Beautiful Beloved: Chapter 4


For all the ways that Max, Bennett, and Will were alike, there were even more ways they were different. Bennett’s first instinct was always to take charge, to work out the quickest way to get the upper hand and never let go. Max was the charmer—still one hell of a businessman, but a bowl of sugar—the guy who knew you caught more flies with honey than vinegar. But Will was the thinker, the one who would puzzle out a situation and figure out exactly what the problem was so he could fix it. Which was why when Max suggested that Will and Hanna watch Anna while we attempted Dinner Disaster number two, I agreed. Will and Hanna were two of the smartest people I knew; if anyone could figure out how to crack the baby code, it was them.

We were both ready to go when they showed up at the apartment the next Friday night.

Will was wearing a T-shirt from some show I’d never heard of, and a wary expression on his face. Hanna—as usual—seemed to be getting a kick out of his nerves.

“You’re not scared of a tiny little baby now, are you?” she asked as they stepped inside.

“Of course I’m not,” Will said, unwrapping a blue scarf from around his neck. “But between eight and forty percent of babies get colic, Hanna. Eight and forty percent. That’s almost half on the high end, and if you factor that into the number of babies born every year, then the chances that Annabel has—”

“She isn’t colicky, you twat,” Max said, pulling him in far enough that he could close the door. “Hanna, I hope he’s at least brilliant with your taxes or at the very least one hell of a shag.”

“Both, actually,” she said, and handed Max her jacket. “And don’t worry, I babysat a ton growing up. Probably watched every kid in the neighborhood at some point. I’m really great with babies.”

Will stepped up to her side, leaned in to wrap his arms around her and press a small kiss to her nose. “How is that even possible when you were so busy pining for me?” he asked, grinning.

Hanna shook her head and patted Will’s face gently. “It’s so cute how you think everything’s about you,” she said, and Max barked out a laugh. Will was our notorious womanizer, and to see that he had finally met the woman who knocked him on his ass was amazing.

“Thank you, again, you guys,” I said, pushing Will away so I could hug Hanna. “I’m not even sure optimism is the way to go, so I guess I’ll just wish you luck.”

“Don’t be silly,” Will said. “We—and by ‘we’ of course I mean Hanna—will take care of everything. I’m just here to open jars, kill spiders, and change lightbulbs if needed.”

Hanna nodded.

Still, I made sure they knew where everything was, went over a list of emergency numbers, and then thanked them for what had to be the tenth time. “She’s just eaten and been changed. I’m sure she’ll be good for . . . in fact, this is about the time she’d go down for the night, so she shouldn’t wake up to feed until long after we’re home. But just in case, we’ll be around the corner.”

Hanna nodded, and picked up one of Anna’s little onesies from a stack on the couch. “Don’t worry,” she said, straightening the pile again. “Even if she does wake up, I’m sure the biggest problem will be getting this one”—she pointed to Will—“to stop making googly faces at her.”

Max put on his coat and helped me with mine. “No boys in the house, kids,” he said. “No rated-R movies and we’ve left pizza money on the counter.”

Will rolled his eyes and pushed us out the door. “I told you, it’ll be fine,” he said, waving to us from the doorway. “I outweigh her thirteen-to-one. Thirteen-to-one! What could possibly go wrong?”

There would be no fancy restaurant or sentimental bottles of wine. Instead, we stopped at a little diner a few doors down and sat at the first open table we found.

There was a sense of urgency in the air, a sense that a clock was ticking somewhere and there was zero way we’d make it through this night, maybe not even this dinner, without Will or Hanna calling with some sort of real or imagined emergency.

“You think they’re going to be okay?” I asked Max, folding and refolding the paper napkin in front of me.

His eyes met mine from behind a laminated menu and he shrugged. “Of course they will. Annabel’s disposition is matched only by her mother’s. I can’t imagine her giving anyone a problem.”

I laughed. “It’s possible you might be wrong on both counts, Mr. Stella.”

The waiter stopped at our table and we each ordered, although I wasn’t really sure why. We were at a restaurant as a formality, as a normal date-type thing before I ripped off his pants.

Which I wanted to do right now.

Our food arrived, and it took only fifteen minutes more before Max’s phone buzzed on the table and he picked it up, smiling before turning the screen toward me.

