Under the Bright Morning Light (a Storm Inside short story)
When Julia Kelly approached me about a Holiday Blog Hop my first thought was that Jake and Eve needed an appearance. It's been almost a year since I published Reflected in the Rain (the sequel to The Storm Inside) and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to see what they're up to. Of course we'll be seeing quite a bit of them in When Lightning Strikes, and they have a specific B-story in the book that leads up the moment you are about to read about. This moment will also lead us into the their next book, Book 4 in the series. I don't have a title yet, but I know exactly what happens in the book. I can't wait to write it, but first, let's see what's going on in the world of Jake and Eve:
Under the Bright Morning Light
I was too scared to get out of bed.
For one, it was freaking cold out and the wood floor in our bedroom was going to feel like ice on my toes.
And for two…I wasn’t ready to find out.
I could put it off a few more days, heck I could probably put it off a couple of weeks.
I mean, technically I knew.
There was just a feeling that had come over me in the last forty-eight hours. It was probably hormones. So yeah, technically I knew what the stick was going to say once I peed on it, but that didn’t mean I was ready to see it.
Jake was snoring lightly beside me. Light filtered in through the blinds casting a yellow slanted glow on everything in our bedroom. The poor guy was exhausted. Between work and advising meetings for the new position he was taking at the University, this week had just about wiped him out.
Which was fine with me because that meant he was distracted. Normally Jake was pretty aware of my cycle…he was just that kind of guy.
But that also meant that for the last six months he’d checked the app on his phone, watching the days count down, hoping we’d get a positive pregnancy test instead of a period. So far, we’d only been disappointed.
Well, Jake was disappointed. I was scared shitless. Sure, I’d agreed to the whole “let’s start a family” idea, but that didn’t mean it didn’t terrify me. Kids changed everything and I loved what I had with Jake. We’d both waited so long to have this. Call me a terribly selfish brat if you want (I do every day) but I didn’t want to lose it. I didn’t want to lose Jake. And a huge part of me was convinced a baby might change everything in our lives for the worse.
So here I was, lying in bed on the day I knew I should be getting my period—absolutely convinced I was pregnant because of the weird vibe I’d been feeling—and I was too scared to get out of bed and find out the truth. The smart thing to do would be to wake Jake up and tell him what was going on.
But I wasn’t feeling terribly smart at the moment. Instead I was feeling a little crazy and glad that I was getting a chance to absorb this alone.
And if I really and truly wanted that chance, I needed to get my chicken-shit ass out of bed.
I took a deep breath and gently rolled out. The floor was freezing as I scurried across it and into my giant bathroom. I stole one last look at Jake before I closed the door. He was still snoring with his bare back to me.
He was so lucky that a baby wasn’t going to make his body look completely different. No actually, knowing him, he’d somehow wind up sexier and in better shape in nine months, the bastard.
My heart skipped a beat and I remembered exactly why we were doing this crazy thing. Why I wanted to do this crazy thing. My sexy, cocky, sweet husband desperately wanted to be a father—and that was more important than my selfish fears which, let’s be honest, were a little dramatic.
I opened the cabinet under the sink and pulled out a plastic box I’d hidden in the back, out of my daily line of sight. Inside were a variety of pregnancy tests (when you’re trying for six months, it makes sense to buy a few different brands). I dug around until I found the one I wanted: the one that was the most sensitive.
It was first thing in the morning so this was the best time to take the test. I ripped open the package with a deep, deep breath, angled the clock we kept on the counter, bit my lip, and dropped my sweatpants.
Peeing on a stick is exactly as weird and uncomfortable as it sounds, by the way.
I was just pulling the thing out from between my legs, putting the little plastic cap on the end, when the bathroom door opened. “What’s it say?”
“How do you know what I’m doing?” I asked as he closed the door.
He turned around and flashed me his sexy, cocky dimple. “Darlin’…”
“Okay, fine. I should have known you’d know.” I stood up and flushed before putting the toilet seat down and sitting on it. I was an idiot to think Jake wasn’t paying attention. He was probably the most attentive guy I’d ever met.
At least when it came to me. “Sorry if I woke you up.”
He chuckled. “I always know when you get out of bed. It gets cold and I get so damn lonely I can’t sleep anymore. I rolled over and sure enough, you were gone. I knew what today was so I put two and two together.” He dropped to his knees in front of me and took my hands in his. “Are you more scared that it will say yes, or no?”
It always surprised me how well he knew me. By this point I shouldn’t still be this surprised, but I was. I guess ten years apart didn’t mean starting over, it just meant starting fresh. “I’m scared it will say yes.”
He squeezed his eyes shut for a moment, pulling my hands up and around his warm face. He held them there with his large hands over mine. “Why?”
He was so handsome with a little scruff on his face, his hair all crazy from sleep and no shirt to cover his gorgeous chest. But it was his green eyes that always did me in. I could see everything he thought and felt—and right now I saw concern, a little fear, and a lot of hope. I wanted to give him the world.
“I…” my voice fell away as the words got lost in my throat. I didn’t want to confess to the man I loved that I was scared he wouldn’t love me like this forever.
He pressed his cheek into my hand and closed his eyes like he was savoring the feel of my hand on his skin. “Darlin’? As much as you think I can, I actually can’t read your mind.”
I laughed a little at his joke. “What if things get hard again?”
His eyes flew open and locked onto mine. For once I wasn’t sure what I saw in his eyes.
“Things will get hard again, Eve. Life isn’t easy and sure as fuck isn’t fair. I can absolutely guarantee things will get hard again. But you can bet your sweet ass that I will never stop loving you.”
