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“Don’t touch me,” I snarl. She does anyway, her hand crimson.

“I’m leaving.”

“Reed, what have you done?” It’s like a bullhorn going off in my head and I can hear again. Noises pound at me from all directions. The horns, the yelling, and the sobbing hysterics of the shell of the woman I loved.

“I’m leaving you.”TESS

Present day – twenty-five years old

New York, NY“Mommy… Mommy? Wake up.” My eyes blink open as I stare at my secret. My reason for living, that and my other bundle of trouble.

“Uncie Bwance, sas we here.” My soon-to-be three-year-old son climbs onto my lap.

“We’re here,” I correct him. He turns and snuggles into my neck, taking a deep breath, and sighs.

“Yow smell goowd, Mommy.”

He’s such a little charmer. “Thanks, baby.” I smile. “You smell good too.” I ruffle his dark curls. One of his fat cheeks is rosier than the other. He must have slept on it.

“Where’s your sister?” I ask, looking around the plane.

“With Uncie Bwance.” He smiles, and my heart skips a beat. Out pop two dimples, one on each side, just like his father’s.

“Mommy?” I wipe away a tear that escaped despite my rapid blinking.

He places both his chubby hands on my cheeks, his cute nose wrinkled. “Mommy sad?” His eyes fill with big fat tears too.

“No, Mommy’s fine.” I smile as another tear slides down my cheek.

“Then why are yow cwying?”

“So, smart.” I take a calming breath. “Mommy’s a little sad about Great-Grandpa Ian passing.” I give him a tight hug, my nose stuck in his warm cheek.

“Um... Mommy?”

I pull away and smile. “I love you so much. You be my good boy while we are visiting, okay?” He nods, happily snuggling in my arms and playing with my watch.

“We get to see Gwandma, Gwandpa, and Uncie Jax.” I cringe. This is so bad. How are my children ever going to understand this?

I stare at my perfect son, the exact replica of his father. Except that Reed has turquoise eyes. Luke and Lilly, have deep green eyes. Other than that, there is no denying who the father is. At least Lilly looks a little like me. She has my lips and nose.

“Luke…?” Snapping my mouth closed, my mind spins. What am I going to tell him? I have been keeping you and your sister from your father. He thought I aborted you, so he deserted us?

He’s not even three yet, won’t be for another two weeks.

Leaning my head back, Luke snuggles in my lap, my guilt eating at me. I kiss the top of his head, and I almost hear the phone ringing again.


“Tess, honey, it’s Dr. Miller. I’ve been trying to reach you all morning. Everything all right?” I almost start laughing. I have to bite my tongue not to scream out that Reed has left me because I don’t want his baby.


Clearing my voice, I try to speak. It’s hoarse with all the screaming and crying I’ve been doing. “I’m here.”

Silence. “Well… you are indeed pregnant and according to your HCG levels, it’s very likely you are carrying twins. Now, I have made an appointment with the best doctor in Manhattan…”

“Mommy? You seeping?” My eyes bolt open and I blow out some air. That phone call changed everything.

“Mommy!” Lilly, comes hard, charging straight into my arms. She shoves at her brother, trying to push him off my lap. He wraps his arms around my neck.

“No, Luke, I want Mommy.” She pushes again.

“Both of you stop. Mommy has two legs, one for each of you.” My arms surround both of them tightly.

“Uncle Bwance says you need to get it together.” She takes my face with her chubby hands, holding it so that I’m forced to give her my undivided attention. Lilly repeats everything Brance tells her. See, my daughter is almost three but going on thirty and Brance’s best confidante.

“He does, huh? I’ll do my best.” It’s impossible to hide my smile.

“Now I need you both to listen. Mommy is really nervous and sad. This is a different visit. We’re not coming just to see Grandma and Grandpa. I need you two to stay right with me or Uncle Brance, okay?”

I grab Luke’s hand away from his sister’s hair. “Luke, stop pulling her hair.”

“But Mommy, she won’t shware,” he says.

“I share,” she whines.

“Enough! Stay with me or Brance, all right?” Looking at them, I sense my heart fluttering. They are quite frankly remarkable. The most pure and good thing Reed and I have ever created. He’s going to want them. I know it in my gut.

I should hide. Run away. Nothing good is going to come of this. Glancing down, both of them are playing happily with their toys. No matter what I do, he is going to find out, Jax has assured me.

“What are you doing?” I jump at Brance’s snippy tone.

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