- Katie Ashley
- Atlanta, GA, United States
- I am the New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon Best Selling author of The Proposition, Proposal, Music of the Heart, and Nets and Lies. I am represented by Jane Dystel of Dystel and Goderich for all books except for Proposition and Proposal.
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- ► 2014 (22)
- A Proposition/Proposal Short Story: Baby Noah's Fi...
- The Essential Music of the Heart Playlist #2
- The Essential Music of the Heart Playlist Part #1...
- A Compilation of all things Music of the Heart
- Teaser Tuesday: The Fountain Scene
- Music's New Release Date & Peace Offering Snippet
- Smexy Saturday Post and AJ's Muse
- ▼ March (7)
Sunday, March 31, 2013
A high-pitched squeal broke through the layers of Aidan Fitzgerald’s subconscious. As the wailing persisted, his senses slowly came awake. “Em?” he murmured drowsily. With his eyes still pinched shut, he rolled over in bed to find it empty. Craning his neck, he heard the unmistakable sound of the shower running. Well, he barely heard it over his four-and-a half-week old son’s screams.
“Okay, okay, I’m coming, Noah,” Aidan muttered as he pulled himself into a sitting position.
As he hurried around the side of the bed, Aidan dug the sleep out of his eyes with his fists. By the time he reached the bassinet, Noah was in full-on, pissed-off fit mode. He drew his tiny legs to his stomach while flailing his fists. His face was crimson from his exertions. “Easy Little Man,” Aidan said as he reached over to pick Noah up. While all of their family members loved telling Aidan and Emma that they had been blessed that Noah had such an easy temperament, he could really let you have it when he got going. Of course, the only time he really wailed was when he was hungry or had a dirty diaper.
Kissing Noah’s cheek, Aidan then snuggled him against his chest. When Noah’s tiny brows furrowed in confusion, Aidan grinned down at him. “I know, I know. I’m a poor substitute for Mommy, especially if you’re hungry.” At the sound of Aidan’s voice, Noah popped open his eyes. “Hmm, feels like you’ve got a wet diaper. Let’s get you changed.”
Aidan’s once bacheloresque master bedroom had become baby central. With the nursery upstairs, Emma didn’t want Noah that far from her when he was so small, so he slept in Pack and Play in the bedroom. Aidan wondered with all of Noah’s shit in their bedroom why he needed his own room. But when it came down to it, Aidan actually liked having him close too. Even though he adored and loved Emma with all his body and soul, the love for his son was far greater than anything he could have ever imagined. From the moment Noah had been placed in his arms, Aidan had felt the most amazing, life-altering bond. He hated spending any time away from Noah. He had even taken two weeks Paternity Leave to be with Emma when Noah came home from the hospital, but he’d been forced with a heavy heart to return to work the last week.
Laying Noah back down on the Pack and Play, Aidan then undid his onesie and diaper. It had taken one epic dousing of piss to the face for Aidan to remember to take the proper precautions when changing Noah. While Emma had found it hilarious, he had not been so amused. After he put a fresh diaper on, Aidan tenderly kissed along Noah’s exposed belly, inhaling of the sweet essence that was baby, before snapping his onsie back together. He then popped Noah’s pacifier back into his mouth just in case he wanted to get fussy again before Emma got out of the shower.
He sat down in the glider and began to do one of his new favorite things—rock Noah. He couldn’t get enough of the feeling of Noah in his arms. Emma had teased him that he was going to spoil Noah by holding him so much, but the truth was neither one of them could keep their hands off of their sweet son for long. Aidan loved the way Noah felt nestled against his chest along with the way he would stare intently up at him, as if he were memorizing Aidan’s face.
Emma appeared in the bathroom doorway outfitted in her green silk robe. Just the sight of her wet, tangled Auburn hair and flushed alabaster cheeks from the shower got Aidan’s juices up and running. But they were still two weeks shy of getting back to clockwork in the bedroom, so Aidan quickly doused the fire growing below his waist. He smiled at Emma from his seat in the glider. “Someone woke up while you were gone.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I thought I better slip into the shower while I could.”
Shaking his head, Aidan rose out of his seat. “I don’t mind getting up with him, babe.” He kissed Emma’s cheek. “I just don’t have what all you have to offer him.”
Emma laughed at his insinuation. “He just ate three hours ago.”
Aidan chuckled. “Yeah, well, he’s got that ‘this pacifier ain’t gonna hold me much longer’ gleam in his eyes.”
“Here I’ll take him,” Emma said. Aidan gently passed Noah over to her. “Is Mommy’s angel hungry again?” she cooed.
Just the sound of her voice made Noah come alive as he waved his fists and snuggled closer to her. She beamed at him as she eased down in the glider. He unceremoniously spit out his pacifier out as Emma pushed open one side of her robe. Once he was nursing heartily, Emma turned her attention back to Aidan. “Are you ready for a full day in the mountains?”
“Of course I am. You know I love being with your family.”
“Ah, but you’ve never experienced one of our Anderson Easter Egg hunts.”
