It’s then I notice that Thor is barking frantically at the window, scratching and trying to get out to us.

“Go comfort him,” I say with an encouraging smile. Seth looks between the two of us and then nods once and trudges up the steps.

“Jilly, are you okay?” Zack asks after Seth shuts the door behind him. I spin on him, more pissed than I’ve ever been.

“Do you understand,” I begin, trying my best to keep my voice low, “that you compared me to that?” I point in the direction that Kensie just drove in, toward town.

“No, I never—”

“Yes. You stood in my home and compared me to the woman who fucking abused your child.” The enormity of it hits me full force and I can’t stop the tears or the shaking that consumes my body. “I love you with every single molecule of my body, and you compared me to that piece of trash. Are you kidding me?”

“Jilly, that’s not at all what I meant. You are nothing like Kensie. Nothing.”

“You bet your ass I’m nothing like her. She doesn’t give two shits about your son. You know that, right? Whatever she’s here for is purely selfish and has nothing to do with wanting Seth.” I shake my head and pace away from Zack toward my car. “And to think, I was ready to move on, to put last week behind us and give us a chance.”

“Jill, we can still do that.”

“No.” I turn and watch him, watch his face fall and go pale. “No, we can’t. When I told you the joyous news that I’m carrying your child, your first thought was that I was playing you the way she did.” I purse my lips and shake my head, devastated all over again. “You will most likely be the only man I will ever love like this, but I’ll be damned if I’ll be put in that category ever again. You can come with me to doctor appointments, and you’ll have full access to your child. I’ll coparent with you. But that’s all I’ll give you.”

I turn to leave, but am suddenly spun around and in Zack’s arms. He’s holding me flush against him, from chest to knees, my feet off the ground. He holds me to him, kissing me with a desperate fervor. Finally, after nibbling the corners of my lips, he rests his forehead against mine and whispers simply, “I love you so much.”

He sets me on my feet, releases me, and backs away. With tears in his eyes, he says, “If that’s what you want, I’ll respect your decision.”

I nod once and glance at the house to find Seth and Thor staring out the window. Seth is crying, swiping at the tears with the back of his hand.

I get in my car, and without a backward glance, drive away.

CHAPTER Nineteen


I roll over and pull the covers over my head. “Go away.”

“Jill, you have to get out of bed,” Ty replies with a smile in his voice, the sadist.

“No I don’t. I don’t have to go into the office today.”

“It’s after nine. It’s time to get up, princess.”

I roll to my back and peek one eye out of the covers, eyeing him suspiciously. “It hurts when someone you love says mean things. Like it’s time to wake up.”

“Get out of bed. I brought coffee.” Ty shakes his head and wanders out of my bedroom, leaving me to pull myself out of bed, yank on some yoga pants, and follow him.

“Why aren’t you at work?” I yawn and sit on my couch, curling my legs up under me.

“Here, I got you decaf,” he says and hands me a to-go cup from Drips and Sips.

“Wow. You really hate me. Waking me up this early and then shoving decaf in my face. What did I ever do to you?”

“You’re a smart-ass. You know that, right?”

“I learned from the best.” I sip the delicious white mocha and wait for my stomach to rebel. When it doesn’t, I sigh in contentment and lean back against the cushions. “So, answer my question.”

He braces his elbows on his knees. He’s in his usual white dress shirt, sleeves rolled, and slacks. “I took a few hours of personal time.”

“So go have sex with your fiancée. Which reminds me, I have to call her today. The wedding is less than a month away!”

“I’m aware, but thanks for the reminder.”

“What’s up, big brother?”

“I am staging an intervention, Jillian.”

I blink at him for several moments, take a sip of my drink, and glance around the room. “Where is everyone else? You’re an army of one, Ty.”

“I’m all I need.”

I tilt my head to the side and scowl at him in confusion. “What, exactly, are you intervening about?”

He stands and paces around my living room, the way he does in the courtroom, and I realize he’s dead serious.

“I’m worried about you. It’s been three weeks since the incident with Kensie, and you’ve barely spoken to any of us. You don’t join us for dinners or get-togethers. It’s obvious you’re avoiding Zack.”


“Just listen.” He holds his hand up, stopping my retort, so I shut my mouth and frown at him. “You look like hell, Jill.”

“I’m pregnant and I throw up more than I breathe, Ty.”

“I get it, but you’ve let yourself go to hell.”

“Fuck you.” I set my coffee on the end table and stand. I’m not taking this sitting down.

“You look horrible. And I’m not just talking about the no makeup and not giving a shit about your hair—”

“Are you a girl? Talking about my makeup and hair?”

“You’re sad.” He stops and shoves his hands in his pockets, watching me closely. “You’re so sad, princess.”

“This is a sadness intervention?”

“It doesn’t have to be like this, Jill.”

“I’m not talking about this anymore. Between you and Cara, I’ve been over it a hundred times, Ty.”

“But you don’t fucking listen!” he explodes and I step back in surprise. Ty has never, ever raised his voice to me in anger, not even when we were kids. “You’re so fucking stubborn—”

“I’m not stubborn! I’m hurt!” I scrub my hands over my face and turn away from him. “Zack may as well have told me that I am going to be the same kind of mother as our mom. He compared me to two of the most evil, despicable women I’ve ever known.”

“Mom’s not evil, Jill.”

Tags: Kristen Proby Love Under the Big Sky Romance