“Good talk,” O’Klaren said.
He didn’t stick around, and the moment he was gone, she collapsed.
“How did you know?” Robin asked.
“I have eyes and ears everywhere. Are you done studying?”
“Yes, I really am.”
She gathered her books up, thankful when he helped.
Preacher took the bag from her and hiked it up on his shoulder, taking hold of her hand before walking out of the library.
“Who called you?”
“I’m not going to give that away. Just know that wherever you go, I’ve got someone there to protect you. Who will call me if I need them to.” He opened the passenger door of his truck and helped her inside.
She secured the seatbelt as Preacher got into the other side, putting her bag on the seat between them.
“Why aren’t you at the party?” Robin asked. “Bishop was really excited about it.”
“The boys needed to let off steam. With O’Klaren breathing down our necks, there’s no other way for them. They’ve got everything they need to have a good night. Booze, women, and gambling.” He fired up the engine and took off back to his home.
“And you don’t need that.”
“I never need to blow off steam, and besides, you needed me.”
She smiled. “Yeah, I did. You seem to know exactly when I do as well. It’s kind of surreal for you to always turn up when I do.”
He glanced over at her but didn’t say anything. Her stomach chose that moment to grumble.
“You didn’t eat anything?” he asked.
“I went straight to the library. I didn’t really think about food.”
“I’ll make something while you wash up when we get home.”
“I’d like that. What do you have in mind to cook?”
She smiled, happy.
“How’s your arm?”
“It’s fine. He didn’t do anything to it. Just held it. There might be a couple of bruises, but that’s about it. Nothing I can’t handle.”
“He shouldn’t have touched you. He crossed the line.”
“It’s fine. I handled it. I think I did.”
“I turned up, that’s what handled it.”
She chuckled. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be. You can’t control when he’s going to turn up.” Preacher turned on the radio, and music filled the car.
She leaned back, resting her head, finally relaxing. “We go to see Randall in a couple of weeks.”
“I know. I’ve got the date.”
“I don’t know if Bishop will be there. He said he would, but he wasn’t there for the first one and you know, he said he would.”
“I will be there.”
“Even if Bishop is?”
“Yes. It’s my kid, and I’m going to be part of his life as much as possible.”
“You don’t even know if there’s a boy or girl in here.”
“We’ll have to wait and see. Do you care what it is?”
“No, I don’t. I only want our baby to be healthy.”
“Does that feel weird?” he asked.
“Calling it ‘our baby’?”
“A little bit. I can’t get into the habit of it though. It’s supposed to be Bishop’s baby.”
She didn’t like how awkward it had become. “Does it bother you?”
Preacher didn’t answer.
“We didn’t have to, you know, get married. This isn’t his baby.”
“You and Bishop were always supposed to be together.”
“Everyone keeps saying that.”
“You don’t believe it?”
“I don’t know what I believe. I guess I always figured being married would feel different. I wear the gold band, and I have your name, but things with Bishop and me, they’re not normal. I don’t want to talk about it. It’s why I wanted him to go to this party. He needed some time alone.” And she needed to figure a few things out for herself.
“You do know he’s not alone, don’t you?”
“Do you care?”
“Bishop gets what he needs, and I’m not going to hold him back from that.”
They pulled up outside of their house.
“You didn’t answer the question.”
She had no intention of answering.
Preacher grabbed her bag, and once they were inside, he sent her to clean up while he took care of the cooking. She wasn’t going to argue with his instruction. She was hungry, starving even.
Rushing to her room, she took a quick shower, changing into a pair of comfy pajamas. Her clothes were getting way too tight, courtesy of the little baby bump.
Before she made her way downstairs, she lifted up her shirt and stared at the bump. To some, it could just like she’d put on more weight.
“You’re in there, aren’t you? I don’t know if you can hear me, but if you can, I hope you’re feeling really happy and safe.” She rubbed her stomach. “You’re going to make me so big. I hope I’m a good mother to you. I’d hate to be like mine.” She dropped her shirt and walked downstairs to where Preacher was cooking up a storm. The scents of onion and garlic were heavy in the air.
“Everything smells amazing,” she said.
“Good, they should. I’ve set the table. Have a seat. I’ll be done soon.”
“Already? It doesn’t take you long to cook.”