REVEAL! RESILIENCE, BB Birthright Book 6

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Hello, everyone!

Today I’m revealing the sixth book of the Brazen Bulls Birthright series: Resilience! This is Sam and Athena’s story.

It will go live on Saturday, 4 March. You can preorder it now on Amazon and elsewhere. If you’re a Goodreads user, you can add it to your TBR.

If you’ve been following the Bulls saga, you know that Sam is Simon and Deb’s eldest son (Simon and Deb are the leads of Blaze, Book 4 of the Brazen Bulls MC series) and Athena is Apollo and Jacinda’s (Honor, Book 5 of the BBMC series) only child. They were born about a month apart and have been best friends their whole lives.

Well, their relationship is about to change.

Resilience is a friends-to-lovers story, but it’s not the kind in which one of the friends has been secretly pining. Sam and Athena have been on the same platonic page all their lives—or, at least, they think they have. When things change for them (or when they realize things have changed for them), it happens as everything has always happened for them: together. More or less.

Before they realize there is another dimension to their love for each other, while they’re still thinking of themselves as ‘basically twins,’ they look elsewhere for romance. As Resilience opens, they are with other people. These other relationships will actually both become catalysts for Sam and Athena’s epiphany about each other.

There will be a content warning with this book. I’m not sharing it now because it’s a big spoiler, but it will be readily accessible in the book (hidden in the back with a link in the front, so those who don’t want to be spoiled won’t be).

Here’s the synopsis:

Born a month apart into the family of the Brazen Bulls MC, Athena Armstrong and Sam Spellman have been best friends from their earliest days. When they were little, the family always joked that they were boyfriend and girlfriend, but in reality they’ve never been anything but best friends. Completely platonic.

They consider themselves each other’s person, as close as twins.

But they’ve both struggled with romantic relationships. Sam, prospecting for the club and trying not to let that ordeal break him down, is starting to think he’s pulled in too many directions to fall in love. Or worse, that he’s just not capable of that kind of love. Athena, who is deaf, is caught in a troubling relationship with a man she feels is the best she can do. The pool of ASL-fluent people in Oklahoma is neither wide nor deep.

Sometimes the truth is so close it’s hard to see it clearly.

For Sam and Athena, only crisis will bring that truth into focus.

For a preview, I’m sharing Chapter 4, in Athena’s POV. This chapter occurs while Sam and Athena are dating other people.


Are you sure you don’t want me to come

up tonight? I can help set things up.

Besides, I won’t mind having a quiet

night in the woods with you tonight.

Hunter ended that text with a selection of lewd emojis.

It was Sam and Athena’s birthday weekend, and they were headed up to the club’s cabin in the Osage. The plan was to drive up together on Friday night, stock up the party supplies they’d bought, make sure everything in the cabin and the yard was in decent shape, get the boat and jet skis to the dock and make sure everything was gassed up, set up the tents, make sure there was firewood, and generally get the cabin ready to party. Hunter and Lark were both planning to come up, separately, around noon tomorrow, for a few hours of quiet couple time before everybody else descended on the place for the party that would start Saturday afternoon and go to about noon Sunday.

Athena looked across the cab of Sam’s pickup. Blanche half-dozed between them with her head in Sam’s lap. Sam’s hand was under her ear, absently scratching. Blanche took her ‘off-the-clock’ time seriously, and she loved Sam like he was her back-up person. Dogs knew when somebody was Team Dog.

Sam had left Tank back home, since he got hyper around a lot of people, and when a bear-sized dog got the zoomies, life, limb, and property were at risk. Blanche was along because she’d be working. This party would be their first really chaotic social event together when they were flying without a net. No simulated chaos, no trainer present, not even any parental supervision. Just Athena and Blanche at a big weekend-long party.

Athena wasn’t worried. Before Blanche, she’d managed okay at their previous parties, and about half their invited guests this weekend, as in the past, were also deaf. There could even be a couple other hearing dogs at the party. And having Blanche with her meant that she’d be able to do more of the outdoor stuff, like actually get in the lake without needing somebody to babysit her.

Sam was worried, but Sam was always worried anytime Athena took a step out of her bubble.

She reached out and tapped Sam’s shoulder. He was driving, so he couldn’t watch her sign for long, but she quickly told him, “Hunter’s asking to come up tonight.”

Sam thought about that for a second. Then, with one hand, he asked, “Do you want him to?”

