much stress he'd been under. His eyes had grown dull and weary- lifeless almost- and the wrinkles on his forehead were starting to deepen.
In just two months, Derek Weston had aged a decade.
I took a deep breath then asked him the one question I'd been wanting to most since we began drifting apart.
"Do you still love me?"
"I've never stopped," he croaked, a deeply wounded expression on his face.
I reached out to stroke the stubble on his jaw, feeling so conflicted and lost.
"But it seems like you've been pushing me away."
"Claire," he sighed heavily, "when I came home and saw you in here, I knew I fucked up. Big time."
"Why didn't you call me? I waited so long for you, but you never showed up." I was crying again. Derek might be lying right beside me, but I felt like I was already losing him.
"When I realized things were gonna take longer than I thought, I planned to call you, but I accidentally left my phone in one of the other conference rooms. And when you called, a receptionist brought it to me while I was in the middle of my meeting. That's why I couldn't talk to you."
"It hurt, you know. How you just hung up on me like that."
"I know, and I'm sorry, baby. The directors were pissing me off, and Christ, I was so fucking exhausted. I just wanted to go home," he said tiredly, rubbing his face.
I laid my head on his shoulder, tangling my legs with his as he let out a ragged breath, nuzzling my hair. My robe had ridden up, and he stroked my bare thighs with his fingers.
"I've missed being with you like this," I murmured, breathing in the familiar scent of his body wash.
"Me too, baby."
"I never get to see you anymore."
"I know. I feel bad making you go to all those doctor appointments by yourself. But I promise, once this contract is settled, I won't miss a single one anymore."
He kissed me on the forehead, and I propped myself up on one elbow, sliding a hand underneath his tshirt. A deep groan escaped his throat as I caressed his firm abs, indulging in the feel of his smooth skin.
"I may be wrong, Derek, but sometimes, I feel like you've stopped wanting me. I know I may not have the sexiest body anymore, but-,"
Before I could even finish spilling my insecurities to him, he climbed on top of me, the hard planes of his muscles feeling so right against the softness of my curves.
"That's enough, Claire." He sounded angry, and oh my god, it turned me on. Both of my hands were pinned to the mattress, and I stared up into his dark, hungry eyes.
"Derek," I gasped as he rolled his hips into mine.
"You feel that? Only you make me this hard, baby. God, I always want you. Every fucking second of the day."
He ground his hips against me once more, his throbbing erection making me wet with arousal, and as I moaned, his lips captured mine in a dizzying kiss.
"The fact that your beautiful body is carrying my child....You have no idea how sexy that is," he growled, scrambling to untie my robe with his hands. Once it was off, he threw it to the ground then began kissing down my throat.
I felt him humming against my skin as his hands stroked my breasts, which had grown due to pregnancy, and a whimper escaped my throat when his lips enclosed over my nipple, suckling tenderly.
"Oh, god!", I cried, digging my fingers into his hair as he bit into the tender flesh. Then in the blink of an eye, his tongue darted out to lick away the pain.
His mouth continued to coast down the rest of my body, and when he was kneeling in between my legs, I began to grow slightly panicked.
"T-the baby," I panted.
"I know. I'll be careful." He placed a loving kiss on my belly, and my heart swelled. Then, his hands began to slide my panties off, nudging my thighs apart.
The moment his mouth was on me, I moaned out in pleasure, writhing against the sheets as I clawed at his broad shoulders. He lapped, sucked, and plunged his tongue deep into my sensitive bundle of nerves, and I grinded against his face, desperate for more contact.
"You taste so fucking good."
His words were my undoing, and when I climaxed, he swallowed every single drop of me, licking his lips afterwards.
He stood up to take off his tshirt and boxers then crawled back on top of me, cradling my head in his hands. He kissed me slowly and sweetly as his hard length teased my entrance. I needed him inside me so badly, it hurt. It'd been so long...
"I love you," he groaned into my mouth before entering me with one swift thrust.
I moaned in utter ecstasy, digging my nails into his firm ass. He filled me deliciously, every inch of him, and I bucked my hips, aware of his movements becoming more urgent.
"I needed this. Needed you," he rasped.
My breathing grew labored, and the sheets were damp with our sweat as Derek continued to pound into me. His tongue massaged my own, exploring every inch of my mouth, and I ran my fingers through his damp hair.
Feeling my own orgasm building, I urged him to increase the pace, and he threw my leg over his shoulder, deepening his thrusts.
My toes began to clench, and above me, Derek's face was contorted in pure pleasure as his swollen lips parted. It was the most beautiful sight I'd ever seen.
He thrust into me one final time, this one the slowest, deepest one yet, and I turned my head to the side, moaning wildly.
"Look at me, baby," he crooned, tilting my chin to meet his mesmerizing blue eyes.
"God, I've missed you," I whispered, stroking his face.
With one hand, he reached down to rub his thumb over the area where we were connected, and then I came violently, crying out his name as I heard him groan loudly, spilling the contents of his release into me.
Utterly sated, he lay still, his length still buried inside of me as we both panted for breath. Feeling overwhelmed with a sudden rush of emotions, I began to cry silently.
"Shit, Claire. Did I hurt you?", Derek asked in a panicked tone, slowly sliding out of me.
"No," I whimpered, shaking my head.
"What is it then?" He cupped my cheek, his eyes full of worry.
"I-I love being pregnant, but sometimes I hate it. I'm horny all the time, and you're always at work or out of the state..."
"Claire...," he breathed, resting his forehead against mine. He looked absolutely devastated. "If you wanted me, why didn't you tell me?"
"Your rest is more important. You come home looking so tired every night."
A heavy sigh escaped his lips, and he shifted to lay down beside me, holding me in his arms.
"Claire, from now on, if you ever want me, you just come to me. Ok? It's my job as your lover and husband to satisfy your needs. And believe me, baby, I love it more than anything."
"Even your job?"
A frown formed on his face.
"You're what's most important to me, not my job."
"It doesn't seem like it these days," I muttered.
He exhaled sharply, and I couldn't help but feel like there was something more that he was not telling me. But for now, I just wanted us to get some sleep. God knows how much he needed it.
"I saw the picture you left on the counter."
"Yup." His eyes twinkled with pride, and I draped an arm over his stomach, hugging him tight.
"We're having a boy!"
"We're having a boy," he repeated, smiling brilliantly as he caressed my swollen belly with his fingertips.
Our eyes began glistening with tears of joy, and in that moment, everything felt just like how it used to be.
A/N- So, do you guys think Claire has a reason to be worried about Derek right now? Is there something going on that she doesn't know about? Read on to find out, and as usual, like and comment!