“Look at him,” he said. It was a photo of Will holding Anna, his expression so proud you’d think he’d just split the atom, not changed a diaper. He was giving the camera a thumbs-up.

A very white thumbs-up, to be more accurate.

He did it! Hanna had typed.

“Is that . . .” I started to ask, squinting as I leaned in, trying to get a better look. “Is that baby powder?”

“I believe it is,” Max said, looking for himself. Will looked like a powdered donut had exploded all over him. It was in his hair and eyebrows, smeared across his cheeks and covering both hands, the one supporting the baby and the one he held in front of the camera.

“He’s going to have a good time cleaning that up,” I said, shaking my head before finishing off my burger.

“It’s good for him,” Max said, replying to Hanna before setting his phone down.

“You think Will and Hanna are ready for babies?”

“I think Will would be ready for just about anything Hanna wanted. Christ, she could suggest he join a knitting group and he’d ask her what color yarn was best suited for his skin tone. Bloody brilliant watching that one so whipped. Something tells me tonight is just what they needed.”

“So it’s possible we might actually get a few more hours?”

Max wiped his mouth and tossed his napkin to his plate. “Don’t want to jinx us, but yeah.”

It had been ten minutes since Will’s last text—far longer than with George—and I got an idea. Everything was fine at home and I was not about to waste a golden opportunity like this one.

“What exactly is it you’re doing over there, Petal?” Max said, motioning to my phone.

“Oh, just looking for something.”



“Care to elaborate?”

Instead I flipped my phone so he could see the screen, and knew the exact moment he understood. “Things are going so well at home, and we’d be idiots to waste it so . . . I’m booking us a room where you can be as loud as you want and not have to keep one ear focused on a baby monitor. If you’re interested, that is,” I added, giving him a cheeky grin.

“Interested? I will pay everyone’s bill in this bloody diner if it gets us out of here more quickly,” he said, and made a hand signal at the waiter for our check. “Have I mentioned that I love you?”

“Once or twice,” I said, smiling widely as the waiter set the bill on our table. I continued scrolling through the listings, and stopped when I found what I was looking for.

“So we’re people who check in to hotels by the hour now?” Max joked, standing to take our bill to the register. He scratched his jaw. “I am surprisingly comfortable with this.”

It was impossible not to feel like we were up to something as we checked in to a swank little hotel down the block. We had no luggage, had made the reservation less than fifteen minutes ago, and I’m sure the way I kept looking at Max—like I might throw him down on the counter at any minute—might have suggested we were up to something a bit less wholesome than a nap.

Not to mention that the New York State driver’s license Max showed as proof of ID had a mailing address located less than ten minutes away. Whatever. I was going to fuck my husband; they could think whatever they want.

“If possible we’d like a room in the most empty part of the hotel,” Max said. “We plan on being loud.”

The clerk looked down at Max’s ID and blinked back up at him again, bored, before rolling his eyes and moving to swipe our card.

Inside the elevator, Max pressed me against the far wall, pushing his hand into my hair. “Tell me what you want, sweet Sara,” he said, running his nose along my jaw. “This is your night, and I want to do every filthy thing in that devious little mind of yours.”

“I want you,” I said. “Over me, behind me.”

He hummed against my skin, and I felt every bit of anxiety melt away. He wasn’t overthinking. He wasn’t treating me like something he had to handle with kid gloves.

“And?” he said.

I tilted my head, looked up to see our reflections in the mirrored ceiling of the elevator. The sight of our bodies together—even clothed—sent a shiver down my spine.

“I want your face between my legs,” I told him. “I want you wild.”

He exhaled, and made the tiniest, neediest sound. “You know I love how you taste. Would I lick you, Petal?”

Jesus. “Yes.”

“Would I be greedy and suck, get my face covered in you? Or do you want me to take my time?”

“All of it. Rough at first and then again, slower. Savoring,” I said, though who knew how much time we would actually get. I watched as Max pushed open the collar of my shirt to reveal the top swell of my breasts. I could easily imagine what we would look like from that angle: me naked on my back, legs spread shamelessly open with Max between them. I would see the flex of muscle as he devoured me, my fingers in his beautiful hair as I pulled and held him where I wanted. The flex of my toes as my orgasm moved up my body and out. As I screamed.