Athena didn’t need a second to think. She shook her head. “I like having Friday be just us.”

“Me too.”

Returning to her phone, she typed, I’m sure. We’ve got a lot of boring setup to do. But you’re staying Sunday night, too, right? We’ll have our quiet night under the stars then, when everybody else is gone. xo

Hunter read the message. The dots came up and did their little dance for several seconds before his one-letter reply popped up: K.

With a sigh, Athena leaned forward and pushed her phone onto the truck’s dash. Hunter was irritated again. He didn’t like being thwarted from what he wanted. That wasn’t specific to any conflicted feelings he had about Sam; Hunter simply liked to have his way. He recognized it about himself and tried to keep a lid on it, but it leaked out around that lid. Thus, she got terse replies like that one.

Sam waved and got her attention. “Is he mad?”

“Irritated, yeah. It’s okay. It’ll be fine when he gets here tomorrow.”

She hoped it would be fine, at least.

Sometimes she kind of wished she’d grown up with a girl best friend. There would be a lot fewer complications in her romantic life if she had. But then she wouldn’t have Sam. He was worth all the complications.


The cabin was pretty decent. It was old, but they kept it in good shape, and anyway, it was old in the cool, kitschy way a weekend cabin at the lake should be. About ten years ago, the club had done a light remodel of the place, tearing up ancient linoleum flooring and peeling wallpaper, laying down distressed laminate flooring and putting up new wallpaper, upgrading the bathroom fixtures and the kitchen appliances, stuff like that. Athena had preferred it with all the old stuff (it had been like a trip to the 1950s), but they’d done a pretty good job of keeping the vibe intact. It smelled different now, though. She missed whatever the old smell had been.

There were three bedrooms, a bath and a half plus an old outhouse they kept in good shape for those times when two toilets weren’t enough. The living room was huge and had two fold-out sofas. A big screened porch overlooking the lake led off the living room. It had some old Florida-style outdoor sofas that had been used for sleeping occasionally as well. The kitchen was also huge, with a table that could seat ten, though when there were that many people at the cabin, they were much more likely to be eating outside, where the firepit and picnic tables were.

They’d have more guests this weekend than there were places to sleep, so after Sam and Athena unloaded their party supplies and got the jet skis and the speedboat out of the boathouse and over to their dock, they spent more than an hour pitching four four-person dome tents and dropping rolled sleeping bags in them. The ground near the cabin was level and covered in pine needles and an almost silky layer of dirt under those, so the people who’d be passing out in those tents would be comfortable enough.

Blanche was at Athena’s side all afternoon, doing her job, which was to be aware of their surroundings in ways Athena could not and alert her to those things she couldn’t be aware of.

Athena actually did pretty well on her own, but that was mainly because she rarely left her little bubble of school and family when she was on her own. That bubble was set up for a Deaf person—for her specifically. She wanted someday to get an apartment and be truly independent, and getting a hearing dog had been her parents’ suggestion for how they’d feel comfortable letting her fly the nest.

She’d balked at first; a service dog seemed like just a different kind of minder, and what her parents were comfortable with didn’t officially matter, seeing as she was an adult. But she didn’t like them to worry, so she eventually arranged it in her head that a service dog was just a cuddly pet with buffs for protection and alertness, and then she agreed.

After going through training with Blanche, she understood that a service dog was really the opposite—a wary protector with buffs for cuddliness and lovableness—but she also understood that Blanche was not a minder but a partner.

Case in point: there were probably a dozen or more squirrels cavorting through the yard this evening, and countless birds swooping around. Blanche gave sufficient heed to the wildlife to know where they were and no more. She was wearing her vest, so she was working. Thus she did not care about the animals until and unless she needed to alert Athena to some danger they presented. She stayed at Athena’s side and surveyed the area.

Take that vest off, though, and Blanche would be one-hundred percent doofy Goldendoodle.

By the time everything was set up, the sun was low and golden, reflecting a bright path over the lake. Sam started a fire while Athena went to the kitchen to season some raw patties and collect the supplies for a simple dinner of burgers and potato salad. She brought down a six-pack cooler with three bottles of Stella for Sam and three cans of Diet Coke for her.

They sat in Adirondack chairs facing the fire and the lake beyond and ate the little meal they’d made. Blanche got to share in the meal, too; Sam had grilled her up a plain burger.

