I reach under the table and press my hand to Liam’s leg. His hand covers mine and we exchange a warm stare. Not for the first time, I am moved by how alike Liam and I are. How alone we were in a world of billions of people until we found each other. I know why he battles being over-protective. I can’t lose him or this child.

“Need anything else?” Tellar asks me.

I frown at him. “What’s happening? Why are you acting like a doting Papa Bear?”

He shrugs. “You’re pregnant and my mom and four sisters taught me right.”

“Four sisters?”

“That’s right. Four. Three of whom have had babies. So, I ask again. Need anything else?”

I look at his gun and then back at him, a tiny prick in my bubble. He’s not just family. He’s a trained protector and killer. “Yes,” I reply. “I need you to not need that. I didn’t notice it the first night we met.”

“I use an ankle holster in public, but this is easier to access.”

“Right. And you need it to be easy to access.”

“This is where I tell her the truth,” Tellar says to Liam. “Yes. I do.”

“Yes, baby, he does,” Liam agrees, drawing my attention. “And I’d feel better if you had one and knew how to shoot it.”

“I don’t like guns, but I can shoot and if I wasn’t afraid the registration would somehow make me more trackable, I’d have bought one long ago.”

Liam leans back in his chair, his dark hair intensifying the aqua of his piercing eyes. “Not the answer I expected.”

“Yeah well, it wasn’t by choice, though I’m not beyond seeing the value of knowing how to protect myself. Learning to shoot was the condition for me traveling with my father. He was concerned about females in a foreign country that isn’t female-friendly.” Tellar sits down with a plate piled high with eggs, potatoes and a bagel and my eyes go wide. “And apparently lugging around a big weapon takes a lot of energy.”

Tellar’s eyes light up. “Don’t you know it, honey.”

Liam ignores the exchange, sitting up, elbows on the table. “Was your father’s concern a general one, or based on a specific threat?”

“We had various issues over my mother and me not covering our faces and bodies.”

Liam presses, “Anyone in particular you remember that we should look into?”

“No. No one specific. I can tell you think this is a potential lead, but really it’s not that uncommon over there. It happens.”

“An interesting thing about Sheridan I think would be well-timed right about now,” Derek interjects. “He’s not only richer than Liam, which is pretty damn rich, he’s richer because he’s into oil. He’s got a connection to Jasmine Heights and now we’ve linked him to Egypt.”

I twist in my seat to face him. “We weren’t involved in oil,” I say but even as I do I hear my mother shouting, and I hug myself against the shiver racing down my spine.

***

Monday morning comes and Liam leaves me with Tellar to take care of business at the bank, but he’s back in time for Dr. Murphy’s visit. “Why don’t we just use the bed?” she suggests, very proper in a navy suit dress while I’ve opted for the distressed jeans and red sweater I wanted to wear before they no longer fit.

I claim the edge of the mattress and she joins me and begins checking my vitals. Liam, as promised, refuses to be sent from the room.

“How is she?” Liam asks, towering over us, and looking incredibly, intimately male in a dark suit and pressed white shirt, his blue eyes glinting bluer with the sun and water behind him.

“Her vitals are good and so was her blood work. I’m setting the due date as June 26th.”

My eyes connect with Liam’s and I expect excitement, but I find intensity, worry. He doesn't even comment on the date. “She hit her head at one point when she fell and needed stitches.”

“My recommendations haven't changed. Acupuncture and therapy. I can do an acupuncture session today before I leave.” She glances at me. “Are you eating?”

I nod. “Yes. Now that I’m rested, I seem less nauseous.”

“Can she travel?”

Dr. Murphy gives Liam a keen inspection. “Does she need to travel?”

“Yes.”

“Where?”

“International. I’m not at liberty to tell you more.”

“I need more to prepare her vaccinations. She has to be protected.”

“Go wide,” Liam says. “We might be one place and move to another.”

“When are you leaving?”

“Tomorrow morning.”

I am on my feet in an instant, closing the short distance between him and me. “Tomorrow?”

His hands come down on my shoulders, warm and solid. “Yes. I told you to trust your instincts and now I’m asking you to trust mine.”

“I’ll give you two a moment,” Dr. Murphy says. “I need to call my office anyway.”

Liam glances over my shoulder. “Any of the rooms on this floor are at your disposal.”

She clears her throat. “If you want to give birth here, you need to be back by May 1.”

I hear the door shut, confirming her exit, and ask, “Where?”

“Taiwan. I have contacts there that can protect us and I’ve already lined up medical care and a place for us to stay.”

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