5

"I want to go home."

"The doctors say that you need to be checked on periodically for the next few days."

"You're a doctor," Abe replied. "Check."

Lexie's smile was slow. "Nice try."

The Mayor rolled his eyes, sighing in resignation. When his eyes landed on his son-in-law and his grandbaby, his face lit up, though his smile was weak.

"You have no idea how glad I am to see you both; how glad I am to see you, Eli, to have you back." He watched as Eli passed a still sleeping Valarie to her grandmother so he wouldn't have to strain to see her.

"Things will be better when you're home and out of here."

"You do make an entrance."

"Yeah..." Eli sighed. "Not my finest moment."

The elder man's laugh was a rumble in his chest. "Oh, I beg to differ." Abe chuckled. "I've been waiting for someone to knock that pompous Kiriakis on his ass for years. Pow!"

"Abraham." Lexie admonished looking down at their still sleeping granddaughter, her own lips twitching.

"The baby can't hear me, Lexie. Do you believe that man came to me, behind my daughter's back, to try and get me to convince Lani to send Valarie to some boarding school in Switzerland?"

"I'm not shocked to hear it."

"I'm all for my granddaughters, and any other grandchildren we are blessed with, to have the best educations, but they don't have to go across the world to have them."

"She's not going."

"Oh. I know it, believe me, I do. Lani put an end to that business quickly. My daughter is something when she's angry; as you well know."

He remembered. Eli remembered it all too well.

"I want to thank you both. My daughter...Ree, she knew who I was before I even knew she existed becuase of Lani, and because of you."

"You don't have to thank us for that, Eli," Lexie told him rocking her granddaughter out of habit.

"Oh, I absolutely have do." He smiled at his sleeping child. "When I was fighting to get home to Lani, I didn't know that I was fighting to get home to Valarie, too. Long as I live, I will never forget what it felt like for my child to wrap her arms around me."

"You knew her, too."

"It was like looking into a mirror."


Six years.

He didn't need anyone to tell him how long he'd been gone. He knew. Brady Kiriakis repeated utterances played back to Eli over and over again. It was a long time, and Lani hadn't asked for a divorce, but that didn't mean that she wouldn't. That didn't mean that she wanted them if she stayed. There could very well be a reason why she hadn't asked, and that reason might be in Abe's room snoring softly in her grandmother's lap.

When they didn't know what was going on with Abe, it had been easier to ignore that niggling in the back of his mind. Lani hadn't been waiting for him to come back. She had a life; a child to raise. A relationship...

He meant what he said to that suit, Brady Kiriakis. If his wife wanted a divorce, she was going to have to ask for one. Plenty of people stayed married for the kids. He wasn't about to one of them.

He wasn't about to spend 12 years in love by his motherfucking self.

Shit.

Eli shook his head. "You're being stupid." He said to himself. "Tell your wife what you want. Just talk to Lani."

He just had to find her first.

"Tell Lani what?" She grabbed him when he damn near passed her in his distraction. He blinked like he hadn't even know where she had come from.

"Hey-Where?"

"Where are you going?"

"Nowhere now. How's your dad?"

Something was wrong. "Talked a two day stay into an overnight." She finally answered. "Tell. Lani. What?"

They weren't moving from this spo-

"If you want a divorce-"

"Wait a minute-"

"You're going to have to-"

"What?"

"Say it." He finished.

They stared at each other for long seconds, Eli waiting, Lani counting down so she didn't snap.

She was getting tired of men at present. "Start talking. From the beginning. What is this?"

"He came to our house."

"Who?"

"The Easter Bunny. Who do you think-Brady, Lani." He replied. "Just walked his ass in there, like he had a key, while Ree was asleep. Does he?"

"Does he what?"

"Have a key, Lani." Eli shook his head. "You know what? It doesn't matter. I'm changing the locks; today, and burning every-"

"He's never been in that house." Her brows rose at his stony silence. "Look, I completely understand that every bit of this is absolutely absurd. I know that you went through a lot, but none of this has been easy for me either.

"I was told that the man that I love was dead; not even a week later, I learn that I'm pregnant. I find it in me to live for years being one thing. I find someone new and he's good to me. That doesn't happen to many. I'm getting married and my husband comes back while I'm saying vows to another."

"There is no other."

"Eli Grant, if you don't adjust your tone, there is going to be an issue."

His nostils flared. "Not giving you a divorce."

"Did I ask for one?"

"Why haven't you?" He asked her. "Si-I was gone. A long time."

"Unbelievable." She shook her head.

"Things change."

"Not that." She told him. "And not this. Don't smile at me, Eli Grant, I swear to God. You walk away and assume instead of talking to me. That's what's changed because that has never been us."

