She leaned against him. “Talk to me again.”
He wrapped his free arm around her shoulders. Pip wasn't content unless she had every male in the free world at her beck and call, which she pretty much did. “Trev is just a baby. He's boring. He can't play with me like you do.”
“And he's a big crybaby.”
Heath felt a paternal need to defend his son's masculinity. “Only when he's hungry.”
Pippi lifted her head. “I hear them moving around upstairs. I think it's time for dessert.”
“You sure you don't want to watch the rest of the game with me?”
“Get real.” It was her newest expression, and she used it whenever her parents weren't around.
Heath kissed Trevor Granger Champion on his fuzzy head and followed her upstairs.
Annabelle had put her stamp on his house right from the beginning. As he stepped into the living room, he took in the big, cozy furniture, the warm rugs and fresh flowers. A splashy abstract painting they'd bought in a Seattle gallery one rainy afternoon occupied the spot over the fireplace. Afterward, they'd celebrated the purchase with an afternoon of lovemaking they both believed had given them their son.
Beneath the painting, Portia and Phoebe stood with their heads together, probably plotting world domination. Molly bent down to listen to Pippi. The others had congregated around Rosemary. As Annabelle grew aware of his presence, she separated herself from the group and came toward him, that private smile he loved claiming her face. He took in Pip and the book club, then his beautiful red-haired wife. This was what he'd been searching for all his life. Women who'd stick.
“Any chance you can get your coven out of here in the next ten minutes?” he asked in a low voice as she reached his side.
She touched her son's cheek, and the baby instinctively turned toward her hand. “I doubt it. They haven't had dessert.”
“Set it on the porch.”
“That's what you're saying now,” he whispered, “but you'll be singing a different tune later.”
She laughed, pressed a quick kiss to the corner of his mouth, then the baby's head. Across the room, Phoebe Cale-bow caught his eye, and they exchanged a look of perfect understanding. Next week they'd be battling over Dean's new contract, but for now, peace reigned.
While Pip helped Annabelle serve dessert, he carried the baby upstairs to his expanded home office. He let the baby sleep in his lap while he made a few phone calls. With Bodie as a full partner, Heath's workload had hghtened considerably. Instead of operating the biggest sports agency in the city, they were focusing on being the best, and they'd become highly selective in choosing their clients. Still, they could only control so much, and under Portia's direction, the new women's division had been growing by leaps and bounds, although she, too, had set limits. It had been a couple of years since he'd seen that pinched, frantic look on her face. Amazing what a good marriage and twenty extra pounds could do for a woman's disposition.
Perfect for You was also thriving. To the relief of Annabelle's seniors, Kate had given her daughter the Wicker Park house as a wedding gift. Acting on Portia's advice, Annabelle had hired both a secretary and an assistant. Ignoring Portia's advice, she continued to cater to a hodgepodge of clients. That was how she liked it.
Finally, he heard the book club beginning to depart. Trev was getting hungry, and the noise awakened him. As soon as the coast was clear, Heath carried him downstairs.
Annabelle stood by the wedge of windows, the afternoon sunlight pouring over her like liquid amber. As she heard him approach, she smiled as though she'd been waiting for this moment all day, which she probably had. He gave her the baby, then sat contentedly to watch his son feed. He and Annabelle talked a little. Not much. Upstairs, he heard his fax chime, and a few minutes later, his cell vibrated. He slipped his hand into his pocket and flicked it off.
Eventually, they bundled up their son, and the three of them went for a walk. A man and his family. A fine Chicago afternoon. The Sox on their way to a pennant.
“Why are you smiling?” his wife asked, with a smile of her own.
“Because you're perfect.”
“No, I'm not,” she laughed. “But I'm perfect for you.”
The Python couldn't have agreed more.