Danny kept his head down in the locker room, but it was no use. Giroux headed straight for him.
“Did it work?” he asked proudly.
Danny couldn’t keep from blushing, which only embarrassed him more. “She loved it.”
Claude slapped his friend on the back. “Did she love enough to....”
“Stop,” Danny cut him off before he could insinuate anything. The girls before were fair game. Sara was not.
“Oh,” Giroux lifted a ginger eyebrow, smiling widely. “I guess she did.”
Danny found it easy to focus on practice - it had been his refuge during the worst days with Sylvie and he was accustomed to letting the game run his mind for a few hours. As soon as it was over though, he was back to thinking about what to do next. And what they’d already done. Last night’s events played through his head like a highlight reel - Sara stepping out of her dress, announcing this was what she wanted; her gasp at the feel of him; when she’d told him he was beautiful. Lust. Intensity. A confidence he hadn’t felt in a long time. And the way she’d kissed him goodbye - still a shred of secrecy and the promise of so much more to learn. Lost in thought, his knuckles gripped white on the steering wheel.
The boys knew. Danny hated to remind himself they weren’t that young after all, which only made him feel older. It was probably time to do something more than assume they were learning about adults from television anyway.
“Hey, it’s me,” he said when Sara’s voicemail picked up. Then added stupidly, “Danny. Uh, would you come over for dinner tonight? I think the boys miss you.” He recovered a little. “I know I do.”
He drove to Whole Foods and was halfway through picking out a meal when he realized he had assumed Sara would say yes, that she was available on same-day notice for a date. A tiny panic seized his mind - was he being presumptuous? Expectant? He had to see her again - despite what they’d said, Danny needed proof that last night had been just as consuming for her. And then he hoped to have her again.
Girlfriend, he said to himself. She’s my girlfriend. The word was rusty with disuse, Danny repeated it until it was familiar, casual. Sara is my girlfriend. Turning it over in his head, he resumed shopping for dinner for his family.
Sara took a deep breath and walked into her classroom. She’d deliberately waited until just before the bell, and her arrival sent student flurrying into their seats. Having thought all morning about not looking at him, her eyes went right to Cameron. He cracked a big, too-adult smile. Her relief was mixed with the uncomfortable notion that a fifth grader knew exactly how she’d spent the night with his father.
Danny was in her head all day. She loved teaching, but fifth grade curriculum could not occupy her entire mind. Danny could though, and the way he’d smiled at her that morning, with his bed-head and desire to keep her in bed all day. He may as well have. Sara’s mind drifted to a few choice moments from the night before and she blushed, looking down at her desk. The images refused to be chased: Danny over her with that certain, unshakable look in his dark eyes - she fanned herself with a copy of the quiz her class was taking.
At lunch, she intended to call him and invite him over, or herself over, or offer another hotel visit - anything to see him again. There was already a message waiting. The sound of his voice made her stomach flip.
I can’t call him. She was suddenly struck by overwhelming nerves. Danny would answer - that’s what phones are for - and he’d be right there, but not here. Not where she could touch him. The idea of his perfect, smiling mouth forming words she couldn’t see... she’d die, or moan, or otherwise embarrass herself. This was a grown man, who’d proven in one night to be more experienced than she could imagine at everything involving relationships. Yet somehow, he was hers. Maybe she was crazy to to have been so brazen this morning, and to think last night had been so important.
My boyfriend, Sara through. Then she giggled as she wrote a text message.
Be there at 6:30. Can’t wait to see you.
After school, Sara stopped at her house and stood in the bedroom, staring at her dresser with a frown. She didn’t want to assume she’d stay over - his kids lived in that house. But she didn’t want to be unprepared if he asked, because she really, really wanted to stay over. Maybe he’d come back to her place. Either way, she needed new underwear. Sara quickly changed from regular underclothes into a white lace bra with blue ribbon trim and matching panties, then put back on the dress she’d worn to school. It was a far cry from the red dress that had gotten Danny so flustered the night before, but it could still be removed very quickly in the event of anyone taking off their clothes.
“I’m crazy,” Sara sang quietly as she packed.
The bag went in the trunk and stayed there when she arrived at Danny’s house. Every light in the place was on - the TVs would be too, with kids tripping over dogs and school books everywhere. It was family night.
