💖❤Welcome to Mustang Prairie💖❤
Falling in love with a pop starlet has its drawbacks
Lack of privacy, for one
Gossip, for another
But falling in love with Kiki Ramirez was the best thing I’ve ever done
And the stupidest
One story planted by her agent and now I look like a fool
Played by the starlet
Looking like a simp for the world to see
But none of its true and I can’t defend my woman how I want
The urge to fight for her, to defend her is too strong
Even against the Hollywood machine working hard to keep us apart
Falling in love with a civilian wasn’t part of the plan
I didn’t believe in love
Not for me and not for my life
But a small town mayor was the man who’d torn down my walls
Snuck past my defenses
And now with our future hanging in the balance its up to me to find a way to make it all work
A crazy agent
A ravenous paparazzi
And a pregnant belly I’m powerless to hide
I want Eric and the life I see for us
But how can I invite this madness into his quiet, small town life?
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Copyright 2022 @ N.D. Jackson
Eric smiled at Kiki across the candlelit table inside a cozy booth inside Carmelo’s Italian Bistro while she ate her fill of shrimp and butternut squash ravioli. His smile was unstoppable at her simple enjoyment of the meal and the fact that it also nourished their child growing in her body, well let’s just say he was feeling sentimental these days. Looking more at the big picture.
She looked up, golden brown eyes filled with bliss and satisfaction. And confusion. “What? It’s really good!”
“I see that,” he told her around a laugh. “I’m just glad to see you enjoying it.” This past week her morning sickness had gotten out of control, lasting all day and triggered by a hint of a scent being carried on a breeze. Tonight her cheeks were flushed pink, in fact her skin was full of color and life, a stark contrast to how he’d left her this morning.
Kiki flashed a knowing smile and scooped up a ravioli with some sauce and held it out in front of Eric’s mouth. “Open up.” He did as he was told and she popped the bite inside and watched his every expression. “Delicious, right?”
“You’re beautiful,” he said instead, taken for just a moment by the calm happiness in her eyes and the serene smile that lit up her face. “It is delicious, but not quite as satisfying as watching you enjoy it.”
Her laugh came out husky and louder than she meant, drawing a few stares and smiles from the late night diners still lingering inside. “You’re sweet for saying so but I’m sure its horrifying.” She shook her head as a memory stole over, transforming her smile to one of embarrassment. “The first time I had dinner with the president of my label, I drank the water in the finger bowl.”
Eric’s dark brows dipped low as her words sank in and a loud laugh burst from him next. “That is insanely adorable. And hilarious.” He shook his head, picturing her much younger and less sophisticated self. “I guess he didn’t mind?”
“Nope, told me he did the same thing and spent the next ten minutes giving me tips on eating with the rich and fabulous. A week later, we signed the first big contract of my career.”
He wondered if Kiki was worried more about her career than she let on, but figured now wasn’t the time to ask. “If he could see you now.”
She let out a snort-giggle that embarrassed her and smacked a hand over her mouth. “He’d tell me that as long as I didn’t mind being photographed with my mouth wide open, to enjoy my food. Women in this business so rarely get to do that,” she said, voice pitched low in what Eric could only guess belonged to her friend.
“Sound advice.” He was glad to hear that she wasn’t surrounded entirely by vipers. “So tell me Kiki, what did you do today?”
“You mean besides burn two batches of chocolate chip cookies? Let’s see, I started a couple of songs which might not suck and I read about six chapters of my,” she looked around the half empty dining room and whispered, “pregnancy book.” She shook her head, an awe filled expression on her face. “There’s so much to know, it’s pretty terrifying. And amazing.”
“Tell me about it,” he grumbled because Eric hadn’t stopped having panic attacks or nightmares about all the things that could go wrong during pregnancy. The truth was that even with Kiki in his arms Eric hadn’t slept all that well since she collapsed on stage.
“You worried?” Her big eyes looked wary and instantly, he knew what she was thinking. Eric didn’t know how he knew, just that he did.
“Hell yes, aren’t you?” He leaned in, mirroring her movement of looking for professional or amateur eavesdroppers. “Being so completely and totally responsible for that little life, keeping him or her safe and making sure they know the right things when they go out into the world. I feel like I’m already failing and he or she isn’t even here yet.” He raked a hand through his hair and let out a long breath. “Maybe we should both just get as much sleep as we can because we might not get any once the kid arrives.”
Her smile softened and she reached a hand out to him, placing hers gently on top of it with a gentle squeeze. “Oh Eric, pretty much all that. Me too.”
It relieved him to learn they were truly on the same page, terrified, excited and out of their depths but forging ahead anyway. Together. “Then I think we should just be terrified together.”