Aidan quirked his brows at her. “Should I be afraid?”
Emma giggled. “Trust me, it’s intense. There are probably over a hundred people with a thousand eggs hidden.”
“Holy shit! A thousand?”
“Why do you think I’ve been dying eggs like crazy the past few days?”
“I thought you had an Easter egg fetish. Who was I to judge?”
With a laugh, Emma replied, “Nope, it’s a tradition, not a fetish.”
“If you say so.”
“Oh, we need to leave as early as we can.”
Aidan lifted his brows in surprise. “Don’t tell me you volunteered my services for the massive egg hiding undertaking?”
Emma grinned. “No, it’s more about me helping Grammy. She keeps being so stubborn and insisting that she’s not too old to do lunch all by herself. But then she’s wiped out for days after she does it.”
Aidan smirked at her. “Hmm, so that’s where you and now Noah get the stubbornness.”
“Hey now. There’s plenty of stubbornness floating around in your Fitzgerald DNA,” Emma countered as she propped Noah on her shoulder to burp him.
“If you say so. I better go hop in the shower then.”
“You do that, stubborn ass,” Emma replied, with smile.
He winked at her before ducking into the bathroom. He showered at a lightning quick pace before getting out to shave at record speed. After he wrapped a towel around his waist, Aidan stepped out of bathroom and into the bedroom. Wearing a beautiful green sundress that made Aidan’s heartbeat accelerate, Emma had Noah on the bed, easing him into his clothes. At the sight of the outfit, Aidan did a double take. “What the hell is he wearing?”
Emma glanced up at him in surprise. “His Easter outfit.”
Aidan shook his head wildly back and forth. “It has pink in it.”
“And blue and green.” When he continued giving her a skeptical look, Emma huffed, “These are pastel, Easter colors, Aidan.”
“I don’t want my son in pink.”
Emma rolled her eyes. “Seriously?
“Yeah, I am.”
Lifting Noah into her arms, she pinned Aidan with a hard stare. “You wear pink shirts.”
Aidan scratched the back of his neck. “That’s different. I’m a man.”
“And he’s a little man. There isn’t any difference. Besides, look how adorable he is.” She held Noah out for Aidan to inspect him.
As much as he hated to admit it, Noah looked cute as hell in his gingham outfit. He even had a hat to match that bunny ears sewn on. He exhaled noisily. “Fine, you win.”
Emma grinned. “I win in more ways than one. Patrick picked this out for him.”
Aidan groaned. “Jesus, not Pop?”
“Yes, your father.” With Noah in one arm, she reached over to playfully smack his ass. “Now hurry up and get ready. We need to be on the road in half an hour.”
Later that afternoon, Aidan lounged around the giant mahogany table in Grammy and Granddaddy’s dining room. He fought the urge to undo his pants since like always, he had eaten way too much. Between Grammy and Emma’s combined efforts, the meal had been delicious. He was debating eating another piece of cake when Emma crooked her finger at him from the dining room doorway. His brows furrowed in confusion as he rose out of his chair. At the head of the table, Noah slept peacefully in Earl’s arms, so he couldn’t help but ask, “What’s wrong?”
“Come with me,” she said, taking him by the hand and leading him down the hallway. She closed them into Grammy and Granddaddy’s bedroom before she spoke again. “I need to ask you to do something for me.”
Her intense stare caused him to swallow hard several times. “Um, Em, are you asking what I think you’re asking?”
It took her a moment before her eyes bulged, and she shook her head wildly back and forth. “Oh God no! How could you think I brought you into my grandparent’s bedroom for sex?”
Aidan exhaled a defeated breath. “Maybe because I’ve been without sex for years now.”
Emma laughed. “It has not been years. It’s been exactly four weeks and five days.”
“You have it down to a science?”
“Well, it’s all based on Noah’s birthday since I gave you that going away present that sent me into early labor.”
Aidan grinned at the memory. “Oh yeah.”
“Anyway, I brought you in here because we’re in sort of a crisis—an Easter Bunny crisis.”
Emma motioned to the bed. Draped across it was a furry, adult sized Easter Bunny costume. “You see every year Henry, the neighbor from down the road, plays the Easter Bunny during the egg hunt. But we just got a call from his wife that he’s in the ER passing a kidney stone.” Emma drew in a ragged breath. “Aidan, we need you to play the Easter Bunny.”
A hysterical laugh escaped his lips. “You’re shitting me, right?”
Emma nibbled her bottom lip nervously before replying. “I wish I was, but we’re in desperate need here.”
Aidan stared at her for several long seconds, expecting that at any minute she would say it was a joke. When she didn’t, he shook his head. “There are about a thousand other men in your family. Why does it have to be me?” he protested.
“All the other men who are your size and could fit into the costume have children in the Easter egg hunt.”
Aidan shrugged. “So?”
“Don’t you see? If their dads are missing, they’re going to think something is up.” Emma tilted her head at him. “You don’t want to ruin the mystery of the Easter Bunny for them, do you?”
