“Anton, I’m going to ask you some questions. Be as truthful as you can. If you feel you could be more truthful if we were having this conversation somewhere else, just between you and me, we can stop right now until I can arrange that.”
She ground her teeth. The boy was seven years old. He still believed in Santa Claus for godsake. How was he supposed to understand the implication Domini might be somehow coercing him?
“Domini, don’t leave. Don’t make me go somewhere else away from you. Please.”
“I won’t, sweetling. I’m right here.”
Mrs. Beesman’s questions for Anton were neutral. But when she asked him why he thought Domini wanted custody of him, he simply said, “Because she loves me and she already knows how to take care of me.”
Domini didn’t bother to hide her tears.
Just like that the interview ended and Mrs. Beesman bustled out.
Neither she nor Anton spoke for a while. When he started swinging his feet—a nervous habit he’d always had—she knew something bothered him. “Hey, buddy, what’s going on in that smart head of yours?”
“I think I told her a lie.”
Fear skittered down her spine. “About what?”
“About when she asked why you wanted me.”
“You said exactly the right thing, the true thing. I do love you. I do know how to take care of you.”
His blue eyes filled with such confusion and pain her heart nearly stopped. “But do you think I shoulda told her that you want me because no one else does?”
Those broken words sent her heart plummeting to her toes. “Don’t ever say that. Don’t ever think that. Anyone would be thrilled to have you, but I don’t want to give anyone else a chance because I want you most of all, understand?”
He nodded. He crawled into her lap, clinging as if he were afraid to let her go. She understood the feeling.
Not for the first time, Domini thought if the court ruled against her for custody of this sweet, needy little boy, she’d take Anton and run.
And she had a sneaking suspicion Mrs. Beesman from Social Services had come to the exact same conclusion.
Cam hadn’t seen Domini for days and he was going insane.
Before they’d hooked up, Cam had seen Domini every day. Sometimes twice a day. He wasn’t about to walk away when he’d come to terms with how he felt about her.
In addition to setting up Nadia’s memorial service, Domini was taking care of Anton fulltime. He’d dealt with his cousin Luke’s funeral and all the family shit that went along with it, which reminded him why he tended to avoid all that unpleasantness.
Might not be PC, but Cam could give a crap how Anton reacted to him being at Domini’s place. Far as he was concerned, the kid better get used to seeing him.
Cam knocked twice. The fifteen-second wait for her to unlock the door was excruciating. Then Domini, his sweet, beautiful, wonderful Domini, stood in front of him, close enough to touch, close enough to kiss. He hugged her hard, kissed her hard and was totally hard.
“Come in the kitchen. You hungry? There’s leftover casserole.”
“No. I don’t have much of an appetite lately.”
Domini brought them both a beer. He was a little surprised when she parked herself on his lap.
They stayed that way, not speaking, just being together. Cam had never known anyone as comfortable with silence as Domini. He’d never known anyone like Domini period.
This awful week without her had just reinforced the truth: Cam was totally head over heels in love with her. Nothing had ever felt so real, so right.
Too bad his timing was all wrong. Domini had so many life changing events to get through, he didn’t want to burden her with his declaration of love. When the time was right, he’d blurt out everything in his heart. Every sappy thing.
He leaned back to look at her. “Sorry, I was kinda spacing out. What did you say?”
She fingered the necklace he’d given her. “Come to bed with me. Please. I know you can’t stay, but I need to be with you, even for a little while.”
Touched by her sweet hesitation, Cam clasped her hand and directed her to the bedroom, locking the door behind them.
She stripped. She helped him strip. She left his prosthesis on and pushed him on his back. After she straddled him, she ran her hands up the insides of his arms and pinned his arms above his head.
“My way,” she said and kissed him.
Holy shit did Domini kiss him. Seductively. Wantonly. Relentlessly. She licked and bit his lips as her tongue tasted and teased. Her kisses destroyed him, turning him into a raging beast; her caresses tamed him into a junkie who craved her touch. His body burned from the light stroke of her fingertips over his skin. He bowed up from the silken rasp of the pads of her thumbs across his nipples. The bite of her nails into his scalp stung as she held him in place and kissed him stupid.