“You don’t have to knock!” Caelan opened the door. He wore the same grin as Cameron had in class and Sara briefly wished to disappear.
Why are kids so damned smart?! asked their teacher.
She hung her coat as Zoey and Zora came bounding around the corner. At least they didn’t know she’d been naked with their dad less than twenty-four hours ago. The dogs licked her hands and tried to climb her legs as she stepped over them and headed for the kitchen.
At the sound of Danny’s voice, Sara lost her step. He put a pot down on the stove and pulled off the oven mitt, rounding the island toward her. A shy smile reached all the way to his eyes, and she knew he’d been thinking about her, about last night, the way she had all day. Just like that, Sara’s nerves completely disappeared. She stepped in and kissed him like she meant it.
“Ew, gross,” Sean said, spinning on a heel and fleeing as soon as he entered the kitchen.
Danny laughed, but mostly he was looking into her eyes. “I missed you.”
“I missed you too.”
Danny and Sara sat next to each other at the table, knees brushing underneath. Over roast chicken and mashed sweet potatoes with corn and green bean casserole, dinner went on as it had every time they’d eaten together, from the first night at Dave & Buster’s to the Tex-Mex they’d had after laser tag. They tried not to blush and stare while the kids ate around them, not caring.
Or so they thought.
“Are you gonna sleep over at Sara’s again tonight?” Carson asked between sips of milk.
Sara blinked - so Danny hadn’t told them about the hotel. She was glad, as it seemed strange to anyone not of adult age why two people would get a room when their houses were so close. Danny glanced at her before speaking.
“Would it be okay with you if Sara stays here tonight?”
Carson shrugged. “I just want to know if we can have ice cream twice like last night.”
Sean flashed a long arm across the table and biffed Carson on the ear. Caelan howled in distress at their plan being blown. Danny just laughed.
“If you guys do the dishes, I’ll make milkshakes,” Sara offered.
Carson stuck his tongue out at everyone.
When dinner was over and the boys had managed to half-drown each other washing dishes, Sara searched the kitchen until she found a blender. Danny brought in a new half gallon of vanilla from the freezer in the garage and watched as she scooped as much as the blender would hold. The kids crowded around, keeping him away. She poured in milk and half the berries from the fridge. One minute later, the boys were happily toting their shakes toward the living room for the wrestling match on TV.
“Alone at last,” Danny said, slipping a hand around her waist. It felt so good to finally touch her after hours of watching every gesture and motion. He pressed himself against her side and Sara relaxed, turning her head for a swift kiss. He stayed there as she loaded the blender and made a second batch of milkshakes for them.
“I’m not supposed to eat like this,” he smiled guiltily, sipping the straw.
Sara couldn’t stop herself. The heat from his body made her drowsy and slow, magnifying the fullness of dinner. It didn’t help that the creamy cold drink had just enough tartness to make her lips pucker.
“You’ll just need to work it off,” she said without looking at him. Danny put his face into her neck and groaned, then tugged her toward the living room. On the couch, he pulled Sara’s knees over his lap and sat close.
Cameron started yawning before the show was over. “Night Dad,” he came to the touch and offered Danny a hug, then he turned to Sara and hugged her too. “I did all my homework,” he promised.
Soon all the boys were upstairs. Danny gave Sara a quick kiss and said he’d be right back. There was something he wanted to do before she stayed over for the first time. She wasn’t the only woman to spend the night since the boys’ mother left, but she could be the most important.
“Come in,” Caelan said to the knock. To Danny’s surprise, his brothers were in there too. They all looked up like he was interrupting an important meeting.
Might as well get it over with, Danny thought. Deep breath. “I want to talk to you guys about Sara sleeping over.”
Caelan blushed on cue, following a second later by Carson. Cameron wasn’t quite so modest.
“Are you gonna have sex?”
Danny turned fuschia. If the floor had opened and swallowed him, he would not have objected. Despite the fact it was exactly what he intended to talk about, it seemed that someone had beaten him to it - possibly just before he walked in. Caelan and Carson burst out laughing like nervous adolescent boys do.