The elevator stopped and Max reached for my hand, practically tugging me down the hall and toward our room. “All of it,” he said, slotting the key into the door. “I’ll give you fucking all of it.” The light glowed green as the lock clicked, and he pushed it open. Inside, it was my turn to push Max against the wall. I stood on my toes to reach his mouth, pressing my lips to his and not wasting any time as I opened his belt and began pulling his shirt from the waist of his pants. “I want to take pictures of you,” I said, and he pulled away just long enough to meet my eyes.

“Of me?”

I nodded and leaned in to suck on his bottom lip. “Of what you look like while you lick my . . . pussy.”

Max groaned and let his head fall back against the door. “You have no idea what it does to hear you talk like that.” I wondered if maybe this would help. If what Chloe had said was true, maybe it would be easier for him to let go if I used him first.

I trailed a hand over his navel and down to where he was hard and straining against the material of his pants. I gripped the shape of him, rubbing my thumb where I felt the head of his cock. “Oh, I think I have an idea of what it does to you.”

Max began walking us backward, stopping just at the side of the bed. He pulled his phone from his pocket and pressed it into my hand. “Let’s pray that this stays quiet, and that it’s because Will has found his maternal instinct, and not because our child has suddenly learned that everyone will do precisely what she wants, and has enslaved them both.”

I laughed, and set it on the bedside table.

“So what will you do with those pictures, sweet Petal?” he said, opening the buttons on my shirt one by one, and letting it slip from my shoulders.

“Look at them. Remember.”

“When? At work?” he asked, and unfastened my bra, pulling the straps down my arms, and absently tossing it into a chair against the wall. “Maybe you’ll be in a meeting, everyone talking around you while you look down at your phone. They’ll think you’re looking at your calendar, maybe reading through an email. They’d never guess you’re looking at photos of me with my face between your legs. Of your clit pressed against my tongue.”

“Oh God,” I said, his words mirroring exactly what I imagined doing. Max’s eyes moved over my face, down my neck and lower. My breasts tingled, my nipples hardening with the weight of his gaze on me. My skin felt too hot, the rest of my clothes constricting.

“Would that get you wet, Petal?”

I nodded, stripping Max of his shirt first, and then his pants, finding the head of his cock visible just above the waistband of his boxers. He was so hard, the tip already wet in the setting sunlight. I licked my lips, almost able to feel the weight of him in my mouth, hard and smooth against my tongue.

“Take the rest off,” Max instructed, before he reached for the bedding, pulling it down the mattress to reveal crisp, white sheets. The pile of carefully stacked pillows fell to the side and he reached for one, setting it in the middle of the bed.

I slipped out of my skirt and panties just in time for him to turn back to me and nod his approval. “Right here,” he said then, motioning to the pillow. “Want that pretty little cunt up where I can get to it.”

Even now, after the club and marriage and a baby and all we’d done together, I felt my cheeks heat as I did what he asked and climbed on the bed, careful to keep the pillow directly under my hips. It propped me up and I felt open and exposed, my thighs spread and the air cool against my skin. I knew that if I touched myself I’d be slick and swollen, my clit sensitive to even the smallest touch.

I kept my eyes trained on him as he stepped out of his boxers and climbed up on the bed, on his slow advance toward me. I reached out for him, wanting to feel him inside me and—

His phone vibrated on the table. Fuck.

I reached for it blindly, unable to look away from him and his perfect cock, the way it jutted out between us. I knocked over the alarm clock and what I assumed to be the room service menu, before I finally found what I was looking for, and held it out to him.

“Sara,” Max said, and I had to tear my attention away from his body.


“The phone? You read it, yeah?” he said, and placed a hand on my knee, letting his palm smooth down my skin until it rested between my legs. “I’m a bit busy here, and unless the apartment is on fire or there’s something wrong with our baby, I don’t want to see a text from anyone right now. Just reply.”

“Reply while you . . . ?” I trailed off, and he nodded.

My throat felt dry and I had to focus on what I was doing, rather than the way Max ground the heel of his hand against my clit.