This was why Athena had told Hunter not to come up tonight. She didn’t want to be a girlfriend tonight. She wanted to be a best friend. She wanted to be calm and peaceful with the one person in all the world who made no demands on her, had no expectations of her.

She looked over at her best friend, who’d finished his three burgers and now was resting back in his chair, his head upturned and his eyes closed. She knew he was listening to the night sounds as they began to rise. He’d told her how much he loved the sounds of night creatures, and he’d tapped out the rhythm of the whippoorwill’s song on her palm once, to try to give her some semblance of understanding. She still didn’t really understand, but she loved to watch him like this, at real peace, truly enjoying a moment. He’d been struggling with that for the past year or so, and this week had been particularly hard on him.

Athena leaned back and looked up as well, focused on the night sky. Her father had been born on the day of the moon landing and had thus been named Neil Armstrong by his astronomy-buff father. Gramps had passed on his love of the stars, and of mythology, to his son, who’d passed them on to Athena. They had a really nice telescope that they took into the country sometimes to spend hours of the night studying the sky.

On this new-moon night, deep in the woods, she could look up with only her eyes and name an array of constellations: Pegasus. Andromeda. Delphinus. Aquarius. And more. Not to mention the planets in full view: Neptune. Saturn. Jupiter. What a magnificent thing the sky was. How many marvels and wonders it held.

Athena and her dad had been avidly following the images arriving from the James Webb telescope since its launch. Each image was astonishingly beautiful and just plain astonishing. She always felt something like vertigo when she first saw a new image, or if she studied any image for a long time. The sheer vastness and fullness of space was a lot to get one puny human mind around.

She absolutely believed there was life beyond Earth; how could there not be? How completely arrogant it would be to think that in all that vast, elaborate fullness, only humans evolved the capacity for reason and invention? Humans weren’t the only species on Earth to have evolved such capacity; studies had shown multiple species of animals to be problem solvers and tool users, just as studies had shown that many animals had real emotions as well. Some birds, like corvids and parrots, held actual grudges and vendettas. Dolphins were capable of meanness and spite. Many species could demonstrate kindness for its own sake. Of course other planets in other galaxies had been created with the right chemistry to support life; of course life had evolved on such planets. At its foundation, that was all life was: the right mix of chemicals evolving over time.

Thinking about space made Athena feel simultaneously insignificant and powerful, overwhelmed and hopeful.

Sam’s fingers brushed her arm, and she looked over. He was smiling. “You look so happy,” he signed.

She smiled back—actually, she realized she’d already been smiling. “I am.”

“You want to get a blanket and go down to the dock? Get the trees out of the way?”

Her smile grew so much she could almost see her own cheeks. She nodded. It would be impossible for her to count how many times over the years they’d lain together on a blanket under a wide night sky and looked up at the stars. Sam knew how much she loved them, and he loved them, too—probably he loved them because she did, but that was okay. He always asked her to tell him which constellations she saw, even though he knew the big ones himself.

This was why she hadn’t wanted Hunter here tonight, and she knew it was why Sam had told Lark to come tomorrow, too. It was a best-friends’ birthday weekend, and this was the first part of their celebration. For them alone. The party would be fun, and she’d be glad to have Hunter here tomorrow, but this night was the highlight for Athena.

When everything was perfect and she could trust that nothing would ruin it.


The next morning, Athena woke to the sensation of being shaken. She opened her eyes to a sunny room—ow—and a large Goldendoodle sitting at the side of the bed, pushing her shoulder with a paw.

When Blanche saw that Athena was awake, she went to the door, nosed the knob, and turned to her. Either there was something going on, or Blanche wanted something, outside the door.

“Potty?” Athena signed, and Blanche gave the alert that meant, essentially, yes.

Athena grabbed her phone to check the time. After eight. Of course the dog had to pee. So did she. Like a lot. Her pee place was on the way to Blanche’s, so she got firsts. She tossed the covers back and let Blanche from the room.

The cabin was bright and quiet, and it smelled of coffee. Sam was an obnoxiously early riser, so he’d probably been up for two hours or more, though they’d lain on the dock last night until well past midnight.

Athena ducked into the big bathroom and did a quick pee, then let Blanche out and stood on the screened porch to watch so she’d know when the dog was ready to come in. The first thing she noticed was the blue roof of the canopy tent, on the beach near the dock. They hadn’t put that up last night, so Sam had done it this morning already. The boy was all about responsibility and had probably done a dozen other chores while she’d snoozed the morning away.