“Well, uh...,” Danny stuttered. He’d had this talk with Caelan and a little with Carson, but surely Cameron was too young. Except that he watched TV and movies. Probably the women seen hanging around the rink every day were the real education. “Yeah, Cam. When grown-ups really like each other, they sometimes do.”
Seeing their father flustered sent Caelan and Carson over the edge, they were dying of embarrassment and squealing with laughter. Cameron stayed surprisingly matter-of-face.
“Are you gonna have a baby?”
That surprised Danny. “No. Not now. Babies are for when you’ve known each other a long time and you want to get married and have a family and....” He almost said ‘and stay together forever’ but that part clearly wasn’t true. Now he understood. “Cam, Sara and I aren’t getting married. Not anytime soon, maybe not ever, okay? She’s not going to be Mom.”
The look in those ten-year old eyes nearly broke Danny’s heart. Cameron got to see his mother often, but it wasn’t the same as living in the same house, doing everything together. Mostly the boys were so happy and rambunctious that anytime he saw a crack in their armor, it took Danny’s breath away.
“I don’t want her to leave,” Cameron said. He wasn’t sad, but Danny thought he looked a little scared. “She likes us.”
“Oh, bud,” Danny sat on the bed with hugged Cam. Even the older boys were quiet now. Kids were incredibly observant and absorbed so much, it never ceased to amaze him. Danny’s other girlfriends had fallen short of the mark. Now Cameron’s concern about losing Sara only made Danny more sure that he would never risk that, and that he wanted her in their lives all the more.
“I can’t promise she’ll never leave, but if she does it won’t be because of you.”
“It’ll be because of you?” he asked, as if his father could get into big trouble.
Danny ruffled Cameron’s hair. “It’s not easy for her to go out with me, you know? I’m on the road all the time and sometimes people are mean to her because of me, like the boy you had the fight with. But she still wants to, because she likes me and she likes you guys so much.”
“She’s gonna be like us, Cam,” Carson said, touching his little brother’s shoulder. All the boys had faced their problems over having a famous dad in a famous divorce.
“She’s gonna be like us,” Cameron repeated with a nod. “She’s gonna be on our team.”
Danny’s eyes were filling with tears and he didn’t trust himself to speak. His kids got the best of him all the time. For all the hard days being a young dad, the time spent traveling and the breakup of his marriage, he never for a second regretted having kids. Without them to anchor him, Danny wasn’t sure how he’d have gotten through any of this.
“Our team,” he said quietly, then cleared his throat and kissed Cam on the forehead. “Night boys.”
“Night Dad,” they all said.
Sara looked up at the sound of Danny’s feet on the stairs. To her surprise, he looked sad. She jumped up and went to him. “Are you okay?”
He nodded and kissed her, it was salty like he’d been crying.
“What happened?” Sara was very worried. Crying parents were generally a sign of a huge problem.
Danny laughed blearily and smiled. She sighed with relief. Good tears were unexpected, but okay.
“The boys told me not to mess up and make you leave us.”
Her heart stopped for a beat. That was an very personal thing to share. She and Danny hadn’t talked about his divorce, his ex-wife, the media attention - there were so many elephants in the room it was practically a zoo. This probably wasn’t how, or when, he intended to bring it up. She didn’t want him to feel obligated to discuss it on anything but his own terms.
Sara wrapped her arms around his neck and put her head on his shoulder. Danny’s arms crossed heavily behind her waist, leaning against her like his was suddenly exhausted. Just the rise and fall of his chest felt wonderful.
“Sorry,” he said quietly. Crying on a second date, very manly, Danny was thinking, but he couldn’t be embarrassed. Sometimes kids had that effect. Sara would know that.
She cuddled him closer. A man vulnerable over his children was undeniably irresistible. Danny had a gentle heart, but he was still physically the toughest person she had ever known. Seeing him like this was startlingly intimate.
“I’m not sorry,” she looked at him with a smile. “I knew what I was getting into with a hot dad.”
