Mickey’s Baby by Annie J. Rose
“That grin is creepy. You’ll scare the customers,” my oldest brother Connor said.
“It’s not the grin. It’s when he starts giggling and farts rainbows. That’s the problem,” our youngest brother Tommy chimed in, “I never saw someone so damn happy.”
“Today must be the day,” Connor said.
I just drank my beer and ignored them. Nothing could ruin my mood. Not even two of the five O’Shea brothers talking shit about me. Deep down they were probably happy for me. We were just raised in a working-class Chicago neighborhood and grew up around our grandpa’s Irish pub there. It was tough guy central. Not a lot of touchy-feely talking about our emotions going. Meanwhile, I’d seen two of my brothers—one of them being the grouchiest of them all, Connor—laid low by women in recent months. For a wiseass with a big mouth, he had been as helpless and lovelorn as any frilly old-fashioned poet. He was obviously still ass over teakettle in love with his wife, although I wouldn’t say it to his face.
Of the five of us, I was the one who always got teased for being a hopeless romantic. Just because I used to watch old movies with our Ma and had a few favorites. Still, I was the only one of us who hadn’t really had a serious relationship. Ironic, since I was on the lookout most of the time. Not on the prowl, seeking a hookup, but looking for something real and lasting.
“Do you think he got out his hope chest this morning and went through all his tablecloths to prepare for the big event?” Tommy said.
“Probably crocheting some doilies for a homecoming present,” Connor chuckled.
“You guys are full of shit,” I said with a roll of my eyes. “I saw you in the yard with a fucking princess crown on the other day.” I said to Connor.
“Lilly likes to play princesses. She held out the crown to me. I don’t know anybody, badass or not, that wouldn’t put on a crown if his baby girl gave him one,” he said hotly as I laughed.
“Don’t look at me,” Tommy laughed. “I don’t dress up like a princess.”
“If my daughter hands you a crown, you’re goddamn Cinderella, you understand?” Connor grumbled.
“Whatever,” Tommy said. Our niece was really cute and pretty much had us all wrapped around her baby pinkie finger—but her dad most of all.
“I haven’t seen Karin in a month,” I said. “Do you remember when you stomped around like a wounded bear the entire time you and Brandi were apart?” I asked Connor.
He grunted. I shook my head.
“You saying you’re in love with Karin?” Tommy asked. “I didn’t know it was serious, but with you mooning around the pub all afternoon just waiting for her to get back to the island...”
“Your single ass is just jealous,” I said.
“Oh, are you two going steady?” Connor teased.
“I didn’t know you were exclusive,” Tommy said. “Did you let her wear your class ring? Carved your initials into a tree yet?”
“You two are the worst. Lilly should stop giving you crowns immediately. Neither of you deserves one,” I laughed.
“Maybe you could borrow one of her princess costumes for when you get all the mice and birds to make Karin’s cabin ready,” Connor said.
“I have plans for her homecoming, but I don’t need any help. You can keep your rodents to yourselves.”
“So, it’s been about six weeks since she decided to move here for a job, not for you, by the way. You were together a few weeks before that. So have you gone out with anyone else since you met her? Any tourist hookups? Maybe that cute blonde florist you used to date?” Tommy said.
“No. I haven’t wanted to.”
“Oh God, do you wear a promise ring? Is it the kind about staying a virgin till you’re married?” Connor guffawed.
“No,” I said flatly.
“But you’ve bought her an engagement ring, haven’t you?” Tommy said.
“No,” I denied.
I didn’t tell them that it had crossed my mind, that if everything went to plan once she’d moved to St. Martin permanently, I’d surprise her with a proposal before Christmas more than likely. I also didn’t tell them I’d looked at local emeralds and considered doing a custom design. They were giving me enough crap as it was without arming them with more ammunition to use against me.
“I remember when you were a badass,” Tommy said. “When you made the SEAL team, and I wanted to be just like you. I had no idea back then that you were a girl in SEAL’s clothing.”
“You’re hilarious. You should go do stand-up on your night off,” I said sarcastically. “Since you don’t have a woman to spend time with, Tom. Your days off are free.”
“Free as a bird, bro,” he said lightly. “I’m not like you. I don’t wanna be tied down. I like to keep my options open in case some pretty little tourist walks in the pub.”
“So, you’re looking to get wifed up with the photographer,” Connor said when we were alone at the bar.
“What gave you that idea?” I asked, trying to keep it casual.
“For one thing, Brendan’s engaged to her best friend. For another, she’s moving down here to work with Elise which is mighty convenient for a man who wants to get to know her better. And you might as well have your phone glued to your palm since she’s been gone. I’ve never seen you this excited about anything. Not when you survived Hell Week. Not when your dive business opened. I’ve known you since you were born, Mick. You look like a goddamn teenager right before Prom.”
“You’re getting ahead of yourself, Con. I’m glad you love your wife and kid. More power to you, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the O’Shea’s are looking for the old ball and chain,” I told him.