“Um, if it means keeping my ass out of a furry bunny suit, then hell yes I do!”
Emma swept her hands to her hips and pursed her lips at him. “So in a couple of years, you would want someone ruining it for Noah?”
Aidan opened his mouth to protest, but the closed it. Deep down the truth was he wouldn’t want some selfish bastard ruining Easter for his kid. “No,” he grumbled.
“So does that mean you’ll do it?”
The corners of Emma’s lips turned up in a pleased smile. “You know, it’ll make me very happy if you do this.”
He lifted his brows questioningly at her. “Just how happy?” As she closed the gap between them, Aidan’s breath hitched. She didn’t just walk over to him. She slunk. Her full hips sashayed to and fro in the dress.
“Although we still have a week to go before I’m fully operational again in the bedroom department—” He scowled causing her to pause. “Now Mr. Fitzgerald, I’m not finished.”
“As I was saying, although we still have a week left, I’m sure I could find several ways to reward you for your good deeds.”
“Just what did you have in mind?”
She tapped her finger against her chin in thought. “Maybe lots of oral attention and tender loving care to your most prized possession?”
He couldn’t help the grin that spread across his face. “Hmm, I like the sound of that. But I think I need some further convincing.” Snaking his arms around her waist, he said, “Paint me a more vivid picture.”
Emma laughed. “Do you remember the furry green handcuffs and whipped cream from our honeymoon?”
Aidan’s eyes rolled back in his head as he groaned. “Oh fuck yes.”
“Then I guarantee if you put you on that bunny costume, we’ll reenact that scene tonight when Noah is asleep.”
“Then bring on the fur and bunny ears!” Aidan exclaimed.
“See, I knew you’d see reason when I made you an offer you couldn’t refuse.” Emma kissed him with just enough passion to leave them both breathless. “Okay, we better get you ready.”
Aidan glanced warily at the costume on the bed. “So how do we do this?”
“First, I think you should take your clothes off.”
Aidan couldn’t help the cocky smirk that formed on his face. “You don’t have to ask me to do that twice.”
Emma rolled her eyes. “I’m just thinking that it’s going to be hot enough outside as it is. We don’t want to add to it by keeping on a layer of clothes.”
“Fine,” Aidan murmured. He quickly slipped out of his dress shirt and khaki pants but left his briefs on. Holding out the body of the costume, Emma helped him step inside. When she zipped him up, Aidan couldn’t help the momentary feeling of panic wash over him that he was trapped in the costume. Great, if he was freaking out now, what would it feel like when the giant head was put over him? He drew in a few calming breaths before Emma covered him with the bunny head.
Surprisingly he could see better than he thought out of the mesh eyes, and he was getting plenty of oxygen. “Not bad.”
“Good.” Rubbing his furry chest, she asked, “Ready to go wow the kids?”
“As ready as I’ll ever be.”
When she guided him into the hallway, Grammy was waiting on them. “How did you ever talk him into it?” she asked.
“I just appealed to his sense of duty as a father,” Emma replied.
Virginia glanced between Aidan and Emma before crossing her arms over her chest. “Uh, huh...” she murmured skeptically.
Earl appeared in the hallway with Noah in his arms. At the sight of Aidan in the costume, he began snickering. It wasn’t too long before he was howling with laugher. “Wow, son, I do believe you just totally lost your man card!”
Aidan sighed inside the costume. “Fine, fine. Laugh all you want. I’m the one who’ll be reaping the benefits
Emma’s eyes widened before she smacked his bunny arm. “Watch it!”
Grammy giggled behind them. “Like we didn’t know some sort of favors had to be promised to get him into that costume.”
As Emma died of mortification next to him, Aidan waved his furry paw at Earl. “Bring Noah over here, so he can see me—I mean, the bunny.”
Earl closed the gap between them. Noah peered around, happily sucking on his pacifier. But the moment
Aidan leaned over Earl, Noah’s tiny face crumpled. He began screaming in what could only be fear.
“I’d say he’s not a fan of the Bunny,” Earl mused over the wailing.
“Great, now I’ve scarred my kid for life,” Aidan moaned.
Emma took Noah from Earl. After kissing his cheek reassuringly and rocking him back and forth, he began to quiet. “It’s all right, sweetheart. Mommy won’t let that mean bunny get you.”
“Babe, that’s so not funny,” Aidan muttered through his bunny head.
“All right then.” She grinned at him before glancing down at Noah. “You should be very proud of your daddy today. Although he was swayed by the idea of getting something he really wants, he made a great sacrifice because of you. He loves you enough to make an absolute fool out of himself. So don’t be afraid of the bunny, sweetheart. Love him as much as he loves you.”
Although she couldn’t see it, Aidan beamed inside the costume. “That sounds much better.”
Emma leaned up and kissed the cheek on his bunny head. Happy shrieks and children’s laughter came from out in the yard. “Well, I think that’s your cue,” she said.
“Let’s get this show on the road.”
And with that he waddled down the front door and out into the sunshine.