Chapter 10

New Agenda

You've gouged my eyesÖI see more clearly

"Mi querida." Sonny's voice growled low and seductive against Simone's ear. She closed her eyes and tried to enjoy the moment.

His arms snaked around her waist. He molded his hard chest to her back as he rested his chin in the curve of her neck and shoulder. "Shana is asleep and it's just the two of us. Can imagine what I have planned for you?"

The images of flesh becoming one, sweat-slick bodies rubbing together and the low moans of release echoed in her mind. Her body sunk against him and began to sway to their usual rhythm. His lower body throbbed against her in response. Then just as she was succumbing to his heat, the sound of Tom's voice interrupted the moment.

Simone stiffened and pulled free of Sonny. "No."

"What?" A worried frown darkened Sonny's brow. He regarded her with concern in his piercing eyes. "What's wrong?"

"The past always has a way of disrupting the present," she replied in a hoarse whisper. "Always at the worst possible moment."

Sonny took her hand. He led her to the patio outside. Moonlight filtered through the low-hanging branches to cast a cool glow over the couple. Sonny leaned against the railing. His gaze, steady, warm and comforting, rested on her. Simone found herself relaxing.

"I'm sorry about that."

He shook his head. "You haven't done anything worth apologizing for unless you don't tell me what's wrong. Nightmares again?"

An involuntary shiver rippled down her spine. Sonny squeezed her hand in response. His other hand moved to her waist and pulled her close. Simone appreciated her husband's immediate concern. Her palm flattened on his chest and she gave him a faint smile. "It's not that. A living, breathing nightmare is trying to haunt me...not a dead one. Tom surprised me at my office."

Sonny's voice was laced with a sharp edge. "When?"

She shrugged. "It doesn't matter. I let him get to me. That was wrong. He should never have come back."

"You don't have deal with him. I'll--"

"You'll do nothing," she interrupted quietly. "What can you do? Threaten him? I don't want that. As much as I can't stand him, he is Tommy's father. Tommy has the right to work through Tom's abandonment. Regardless of how much I hate it. I hate knowing that Tom's presence will dredge up all the memories."

Sonny frowned. "How do you know that? Maybe it won't."

Simone shook her head. "It will. It has for me."

~*~

Keesha cradled the crying baby within the curve of her arms. Social Services left the child only minutes before. The eighteen month old was found near his mother's dead body. His father's body was later found inside an abandoned truck. The unfortunate little boy was the victim of a murder-suicide and the Ward House would become his home until a permanent place was found for him.

"They always bring them this late?" Morgan stood in the doorway of the den. With his arms folded across his chest and a piercing stare, he stared at the squalling child.

"This is a home for needy children," Keesha responded, leveling her gaze on him. "They're brought here whenever. Day or night."

"That's disruptive."

"To you maybe." She gently rocked the baby and stroked his fine, curly hair. "But not to me. You can go upstairs. I don't need your help."

A muscle flickered at his jaw. His eyes narrowed. Keesha met his glare head on. Seconds passed. His mouth opened, but before he could fire a retort, the front door opened.

George appeared. He frowned as he glanced at Morgan and back to his mother. Then, he shut the door and entered the house. His arms opened for the baby. "Let me see what I can do?"

Keesha reluctantly relinquished her hold. George cradled the baby like a pro. That didnít come as surprise to his mother, but it did bring a smile to her face.

George looked at Morgan. "Babies sense tension."

Morgan unfolded his arms. His hands balled into fists at his sides. He hesitated for just a moment before he turned and stomped upstairs.

Keesha breathed a sigh of relief. Taking Georgeís hand, they headed for the play room. She and George settled on the floor. George rocked the baby, whose cries had subsided upon Morganís exit.

"He canít live here, Mama. Not in this house. Not with that attitude. You canít do it."

She swallowed hard. It wasnít like she hadnít thought the same thing. "I wonít risk losing JE. Did you see his face? Tonight is a slow night. More screaming babies will have him running out of here."

"I doubt it." George wiped the wetness from the babyís cheeks. "Whatís his name?"

"Samuel. Cute, isnít he? His parents are dead, murder-suicide. He was found on the road beside his motherís body. I pray that heíll never remember it."

George nodded. "So do I."

"What brings you here this late night? Figured I needed rescuing? Did AJ tell you to come?"

He shook his head. "I havenít spoken to him. When I didnít see any bruises on Morgan, I figured Uncle AJ wasnít here. How did you convince him to leave?"

"Bribery. It was touch and go at first."

Georgeís mouth curved into a faint smile. "I was on my way home and decided to see for myself how things went. Marissa or Ben was supposed to call with details. They didnít. I got worried."

"Weíre all fine here." Keesha paused when George gave her a look and then jutted his head toward the second floor. "As fine as can be. Iíll manage having him here, but it wonít be impossible. Iíll do anything for my children. All of my children. Howís your brother?"

"He and Adrik are having a blast. The horses, the animals and his best friend. JE is having the time of his life."

She smiled. "Thatís good. What about you?"

George remembered the forbidden joy of having Noelle in his arms. A quick shudder went through him. He shook his head and gave her a reassuring smile. "Iím managing."

"Sometimes thatís all we can do."

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