“That sounds nice,” she said with a small, affectionate smile. “And scary. Really scary.”
Silence settled around them, comfortable and easy. Eric appreciated the way they could just sit together, be together but lost in separate thoughts without worrying about filling the void. He watched her, noticed her natural beauty even under the dim lights of the restaurant and the flickering flame between them at the table. She wasn’t dressed like the superstar Kiki Ramirez. On this night she wore figure hugging jeans that highlighted her fit legs and round backside, and a seemingly simple white top that hung off one shoulder and showed off just a glimpse of smooth, tan collarbone.
“You look fantastic.” She grinned, surprised by the compliment but it didn’t quite reach her eyes. “Are you all right?”
She nodded but Eric knew her well enough to know she had something on her mind. “I think so, I mean I don’t know. I guess. Sadie and I were talking and she thinks we won’t have much time to decide what we’re gonna do, now that the baby is coming. Soon.”
His brows crinkled in confusion. “Do?”
Kiki blinked, big brown eyes staring back equally confused. “About our future Eric.” Tension crept into her tone.
He blinked. What did she mean by their future? He’d thought the future was looking pretty damn bright. Until now.
“What about it?” He shrugged and took a sip of his tea. “I figured when you were feeling less…skittish about us, I would ask you to marry me.” He’d hoped they would have arrived at that moment already but her aforementioned skittishness had kept them stuck in neutral.
She blinked twice and tilted her head to the right as if she were trying to figure out a mathematical equation, carefully studying him. Eric remained still, afraid any movement might frighten her off. “Really?”
“Is that really a surprise to you Kiki? I’ve been trying to get you to spend more time in Mustang Prairie for months now, more time with me. It took having a baby,” he whispered out of deference to her desire for privacy, “just to get you to agree to stay with me. Of course I plan to make you mine. I was hoping we’d be married before we had children, but as you can see I’m very flexible.”
Eric wasn’t exactly the go with the flow type of guy—just ask his mother, or his brothers and sister, or any of his friends—but for Kiki he was willing to try.
She let out a soft, feminine giggle that was damn sexy, hitting Eric in places it shouldn’t while they were in public. “I’m glad you’re trying Eric. I just,” she sighed heavily and she hesitated, almost as if she was debating how much to tell him or if she should be honest, and he hated that she felt she couldn’t just tell him everything. “I thought that maybe you were thinking that now that we’re having a baby together,” her words trailed off, but it didn’t take a genius to finish that sentence.
“That we should get married?” She nodded and he let out a tired sigh of his own, knowing he had to take his moment and this was it. “It is something we’ll have to talk about Kiki. I’m not sure which of our careers is more forgiving of our situation, but I do know that I don’t want to rush you. I want you to be sure. Of me. Of us.”
“You’re sure,” she asked and he could see how important his answer was to her.
“I think so, yeah.” He nodded, staring into the distance where he could see their life played out before him. Walking hand in hand down the street, a kid or two running ahead to chase lightning bugs or eyes glued to an electronic device. Eric didn’t want to spook Kiki and for some reason even the mention of commitment seemed to terrify her, but he needed her to know the truth. “Make no mistake, Kiki. I want a future with you. Period. Baby or no baby, I’ve just been waiting on you.”
Whatever she’d been about to say, his words had stopped it cold. “I want one with you too,” she grinned sweetly. “Can we get out of here before I order another slice of chocolate peanut butter cheesecake?”
“Gladly,” he told her even though he’d like nothing more than to watch her eat another slice, moaning and licking her lips with her eyes closed. “What do you say we head on over to the river walk or are you too tired?”
“I can handle it,” she said with an easy smile as she wrapped an arm around his.
“If not,” he whispered as they stood to leave, a stack of cash inside the leather folder, “I can always carry you.”
Kiki looked up at him and tossed her head back with a throaty laugh that drew the stares of everyone in the restaurant. “I’d like to see you try that, Mr. Mayor.” She surprised the hell out of him when she grabbed him by the jacket collar and pulled him down for a slow sensual kiss, the kind she usually reserved for private time. Indoor time. A place where cameras for hire couldn’t get to her. To them.
Her tongue took a slow journey across his lips before she dipped in to taste the inside of his mouth, every inch of it like he was her substitute for the second piece of cheesecake. Eric let her lead the kiss, turned on by the taste of her combined with chocolate and peanut butter, by the fact that she no longer shied away from him in public. His hands tightened around her waist a moment before he pulled back.
“Kiki,” he growled in her ear before nibbling the lobe gently. “Challenge accepted.” When her eyes widened in surprise, Eric only laughed as he lifted her in his arms and carried her out into the warm evening outside.