“You okay?” Erin asked.

“Oh, yeah,” I said. “You missed Carson while you were in the bathroom.”

“No way!” she yelped. “Stupid bladder full of coffee. Did something bad happen, though, you look worried.”

“He was really out of sorts,” I said. “When I asked him what was wrong, he just dismissed me and said it was nothing.”

“Do you think it’s something you did?” Erin asked.

I shook my head. “I don’t think so. He kissed me and paid for my, well your coffee. I just think it’s something he didn’t want to talk about. I’m hoping maybe the other two will know something I don’t.”

Just as I was finishing the sentence, Erin’s phone buzzed. She looked down at it and then smiled. She looked up at me. “I’m sure you’ll figure it out. It’s still a new thing for him, so give him some time to come around to being open.”

“Yeah,” I said. “Thank you.”

She held up her phone. “Do you mind if I bolt? Jackson just texted and wants to meet up.”

I smiled, thinking of how quickly I would run from this place to any one of my men if they asked. “Of course not, go. I have to figure out what’s going on with Carson anyway.”

Erin stood up and grabbed her purse, jacket and coffee. As she was passing, she kissed me on the top of my head. “Love ya. Call me later, okay?”

“Yeah,” I replied. “Have fun!”

“Thanks, you too! Good luck with Carson.” She was out of the coffee shop like a Tasmanian Devil a moment later.

Before leaving the coffee shop, I took some time to call Ian and Ryland and see if either of them knew what was going on with Carson, but to my disappointment, neither of them knew. I texted Carson a couple of times asking him to call me when he had a moment, but I never got a response and Ryland and Ian both said they’d gotten similar responses. We’d come to the conclusion that he just needed some space, with both Ian and Ryland assuring me that he gets like that sometimes, but when we got to work the next day, we were all shocked and concerned to discover that he wasn’t there. Ryland swore that he always told him when he wouldn’t be in the office and had made no such communication.

Carson was officially M.I.A.

Carson

The only thing I could think about as my plane touched down in San-Francisco, was Sascha. Things were going so well with us and she was clearly able to tell something was wrong when I bumped into her at the coffee shop; I hated lying to her. To make matters worse, she, Ryland and Ian had been texting me non-stop once they got to work and saw that I wasn’t there. Ian and Ryland were being nearly more worrisome than Sascha was. It was starting to feel like I was legitimately in a relationship with them too. The three of them were why I had to take care of business before I started to worry anyone.

I used my phone to arrange for an Uber was I’d collected my bags. I gagged as I entered the destination on the phone: Alia’s house in the hills. The call I got from her last night was the very last thing I ever wanted to hear from her: Pregnant. Part of me wondered if she was even pregnant at all, and if she was, how was I supposed to confirm that it was mine? I was just one of many men she was sleeping with. Any one of them could be the father of her child. She might not even know for sure who is. I was certain it was just another one of her ploys to play games with my head and rope me back into a relationship.

I climbed out of the Uber at her house and was annoyed to see her waiting in front for me, a huge smile on her face as though we were still some sick-in-love couple. As I approached the door, my heart sank into my stomach. She had her hand over a very clear bump to her belly; she was pregnant.

“It’s good to see you,” she greeted, rubbing her stomach. “So, this is sort of crazy, huh?”

I didn’t speak to her at first, just walked past her into her house. She followed me and when I heard the door close behind us, I turned to face her. “I don’t know what to say.”

Alia’s expression turned sour. She was beautiful, a model after all. Her pixie-cut brown hair had grown out a tad, but she was keeping it short. Her frame, pregnant stomach aside, was as slender as ever, and even just walking around her house, she was wearing designer clothes and a full face of makeup. For a brief moment, my mind entertained the idea of being attracted to her again, but then Sascha came dancing into my mind. Her long blond hair, shapely form, and blinding smile. The way she made me feel even not being right in front of me, was unlike anything I’d experienced before, and certainly nothing I’d ever even come close to experiencing with Alia.

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