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“Hey, you guys! Kara, let them come in,” Rachel said, appearing in the foyer. She was radiant, from her long, dark hair to her manicured pink toes…her six-month baby bump visible in the flattering maternity dress she wore.

The sight nearly killed Whitney. She’d forgotten that Rachel was pregnant again.

“Yes, come in. I actually brought someone for you both to meet,” Kara whispered. “Mom’s showing her embarrassing baby photos right now.” She turned to Trent. “And you—no more stealing my girlfriends.”

“That was one time before I was happily betrothed to this fantastic lady,” Trent said, wrapping his arm around Whitney and kissing her head.

Whitney tried to laugh at the story she’d heard before, but their playful banter just increased the feeling of anxiety weighing on her.

Soon, Trent could be on the market again. God, what if she saw him around town with someone else? Blue Moon Bay was going to become a lot smaller, and reminders of him and them together would be everywhere. Hell, she was best friends with his cousin.

How would this ever be okay? Would she have to move?

Inside the living room, they were greeted by the rest of the family.

“Uncle Trent!” Aaron, Trent’s oldest nephew, called out as a Nerf football sailed past Whitney’s head.

Trent caught it effortlessly, but Rachel scolded him. “Hey, that could have hit Whitney. No playing ball in the house.”

“Nah, Uncle Trent never misses a pass,” Aaron said. “And I’m just getting warmed up for today’s game, Mom.”

The family’s traditional game of football after dinner. Whenever they were all together, they could make two teams of six, and the competitive spirit among the siblings was high. Something Whitney used to enjoy as well, but with her swollen ankles and spotty vision today, she’d be sitting this one out.

“Think fast,” Trent said, tossing it back.

“Trent! You are a bad influence on him,” Rachel said, but she laughed.

“That’s why I’m the favorite uncle,” he said.

“Yeah, well, just wait until you have your own,” she said, intercepting another pass from her son with ease. “Whoa! Look at that—pregnant and all.”

“You’re a superstar, sis,” Kara told her. “Come into the kitchen,” she said to Whitney, leading the way. “And be honest, okay…my last two relationships haven’t exactly gone well, so I’m not trusting my own judgment anymore. From now on, I’m polling the family opinion.”

“We’ll give it to you straight,” Trent said, following close behind.

“I wasn’t talking to you. I meant I wantWhitney’sopinion,” Kara said as they entered the kitchen.

Unfortunately, Whitney wasn’t sure hers should be considered in a family poll anymore, but she nodded.

“Hi, you two,” Frankie said, putting Kara’s baby album away and standing to hug them.

Whitney breathed in the familiar soft floral scent that she’d come to associate with Frankie. Warm, inviting, like the woman herself. “Great to see you, Frankie.”

Relief washed over the woman’s face. “Oh, good.”

Frankie hugged Trent, then gestured another woman forward. “Trent, Whitney, this is Arielle, Kara’s new girlfriend.”

The young woman looked around the same age as Kara, about twenty-two, if Whitney had to guess, but she was only about four foot nine and maybe a hundred pounds. Even smaller than Kara, and Whitney hadn’t thought it was possible.

“You arenoton my team for football,” Trent said, extending a hand to her.

The girl laughed. “You may regret that. I played rugby in high school. Division champs.”

Trent put an arm around her shoulder. “On second thought…”

“Your brothers-in-law are outside, pretending to check the rain gutters but really trying to avoid any actual work in the kitchen… Why don’t you join them?” Frankie said to Trent, giving him a slight shove toward the kitchen door.

He glanced at her. “You good?”

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