BLACK WHOLE HEART
“I don’t know how to choose,” Sierra laments, papers spread around her. “They all look so good.”
“You didn’t expect these many options, did you?” I lean forward in my spot on the sofa and cast my eye over the applications.
We moved on. Sierra signed the NDA, and we cut my family clean out of my life. Not a hard thing to do when my mother is all that remains. At least I kept the most important part—my surname.
Steele Institutes has a new board member. The old boys took some convincing, and I had to pay off a few when they opted to exit with a gag order over what they know. But the chair to the right of mine is now occupied by my wife.
“Perhaps you could conduct interviews?” I suggest.
Sierra lifts her gorgeous eyes to mine. “If I do that, I’ll get emotionally attached to them.”
“You aren’t choosing a rescue puppy, princess.’
“It feels as though I do.” She sighs, hand grazing over the pages. “Perhaps I should throw darts at them?”
“You might miss a perfect candidate, though.”
“Ugh.” Fingers threaded in her wavy hair, she groans. “Why did I come up with this idea again?”
“Because, as you told me, you want to be the guardian angel you wish you’d had.”
A huff escapes her nose, and she rises to her feet, stepping over the grant applicants to reach where I sit. “I never thought I’d associate the word philanthropist with you, you know?”
“Then don’t.” I lift an eyebrow, leaning back to allow her to seat herself on my lap. “It’s your name on the grant, not mine, for a reason.”
“Don’t pretend this doesn’t excite you.”
“It truly doesn’t.” Handing money out to people who are bad credit risks gives me shingles. “But it makes you happy, and that’s all I want.”
“Good answer.” Looping her arms over my shoulders, my beautiful wife leans in to place a kiss on the tip of my nose.
I jerk my chin upward and catch her mouth with mine before she has a chance to back away. I’ll never tire of her taste. Never tire of her curves beneath my palms, especially now she’s added more weight.
I was a ruined man when she met me, but the day I slid a ring on her finger, she destroyed me for the better.
I wouldn’t allow anyone else the power she has. Love gives you a license to do crazy things.
Insane ideas, like setting aside half a million per annum to help people out of poverty.
“Have you picked a destination yet?” I place a kiss to the curve of her throat. “You only have a month to decide.”
We set a date for the wedding, and my little jetsetter in training asked for a winter wonderland wedding. She wants the whole deal, reindeer and all. Apparently, Christmas was never a thing for her.
I plan to make up for every single lost one.
She’ll have her damn reindeer, as well as an enormous lighted tree, carol singers, and every Christmas feast item imaginable.
Knowing my selfless wife, she’ll probably invite the local shelter to eat it all. But I can’t deny her. Not when her generosity comes from a place of experience.
Unlike the trophy wives of my colleagues, she doesn’t do any of this out of the need to be seen doing good. She genuinely helps others from a place of understanding.
One of the many things I love about my little pit bull.
“If you want to stay decent, you better stop rubbing yourself against me like that.” I tilt my head and allow her to lick my earlobe.
“Charlie will be here soon.”
Sundays are for family—only, none of ours are blood relatives.
“Damn it. And when Meesha picks him up, he’ll be on time.”
My smile reaches my eyes as I nod. “Mm-hmm.”
“Ugh.” Sierra climbs off, hands resting atop her stomach.
We met and married within weeks. It only figures she wouldn’t have reservations about starting a family soon after we formally wed, either.
“Leave the applications for now,” I urge before she gets herself comfortable on the floor again. “We’ll look over them together after dinner.”
“You?” She scoffs. “help me with my charity work?”
“No. Me, supplying alcohol—water for you—while you and Meesha pick the recipients.”
She tosses a pen at me.
I chuckle, setting it down beside her work and reach for her hand. “Come on.”
“Where?” Her palm slides onto mine.
I head for the hallway. “We have ten minutes, maximum.”
Her laugh echoes off the walls as I lead her toward the bedroom. “As though you’d be able to finish in ten minutes.”
“When have I ever backed down from a challenge, princess?”