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“And that’s that? I have no say in it?”

“You know I’m not going to take the chance of you getting hurt again. What’s wrong with taking precautions?”

She stood up and pushed her chair out from behind her. “I feel like you’re spying on me and I don’t…” Before she could finish her sentence, she fell back into the chair with thump.

“Nina!” I jumped out of my seat and ran around the table. “What’s wrong? Tell me. I can have the car here in minutes and we can be at the hospital in no time.”

She shook her head slowly as she took a deep breath. “No, it’s okay. I just stood up too fast and got lightheaded.”

I crouched down next to her and held her hand. “Do you see now why the cameras are needed? What if you fell and I wasn’t here? What if you couldn’t get to your phone? How long would you be on the floor this time before I found you?”

Nina looked down into my eyes and smiled. “I know. I just hate feeling like an invalid. Pregnancy shouldn’t mean I have to be watched all the time, Tristan.” She stopped and took a sharp breath in. “Oh…one of the babies kicked! Put your hand on my stomach right here.”

She took my hand and placed it near her left hip. My palm pressed softly against her skin, I waited for another kick and then it happened. A tiny push against my hand. A foot or hand or even an elbow pushed out into my hand, touching me for the first time, leaving me speechless.

“Did you feel it? She’s a busy one, that girl,” Nina said with a smile. When I didn’t say anything, she asked, “You felt it, right? It was a kick.”

A lump formed in my throat, making me choke up, and I said quietly, “That was incredible. One of our kids just touched me.”

“Isn’t it great? In just a few months, that foot and that body will be someone we hold in our arms.”

My mind filled with thoughts of that little person kicking my hand. What did he or she look like? Did they feel me like I felt them? Never before had just the idea of meeting someone thrilled me like it did at that moment. I simply stared at the spot where my hand had felt his or her touch, unable to tear my gaze away from my child right there with me.

“Are you okay, Tristan? You’re not saying anything.”

I looked up to see Nina staring down at me. “I’m great. I guess I just didn’t realize it would be like that.”

“Like what?”

I struggled to find the right words to explain how I felt. “I didn’t know such a simple thing like a baby’s kick could make me feel so connected to him. Or her. It doesn’t matter which they are. It just matters that I felt them touch me.”

“This is really happening. Pretty soon, it won’t be just you and me anymore. We’ll be four instead of two. Are you ready for that?”

If I were to be honest with her at that moment, my answer would have been no. I thought I was, but with one touch that baby had made everything so real that all my romantic thoughts of having kids flew right out the window, replaced by a reality filled with worry and the need to make plans. I couldn’t tell Nina that, though. She was already dealing with enough. She didn’t need to hear me talk about my sudden need to visit my lawyer to make sure those souls she carried were taken care of, no matter what happened to me. She didn’t need to listen to me worry about how wrong the penthouse was going to be for children, and how there was no way I could believe that we were ever going to be able to do this without a nanny.

“We’ll be fine,” I lied, hoping she couldn’t see right through me.

“I think I’ve come up with a name for a boy. What do you think of Ethan?”

I couldn’t help but smile. “Yeah, Ethan sounds good. Ethan Stone. Good strong name for a boy. What do we do if it’s a boy and a girl? Diana or Tressa?”

“I think we should decide that when we meet our little girl. If she has blue eyes, she’ll be Diana. If she has brown eyes, she’ll be Tressa. She’s bound to look more like one of us than the other.”

“So it’s settled then. Ethan and Diana or Ethan and Tressa. But what if we have two boys?”

“What about your middle name, Rider? We could do Ethan and Rider. I like the sound of Rider Stone. What do you think?”

I could live with that. I only hoped he could. “Okay,” I said as I stood to kiss the top of her head. “Since we have that taken care of, I think it’s time for a movie. You continue eating while I get everything ready.”

She looked up at me in surprise. “Tristan, it’s ten o’clock in the morning. We’re going to watch a movie now? Don’t you have work to do?”

