Her Twin Surprise (Forsaken Sons #2) by Elizabeth Lennox

“That sounds wonderful.” He took another sip of his whiskey. “Do you want kids of your own?”

“Oh sure!” she replied, picking up a clean cloth and polishing glasses that were already perfectly shined. She needed something to do with her hands. Better to clean glasses than to reach out and run her finger down his cheek. Or touch that bump on his nose where the bruise was barely visible just under the skin. “I want lots of kids. The more the merrier!” She chuckled and put the glass down, picking up another. “That’s what I say now, at least. I don’t know how I’ll feel after I have a few. The number might go down once I know how hard it is to raise my own children.”

“Teaching is easier than parenting?” he clarified.

“Absolutely!” she picked up another glass. “Parenting is twenty-four seven. There’s no down time. Even when sleeping, I’m assuming that parents worry about their kids.”

“But you think it will be worth it?”

“To have my own kids? Absolutely!” She exchanged glasses again. “Don’t you want kids?”

Janus contemplated the innocent beauty standing before him. A kindergarten teacher! And kids? Oh hell no! But he wasn’t going to say that. She looked too hopeful.

“Kids are a big responsibility. I don’t think I’m ready for kids just yet.”

“You’re what…thirty?”

“Thirty-one,” he corrected.

“That seems like the age when most people decide they either do or don’t want kids.”

He shrugged, adding a smile to soften his words. “Well, I figure I still have time to decide.”

He could see the disappointment in her eyes and wasn’t sure how to fix it. He had to be honest, but the idea of pushing her away, for any reason, made his stomach tighten with dread.

“Well, I still have some living to do before I settle down.”

Her grin was back, as was the light in her pretty, brown eyes and his stomach muscles loosened.

“I agree. I have a lot of traveling that I want to do before I settle down. So far, I’ve only been to the states right around Washington. I’d like to travel a bit further afield. And a house!” Her eyes widened, and she sighed longingly. “Good grief, I’d love to have a house.” She laughed, rolling her eyes. “Having kids in my apartment would be truly difficult.”

“Small place, eh?”

“Tiny!” she agreed. “It’s not even a one bedroom. I live in a studio apartment.”

He shook his head. “I think it’s a shame how little our country pays teachers,” he grumbled. “It’s a crime that someone with a master’s degree, who works as many hours as you do, doesn’t earn enough for even a one bedroom place.”

“I hear ya,” she agreed. “But historically, once women took over the profession, the salaries dropped significantly.” Stevie leaned forward and sarcastically whispered, “We don’t need to earn as much money because we should just get married.”

He shook his head, taking a sip of his whiskey. “I’m sorry, Stevie,” he said with heartfelt sincerity.

She shrugged again. “Eh! Teachers don’t join the profession to become millionaires. We’re in it for the job satisfaction. And life balance. At least I’ll be able to sit down with my family every night for dinner.”

“I guess there are benefits.”

Someone must have signaled to Stevie because she looked over his shoulder and nodded.

“Time to close down the bar?” he asked, understanding the reluctance in her eyes.

“Yes. It’s closing time.”

“Let me drive you home, Stevie.”

She stared at him for a long moment. They both knew what his offer meant. He wouldn’t push her for more than what she could give him, but damn, he wanted to kiss her goodnight. He couldn’t do it here in the bar, but if he could see her outside of this place, then he could…well, maybe just a small kiss. He couldn’t believe how many times he’d dreamed of kissing her!

“Okay,” she finally replied. It was just one word, but it seemed to explode around them, hanging in the air for a tense moment.

He stared, then slowly nodded his head. Standing up, he put a fifty dollar bill down on the countertop. “I’ll wait outside then,” he told her.

“Wait, let me get your change,” she said.