"I'm sorry. I truly didn't see you."

"Do you love me?"

"You have to ask?"

"Apparently." She rolled her eyes. "Do you love me?"

"Yes. I told you-"

"In a voicemail; not to my face. Be quiet. Let's put this mess to be now."

"Absolutely."

"Uh-uh. No. You don't get to be cute; not right now. Do you want to be married to me?"

"I just told you that I'm not giving you a divorce."

She exhaled hard, biting the inside of her cheek. "Why?" She asked him. "We don't have to be married to raise our child together-"

"What I feel for you has little to do with Ree, brown eyed girl. There isn't a word. Love isn't big enough. Every day I was gone, and every second since I've been back, I've been in love with you, stayed in love with you."

"I love you, too. Your surgery, our daughter, the Air Force-"

"I'm retired."

"You're wh-

Okay.

She had earned this.

Lani had this whole speech planned out and she'd fallen into rambling.

In her defense, she didn't know where he stood because she hadn't know where she stood; and he didn't because she didn't.

Confusing?

Absolutely.

That ridiculously hot kiss at their home. Eli stripping the way he always had when she said his name "that way", it was a damn excuse to take his clothes off; but she allowed it; that was them.

It seemed all she had been was scared.

Scared when she had been marrying Brady. Scared to believe when Eli came home. Terrified when she had woken up and he'd been gone. That fear of what was next for them. It began to drain away at his voicemail and it was all but gone when she watched him come down that corridor with their daughter in his arms.

That kiss at home had been of need; need to be where they had been, and who, before all of it. This one they were caught up in now was a swirl, a mix of a new need and want fueled by the knowledge, the understanding, the realization that this was it, that they were it, and in this together.

It stole Lani's breath when Eli pulled her against him. Her eyes stayed closed when his mouth slid from hers. The breath she sighed out was shaky. Licking her lips, Lani's eyes slowly came open.

"Kissing me to shut me up."

"Least you didn't hit me this time." He twined their fingers together, stepping closer.

"I was just making sure you weren't a poltergeist." Her hand slipped from is as she stepped away.

"Wh-Where you going?"

"Don't move." She told him over her shoulder.

"This woman..."

He didn't move.


The bike's engine quieted to a stop.

They sat, her front pressed into his back, her cheek rest again his shoulder, arms around his waist.

There would be challenges. Challenges were apart of life. What mattered was that they were together, their daughter was healthy, and they had the rest of their lives ahead of them.

He wove their fingers together. Pulling a hand away, Eli pressed a kiss into Lani's palm, to the inside of her wrist. She brushed her lips over his shoulder, kissed the back of his neck.

He was shaking.

She was too.

Lani slid from the bike, her hand still in his. She couldn't keep from touching him. She kept thinking that this couldn't be real, but it was. This wasn't a dream, Eli wasn't dead. He was here. He was here with her. They were together. She ran her hand over the breath of his shoulders, pressed her lips to the side of his neck.

Then he was in her arms where he was supposed to be.

Lips met once, twice, a third time; their kiss deepening as they slowly made their way toward the house snatching sips of air between needful sighs, and murmurs.

When he had been at his absolute worst, he came here; dreamed of her, of them, together. Lani's smile, the sound of her voice, her laugh, the way he felt when she cracked jokes on him, just holding her.

As he got closer to home, Eli allowed himself to dream exactly this. He slid his fingers into her hair, his thumbs brushing over her cheeks then her lips. Lani nipped his finger, before reaching up and taking the sunglasses from her husband's face.

Dark, dark, eyes looked back at her; love, need and want burning deep in them. He was saying something to her, but Lani didn't know what; she hadn't heard word one, and Eli didn't take offense when she took his mouth and kissed all of his face off again.

His wife.

"Never leaving you again." He whispered against her lips.

"Again."

"Never gonna leave you."

"Again." Lani's voice shook.

"I'm never leaving you again, Lani." He held tight when she clutched at him. "They'll have to make sure that I'm dead."

"Don't say that!" She gasped, fresh pain slicing thought her. Lani grabbed his jacket in her fists in an attempt to shake him then felt herself being lifted from the ground then pressed into what felt like the front door behind her their mouths finding and taking each other again in broad daylight.

The door was locked. He couldn't find his keys. Eli wished he could find it funny as she, but he had every need fighting for dominance inside him.

Lani "helped" sending her hands up under his shirt, smoothing them up his sides and back down, trailing them around his waist and into his back pockets, laughing softly at his puff of strained laughter against her throat when she grabbed his ass.

No keys.

Shame.

When she moved those hands back around again, she teased her fingers along his waist before dipping them into his front pockets. She smiled against his throat when she felt Eli jump against her the flats of his palms slapping into the door behind her.

