“Phone charger, check. Toiletry bag, check. Where is that gray pencil skirt? Oh, there it is. Okay, I think I have everything.
I close the over packed suitcase and reach out to drag it to the floor, but am stopped by a pair of strong hands.
“Mrs. Grey, you heard what the doctor said. No heavy lifting for three months.”
I turn around to face my husband, who looks down at me disapprovingly. A smile breaks across his face as I take my hands off the suitcase and lift them up to him in defeat. He eases my baggage onto the floor, wraps his arms around me, and then pulls me into his chest, kissing my hair as in inhales deeply.
“Don’t go,” he whispers.
“Christian, we’ve been over this. I have to go. This is a very important summit for Grey Publishing. It will expose our authors to international markets.”
“Then let me come with you.”
I glare at him, not willing to have this argument for the hundredth time.
” We can’t both leave Teddy, and he’s too young to travel that far. I’m only going to be gone for four days. You’ll be fine, I promise.”
“But your green light day is tomorrow,” he pouts. “I’ve been deprived of your for six weeks, Ana. You can’t leave me hanging like this.”
“It’s only three more days, Christian.”
“What am I going to do with the baby for four days? I don’t know anything about babies. What if something happens? What if he gets sick? What if he chokes, or falls out of the crib, or smother’s himself or…”
“Christian!” I stop him. “You’ll be fine. I’ve hired a full time nanny for the next four days in addition to Mrs. Jones’, who has agreed to remain on call for the duration of my absence, and your mother and sister are going to be here. If you need more help than that you can call Kate.”
Christian narrows his eyes. “What, you don’t trust me?”
“No,” I reply playfully and walk past him to the dresser to pick up my blackberry. His arms wrap around me again and he presses himself to me. I can feel his erection against my behind.
“God, I need you Ana.”
I twist out of his grip, look at him firmly, and hold up two fingers, which makes him pout again.
“Blue balls again today.”
I laugh as he reaches over to pick up my suitcase to carry down the stairs towards the front door. As we walk through the big house towards the kitchen, I reach down and dial Hannah’s number.
“Good morning, Mrs. Grey,” Hannah answers on the third ring.
“Good morning, Hannah. Are you all set for Australia?”
“Yes, ma’am. I have your itinerary for the summit and our reservation confirmations in my carry on.”
“Excellent. I’ll see you at the airport in 45 minutes.”
“Yes, Mrs. Grey. See you then.”
I hang up the phone and take the glass of orange juice Mrs. Jones hands to me. Grace walks towards me from the family room with a huge smile on her face, my 6 week old baby in her arms.
“Oh Ana, I’m not happy you’re leaving, but I am very happy to spend the next four days with my beautiful grandson,” she coos.
“Thank you for helping us out, Mom,” I respond with a smile. She reaches out, hugs me with one arm, and then passes Teddy to me. My heart wrenches as I fight the maternal instincts that tell me what a horrible mother I am for leaving my new baby.
No, I reason with myself. I want to continue working and if I don’t go on this trip it will be only a matter of months before Christian convinces me to quit altogether.
I kiss the top of Teddy’s head and gently squeeze him.
“I’ll miss you baby boy,” I whisper, and hand him back to Grace.
“Mrs. Grey, I have the car ready whenever you are,” Taylor says from the entrance to the kitchen.
“Thank you, Taylor. I’m ready.” Christian hands him the suitcase and reaches out for me again. He kisses me deeply, intimately. A little too intimately for the room crowded with our loved ones, but I don’t mind. I hate being away from him and I’m just as desperate for this kiss as he is.
“I love you,” he whispers as he breaks the kiss at last.
“I love you, more,” I reply.
“Please don’t go,” He begs softly into my hair.
I ignore him, reach my face up to his for one last quick kiss, and then push away from him to follow after Taylor.
“Call me when you get there,” Christian says.
“I will,” I promise, and, with that, I’m out the door.