I settle onto the stool next to his and take an appreciative sip of my coffee. I almost choke on the first bite of my bagel when he says, “So, we’ve got our appointment with Dr. Kay at four today. I’ll be back to pick you up around 3:30, okay?”

I look down at the cast on my wrist in surprise. Other than a ton of mental scars, it’s the biggest remaining physical reminder of the attack and near rape by my stepfather. I’ve become so used to working around it that I barely pay it any attention now. Truthfully, with everything that’s happened in the last week, I hadn’t thought of my upcoming appointment. Now though, my stomach begins flipping nervous somersaults. Lucian, possibly seeing the panic on my face, turns me to face him and puts a comforting hand on my thigh. “It’s going to be fine, Lia. Either way, we’re okay.”

“What kind of woman could have just forgotten for days that she might be pregnant?” I ask, genuinely distressed. “Shouldn’t I have already panicked and sent you out for a test in the middle of the night or bought like ten boxes of them myself? What’s wrong with me?” I’m aghast that I’ve shoved aside something so important while I obsessed about my new father and Lucian. Was I so indifferent to the thoughts of a child that I couldn’t even concern myself with their possible existence?

I feel Lucian’s hand circle my neck, a move he favors when he wants my undivided attention. “Baby, stop it right now. I don’t think there’s some kind of behavior protocol you’re supposed to follow concerning a possible pregnancy. You’ve had a lot on your mind, and obviously, you haven’t had any symptoms that have demanded your attention. I think it’s much healthier that you’ve been able to put it aside instead of being a nervous wreck while awaiting your appointment. What good would that have done?”

“But, I didn’t have to wait, did I? I could have just bought a damned test and have taken it. Shouldn’t that have been a priority for me?” I’m starting to sound irrational, even to my own ears, but I can’t seem to stop the wave of despair that has fallen upon me. Deep down, I fear that this is some kind of indicator as to the type of mother I would be. Neglectful and self-centered just like my mother.

“Lia!” he snaps, bringing my focus back to him. “When exactly should you have fit that in? If women have been known to forget to take birth control while they’re upset over something, don’t you think it’s reasonable to assume you could forget to buy something like a pregnancy test after learning you have a father you never knew? Cut yourself some slack here…there was no harm done. I’m not sure I would have remembered it either if not for the appointment coming up in my reminders this morning.” When I finally nod, feeling somewhat better at his words, he drops his hand and points to my plate. “Now, finish eating. I worked my ass off on that breakfast.”

A giggle escapes as I look from him to the bag of bagels sitting beside the toaster oven. “You’re my hero,” I deadpan, trying to hold a straight face.

“Damn straight.” He snorts. I see the corners of his mouth twitch, but he keeps a steady expression as he returns his attention to the stock reports.

Our domesticated scene continues until Lucian looks at his watch and gets to his feet. “Where’s Sam?” I ask, used to Lucian’s driver ringing the doorbell, indicating that our breakfast time is over.

“I’m driving myself today.” He gives me a quick look before adding, “I figured you would be more comfortable if it were just you and me for your appointment this afternoon.”

“Oh,” I reply, strangely touched. “Couldn’t you have just had Sam drop you off here this afternoon?”

He taps my nose and then turns to put his jacket on. “Yes, but it seemed easier this way. Less nosy questions from him and all that.”

“I can go alone,” I offer, knowing he won’t agree with my suggestion. There is no aspect of my life that doesn’t interest Lucian. It’s a bit disconcerting that he knows my schedule better than I do most days. No doubt his phone calendar is full of alerts concerning me. I can’t bring myself to care, though. It’s nice to have someone in my life who gives a damn about my day-to-day routine.

He takes my hand, leading me through the apartment to the front door before he answers. “I want to go with you, especially this time.” I nod as he pulls me into his arms and simply holds me for a moment. He pulls back and kisses me, slow and easy, as if he doesn’t already have a million different business matters running through his mind. I love his ability to make me feel as if there isn’t anyone or anything more important than I am. I know without him telling me that he’d drop everything without question if I needed him. He’s proven that repeatedly.

“I want you with me, too.”  As he turns to the door, I use the hand that he’s still holding and pull him back to me. His raises a quizzical brow and I’m suddenly shy. “I…just wanted to say that I love you.” I feel myself blushing which is surprising since this isn’t the first time I’ve said those words to him.

His face softens as he looks at me. “I love you too, baby,” he replies, and I want to melt in a puddle at his feet. Will I ever be immune to the effect this beautiful man has on me? “I’ll see you in a bit,” he adds, as he brushes my cheek lightly before opening the door and stepping out. As it closes behind him, I pinch myself, thinking once again that I must be dreaming.

Tags: Sydney Landon Lucian & Lia Billionaire Romance
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