“Little brother, that’s bullshit and you know it. Brendan couldn’t ask Elise to move here fast enough. He was ready to settle down. Just because Karin came with Elise like a free side of fries doesn’t mean you didn’t want her here. The night you met her, you were a goner.”
“I wasn’t a goner,” I said gruffly, and Connor laughed at my denial.
I walked off and left my empty beer bottle. I was too wired to sit still anyway. I had missed Karin terribly while she was in New York finishing up a project. She was a freelance photographer who’d agreed to join my brother Brendan’s fiancée Elise as the staff photographer at her new advertising firm on the island. She would still do freelance work, I expected. Karin wanted to travel all over. She had a huge list of places she wanted to go and specific day and night shots she wanted to capture. When we’d Facetimed one night, she showed me her notebook. It contained a huge list of countries, cities, specific locations, time of day, and the manual camera settings and filters she wanted to use for each. Her enthusiasm was contagious. I was glad she had agreed to move to the island permanently, but I knew the travel bug would bite her sooner or later. She’d want to explore the surrounding islands, check out rock formations and waterfalls. I knew she had Belize and Costa Rica on her list for this year, although her real goal was to get to Europe and photograph those old churches and monuments. Was it my fault if I got a little carried away and imagined taking her there?
She’d been so busy that I hadn’t been able to talk to her in the last couple of days. We’d fired a few texts back and forth, but I couldn’t wait to see her. Those mischievous dark eyes, that silky dark hair, and her skin like sweet caramel. Sparks had flown between us the minute I saw her. I’d rushed up the night of a bonfire when Brendan had startled the two girls as they arrived. My brothers and I had run to the rescue, thanks to our ingrained military training. I’d laid eyes on Karin and I was done for. By the time I’d reached her, she was no longer startled—just half pissed off and half-amused and that was her default setting.
My brothers had assumed when she and I went to my cabin for a few minutes that we’d hooked up then and there. They weren’t far off from the truth, but we hadn’t had sex until a few nights later. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to either. The second she’d smirked at me on the dark sidewalk, a roll of her tanned shoulder shrugging at the commotion, I’d gone hard as steel. When we were introduced, she had licked her lips. It was like she’d owned me from that moment. My whole body went taut and I saw her recognize my reaction, the laughter in her eyes, but the molten want as well.
We’d gone into my cabin for some made-up reason like getting ice or whatever. As soon as the door was shut, without even turning on a light, we were all over each other. Just the gray illumination coming from between the slats of the blinds tracked across her body as my hands moved up under her tank top. That smooth skin, those curves. My mouth was on hers and there was nothing like the way I felt when her tongue slid along mine, picking up my rhythm. She had felt that sharp attraction between us, too. And she wasn’t shy about it. She’d had my shirt off in no time.
I remember sliding my arm around her waist after I hiked up her soft orange tank top. I’d hauled her against my chest, lifting her right off her feet. I’d heard her kick off her flip flops before her legs went around my waist. Her thighs were incredible, strong and hot. Her ass was a generous handful when I gripped it to hold her up. She had arched her back and my mouth had covered her nipple through the thin soft cotton of her top. The peak had pebbled instantly, wet from my mouth, and I was breathing so hard I wasn’t sure I could stand. I’d backed her up against the wall, braced her there. She ran her hands through my hair, tugging it wildly when I sucked a spot on her neck.
Her whole curvy body was so responsive, molding to mine and giving me every sizzling moan and whimper a man could want when he touched a woman. Not just a woman. The woman. The one he’d waited for. The one he wanted to touch all over as soon as they met and never stop pleasuring her, claiming her. Even with my brothers and some friends right outside the cabin the courtyard, I wanted her. I would’ve fucked her against that wall, rattling the windows and letting her screams rip through the crowd. I would never have stopped. Her last name didn’t matter. My military service and famed self-discipline didn’t matter. Every part of her made me crazy. The shock of recognition when we’d met—a stranger who felt familiar, who felt absolutely necessary to me.
I found her. I’ll make her mine.
This was the mission. And I never failed a mission. So I’d claim her and keep her, get drunk on the taste of her, lick her until she screamed and cried my name. I didn’t want her out of my sight or out of my reach. It was primal, wolfish even. I was rangy and wired because we’d been too long apart. I wanted to give her a perfect homecoming, a romantic evening just the two of us. The only problem was the fact that half of me howled to bend her over the nearest table and penetrate her, remind her whose she was and that she’d been gone too long. I wanted her clawing at the table and rocking her hips back into me. I wanted her begging me for more. I wanted to give it to her like no one else could. I felt slightly obsessed with the idea, with the woman herself as well.
Her arrival tonight couldn’t come soon enough. I’d been waiting for her with everything in me. It didn’t matter that there’d been a grain of truth to Tommy’s teasing. Not about me crocheting or something stupid, but about Karin being the One. I shamelessly believed that everyone had one great love. I also suspected that she was mine.