“Mexican sounds good to me.”

“At this point, my daughter is going to come out speaking Spanish with as much time as we spend eating at the Margarita House.”

“That wouldn’t be a bad thing.” She laughs again, and her belly bounces then her eyes widen.

“What?” I rush to her, but she slaps me away.

“Nothing. I’m fine.” She waves me off, but I know she’s lying. I also know she’s become more stubborn with pregnancy. Helping her out to the garage and into the car, I drive us across town to the restaurant she has become obsessed with and help her inside. Before we are even through the door, Maria, the owner, is there with two menus and a smile on her face.

“Not much longer, is it?” Maria smiles over her shoulder at Ashlyn, leading us to our table.

“Nope, a few more weeks and she’ll be here,” Ash agrees, holding her belly while scooting into the booth before I take my own seat.

“Would you like your regular?” she asks, and Ashlyn nods.

“Yes, please.”

“And you?”

“I’ll have what she’s having, but if you could bring me a Miller with mine, I’d be thankful.”

“I can do that,” she assures, walking off and coming back a minute later with chips and salsa, a bottle of beer for me, and a glass of apple juice for Ashlyn.

“Thanks.” I lift my chin then move my eyes to Ashlyn and see her flinch. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing, I think I’m having more Braxton Hicks contractions.”

“Pardon?” I stand suddenly, and she grabs my arm.

“It’s okay. Sit down. It’s normal.”

“How do you know they’re not real contractions?” I question without taking a seat, and she glares at me.

“I don’t kno—oh, God.” Her eyes tighten, and I mutter a curse under my breath, scoop her up into my arms, and apologize to Maria, who is looking like she might pass out with worry.

“You are so damn stubborn,” I grumble, glaring at my wife an hour later as the anesthesiologist leaves the room, having just given Ash her epidural.

“How was I supposed to know I was going into labor weeks early?” she asks on a huff, rolling her eyes, and my jaw tics.

“I don’t know. Maybe the contractions you had been feeling all day but somehow forgot to mention to me or anyone else,” I bark, standing to pace back and forth at the end of the bed, feeling restless.

“Stop being an angry bear,” she yawns. Pulling in a breath, I move to the bed and scoot her over to lay down next to her.


“I know you are. You always act like a madman when I’m in the hospital. Trust me, I’m used to it by now.”

Ignoring her statement, I hold her against me as she falls asleep, keeping my eyes glued to the monitor next to the bed.

“I hate you so fucking much I hope your penis falls off!” Ashlyn screams as another contractions hits, and I wince from the sound and the feel of her nails digging into my hand.

“Breathe, baby,” I urge her softly as the doctor tells her to push again.

“You fucking breathe!” she cries.

I hate this. We are not having any more kids after this. No fucking way can I stand to see her in this much pain ever again.

“Ash, just one more push and she will be here,” the doctor says, and Ash bears down hard. So hard, her face turns red.

“Holy shit.” My head lightens and stars dance in front of my eyes as I watch my daughter’s head, shoulders, and then body appear.

“Someone catch him!” I hear someone shout, and I shake off the shock.

“I’m okay.” I pull in a breath, and then watch the doctor drop Destiny to Ash’s chest and wipe her off as she cries.

“You did so good, baby.” I kiss my wife’s brow, resting my hand on our little girl. “So fucking good. Look at her. She’s perfect.”

“She is perfect.” Her watery eyes meet mine, and I know in that moment I truly have everything.


Waking, I roll over in bed and sigh at the sight that greets me. I don’t think I will ever tire of seeing my big, strong husband with his daughter. Sitting up carefully, as not to wake them, I smile as his big palm on her tiny diaper-covered bum holds her more protectively against his bare chest as she stirs. As I look at the two of them, I wonder what my life would have been like if I didn’t wake up married to Dillon in Vegas. I was always happy, but until him, I never knew what true happiness felt like.

“Come here.” My eyes fly to his, finding him watching me. Reaching out, he tugs me against him and settles me against his side under his arm.

“Perfect,” he whispers, and he’s right. This is perfect.


Five years later

“Can I sleep with you and Mama?”

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