“What do you have up your sleeve?” His eyes narrow as he props his hands on his hips.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I shrug innocently and turn to walk to the kitchen. Rather than sitting down to relax, Zack follows me.

“Uh-huh,” he says. “You’re not a good liar.”

“I’m not lying.” I laugh and shake my head. Not really. It’s good news! “If you insist on being in here, can you grab the chicken breasts out of the fridge?” I turn to the pantry and pull out ingredients to make chicken enchiladas. “The inspection on the Peterson house was this morning.”

“That seems fast.”

“It was. I pulled a few strings.” I shrug and set a pan on the stove to brown the chicken in. “They’re excited to move in, and I’d like for it to move as quickly as possible.”

“Do they have kids?”

“Yes, three and a fourth on the way.”

“Holy shit, that’s a lot of kids.”

I laugh as I turn the chicken. “The house is plenty big enough for all of them. That’s one of the things they wanted, plenty of bedrooms and a nice yard. They’ve been renting a smaller place, so moving into this nice, new, big house is going to feel like heaven to them.”

“I’m happy for them then,” he replies and leans his hips against my kitchen counter as he watches me work. “You’re a good cook.”

“Thanks. I like to cook.”

“This kitchen seems kind of small.”

I nod and glance around the kitchen, then shrug. “It’s just me here most of the time, so it’s sufficient.” But it won’t be just me for long!

I smile softly and begin shredding the chicken.

“Remember how I mentioned that I want to remodel my kitchen?”

“I do. You’re brave. Remodeling a kitchen is a pain in the ass.”

“I know,” he agrees with a chuckle. “I remember the last time Mom and Dad remodeled. But this time, I have Josh’s place and Mom and Dad’s new place nearby so we can go there for meals if need be.”

“True. And you guys can come here too. That will help for sure.”

“I want you to help with the remodel.”

“I’m not great with a hammer and I know nothing about buzz saws,” I reply as my heart picks up speed again.

“Funny.” He swats my ass playfully as I wrap the enchiladas and lay them in a glass pan to slide into the oven. “You’re a regular comedian.”

“I know. Don’t forget to tip your waitress.”

“Ba dum bum.”

Zack grins, just as his phone rings in his pocket. He frowns when he checks the display. “I’ll be right back.” He stomps through the kitchen and out the back door, his entire demeanor changed from just a few moments ago.

I wonder who that was?

I shrug and set the timer on the oven then set about cleaning up the small mess. Just as I toss the sponge into the sink, Zack comes back into the kitchen.

He’s scowling and his body is tense.

“What’s wrong?” I ask.

He shakes his head and takes a deep breath. “Nothing important.”

I tilt my head and watch him as he scrubs his fingers through his hair. “Are you sure?”

“Yeah. It’s nothing.”

Maybe the baby news will cheer him up!

“So, um,” I wring my hands and am suddenly so damn nervous that cold sweat is back. “I have some news that might help your mood.”

“More celebrating?” he asks.

“I think so.” I nod and bite my lip, watching his face. He frowns and tilts his head.

“What’s up?”

“I’m pregnant.”

He blinks at me for a moment and his body stills. “Excuse me?”

“We’re going to have a baby.”

He swallows and I smile and continue quickly, not able to contain my excitement any longer. “I thought my cycles were just off again, so I made an appointment with Hannah, and it turns out that I’m freaking pregnant! I was so shocked! After all those years of trying so hard to have a baby and it not working, I assumed I was infertile, but well, apparently not.”

His eyes are trained on the floor, and he hasn’t hugged me yet. He must be in as much shock as I was in an hour ago.

“I thought this wasn’t possible?” His voice is low. I step to him happily and wrap my arms around him.

“I know it’s a shock. But isn’t it great? I mean, a baby!”

He doesn’t move. Doesn’t hug me back.

“Oh my God! Lo and I will have babies around the same time. That’s so cool!”

Suddenly his hands clench around my shoulders and he sets me away from him, then backs away, not touching me at all. When I look up into his face, he’s gone completely pale and his eyes are just . . . pissed.

“So, let me get this straight.” He rubs his fingers over his lips. His whole body is tight with anger.

Oh no.

“When you told me you couldn’t have kids, that was a lie.”

“No.” I shake my head adamantly. “Zack, I tried for years to get pregnant and it didn’t work. I was told that I had unexplained infertility.”

“Unexplained infertility,” he repeats. His voice is hard and angry and deceptively calm.

“It means that they didn’t know why I couldn’t get pregnant, but I just couldn’t.”

He’s shaking his head, and I can see that none of my words are sinking in at all.

“You lied. So, what? Your biological clock was ticking away so you thought you’d try your hand with me?” He laughs without humor and backs further away from me. “I’m an easy mark, right?”

“I’m twenty-nine! My biological clock isn’t running out! I thought it was nonexistent!”

“I’m so fucking stupid,” he mutters and scrubs his hands over his face. “I bought it. I believed you.”

“Zack . . .” What in the fuck is happening? Who is this man?

“I fucking fell in love with you!” He rages and digs his fingers into his hair, paces around the kitchen, and then comes to a stop in front of me. I can’t move. I feel tears fall down my cheeks, but I’m numb. “Oh, that’s right. Turn on the tears.” He looks like he’s about to say more, but he shakes his head and exhales deeply, as if he’s completely hurt and exhausted. “You know what? I didn’t sign on for this.”

Tags: Kristen Proby Love Under the Big Sky Romance
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