“Forever, huh? I like the sound of that.” I twined my arms around his neck.

“Only like? I was thinking more along the lines of love.” My heart raced at the depth of feeling shining from his dark eyes. “Because I love you, Lia.”

“I think I’ve loved you since you returned my hundred-dollar tip, but I just realized that’s what I felt when I wasn’t scared to be locked in that closet. Not when I knew you’d tear the world apart to find me.” I felt something cool slide onto my finger in the middle of my confession. When I glanced down to see what it was, I found a four karat, radiant cut diamond solitaire engagement ring on my hand. “Isn’t there a question that’s supposed to go with it?”

“Marry me.”

It was more of a demand than a request, but I wasn’t going to argue when I was getting what I wanted—a lifetime with the man I loved. “Yes.” I stared down at the ring and shook my head. “Nobody will doubt that I’m yours forever when they see this, that’s for sure.”

He lifted my hand and kissed my finger just below where his diamond rested. “Go big or go home, right?”

“Now that’s a motto I can get behind, especially when it comes to diamonds.”

Becket looked up at the framed poster for the tournament on the wall. “And poker too, right?”

“It’s how I’ve always played. My grandfather taught me that you’ve got to take big risks to earn even bigger rewards.”

Becket tugged on my hand and led me towards where the tournament was being held. “I know you said you don’t need to win the tournament, but you still want it. Right?”

Part of the reason I’d done so well was because of my competitive nature, and I’d never been one to back down from a challenge. “Yeah, of course I do.”

“Then let’s get in there. You’ve got asses to kick and a tournament to win.”

Almost eight hours later, that’s exactly what I did. But the thrill of winning the almost million dollar purse paled in comparison to having Becket at my side when I claimed it.



“Sweetheart, I really don’t think it would be a good idea for you to play in the tournament this weekend.” I tried to make my tone soothing and not wince when she squeezed the fuck out of my hand.

Lia bent over, one hand on her back and the other on her swollen belly as she groaned in pain. “We aren’t having this argument again. I’m playing, Becket!” she snapped. “If your son would just hurry the hell up.” She struggled to straighten back up and I waited for her to ask for help, having learned my lesson when she punched me earlier…just barely missing my groin. She turned her head and glared up at me but put her weight on my hand and allowed me to assist her.

“Do you want to walk some more?” I asked gently. She shook her head and I led her over to the hospital bed where I carefully helped her up. She sighed and leaned back, resting her head on her pillow. As I pulled the blankets up to her waist, her head lolled to the side and she watched me while I fussed over her.

“Why are you being so nice to me? I’ve been a complete bitch to you over the last twenty-four hours.”

I tried not to laugh but a chuckle escaped, earning me another scathing glance. “Sweetheart, you are having our baby. You get a free pass to do and say just about anything right now.” I grabbed a damp towel from the table next to her bed and wiped the perspiration from her forehead. “Besides, you’re my wife, the love of my life. That will never change.”

Her gray eyes filled with tears, and I panicked as they spilled over her flushed cheeks. She could scream and curse at me all she wanted but tears? Fuck. I hated it when she cried.

“Don’t cry, sweetheart,” I begged.

“You’re just so wonderful,” she said with a sniff. Then a contraction hit, and she bared her teeth as her fingers tightened around my hand, the nails digging in like claws. “I’m going to kill you, Becket Parker!”

When it passed and she was resting, I tried one more time. “Lia, the tournament is in three days. Even if the baby comes today, I don’t think you’ll be up for it.”

Her expression turned murderous and I slammed my mouth shut. When I didn’t say anything more, she simmered down. I’d lost this round, and I knew it.

“Lia?” I whispered, hating to wake her from her peaceful sleep. “Sweetheart.”

Pax wasn’t so patient, and his piercing cry had Lia jolting up in bed. Her head turned toward the sound and when she saw me standing there with our infant son in my arms, her expression softened. “He’s hungry?” she asked as she hit the button to elevate the back of her bed.

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