He wasn’t working now, exactly. He’d pulled the punching bag from the shed and was beating the shit out of it beside the big pine tree. It looked like he’d been at it a while; he wore only a pair of black basketball shorts, and sweat ran down his broad bare back in thick streams.

He saw Blanche and called her over for some love. Since the dog wasn’t wearing her vest, she went and dropped to the ground to give Sam her belly. Athena smiled as she watched them love each other.

When the moment was over, Sam stood. He turned and grinned when he saw Athena on the porch.

It was ridiculous how much bigger and stronger he was than her. Being born ten weeks early and barely cooked, and having an array of related health issues, especially during her key years for development, Athena had always been tiny. She’d stopped growing about a quarter inch before she hit five feet. If she weighed herself immediately after a Thanksgiving-size dinner, she might hit ninety pounds. A stiff breeze could push her around. She got mistaken for a child all the time and would probably still be getting carded when she was old and grey.

Sam, on the other hand, was six-two and almost two hundred pounds. He’d done physical work since he was a kid, and he had the muscles to show for it. When they went to an amusement park or a fair, someplace with a lot of people and a lot of walking—which meant a lot of Athena getting run into—invariably he’d end up carrying her piggyback for the last hour or two, with about all the effort he put into wearing a backpack. And he could literally rest his arm on her head—which he did, with great enjoyment, when he felt she needed some humbling.

Athena was tiny, but she wasn’t helpless. Her father was a Bull and her mother a private investigator, who was also a black belt in Krav Maga. Athena could shoot handguns and rifles with accuracy, and she was green belt in Krav Maga. She’d wanted to go higher, but her size was an issue, and she’d finally gotten frustrated and stopped trying to advance. At some point, it didn’t matter how tough you were if your opponent was three times your size and could toss you aside like an unloved Care Bear. She still worked out the skills she had, though.

“Good morning, Frodo!” Sam signed. “Sleep well?”

“Yep. You?”

“Pretty good. I think I got the last jobs done, so the morning’s ours. You want to swim? It’s still quiet out there, so this would be a good time.”

He meant that there weren’t a lot of people on the lake yet. This was Labor Day weekend, so the area was crowded with people eking out their last summer hurrah. Later today, when their own party was hopping, the lake would be crowded with boaters, skiers, and swimmers.

Athena swam all the time in their pool at home, but she’d never been able to really swim in this lake; it made her mother far too anxious about what she wouldn’t hear coming. While the other kids got to dive off the back of the boat, or swim far into the deep water, Athena had never been allowed to do more than wade, like a little kid. That anxiety had been a little bit contagious, too, so she hadn’t tried it even after Mom couldn’t stop her. But now she had Blanche and Sam to keep her safe.

Blanche was coming up the porch steps, so Athena let her in. Then she turned back to Sam and signed, “Yes! Swimming please! When’s Lark coming up? Noon, like Hunter?”

He was walking toward the cabin, but he answered as he went. “Around then, yeah.” He checked his watch as he climbed the steps. As he came through the door, he grinned and signed, “That gives us more than three hours to ourselves. Let’s do this!”


It. Was. Awesome.

To be honest, they played in water up to Athena’s chest most of the time, just horsing around, splashing each other, chasing a beach ball around, but they did swim out into the deep water, too. It was cool and had a fascinating feel around her legs, as if it were thicker than the water in their pool.

They put Blanche in her service-dog water vest, and, being half golden retriever, she was utterly gleeful as she paddled around keeping her ears on the job.

About an hour or so after they’d first waded in, Blanche alerted that she wanted to go back. It was not a good idea to ignore a service dog’s alert, so they made their way onto the little private beach around their dock. Blanche continued to alert, even doing the thing Athena thought of as ‘herding.’ She wanted them to go back to the cabin.

“I think somebody’s here,” Sam signed, squinting toward the cabin. From here, they could see only the roof and part of the screened porch.

Athena nodded. “Yeah, I think so.”

They gathered up their towels and the six-pack cooler they’d filled with bottled water and a big bunch of grapes, and they headed back to the cabin, lake water squelching from their swim shoes with every step. Such a weirdly wonderful sensation.

