As soon as Eva decided what she wanted to do with her remaining furniture, he’d deal with renting her condo.
He was in no hurry. He’d rushed her to the altar, but he could be patient as they adjusted to being married.
Now, the sound of distant music reached him, and abruptly, he went still and listened.
He could just make out the notes of some classical arrangement.
He looked up the grand curving stairwell to the floor above. The music seemed to be coming from the second level.
Undoing his tie completely, he climbed the stairs two at a time.
At the landing, he let his gaze sweep the series of closed doors. Then after a moment, he strode purposely toward one of the unfurnished guest bedrooms.
After he turned the knob and pushed the door open, surprise rooted him to the spot.
Eva kicked and dipped and let her arms fan out in the empty room, oblivious to his presence. She was clad in a black leotard and matching ballet slippers, her hair in a ponytail.
An iPod sat in a corner, set in a doughnut-shaped speaker base. Music—ethereal and pretty—drifted through the room as Eva rose en pointe, her arms gracefully outstretched.
Bemused, Griffin held his breath. He knew she’d taken ballet lessons for years, but he hadn’t had a clue she’d continued to dance.
Watching her, he felt his body tighten and stir. She appeared delicate and airy as she moved.
When she did a pirouette, he could see the exact moment she caught sight of him.
Her eyes widened, but there was no break in her spin, and seconds later, she dipped as the music died away.
Seconds later, she straightened, her arms falling to her sides, and he started to clap.
"Hi," she said, her heart visibly pounding from her exertions.
The corners of his mouth lifted. "Hi yourself. I didn’t know you still danced," he said.
"Only at home, and for fun."
"Any other accomplishments I should be aware of?"
She lifted a shoulder negligently. "Ballet and pool…and, oh yes, party planning. That’s the extent of it."
His lips quirked up again. "Impressive."
She blew a breath, causing the tendrils of hair around her face to lift and fall. "When I started Occasions by Design, I’d take any account that walked in the door." She looked him in the eye, as if daring him to laugh. "I wound up doing a lot of kids’ parties—where I’d dress up as a ballerina."
"That must have been some interesting way to start a company," he said, keeping a poker face.
"I didn’t mind. I always wanted a big family, and it was one way to be around lots of kids."
This time, he let himself smile. "I can just picture you in the whole pink tulle outfit."
It dawned on him that Eva must really have an affinity for kids. The possibility of infertility must have hit her hard. At the same time, he realized the thought of having lots of kids with her didn’t bother him in the least.
"Yes, it was pink tulle," Eva confirmed. "I could have been a cake topper."
He laughed. "Now, about this big family idea—"
"Is your longing for a big family because—"
"—I was an only child?" She shook her head. "I don’t want you to think I was unhappy, because my parents doted on me. But when I was at friends’ houses, I could see how much fun they had with their siblings."
He understood the truth of the last statement. "After my parents died, it was good to have my siblings around."
Eva looked surprised. "You didn’t think of taking care of your siblings a burden?"
Griffin guessed there was a good chance someone—maybe Marcus, or perhaps Monica—had provided Eva with some details about his life in the years following his parents’ death.
He pulled off his tie with one hand. "There were times when I thought of it as a burden," he admitted, "but now I also appreciate how lucky I was."
"I like your brother and sister," she remarked. "They’re nice people."
"But I’m not?" he teased, and then watched her flush.
He was beginning to enjoy coaxing adorable flustered reactions out of her.
"You’re home early," she commented, instead of answering him directly.
"Yes." They were in this marriage to get her pregnant, so how did he announce to his wife that he was running home because he couldn’t stand being away from her?
She glanced around them. "I didn’t mean to commandeer this room for my ballet escapes."
"It’s your house, too," he responded as their eyes met. "And I don’t mind."
He really didn’t mind. He could get used to coming home to his wife dancing for him. Definitely.
"How about we make this room the ballet room?" he suggested. "It’s empty, and I can’t think of a better way to use it."
She looked doubtful. "You don’t mind?"
He smiled seductively. "No—especially if I get to enjoy private dance performances."
"I think that can be arranged," she responded huskily.
He moved toward her. "Good."
He drew her into his arms, and she sighed just before his lips met hers.
And then there was no more talking for a long time as he showed her just how much of a patron of dance he could be.
* * *
Griffin woke feeling damn good.
The bedroom was still dark, however, and a quick check of the bedside clock revealed it was just after midnight.
Looking over at the space next him, he realized Eva wasn’t in bed. He frowned, and then figured she must have woken up and gone to get a drink or something.
He let his head sink against his pillow again, and his mind wander over the events of the previous evening.
From the newly designated ballet room, he’d carried Eva back to their bedroom, where they’d made love sprawled across their bed.
Afterward, they’d had fun preparing dinner. Since they’d married, he’d discovered that Eva’s party planning skills had spilled over into ancillary areas, and she was a wiz at whipping together diverse ingredients into a quick meal.
She’d quickly prepared a chicken carbonara dish, while he’d tossed a baby spinach salad with almond slivers and orange slices.
After dinner, they’d cleaned up together, falling into a routine that had taken root between them in the brief time they’d been married. And afterward, they’d lingered for hours over coffee in the living room while soft jazz played in the background.
As on many previous nights, their conversation had ranged far and wide. He’d discovered that while he liked jazz, her musical taste tended toward classical tunes that were ballet standards. But they were both fans of the San Francisco 49ers and, it turned out, hiking and mountain biking.