"Woman, goddamn..." Eli barely got out when Lani wrapped those legs around his waist.

They barely got inside before she had his belt off, tossing it away somewhere. He shook out of his jacket then had his hands pushed aside. Pulling his shirt off, Lani pressed heated kisses into Eli's chest, her fingers again playing at his waist.

Eli reached his breaking point when Lani's kisses turned to nips and her hands stopped playing and reached inside his jeans for him. He lifted her as if she weighted nothing, sucking in a breath when, again, all the blood rushed from his head, growling intelligibly when those thighs fixed tight around his waist again; her need pressing hot up against his.

He would replay the look on Lani's face when he pulled off those damn jeans every day until eternity. Those doe eyes, heavy lidded. Arms reaching out for him. Soon as he laid her to the bed, Lani couldn't seem to get a decent breath.

Things changed, but somethings stayed the same. Their loving had always been good whether things were spontaneous, they took all night, or threw a quickie up against the wall in the laundry room or across the table in the kitchen. Every urgent arch of Lani's body beneath him pulled at his sanity. His head filled with her; the high desperate calls, the incoherent murmurs, hands that didn't know whether to push him away because he was too much or pull him closer because it wasn't enough.

Scratches lived down Eli's back as Lani tossed beneath him.

Six hours, six years, 60; it didn't matter; this was it. She was it. They were it, together. He could live in the way that she was looking at him, tears crested on her lashes. He couldn't slow them if he tried, and he did. He wanted this to last. His hands at her hips did nothing put urge Lani on. He had lost all control a long time ago. He could lose all his senses tomorrow and he would still hear her, over and over.

His fucking down fall.

"Please..."

There was no controlling a damned thing once the word crossed Lani's lips, and it did. Over and over again it did, and Eli welcomed it. He craved it. He would never get tired of it. It echoed inside his mind when Lani pulled him over the edge with her.


"Bring me my daughter."

Lani's brows rose as she stepped back into their bedroom, a glass of water in her hands.

"I don't know who you think you're taking to, Eli Grant; but I don't believe it's me."

Sprawled out on their bed, head half on a pillow, and barely covered with the bed sheet, the only part of himself that he could move was his eyes which found his wife in the doorway.

In his shirt.

Hair tossed, lids heavy, nipples pebbled beneath the shirt's cotton, a smirk living on kiss swollen lips.

She was the picture of sexed.

"Woman, get snatched nekkid again if you want to."

"Oh, I want to."

"Told you about saying my name like that unless you're trying to procreate-what now?"

Making threats and he couldn't lift his damn head. Lani's smile was slow.

"Oh, that is cold, Lani Price-Grant. Don't hitch your brow at me, woman. Now, I have to wait until Ree goes to sleep. See how your mama do me, Murtaugh?" Eli asked of the dog who paid him no attention.

She sat on the water on the dresser then snatched the sheet from his body, quieting him before crawled up and over him, drawing her lips as she went, lapping kisses where she pleased, chuckling when she found his ticklish spot, until she lay back atop him, her hands pressing his into the bed above them.

"Who said you had to wait?" Her voice a low whisper in his ear before she trailed kisses down his neck.

"Huh?" He could feel her smile against him.

"'Huh?'" She teased. "Maybe you should ask questions...that's how you get answers."

"Uh." Eli cleared his throat.

"Waiting..."

"Uh...wh-why don't I have to wait?" He finally got out before pulling Lani beneath him groaning again when she wrapped those legs around him then combing his fingers through the hair on his face.

"Since you asked."

"Lani..." Her name came out hoarsely. She showed him mercy sliding her legs down his. He rolled from atop her and Lani lay on her side, one hand propping her head up, the other rubbing his chest.

"Our daughter, Ree-"

"Yup."

"She had a standing play play-date with Alex; that's Hope-Alexandra, that's Theo and Ciara's little girl, our niece, every other Saturday at their grandparents'."

"Your dad-"

"It's Hope's Saturday." Lani leaned down, stealing a kiss.

"Good to know."

"Very." She pulled his shirt over her head as she straddled him again. His hands immediately going to her hips, her body was such a sweet weight atop him. "We should probably get on it if you're wanting that son by Christmas."

"Oh, it's like that?"

"Mm. Yup. It's exactly like that."

"How do you know it's going to be a boy?"

"Because I said so."

"Because that's how it works." He chuckled.

" Eli. Grant."

Absolutely was doing the shit on purpose now. His eyes darkened. "Woman..."

"Sir..."

"Marry me." He wasn't asking.

"Absolutely." She didn't care.

Lani slid her body down his pressing his hands back into the mattress. "How's David Abraham sound?"