As they topped the rise, Athena sighed. Lark was the one who’d arrived early. She was sitting at one of the picnic tables, typing something on her phone. A floral hardside carry-on suitcase, a few reusable grocery bags, and a large bakery box sat on the table beside her. Sam had put her in charge of the cake.

Lark was really pretty, with long, layered blonde hair and big blue eyes. Athena was a little jealous of her looks, especially her body. She was tall, like five-eight or so, and curvy in the Marilyn Monroe way. Nobody would ever mistake her for a child.

She was always done up perfectly, like she was ready for her closeup—which she probably was. Lark was Extremely Online and had thousands of followers on TikTok and Instagram. Her sparkly phone hardly ever left her hand.

She must have heard them coming. Either that, or Sam had called out to her, because she looked over her shoulder, saw them, and got up from the picnic table—and immediately crossed her arms like she was mad.

Seriously? Already? Athena sighed again.

As they approached, Lark looked Athena over and seemed suddenly even madder. She turned to Sam and, as she began walking toward them, said, “I’ve been texting you for twenty minutes. Where have you been? What were you doing?”

She was angry and her mouth was moving fast, but Athena understood the words she made. She looked down at herself to see what Lark had seen, but it was just her puny body and its random assortment of ancient surgery scars, most of which were showing because she had on her old yellow two-piece. Her hair was back in a ponytail and probably looked like a rat’s nest after being in the lake.

On the other hand, Lark wore an adorable pink plaid romper with tied spaghetti straps and a sweetheart neckline that put her impressive cleavage right out in front. Her hair was done in a fluffy ponytail full of beachy waves, and her curtain bangs were styled to perfectly frame her prettily made-up face. She was also wearing pink ankle-strap espadrilles with about a three-inch wedge, which was silly. Girlfriend was going to sprain an ankle walking around here in those shoes.

Leaving the love-hate birds to their argument, Athena waved at Lark (who knew maybe two ASL signs, the ones everybody knew) and directed herself toward the picnic table. She’d take the cake and the grocery bags inside and give them their privacy. Though she couldn’t hear their fight and wasn’t looking at them, she knew that her presence itself would be a drain on them both.

When she saw the cake through the cellophane window in the box, she laughed with real amusement and only a hint of irritation. In blue icing across the whole of the basic sheet cake for their joint birthday was written: Happy Birthday Sam!


She set the cake on the table and put away the groceries Lark had brought—more Solo cups, napkins, and Chinet plates (which they probably didn’t need), a six-pack of grapefruit White Claw, a party-size bag of tortilla chips, and what looked like the makings of some fancy take on salsa. She’d just turned to head back for a shower when the Sam and Lark came in. They looked like they’d talked things out enough to be good again.

Athena was trying to get Sam’s attention to tell him she was claiming firsts on the shower when he looked down at the cake on the table, and she saw his face do the thing it did when he was angry and trying not to let it get the best of him.

When he spoke, he didn’t sign as well, and he didn’t make an effort to be sure Athena could see his mouth, but she saw enough to understand the gist. He was dressing Lark down for not including Athena on the cake.

That boy was very dumb about women sometimes.

Athena clapped to get his attention before he could get too far into the quicksand. When he looked her way she told him, “It’s not a big deal. It’s just cake.”

“No, it’s not just cake,” he said and signed. “It’s our birthday cake. For our birthday party. Which Lark obviously knows.”

Lark glared at Athena and said something, but her lips barely moved, so Athena only maybe caught the word keep. However, whatever she’d said made Sam’s face practically collapse in on itself. His fist even clenched.

Obviously, Lark hadn’t been thanking Athena for coming to her defense.

As they started fighting again, Athena ducked out, and she and Blanche went back to the bedroom to collect clean clothes and get a shower.


When she was done with her shower, the cabin was empty and there was a note on the table beside the controversial cake. Sam’s abysmal handwriting informed her that he and Lark had gone into town for another one.

That was probably going to be a really fun trip. Not.

Athena slathered sunscreen on, got a water bottle from the fridge, grabbed her tablet, and went with Blanche to sit in the yard under the trees and read.


Before she’d been able to finish a single chapter, Blanche alerted that somebody was here. Athena checked the time; it hadn’t been even half an hour. Town was more than half an hour from the cabin, so if they were back already, things had gotten even worse. Happy birthday, Samwise, she thought as she turned to look around the back of her chair.

Hunter had just climbed out of his Accord.

