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Finally, when all the life has drained from my body, I sit back, sagging and wind knocked from my sails. I hear water running somewhere in the distance, and then a cold cloth touches my face. I moan, grateful for this man who has taken it upon himself to be my support right now, even though he doesn’t know the truth about my condition.

Opening my eyes after a few minutes, I just stare at him, allowing myself to wonder what it would be like to be loved, cherished, and wanted by a man like him. Someone strong, loyal, and capable. Someone who would allow me to follow my dreams but keep me protected. Someone I can depend on and not have to be out here in the world alone. I let myself float it around like a fantasy, except, no matter what, I will never be alone again. Will I?

He stops whipping my face and smiles at me. “So fucking beautiful,” he says before lifting me in his arms. “Even your damn hair smells sweet.” I don’t have the energy to unpack any of this right now. So, I lay my head on his chest and let him carry me away. Too bad it can’t be like this forever.



Enough of this shit. I lift her into my arms and carry her out of the bathroom and through the restaurant, the other patrons stare at us as we go by, but I don’t give a flying fuck about them. I hand my valet ticket to the attendant and wait for my car with her still in my arms.

“You can put me down, Sam,” she says, clinging to my neck like a scared kitten. I don’t hate it.

“I will, precious. I will,” I tell her, but hold onto her tighter. Finally, my car pulls up. “Do you want to lie down, or do you want to sit next to me?” I ask.

“Sit,” she says, and the attendant opens the passenger door, having overheard her. I deposit her in the seat and buckle her seatbelt for her. The waitress runs out of the restaurant and hands me her purse.

“Your wife forgot her purse, Mr. Rawlins,” she says, looking worried.

“Thank you. Please let Pierre know I will call him tomorrow to settle the bill. I must get my wife home now.” Wife. Fuck. I love the sound of that.

“Of course, sir.” I hand her a hundred-dollar tip and move around to the other side of the car, where the valet attendant is waiting.

“Thank you, kid,” I say, peeling another hundred out of my wallet and handing it to him.

Thank you, sir,” he says, grinning at me. I get into the car and pull into traffic after buckling my seatbelt.

The drive to my neighborhood, South of Fifth, is blessedly short and much closer than her place. I pull into my driveway. She pops her eyes open.

“This is where you live?” she asks, confused. It’s a new place for me, and she’s never been here.


“I thought you had a condo downtown.” She’s had to go to my place on more than one occasion, all work-related, unfortunately.

“I sold it about a month ago and moved out here.” It was a nice place, but a bachelor pad through and through. Once I set my plan into motion, I knew I’d need a bigger place. This is a five-bed, three-bath property with a pool and a guest house. It’s perfect for a future family.

“Why did you bring me here?” she asks, wringing her hands in her lap.

“You need to rest, and I am calling a doctor. You need medicine for this stomach bug, Scarlett.”

“No doctor, please. I just need to rest. I promise I’ll rest.”

Then it dawns on me. She’s pregnant. I got her pregnant. It all makes sense now. That has to be it.

“Fine, no doctor,” I say, instead pulling out my phone and texting my aunt to stop by. She’ll know what to do. Getting out of the car, I move over to the passenger side and help her out.

“Thank you, Sam. You’re being really nice.”

I don’t say anything as I take her into the house through the garage. I deposit her in my room and tell her to rest. “I’ve asked my aunt to stop by. Maybe she can help you. She’s a nurse if you recall.”

“I remember, thank you,” she says, offering me a weak smile.

“Help yourself to anything you like. My clothes are in the closet, all labeled. I have an extra toothbrush in the drawer in the bathroom.”

“Thank you, Sam.” She sounds like she’s about to cry. Her tears would do me in, I already know it.

I close the door and await my aunt in the living room. Not ten minutes later, she’s there.

“Aunt Pen,” I say, kissing her cheek.

“What’s the problem?” she asks, hugging me in return.

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