This Man Confessed (Page 175)

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Her eyebrows are high as she shakes her head at Jacob on a fond smile, but then her eyes are on me and she’s not smiling anymore. What did I do? ‘Don’t wind her up, Jesse.’

‘I won’t!’ I laugh. I bloody will, and I’ll enjoy every moment of it.

‘Nana calls you a menace.’ Jacob looks up at me, his finger still hanging from his mouth. ‘She said you always have been and always will be. She accepts it now.’ His little shoulders shrug.

A burst of laughter escapes and now Ava is laughing with me, her dreamy chocolate eyes sparkling, her succulent lips begging me to take them. Then she ditches the apron, revealing her tight, tidy little figure. I’m not laughing now. I’m panting and reaching under the table to try and bash myself down. It’s a constant f**king battle. ‘I like your dress.’ My eyes take a lazy jaunt down the length of her black fitted dress as I plan on how I’ll remove it later. I might be kind and let her wear it again, she really does look amazing in it, but by later, I know I won’t be in any fit state to take my time.

‘You like all of mummy’s dresses.’ Jacob pipes up tiredly, snapping my eyes from that body—the one that sends me insane with want.

‘I do.’ I agree, giving his messy mop of blonde a ruffle. ‘Speaking of dresses, I’m going to find your sister.’

‘Okay,’ he agrees, turning his attention back to my phone and re-dipping his finger.

I jump up and go in search of Maddie, taking the stairs two at a time and bursting into her pink infested room. ‘Where’s my birthday girl?’

‘Here!’ she squeals, appearing from her wendy house.

I nearly choke on thin air. ‘You are not wearing that, little lady!’

‘Yes, I am!’ She runs across the room when I start marching towards her. ‘Maddie!’ What the f**king hell? She’s five! Five f**king years old, and I’m already ripping hot pants and cropped t-shirts from her tiny body. Where the f**k is that frilly pink thing?

‘Mummy!’ she screams, as I catch her ankle on the bed. She can scream the f**king house down. She is NOT wearing that. ‘Mummy!’

‘Maddie, come here!’

‘No!’ She kicks me—the little sod kicks me and dashes out the room, leaving me a pathetic heap of stressed out daddy on her pink, fluffy bed. I’ve been outdone by a five year old little girl. But that little girl is the daughter of my beautiful wife. I’m f**ked.

I stand and straighten myself out before going in pursuit. ‘Don’t run down the stairs, Maddie!’ I yell, practically throwing myself down them after her. I watch her tiny little hot panted arse disappear into the kitchen as she searches for the back-up of her mother.

I skid to a halt and watch her scrambling up Ava’s body. ‘What’s going on?’ Ava asks, looking at me like I’ve lost my mind. I might have.

‘Look at her!’ I wave my hands at my baby girl like a deranged screwball. ‘Look!’

Ava places her on the floor and crouches down, pushing my baby’s chocolate waves over her little shoulders and pulling the hem of that ridiculous t-shirt down. She can pull it down all she f**king likes. It’s not staying on my baby’s body. ‘Maddie,’ Ava’s gone into pacifying mode, something, perhaps, I should have thought about before blurting the death words. I should have learnt by now; don’t tell Maddie no. It’s rule number f**king one. ‘Daddy thinks your t-shirt is a little small.’

‘I do.’ I cut in, just for clarification. ‘Way too small.’

My little lady flips me a scowl. ‘He’s being unreasonable.’

I gasp and point an accusing glare at Ava. She has the decency to look apologetic. ‘See what you’ve done?’

‘Daddy has the power!’ Jacob sings, halting any chance I had of scoring a win.

It’s Ava who’s gasping now. ‘You need to remember, Ward. These little ears hear everything.’

I do the sensible thing and shut the f**k up. My wife can’t hide her exasperation, and I don’t expect her to. I expect her to remove that pathetic excuse of a t-shirt from my baby girl’s tiny body.

‘He can’t dictate my wardrobe!’ Maddie fires across the kitchen, her chubby arms folding across her little chest. I look at my defiant temptress, noting she’s failing to hide that f**king beautiful grin.

F*****g hell! My hands fly to my hair and yank. I’ll have none of the f**king stuff left soon, especially when Ava gets her hands on it. I momentarily forget my turmoil and smile, mentally feeling her tugging at it while I slam into that beautiful body. But I’m soon back to reality with my little lady drilling displeased brown eyes into me.

I watch as Ava reasons with her before grasping her little shoulders and turning her towards me. ‘Maddie is ready to compromise.’ Ava tilts her head with a humour her look.

It doesn’t make me feel any better. I’ve humoured Maddie before, and it resulted in me carting her out of Waitrose over my shoulder while she screamed the place down and kicked me to death. I look back to Ava with pleading eyes, pouting like an idiot, but she just shakes her head and gently urges my wilful little lady towards me.

She’s smiling at me now, her arms reaching up for me to take her. She melts my f**king heart but Jesus Christ, what the hell am I facing in the years to come? I’ll be bald or maybe even dead. Or I could be in prison because if any little f**ker lays his hands on her, I’ll rip their f**king heart out. I scoop her up and leave Ava to help my easy going boy put his converse on.

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