I Love How You Love Me (The Sullivans #13)(8)


by Bella Andre

“I like a perfect sail as much as the next person. But the truth is that when the wind whips itself up into a real fury, it can be one of the most beautiful things you’ll ever see.”

“I can see how a storm could be beautiful, but when you’re sailing through one, aren’t you scared?”

“Shitless,” he confirmed. “In fact, it’s usually right when you think you’ve got it all dialed in, when you’re sure that nothing can touch you and the world is your oyster—that’s when the wind and the waves decide it’s high time to show you just how vulnerable you really are. When you do finally come out on the other side, shaken as all hell, barely able to hold the wheel because every muscle in your body is on the verge of breaking apart, that’s when you really know you’re alive. And that’s also when you remember to appreciate every single moment of it.”

“Most people,” she said in a soft voice, “would probably think that if there’s the potential for that much danger, that much fear, they’d be better off not doing it.”

“I don’t have kids, obviously, but I imagine it’s not that different from the way a parent feels when she lets her baby’s hands go so that he can take his first step, or when she leaves him on the first day of kindergarten, or watches him drive away by himself behind the wheel of a car when he’s sixteen. Terrified and shaken, but amazed and thrilled at the same time. I wouldn’t decide not to have kids and give up all those beautiful moments just because I don’t want to have to face some scary ones, too.”

Before she could respond, they heard a loud crash followed by Mason’s voice rising to meet it. Grace was up out of her seat and running back toward the kitchen so fast that even though Dylan had been on the track team as a teenager, he had barely caught up with her by the time she flew inside the house.

Dylan’s mother gave them a slightly guilty look as she pointed to where Mason was sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor surrounded by a half-dozen big pots and pans. He was holding a plastic spatula in each hand and every time he banged them on the pots, he screamed with happiness.

“My kids always loved doing this,” his mother said in a voice barely loud enough to carry over the din, “but I forgot how loud it was until a few seconds ago.”

Grace still had her hand over her chest as she shook her head. “He’s obviously having a fabulous time,” she said into the pause between Mason’s drumbeats. “I just haven’t left him with very many people, so when I heard the loud noise—” She shook her head. “I shouldn’t have panicked like that, not when I knew he was in good hands.”

But he could see just how much his mother loved Grace’s commitment to her son. Just as much as Dylan did himself. He’d always been the most carefree Sullivan. No heavy responsibilities beyond getting a boat from one place to another or putting one together in time to make a customer happy. He’d had girlfriends, of course, but none who had ever had a chance of going beyond the just-having-fun stage. He was there for his family and close friends whenever they needed him for something, of course, but they were a pretty self-sufficient bunch. Dylan had always been able to sail away at a moment’s notice, whereas Grace was totally grounded by her responsibility to her son.

“You’re a mom,” Claudia said. “Panicking is what we’re best at.”

He was glad when Grace laughed and her expression smoothed out, away from the embarrassment that she’d clearly felt just moments ago.

“I’m happy to keep him entertained if you’d like to go back out and continue with your interview before the others get here. Of course, if you’d like to take him with you—”

“No,” Grace interrupted. “He’s having a great time with you.”

“It’s mutual,” his mother said with a big smile that spoke to just how much she meant it. “You’ve absolutely made my day by letting me play with him.”

Dylan caught his mother’s look as he and Grace headed back outside. One that said, You’re going to make all of my dreams come true with these two, aren’t you?

His silent response was just as clear: I’m sure as hell going to try.

CHAPTER FIVE

“Well, aren’t you the cutest thing I’ve ever seen!” a female voice rang out from inside the house a while later. “Who do you belong to?”

Dylan grinned at Grace. “Sounds like my sister and her fiancé are here.” He stood and held out a hand for her. “Ready to meet the whole crew?”

Grace took a deep breath before putting her hand into his. “Sure.”

When she stood up, he was close. Closer than he’d been before now. For a few heady moments, she couldn’t pull her hand away, couldn’t stop her heart from beating way too fast.

“I shouldn’t leave my things out, just in case the rain blows in.”

His eyes moved from hers to her mouth, then back up again. “Good idea.”

How was it, she wondered as she tucked her notebook and recorder back inside her bag, that they could be saying nothing and yet so much at the same time? I shouldn’t want you, shouldn’t want this, was what she’d really meant. And she swore he’d answered her in the same way: It will be good, Grace, if you’ll just let it happen. So damned good.

She was shocked to see that it had been an hour and a half since they’d left Mason banging on the pots and pans in Claudia’s kitchen. Yes, she’d loved being out on the water that one time, enough that she’d made a pitch for a story to a sailing magazine, but listening to Dylan talk about sailing, and what it meant to him and other sailors, had quickly filled her with a longing to do more than just write about it.

The same longing had struck her earlier in the week when she’d been looking at the sailboat he was completing in his boathouse. Maybe it was because, from what Dylan had already told her, building a boat wasn’t too different from the way she’d taught herself to write. First by taking apart the articles that spoke to her and studying their structure. Then starting to build them on her own, word by word, paragraph by paragraph, page by page.

In any case, the more she learned about what he actually did all day, the more she couldn’t blame him for not bothering to pick up his phone. If she were building amazing sailboats, and then sailing them on the open sea, she wouldn’t bother, either.