Aimee glanced down at her outfit before knocking on
the door. It hadn’t taken her long to get ready. It was
either jeans, or…jeans. She hadn’t exactly had an excuse to
dress up lately. But she wished again that she had something
nicer for tonight’s visit, even if it was just supposed to be a
Looking up, she smoothed her hair away from her face.
Here goes everything…
She knocked and stood back to wait. Already dark, the
evening settled clear and cold around her. Sounds of the
forest surrounded the cottage, which sat tucked inside the
clearing like a little dollhouse.
Tilting her head, she looked up at the stars that glittered
against the night sky. She’d never been much of a nature girl
growing up. But now she found that it suited her, like the
color blue or singing along to her favorite music. It was just
a part of who she was.
Hugging herself, she exhaled slowly, watching the cloud
of breath float away and disappear. She felt good. Better
than she had in a while. She wondered how much of that had
to do with this visit. She’d been looking forward to seeing
Jake tonight. To seeing his son, and getting invited into a
warm house, with furniture and a TV, and the smell of dinner
still hanging heavy in the air. She’d missed this. A lot.
Just as that thought settled in, she heard someone small
running toward the door. Then a male voice telling him to be
careful or he’d slip in his socks.
The deadbolt unlocked with a thwack, and the door
swung open wide. She looked down to see Daniel standing
there in Spider Man pajamas. They were too small, frayed at
the neck and wrists. Probably his favorites. She remembered
having pj’s like that as a kid. Her mother had finally snuck
them in the garbage, a monumental tragedy to her six-year old
She grinned. “Hi there. Remember me?”
“Yup. You rescued Dante.”
“The one and only.”
“I’ve been waiting for you.”
She wished she’d brought him a little something. Kids
loved surprises. Maybe if there was a next time…
“I’m sorry I’m late. I’m glad I’m here now, though.
“Good. He’s eating dinner.”
“He’s always eating dinner.” Jake appeared behind
Daniel and smiled, ruffling his son’s hair. “I’m glad you could
make it. Come on in.”
She stepped past them, her senses in hyper-drive. Daniel
smelled of little boy. Jake smelled of man. Really, really
hot man. Musky and warm. Faintly sweet. Her stomach
tightened. The acute sense of smell was one of the hardest
things she’d had to get used to. But sometimes, like now, it
was comforting. She could tell a lot about the world around
her because of it. And with people…with people it was more
like a fingerprint than anything else. Everyone had their
own scent—unique, special. Jake’s was no exception. It did
something to her. Something that made her heart race.