“So are the men who dare to be with those daring women.”

“Quite. In any event…Was I too rough?” The concern lacing his voice made her heart flip. There he went being all protective on her.

“You were perfect.” She’d be sore as all get out in a couple of hours.

He pulled out of her, rolling to the side and propping his head up with his hand. “There is a guest room, but I’d rather you sleep with me. The choice, however, is yours.”

Shifting to hug him, she winced and froze in place as evidence of what they’d done slipped down her inner thighs. “Sebastian?” Her voice sounded odd to her ears.

He smiled at her, running his free hand down her side. “Yes?”

“We forgot to use protection.” She gulped and his smile fell. “But you don’t have to worry about getting anything from me.”

“You’re perfectly safe with me,” he said, but it didn’t make her feel that much better at all. “Why do you still look so upset? Crisis averted.”

“I’m not on the pill,” she whispered, feeling about as smart as a stump.

Chapter Twenty-One

Sebastian couldn’t speak for a moment. He’d never done anything so spectacularly stupid in his life.

“Oh,” came his brilliant answer. “Are you joking?”

“No,” she whispered, her face pale. “I stopped taking birth control pills when I was twenty, after I was hospitalized with several blood clots in my legs. I’d been having severe pain in them for days, like I could barely walk, and my ankles were swollen twice their normal size.

“The doctor diagnosed me with Venous Thromboembolism. It’s a rare—yay me—side effect of the pill. Glen and I weren’t willing to risk a blood clot forming in my heart or lungs, or brain. We used condoms from then on,” she added.

“What do you want to do?” he asked. The room spun and he blinked. Dear God, he felt dizzy. “I can take you to a clinic and get the morning after pill.”

“I can’t.” She visibly swallowed. “It’s a concentrated dose of what’s in birth control pills. I’m sorry.”

“What about later…once you found out?” He told himself he would support her decision, whatever it may be, but he’d never been faced with this before, so…who really knew how’d he react?

“I wouldn’t choose to have an abortion, Sebastian.” She gave him a tentative smile, but it didn’t reach her pretty eyes. “It’s… okay if you don’t want to be a dad. My momma raised me without one, so I’d be fine...I think.”

That little I think was telling. Daisy no more wanted to raise a child alone than any other woman did, given the choice. And by God he would give her the choice of having him in their lives, should it come to that.

He cupped the side of her face. “If you are, then I’d want to be involved. I’d be there for the two of you. You wouldn’t be alone.”

The tears came then, hard and ugly. This was the last thing she needed. He knew that. She’d been under so much stress and pressure from trying to do it all that she’d finally reached her breaking point.

She curled into a little ball, crying harder, until he simply gathered her up in his arms and walked to the bathroom. He turned on the hot water in the shower and stepped inside, sinking to the floor and holding her until she stopped.

“We’ll get through this.” Tightening his arms around her, he exhaled. “Together.

“Promise?” she sniffed.

“I swear it.”

She relaxed in his arms, his words calming her more than the heat and steam ever could. He only hoped he could live up to her expectations.


Daisy was late.

She placed her hand over her stomach, and then smoothed the material of her long-sleeved shirt down. Then she did it again. And again.

Sebastian hadn’t touched her sexually in days, but she wasn’t so sure that was a bad thing. In the meantime, he’d taken her everywhere, showing her the sights and keeping her going non-stop until she’d pass out his bed when they would finally get home.

She knew, like her, he was waiting for when she could take a pregnancy test. Even though she was as regular as rain, she’d given herself a week to account for stress.

Today was day eight.

“If you don’t want people speculating on why you’re doing that, then you might want to stop,” Sebastian murmured, his head dipping as he smiled.

They stood in the family planning aisle of the drugstore. Condoms, lube, and every other contraceptive device known to man and woman were on the same aisle as pregnancy tests and ovulations kits.

“Don’t you think when we buy—” she jerked her head in the direction of the pregnancy tests, “—people will figure it out on their own?

His lips flattened for a brief moment. “True, but it doesn’t mean we have to help them along.”

Edging closer to him, she chewed on the inside of her cheek. “How long would you want this to be a secret?”

Frosty blue eyes met hers. “For as long as possible.”

Her blood turned to ice and her hand shook as she reached for the first brand she recognized. “I thought…you promised you’d—”

His big hand fit over hers and squeezed lightly. The ice in her veins thawed. Slowly, like a glacier melting in the spring. “Despite our rather public engagement, I value my privacy, and I’d rather you not be stressed by the extra attention you’d received if…you needn’t be.”

“I’m scared,” she admitted.

“That you are…um…?”

Good grief. Neither of them could actually say the word pregnant. Maybe neither of them wanted the situation to be real, or maybe neither of them could handle if it became real.

Nodding, she chewed on the inside of her cheek. “And how I’ll feel if I’m not.”

He grabbed a second test and they began to walk down the aisle. “Let’s get this over with, shall we?”

After paying for their purchases, they walked next door to the village’s grocery store. Every so often, she’d hear the distinct click of a camera.

“Do you have your list?” Sebastian asked casually. Cheerfully. As if their entire future wasn’t in her purse and possibly her uterus.

Perplexed by his sudden mood swing, she asked, “Why are you so happy now?”

He raised his brows and inclined his head slightly to the right. Another click. The doors to the grocery store opened as a woman, pushing a buggy with a small child in the front, darted through. The little boy babbled about something and the mother, replied with a, “Wait ‘til we get home, Oliver, and then we’ll play.”

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