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Bad Boy's Baby(156)

By´╝ÜSosie Frost

I rubbed my belly. He didn’t tell me, but I should have known. He returned from D.C. and rolled with me over every square inch of the library. He took me so aggressively, just to prove his masculinity to himself, as an outlet for the aggression and frustration building in him.

And I never asked. I only argued. I only made it harder on him.

“How far along are you?”

I pulled my hand away from my tummy. Gretchen smiled.

“Sorry,” she said. “I saw the candy and the salty snacks. I assumed it wasn’t stress.”

“You assumed right.”

Gretchen leaned closer. “When did you find out?”

I shrugged. “Only a little bit ago, I’m still wrapping my head around it.”

“Does Zach know?”

I grimaced. “I told him just before he went down. Thinking that wasn’t the best time.”

“Men are so melodramatic.”

I felt bad laughing. Gretchen took my hand.

“How…” The nausea flared. I stuffed crackers in my mouth until I convinced my body I was a chipmunk instead of an expectant mother.

Gretchen understood. “Zach and my brother served together. But Robby died in the same attack that almost killed Zach. He said that Robby was the reason he had a chance to live, so he vowed to take care of me.” She shrugged. “When he got his trust, he gave me the money to open my own practice. Said it was the least he could do.”

Of course he did. It was never about the money. Not with him.

Gretchen looked nervous, twisting her fingers in her lap. “I promised to keep an eye on him after his injury. I should have done a better job.”

“You didn’t know.”

“Those headaches…”

“He hid them. He wouldn’t have told anyone.”

Not even me. Or was I not listening?

Gretchen looked up. “Do you love him?”

The lump formed in my throat. It didn’t feel right to say it if he wasn’t there.

“He invaded every aspect of my life. Now I can’t imagine one without him.”

“Hold onto that. It’ll get him through this.”

I ran a hand through my hair. “Is the surgery dangerous?”

“Doctor Milbower will do the procedure. He’s very good.”

That wasn’t my question, and her answer scared the hell out of me. “I don’t want good. I want the best.”

Gretchen’s eyebrow rose. I met her gaze.

“I mean the best,” I said. “Find out who he or she is. I’ll pay for their airfare, for their lodging, and for whatever they’d charge to do this surgery.”

“Shay, it doesn’t work this way.”

She wasn’t the first person to underestimate my bank account. “For me it does. Price is no option. I want Zach healed, better than he was before. Can you help me?”

Gretchen smiled. “You really do love him, don’t you?”

“I’m not going to miss my chance to tell him.”

Chapter Twenty Two - Zach

Most men didn’t survive getting their heads nearly blown off. I wasn’t most men.

I once considered myself fortunate for surviving the IED. After waking up in the hospital the second time, I decided I was the luckiest son of a bitch still barely breathing.

The miracles kept on coming. My eyes focused on the chair next to my bed. Shay curled in the cushions, softly sleeping.

I had enough opiates pumping through me to clear out a whole poppy field in Afghanistan, but I trusted my blurry vision.

Shay was the most beautiful woman on the planet. A woman I almost let slip through my fingers. Someone challenging and courageous and so damn vulnerable it hurt my own heart.

She had to be mine. I wasn’t giving her up.

That was a shit-ton to take in while a half dozen tubes pricked me in a variety of uncomfortable locations. I smelled antiseptic. I tasted dry chemicals. I was pretty sure my head cracked open again.

But there she was. Sleeping by my side in a hospital room.

Like she cared.

Like she loved me.

And it only took a brush with death to get her to admit it.

I shifted. I couldn’t remember a damn thing besides getting upset. I yelled at her. I threatened to leave for some bullshit reason. I might have given her my half of the estate.

But she trumped me. Had I not crashed against the ground, her revelation would have laid me out flat.

She was pregnant.

My heart monitor beeped too fast. It woke her. Shay’s gasp warned me, but I didn’t have time to adjust the tubes pouring every type of liquid from me. She collapsed at my side.

I welcomed the soft brush of her lips against mine, the herald to her chastisement.

“Don’t you ever scare me like that again, Zach Harden. You had me pacing for five hours while they knocked out your skull and put it back together.”