Home > Where We Belong (Alabama Summer #3.5)

Where We Belong (Alabama Summer #3.5)
Author: J. Daniels

This book is dedicated to Kellie Richardson.

Of course.


IF SOMEONE WOULD’VE TOLD ME ten, fifteen years ago that not only would I eventually like Benjamin Kelly, my greatest tormentor, but that I would fall completely in love with him and marry the guy . . . well, I’m not sure what I would’ve said. Ten, fifteen years ago I probably would’ve directed whoever was spouting that nonsense to Tessa and let her handle them.

Even as a preteen, she would’ve had a very colorful response.

But me? I think I’d have stood there, disbelieving, probably a bit disgusted, but maybe, maybe the tiniest, concealed part of me would’ve smiled a little at the idea of him liking me, falling completely in love with me, marrying me.

I like to imagine there was always some part of my soul that belonged to Ben. Something undeniable tethering us together. An imperceptible energy, like the force behind a gust of wind.

It’s always been there.

It’s what brought me back to Ruxton, Alabama three years ago. It’s what put Ben in the bar that night. And it’s what made falling in love with him so incredibly simple.

All those years I hated him seem like a lifetime ago. One which never even belonged to me. I don’t remember those emotions. I don’t remember the pain and hurt he caused me. The detestation I felt.

I look at my husband and the only thing I see is love. The only thing I feel is love . . .




My mind loves Ben. My heart loves Ben. My body loves Ben. He’s the warmth in my blood. The roar of my pulse.

Give me a hundred years with Benjamin Kelly, and I’d still beg for more.

Lately though? With two boys who have mastered the skill of interrupting Mommy and Daddy the second we put our hands on each other, I’m not making unrealistic demands. I’m asking for one hour.

Give me one hour alone with Benjamin Kelly.

I’ll beg for that.

At this point, I’ll beg for five minutes.




I TURN THE BABY MONITOR on and set it on the nightstand by the bed.

The blue light flickers, picking up every restless noise Chase makes as he tosses around in his crib. I can picture him rubbing his sweet, dimpled little face into his blanket. His purple octopus tucked under his arm. He always sleeps with that. It’s his dragon.

My two boys, land and sea.

I gaze at Ben’s side of the bed as I strip off my shorts and sleeveless blouse, slipping one of his Ruxton Police Academy T-shirts over my head. The comforter is creaseless. Undisturbed. I plop down on the bed with a heavy sigh and hug his pillow to my chest.

One more night.

I miss him, and not just when I’m alone like this after I put the boys to bed. I miss Ben getting home when I’m making dinner. I miss him being up with us for a few hours, spending time with the boys and helping with them. I miss the way we’d come together after getting them off to sleep, two pounding hearts colliding in a tangle of limbs and hurried breaths in the hallway, dragging each other to the bedroom, tearing at clothes, sometimes making it to the bed, sometimes not. The floor. Up against the wall. Me, bent over and holding onto anything I could grab. We’d stay quiet, the soft slapping of our bodies barely audible above our heavy breathing and desperate moans. He’d tell me to come, fucking come, Mia, and I would, writhing against him while he gave me his release and every ounce of love he could pour out of himself. We’d tumble onto the bed, still clutching at each other, his mouth pressed to my skin and his fingers between my legs, pushing back inside of me.

I’d fall asleep wrapped in his arms, feeling so small and so safe, my heart so full of him.

I love nights with Ben, but right now, and for the past two months, my nights have been his mornings.

While I’m giving baths and going through bedtime rituals, he’s leaving for work. And because I’m giving baths and going through bedtime rituals, he’s not pressing me up against any walls or tearing off my clothes. He’s not biting or tasting my skin. He’s not getting off. I’m not getting off.

In fact, that hasn’t been happening much at all lately.

Two boys tearing through this house, exploring and getting into anything and everything, with one now unfortunately out of the nap stage has made it nearly impossible to get any alone time with Ben. Throw in two months of night shift and I can’t remember the last time we were both awake and grasping at each other without immediately getting interrupted.

It’s like kids have this built-in radar. This sixth sense that goes off whenever Daddy grabs Mommy’s boob. Their timing is honestly quite impressive. They never miss a beat.

It wasn’t so bad before. I would laugh it off and grab Ben’s face, kissing his scowl and promising to work him later. We’d get the kids to sleep and then he’d grab me, or I’d grab him, or we’d both just be grabbing and tasting and not caring who was doing what as long as it was happening. And it was always happening.

Now? Nobody’s grabbing or tasting anything. We don’t have our nights. When Ben’s home, I’m with the boys and he’s getting his much needed sleep. Everything is ass backwards.

But, there is a light at the end of this miserable tunnel. After this last shift, we can go back to our routine of stolen kisses and heated seconds before one or two little faces catch us. And when they do, not if, it won’t be detrimental. I’m sure I’ll still be kissing a scowl and muffling words I don’t want repeated, but we’ll have those sweet hours between evening and dawn where there’s nothing and no one between us.

No interruptions. Just two pounding hearts, feverish touches, and that quiet climb toward rapture, followed by the sweet, blissful fall.

Sliding beneath the cool sheets, I exchange Ben’s pillow for my own and nuzzle my nose against it, inhaling him, letting his scent soak into my lungs. That distinct Ben smell that carries so many memories with it.

Ones of us together, that night after the bar. My first hit.

God, I’ve been addicted to him ever since.

I flip onto my back and grab my phone off the night stand. I brush my hair out of my face and type a quick text.

Me: Missing you. XO

Holding the phone above me, I snap a selfie, blowing him a kiss, and attach it to the message, sending it. I scroll to Tessa’s number and hit dial.

She answers after two rings.

“I don’t know about you, but I am so ready to hop off the ‘nobody’s getting laid’ train.”

“What?” I chuckle, shaking my head at my best friend and stretching out my limbs. “You’re getting laid. What are you talking about?”

“Not the way I want to be!” She sighs. “I mean, okay, don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind waking Luke up for a nooner, but I miss when we would just fuck all night like we were trying to repopulate the earth after an apocalypse.”

“Well, be grateful you’re at least able to sneak it in during the day. Even with Chase taking a nap I can’t catch a break. Nolan can’t be unsupervised.”

It’s bad timing all around. Both of my boys have been in on this together from the beginning.

When this dreaded night shift started, Nolan was in school for half of the day. As long as Chase went down for his nap, I could have some alone time with Ben.

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