Domini locked her gaze to his. She grasped his cock and impaled herself in one deep stroke.
She kept the pace fast enough to excite but slow enough to tantalize. When she whispered, “Put your hands on me and help me ride,” Cam gritted his teeth against the urge to flip her on her back and fuck her through the mattress.
But he let her choose the pace. He let her love him with the desperation they both felt. Domini didn’t drag it out; she took them both to the brink and kicked them into sweet ecstasy.
“I needed that,” she panted against his throat.
I needed you.
Domini kept touching his body, as if trying to memorize his shape. Then she sighed and nestled deeper into him. “I could fall asleep like this.”
“We’ll have to try it sometime.” He stroked her back and waited for her get whatever was bugging her off her chest.
“Cam, can I ask you something?”
“I mean, I’d understand if you’d say no—”
“Just ask me.”
She blew out a breath. “Will you come to the lawyer’s office with me tomorrow?”
He was pretty shocked she’d asked him because she never asked him for anything. “I’ll be there.”
Cam started to drift off. It was tough forcing himself to leave the warmth of her bed, the comfort of her body and the serenity she brought him. It was tougher yet when she kissed him goodnight and it felt as if she was kissing him goodbye.
Maybe it had been a goodbye fuck, because Domini had warned him she’d run with Anton if things didn’t go in her favor.
No way would she leave here. No way would she leave him. He’d do whatever it took to make sure she stayed.
Whatever. It. Took.
“Domini, Deputy McKay. Good to have you both here, have a seat.” Ginger Paulson indicated two tweed wingback chairs in front of her desk. She scooted her leather chair in and donned a pair of glasses.
“Without violating confidentiality agreements, I will tell you I filed Nadia’s divorce. When it appeared Rex might contest it, which is a rarity in this day and age, I had Nadia on record discussing the domestic violence issues that’d plagued their marriage. I requested a copy of the police records. At the last minute, Rex agreed to the terms of irreconcilable differences. He also agreed to sign over sole custody of Anton DeMarco, to Nadia, with the stipulation he was no longer responsible for child support, which Nadia agreed to.”
Ginger peered over the rim of her glasses. “Domini, it is your intention to file for permanent legal guardianship of Anton?”
“Well, that’s going to be tricky.”
“As much as I hate to admit it, the state does have sound reasons for the recommendation of Anton’s immediate transfer from your temporary care into a foster home.”
Domini compressed Cam’s hand painfully.
“What are the reasons?” he demanded.
Ginger looked right at Domini. “You aren’t a blood relative nor are you licensed for foster care. You are a single woman. You don’t own property. You don’t have family in the area. You have a history of transient behavior. Any one of those is a strike against you. But all of them?” She shook her head.
“But there were circumstances with the church group who sponsored me to the U.S. that I had no control over. They moved around a lot and since I was here with them on a work visa…I didn’t have a choice but to follow them wherever they went.”
“The biggest concern the state has right now, even if you were licensed for foster care, is you are considered a flight risk. A high flight risk.”
Cam said, “Bullshit,” but he noticed Domini didn’t immediately deny it.
Hope drained out of Domini’s face. “I’m going to lose him, aren’t I? The state workers will show up and drag him to a stranger’s house where they don’t know he hates carrots and he loves to draw and he has to have his Cars blanket at night or he can’t sleep and he’s scared of the dark…” Her tears fell.
Cam felt as if he’d been gutted. Dammit, it was his fucking job to uphold the law and he hated these situations existed where the law was utter bullshit. Domini was the best person to have custody of Anton. She loved him, and she’d be a great mother to him. So what if she didn’t have the official foster care certification? So what if she didn’t own a house? So what if she was single?
A light bulb pinged and the “Hallelujah Chorus” rang out in his head.
Bingo. Why hadn’t he thought of it before?
Because you were dealing with your own family issues.
“But if Domini was married to a local law enforcement officer, who has taken the required Social Services classes regarding foster care, who owns property, who has family ties to the area for several generations, what would her flight risk be considered then?”