“I can work later.”

“Well, what if we watched a movie later too? I was thinking maybe we could go out for a little bit. Maybe shopping?”

“Nina, you’re supposed to stay at home. You just had another fainting spell.”

Nina’s bottom lip quivered and her adorable pout appeared to signal her disappointment. “Tristan, I can’t stay here until the babies are born. Please don’t treat me like this. We have things to buy before they get here.”

I hated seeing her sad, and that pout of hers never failed to do exactly what it was intended to do. “Nina, what if you pass out while we’re shopping? What if the babies are hurt because we had to find some mobile with dancing hippos?”

“Don’t minimize this, Tristan. I’m practically a prisoner here, stuck in my home, which isn’t even my home. I wanted to get the babies’ layette. My books say now’s the time to get the things they need when they first come home, and since we aren’t having the baby shower until after the babies are born, we won’t have anything for when they get here.”

I had no idea what a layette was, whether it be furniture or some kind of bottles, but the sadness in Nina’s face told me she knew what it was and it was important to her. I wasn’t comfortable relenting on her going out to shop, but there were ways around that for someone like me. I rarely took advantage of that fact, but now seemed as good a time as any to use my power and wealth.

“Give me thirty minutes. If I can’t find a way to make you happy in that time, we’ll go. Okay?”

A look of disbelief filled her eyes, but she nodded her agreement. “Thirty minutes? Okay.”

I kissed the top of her head. “I have a few phone calls to make. You keep eating, and I’ll be back.”

Quickly, I headed to the bedroom and made my first call to Angelo. Always able to handle my shopping with ease, he hopefully could do the same for my children. He answered on the second ring in his usual chirpy voice. “Tristan Stone! How is the soon-to-be father?”

“You must be reading my mind, Angelo. That’s exactly what I need your help with.”

“Really? I don’t recall men having to wear anything different during pregnancy,” he joked.

“Not me. I need something called a layette.”

“A layette? Why on earth do you need a layette, whatever that is?”

Sighing, I closed my eyes and tried to keep calm. “I don’t have time for twenty questions, Angelo. Nina wants a layette for the babies, but in her condition, she can’t go shopping for it, so I want the shopping to come to her at the penthouse.”

“Oh, I see. Give me a few hours to see what I can come up with. I know the owner of a baby boutique who I think would be happy help.”

“You have thirty minutes. I’m depending on you, so don’t let me down.”

“Thirty minutes? Tristan, I’m used to you giving me much longer lead time.”

“That’s for my clothes, Angelo. This is my wife and kids we’re talking about, so get going and set this up for me.”

“Okay, okay. I’ll get on it now.”

“Good. Call me with the details.”

Angelo’s tone told me he’d get the job done. I could always rely on him. Barely ten minutes later, he was giving me the details about how happy Elise Weston of Petits Coeurs would be to help us. “Thanks, Angelo. I won’t forget this.”

“I hope not. And, by the way, Elise says a layette is clothes. Well, clothes and whatever else she decides to bring. She’ll be there by eleven.”

“Perfect. By the way, I’m going to need some things for the events after the babies are born, like the christening, so here’s your lead time. You have at least a few weeks.”

Angelo chuckled. “Now that’s the Tristan Stone I’m used to. I’ll get to work so you’re ready when those little bundles of joy arrive. Happy shopping!”

Elise Weston arrived exactly at eleven, just as I got Nina settled in the living room. I’d kept my plans a secret, so when the concierge rang to announce her arrival, Nina’s eyes grew wide in surprise. “Did he just say Petits Coeurs? Oh, my God! I’m not dressed to shop there, Tristan!”

“Thanks, Frederick. Make sure security on the floor below checks everything out and then send her up.” I sat down next to Nina on the sofa and held her hand. “Shhh…you look incredible. And you’re not shopping there. They’re bringing a layette here to you and you’ll decide if it’s what you want. And if it isn’t, I’ll get another one to do the same thing until you get what you want.”