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The House on Jackson Street

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"And this is the third bedroom, which is small enough to convert into an office or another sort of room, in case..."

The realtor had been actively trying not to look at Elle's stomach since she'd noticed the lack of a wedding ring, but since she was now six months pregnant, the growing swell of her midsection was unmissable. Spencer had given her a piece of onyx on a leather thong, the match to the turquoise she'd given him when he'd first gone home to Washington, before the rest of their relationship had begun to unfold. A dark stone to his lighter one. That was better than any diamond he could have bought for her.

"What do you think, Spencer?"

She had to raise her voice because he was in the living room, studying the bare walls with a critical eye and imagining his bookshelves lined up against them. There was a picture window that faced the street, giving a view of trees and a slice of a small park. The weather was warming up, the thaw of a short winter. Two kids with a dog went past the window, and the profiler turned away from looking at the neighborhood scenery.

"This house was built in nineteen-seventy-eight," he said, padding over uncarpeted floors to the back of the house. Hardwood was better than carpet in his opinion, because if you had to pull up old floor coverings you could find everything from termites to black mold. "It seems to have been kept in good repair. No water damage, no faulty wiring, things like that."

"The last owners were very conscientious," the realtor said with a nod. "It needs some fresh paint and possibly up-to-date appliances, but you mentioned you wanted to judge our listings on character, not pristine condition."

He made a noise of agreement, having poked his head into the kitchen on his way past and noted the state of it. He expected to have to do some work on the place, but he could handle it, even if he had to do it by himself. If nothing else, he could recruit Morgan's assistance. Elle was peering through the clean glass of the large window in the bedroom, the one that would let in the sun in the mornings, and he pushed his fingers through his hair, tousling it.

"Give us a few minutes. I think we're still deciding."

The real estate agent left them to it, thinking that working on commission was hell. An interesting kind of hell now and then, because Mr. - Doctor - Reid had mentioned working for the FBI in passing, but depending on her paycheck from sale to sale was something she was hoping to grow out of.

"What do you really think?"

He'd eased up on Elle's left, and she was still looking out the window. There was a fenced-in yard, and she could see more trees and other houses. She'd just begun to get used to not catching sight of cacti and scrub brush as she went on car rides. One hand alighted absently on her burgeoning stomach. Her other reached for Spencer's wrist, and she smiled a little when he interlocked their fingers. The gradually lengthening days allowed for more sunlight, and her shadow moved when she turned to face him.

"What I really think?"

"Don't be shy now."

The brunette swatted at him lightly, looked away towards the rest of the room. She'd refused to be the cliche all her life, and she supposed this was just the next step. The life growing inside her was only the catalyst for the two of them moving on together, because with Spencer, for Spencer, she'd have done almost anything. One finger plucked at the collar of his dark button-down shirt, and he tipped his head to the side as her fingertip just barely touched the skin above the fabric.

"It'll need some work. I want to really make our own place. Think you'll be ready to move, wherever we choose? I know you've had your apartment for a long time. Lots of memories there."

"You've already made a really big change just coming here. Besides..."

He put his hand over her where it still rested on her stomach, and they had yet to feel the kid kick and didn't even know if it was a boy or a girl. But when Elle's mouth tucked in at the corners, proof that she was hiding the smile, he leaned down and brushed her forehead with his lips.

"We've got new memories to make."

She gingerly put her arms around his neck, her rapidly enlarging stomach bumping his as their mouths touched. Quick and chaste, but with the promise of more later. He patted her bottom lightly, and she risked pushing her hips into his before they both heard the agent returning, low heels making noise on the bare floors. He just barely managed to wipe the smirk off of his face before they were no longer alone.

"So!" The realtor's voice was bright, and she had the paperwork in her lightweight briefcase, which she'd left in the car. She hadn't wanted to seem too eager, not with new clients. Expecting or not, a house was an investment, not just a home. "What's the decision?"

Elle and Spencer exchanged a look, and he took a breath. Now that the third trimester was almost here, they needed the extra room. He'd been monitoring the pregnancy as it progressed, and whatever worries he had about the future had been tamped down by Elle's certainty that their path would be smooh.

"How long will it take it to clear escrow? My credit rating is almost perfect, so there shouldn't be any issues there."

"Depending on the bank, it shouldn't take long. Our agency does business with several financial institutions, so we have good relationships and connections. That can only help."

Elle was touching the stone she wore around her neck, toying with it as Spencer signed his name in several places. They'd agreed to co-own, so it would be her turn next. Three bedrooms, two baths, a screened-in porch and a yard for the dog. Maxie was currently at Garcia's, since Penelope had offered to take her for the day. That the tub in the master bathroom was big enough for two was just one of the perks.

This was a big step, but she was ready for it, and not just because of the kid. A future she had never dreamed of or planned for, but here it was. When Spencer handed her the pen, Elle took it without a qualm. Signed her name, and made herself ready for whatever happened next.