Well, fuck. “I can’t lose you again. Not ever.”
He took a deep breath and kissed the inside of my palm, then sat up on his knees so that we were eye to eye. He grabbed my face in his hands and shook his head. “Eve, you will never lose me again. You can get horrifically fat with my baby and I will love you even more than I do now. You can go bald, lose a foot to gangrene, or become as harry as a Sasquatch. It won’t change how much I love you. No matter what comes our way, I’m going through it with you. I will never leave you again and I will never pull away from you again. You are stuck with me, whether you like it or not.”
A few tears tumbled out of my eyes as I squeezed them shut. “What if we can’t have kids? What if this is another no?” I was so sure it was a yes, but there were no guarantees.
He leaned his forehead into mine and held me there for several seconds before he whispered, “You are my family, forever. Kids or no kids.”
A little weight suddenly lifted off my shoulders. I hadn’t even realized I was worried about not being able to get pregnant. Sure I was scared to death of what having a kid could do to us, but I was more scared that I wouldn’t be able to give my husband something he so desperately wanted. I wanted to give him the world, and if he wanted a kid, I wanted to be the one to give it to him. It was such a ridiculous burden to put on myself when I knew Jake didn’t feel that way at all.
He wanted a family—not for me to provide him with offspring. Those were two very different things and somewhere along the way, I’d lost sight of that.
“You want to find out?” I asked.
“Whenever you’re ready.”
“Do you want to do the honors?”
He shook his head slowly, moving mine with his. “No, you need to do this.”
I pulled my upper lip between my teeth. My heart was racing like crazy and I was so nervous I thought I was going to puke. I blindly reached out for the stick sitting on the edge of the bathtub and wrapped my sweaty, nervous palm around it.
Jake looked directly into my eyes. They never moved, never faltered. I had a feeling he was curious as hell, but was more worried about me and my reaction than anything else.
Maybe he knew what it was going to say, too.
“You tasted different last night,” he whispered.
I gulped. A dark image of him coming home late last night from the university and crawling up under the covers flashed through my mind. I remembered the pleased grunt he’d made when he first tasted me. I also remembered the goofy grin he had on his face as he pulled me into his arms and kissed me goodnight.
The bastard knew right then.
“I was wondering about those funny noises you were making.” I shook my head.
He grinned and bounced his eyebrows, his forehead still pressed firmly against mine. “I’m looking forward to all the changes the next few months are going to bring.” His voice was husky and very, very seductive.
I squeezed my legs together as I pulsed with a greedy little bit of need. Leave it to Jake to find pregnancy sexy.
“You are very confident that you know what this stick is going to say.”
“I am. I know your body, remember? I know what I felt last night as I ran my hands over your skin. I know that you tasted different, and I know that you reacted differently than you normally do. Add that to the confident glint in your eyes and the scared shake of your hands and yeah…I’m pretty damn confident I know my wife.”
I wrapped my arm around his neck and kissed the hell out of him. I slid forward on the toilet seat, wrapped my legs around his waist, and kissed him until I throbbed so painfully I felt like sex was the only relief I could ever want.
He panted as he pulled back to look into my eyes. “You better look at that stick so we can go and celebrate already.” His voice was almost a purr it was so deep and dark.
I kept one arm around his shoulders and turned the stick over in my other hand. This was it. Truth or dare time.
The perfectly typed little words in the oval window were very easy to read for about three seconds, then the water in my eyes blurred my vision and I couldn’t really read it any more.
Jake kissed my lips and then each of the tears as they fell down my cheeks. “Darlin’,” he whispered. “What does it say? Are these good tears or bad tears?”
His hands held my face and his eyes searched mine.
“Good tears. Jake, you are going to be a dad.” Fear mixed with excitement. Yep, that was what I was feeling. Total fear, but absolute excitement.
His eyes widened and we both just kind of froze for a few heartbeats. I could hear each one thud in my ears.
Holy shit we were pregnant.
I was having Jake’s baby.
He started breathing heavier and his eyes glistened a little. Then he kissed me again and pulled me up into his arms. He held me tight against his strong chest, kissing the top of my head and running his fingers through my hair before he tilted my face up to his and kissed me slow and deep.
“I love you, Eve. I’m going to take such good care of you and our baby. I promise. You both will always know how much I love you.” The he suddenly dropped to his knees and kissed my belly, pulling my t-shirt up so he could kiss my skin. “I love you,” he said to the baby. “All you will ever know is love. I promise.” He dug his fingers into my hips as he pressed his forehead against my stomach.
He took several deep breaths before standing and then picking me up. “Mother of my child, it’s time to celebrate.”
I was worried about him until he flashed me that cocky grin of his. His dimple peeked out through his stubble and I ran my thumb into the dip. “Let’s take it slow, okay?”
“Oh darlin’,” he shook his head. “You have no idea.”
And then he made the sweetest, deepest, most impressive love to me in our bed under the bright morning light.
Here is a special sneak peek at the cover of When Lighting Strikes (The Storm Inside #3):
Greg’s a jerk, everyone knows this. He’s made an art form out of pissing people off and swearing with style. What nobody knows is why.
The act works on everyone except Marie, a confident, no-nonsense woman. Or in other words, the only woman who can handle Greg. Together they’re passionate and honest in a way he never thought was possible. They have a rare kind of chemistry that makes everything else seem pointless.
Well, except the past. Greg hasn’t been able to let that go, and unless he figures out a way to forgive himself, he’ll lose Marie and his shot at the all-consuming, life altering happiness he didn’t think he was allowed to have.
Lightning doesn’t strike twice. Or does it?
Coming January 2015
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