For Better or Worse (Chapter Two, page 1 of 1)

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The lawyer assured Alex that Lori could not take Destiny from them at this point. And yet, in spite of her comment about only being there for a short time, Lori came back several times to visit Destiny. Destiny had finally reached the point that she would tolerate being held by Lori, but after a few minutes she was ready to get down or go to Alex, Carmen or Jonathan. At their inquiry, Lori informed them that she had a home and a job in California near her sister, and that she was on vacation. She volunteered very little and acted uneasy when asked, so they simply let it drop. Whether there was someone else in her life at this point or she was alone was a mystery. Her focus right now seemed to be winning Destiny, but Destiny didn’t warm to people easily. Another way she was much like Josh.
A week passed without word from Lori . . . at least Carmen didn’t hear from her. Alex must have heard something, but he apparently chose not to share it – even when asked. Carmen assumed Lori had gone back to California.
By mutual agreement, Alex had final say in decisions, but they were supposed to discuss it first. Most of the time they did, but in the case of Lori, each time Carmen asked him about it, he simply said they would discuss it later. She assumed he was still on a fact finding mission of his own. Several times the telephone rang and he hurried to answer it as if he were expecting a call. Such was the case when Katie called. He handed the phone to Carmen.
Katie laughed. “I wish I had someone to screen my calls.”
Carmen glanced at Alex. “It isn’t as nice as you would think.”
His neck colored, but otherwise he gave no indication he knew what she was talking about.

“Do I detect a note of discord?” Katie giggled. “I wondered if I could get Destiny tomorrow. They’re having a spring festival at the preschool and I’m taking the boys. I know you have a teacher’s conference tomorrow and Jonathan has that field trip. I thought you might enjoy a day to yourself afterward.”
“That sounds great. I’ll do the same for you sometime.”
“You’re always helping me out one way or another. How do you think I know how good it feels?” Katie giggled again.
“I’m sure Destiny will really enjoy it,” Carmen said. “She gets lonesome when Jonathan is gone.”
Later that evening, Carmen was reading a book to Destiny and Jonathan was sprawled out on the window seat, reading a book about horses. Destiny gradually relaxed and Carmen stopped reading. Destiny was asleep. From the corner of her eye, she saw Alex enter the living room with a cup of coffee in one hand. He leaned against the door jam. She lifted her head slowly, her gaze starting at his square-toed boots and running up the indigo jeans that flattered his lean build. His muscles didn't bulge like a body builder. They were long and lean. Maybe that was what made him look so tall. Her gaze continued up to the large western belt buckle that hugged his flat abdomen. The sleeves of his western shirt were rolled up, revealing evenly tanned forearms. Slowly her gaze lifted to lips, which were curved in a pleased smile that enlarged until it activated the dimple below his eye. Delicious dark chocolate eyes twinkled with mirth.
She blushed. Ogling a spouse couldn’t be a sin – especially when he derived such obvious pleasure from it. And yet, each time he caught her, she was embarrassed – which amused him greatly. He was, by far, the most handsome man she had ever seen. But, as Katie and Alex had both reasoned, she hadn’t been around that much. It wasn’t purely aesthetics, though. There was something about him . . . the way he moved and even the way he spoke, soft and gentle with such a deep warm voice. Maybe it was merely love that made her view him that way, but considering all the second and third glances he got from other women, she doubted it. Who could deny looking at those smooth bronzed features and delicious chocolate eyes that he was an unusually handsome man?
His gaze shifted to Destiny and he placed the cup on the granite bar. He crossed the room with his usual grace. Reaching down, he plucked from her lap. Leaning his head close, he whispered into Carmen’s ear.
“I’ll take her to bed.”
Lifting Destiny into his arms, he gazed down at her sleeping face and smiled. With silent strides, he took her to her room. A few minutes later he returned.
“It’s time for bed, Jonathan. You have school tomorrow.”
Jonathan gave him no argument, but he took the book with him.
Alex checked the door and then walked back to Carman, dropping a hand of assistance to her.
“Come on, sweetheart, let’s go to bed.”
She accepted his warm hand and welcomed the way it slipped around her waist once she stood. She hugged his lean waist and smiled up at him. It was a typical night. Some things never grew boring no matter how often they were repeated.

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