“It’s Will,” I said, blinking down to the message. It was a close-up of Anna’s face, her nose scrunched up, and her lower lip turned down into a pout. The edge of a yellow polka-dot blanket curled up near her cheek, so I assumed she was still in her crib, asleep.

What is this face? the text said.

Has she been crying? I asked, momentarily distracted from Max’s fingers slipping over me.

No. Just noises. Like a puppy or something? She’s ok, was just curious.

Sometimes she fusses a little while she sleeps, I typed, and had to stop and regroup when I felt Max’s fingers replaced by puffs of warm breath. She usually settles herself back down! I think you’re good!

That might have been a bit more enthusiastic than the situation warranted.

I waited, but when it didn’t look like Will was going to respond again, I dropped the phone to the bed and groaned, throwing my head back. “Oh my God,” I said, tucking my hands into Max’s hair.

“Yeah?” he murmured, and licked along me in long, slow strokes.

“Fuck yes.”

“Taste so fucking good, Petal,” he said, circling his tongue around my clit and murmuring the words right against me.

I opened my legs wider and held him there, rocking my hips up to meet his mouth until I was practically fucking his face. “More, Max,” I said, looking down at him. “And fingers?”

Max did as I asked, and I felt as he slipped first one finger inside of me, and then a second. “The camera, Petal,” he said, and I remembered the phone sitting on the mattress next to me. Max pressed his mouth to me again, lips wrapped around my clit as he sucked and sucked, even humming. My hands shook as I aimed the camera at him, touching the screen with trembling fingers as I took photo after photo.

Max made a little noise each time the camera clicked, and the thought that this was what was getting him off—that I would look at these later and think of him and this and his sounds—made it hard not to flip him over and fuck him right then.

With two fingers pumping in and out of me, he turned his head, sucking and pressing kisses into the pale skin of my thigh, and me nearly screaming as the single day’s growth of beard brushed against my clit. It was so much. He looked up at me, eyes meeting mine as his tongue peeked out, and I moved to focus the camera again, to capture that moment, when another text flashed across the screen.

How do you heat the milk? it read. Hanna says we do it under water but I told her we can do it in the microwave provided we use a digital thermometer and warm it to body temperature or 98.7 degrees. WHO’S RIGHT SARA

It took me three attempts to finally type out a simple LISTEN TO HANNA before I threw the phone down and had to bite my forearm to keep from screaming.

Max had pulled away a bit, concerned that something might be wrong, but I waved him off.

“It’s fine it’s fine,” I said, embarrassingly breathless. “Don’tstopohgodplease. Keep,” I started, but had to lick my lips, and suck in another desperate lungful of air. “Keepgoingplease please please. I’m so close.”

Max redoubled his efforts, licking and sucking my clit, and somewhere, through the fog of what was happening, I heard him groan, heard the sound of his hand working over his cock.

“Oh God . . . are you?” I started, attempting to push myself up and look, but the phone went off again.

I groaned in defeat, so close I could cry.

She’s not taking it, it said. Are we sure she needs to eat this much? There’s no way an actual human could eat this much. When you figure in her size in comparison to how many ounces of fluid she consumes . . .

“What the fuck does he want now?” Max said, and pushed himself up on his hands.

“Anna won’t eat for him,” I started, and Max let his cheek fall to my hip. “Max, I’m beginning to think this isn’t going to work. I’m never going to have an orgasm and you’re going to have to adjust to a life of blue balls.”

“Fuck that,” he said. “Give me five more minutes, I can do it, I swear.”

But it was no use. I wanted him—God, did I want him—but now all I could think about was my tiny baby crying at home, hungry.

We both lay there for a moment, trying to calm our breaths and . . . other things, before we got up.

“We’ll get the hang of this, Petal,” Max said, climbing up my body so he could kiss my forehead. “We’ve got all the time in the world.”

I went to reply to Will, to tell him we were on our way home, but instead stared in horror at my screen. Somehow, while juggling the camera and texts . . . holy shit, I texted Will a picture of Max’s head between my legs.

“Oh . . . oh, my God,” I groaned, handing Max my phone so he could see what I’d done. “I should not be in charge of the camera anymore.”

I rolled into the pillow with another groan as Max read Will’s reply and burst out laughing: Okay . . . that was unexpected but message received. Take your time. We’ll figure out the milk thing.


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