Their second night together was no less intense than the first. They undressed each other slowly, almost carefully. Danny lifted Sara’s hair and held her fast into a kiss that made her toes curl. His other hand explored his breast, the arc of her ribcage and the curve of her waist. She traced the lines and planes of his muscled back down to his tailbone. By the time they fell to the mattress, Sara was already short of breath. He lay still just long enough for her to roll him onto his back and straddle his thighs. Danny looked up, appreciative of the sight and the way she was telling him what she wanted. Sara pressed her cleft to his body as she had that morning, teasing him before work. Only this time there was no strip of lace to keep them apart. Her slit parted over the width of his erection as she moved along his shaft. Danny’s eyes got wider as he felt her wetness spread along his skin. Sara bit her lip against the urge to hurry up and let him have her. Her eyes never left his.
“Baby,” he said as she reached behind and replaced her body with her hand, stroking him, then unrolling the condom over his taut skin. Still holding him firmly, she tipped down and kissed Danny’s mouth. Then Sara righted herself and guided him inside.
“Ohgod,” came that gasp again. She was overwhelmed with the slow pressure filling her from underneath. From this angle he felt bigger and Sara worked her way down his length with agonizing slowness, feeling his heart pound beneath her open palms. The instant her ass finally rested against his thighs, Danny reached for her hips and started to move.
He groaned in pleasure. She slid along his cock like moving a cork in and out of a bottle, the soft curves of her body giving him just enough to hold onto. He’d never tire of watching her stomach flex and stretch, her breasts bounce with the impact. Danny reached up and rolled a nipple between two fingers. She moaned softly. He pulled down just enough to take it in his mouth and bite gently.
“Danny,” she whispered sharply. He liked the sound of that and nipped her again. The result was a harder thrust of her hips. He moved to the other breast, this time circling with his tongue and sucking hard. She bucked again, increasing the pace, until he couldn’t take it and yanked her into his arms.
They kissed, eyes open, as they moved together urgently. Sara sobbed out a breath and her eyelashes fluttered in time with her pussy. Danny ground his teeth - it felt so fucking good, so impossibly decadent to command her body to pleasure that he had to fight his own impulse. But not for long.
Sara was losing it and quickly. Having Danny beneath her was some kind of delicious, dirty dream and made her more confident than ever. Trusting him to know what they both wanted, she returned anything he did with double the force. Soon she was quivering against every stroke.
“Come with me,” she said.
“Yes,” he croaked.
At the tipping point, the tremors rocking her body, Sara was afraid she’d go too soon. She wanted to share this. She pressed two fingers to his lips and he kissed them, then his eyes followed them over her hip and down to her clit.
“Fuck,” he said, pushing harder.
That morning, when she’d pretended to touch herself, Sara had seen Danny’s eyes pool black with lust. They almost hadn’t made it out of the room; her guess was too good. Now with nowhere to go and all night to get there, she let Danny watch her fingers part the folds just above where his dick was disappearing into her body, and find her clit. Even knowing her own touch was coming, Sara signed
It would make her come more quickly; she hoped it would do the same for Danny. Rubbing gently, slowly so as not to lose herself immediately, Sara worked her fingers into her hot button and felt him get harder.
Danny was used to making sure the girl came first. He could have come at the first brush of Sara’s smooth groove against his shaft, but he was a gentleman and didn’t like to disappoint. Even the nobodies, the women whose names he had never known, they had found climax first - or at least pretended to. It was the least Danny felt he could do.
Now he simply let it bear down on him, instead of fighting back against blood racing south. Her fingers moved expertly against her clit: they had the unfair advantage of knowing exactly how Sara liked to be touched, what she wanted right now. Danny envied those fingers and vowed to learn their secret. For now it was enough to see that Sara had a wanton, wild streak and wasn’t afraid to show it. They all had their secret sides.
“Now,” he said.
She smiled weakly, glad to dismiss the effort of holding off. To Danny’s delight, she removed her hand and let him finish the job all on his own. He pulled her hips farther down and forward and stroked deeply twice, three times, until he felt her break. She reached behind and dug her fingers into his thighs, arching her back and bucking hard against his cock as a hot, soft gush filled the space between them. Her pussy clenched again and pulled the orgasm right out of him. He spurted, hotter still against his throbbing skin, again and again until his head fell back, exhausted. Then he reached for her.
Sara lowered herself and lay prone and spent atop Danny’s body. Her chest was heaving, everything below her waist still shuddering. He kissed the tip of her nose.
“That was incredible,” she said in a shaky voice.
“You are incredible,” he answered firmly.