Athena smiled. He was such a dork, trying to look all cool in navy Bermuda shorts and an untucked, pale-yellow Oxford shirt, Ray-Bans on his face and preppy boat shoes on his feet. Like he was headed to brunch at a country club and not a lakeside party where half the guests were Bulls or Bulls-adjacent and the other half usually saw him in his gym-teacher uniform, consisting of royal-blue knit shorts and a teal polo with the school logo on the chest.

She stood and headed toward him, waving to draw his attention from the cabin. When he saw her, he grinned. If he’d really been annoyed yesterday, he seemed to have gotten over it.


“Hi, beautiful.” He reached her and slipped his arms around her waist. As he bent low to kiss her, she wrapped her arms around his neck.

Hunter was the only person she’d had sex with and only the fourth she’d kissed. It was possible that, when compared against every sexually active person in the world, he wasn’t a standout, but in her sliver of experience he was an excellent lover all around.

“Where is everybody?” he asked when their greeting was over.

“Sam and Lark went to town for some supplies. Nobody else will be here for a few hours yet.”

He nodded. His eyes were moving all around, taking in the property. This was the first time she’d asked him up here. Actually, no. She’d asked him up last year, for their twenty-first birthday blow-out, and he’d broken up with her instead.

But she wasn’t going to think about that. The point was, he’d never been here before.

“You want a tour?” she asked.

“Sure,” he answered and pulled her close for another kiss.

Deciding to start with the best parts, Athena led him down to the lake first, with Blanche walking between them.

She and Hunter rarely held hands, and never for very long. She didn’t know if it was a typical thing for Deaf people everywhere, but she and Hunter felt the same way about it, and so did those friends she’d asked: having their hand held was like being gagged.

Even if she wasn’t trying to communicate, she got anxious when her hand was held for more than a second or two, and if it went on longer than that, she started to get sweaty and nauseated. It was silly; she could sign well enough with one hand, and she’d need only pull her hand loose to be able to communicate normally, but the anxiety was still there.

Her recurring anxiety dream was losing her hands. The situation varied, from simply looking down and discovering that her hands had disappeared, to some kind of grievous injury, like having them sawed off or crushed. It was pretty fucked up. Her time in therapy predated the first instance of the dream, so she’d never talked to a professional about it, but she didn’t really have to, did she? Her hands were the way she could make herself understood, make herself known. They held her very identity. Of course she’d be terrified of losing them.

“It’s beautiful here,” Hunter signed when they stepped onto the dock.

Athena nodded and looked around. The lake was already busier than it had been when Sam and she had been goofing around in the water, and it would get busier still as the afternoon deepened, but yes, it was beautiful here. Anyway, she didn’t mind it when it got busy. She loved to watch the boats flying by, and the beautiful, foamy wakes they trailed.

“The boats are yours, too?” Hunter asked.

He meant the speedboat and the jet skis they’d pulled from the boathouse. “Not mine, the club’s. But they’re ours to use this weekend.”

“So I can take out a jet ski?”

“Have you ever ridden one before?” Jet skis, like motorcycles, were a little dicey for Deaf folks—certainly not impossible, but it was more dangerous than other forms of travel and took some preparation and precaution. A weekend like Labor Day, at a busy lake, was probably a bad time for anybody to learn to ride a jet ski, but it was for sure a terrible time for a Deaf person to learn.

Athena had only ever ridden tandem on motorcycle or jet ski, and it had nothing to do with her deafness (well, it had a little to do with it, in the form of anxious and overprotective parents). She was just too damn little to control the things well.

Happily, Hunter was nodding. “My folks used to rent them when we were kids. They’re fun.”

“Then we should totally go out! But not until Sam and Lark get back. Come on, I’ll show you the rest of the place.”

As she and Blanche headed back up the hill toward the cabin, Hunter grabbed her wrist and drew her back.

“Wait,” he signed, smiling. “Come here.” He pulled her close, held her face in his hands, and kissed her dizzy.

“Thank you for asking me up here,” he signed when he let her go. “I love you so much.”

Athena smiled. They were always at their best when it was just the two of them. Was it like that with all couples?

“I love you, too,” she told him without any internal conflict. She wasn’t always sure whether she loved him or not, but right now, she felt it. She gave him what she hoped was a saucy smirk and added, “They’ll be gone for at least another half hour. Want to see our bedroom?”

Hunter laughed and kissed her again.

©2022 Susan Fanetti

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