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It felt like a part of myself was being taken away.

“I know it’s hard to think about,” Melanie said. “But as a mom, take my advice and use this time to get some rest. Once you’re home with the girls, you’re going to wish you did.”

The logical part of me knew she was right. All the same, it broke my heart to watch her roll the bassinet out of the room. Tears formed in my eyes. Without a word, Alex picked up a box of tissues from the counter covered with flowers and brought it over to me.

“Sorry, just hormones I guess.” I wiped my eyes and blew my nose.

“Don’t write off the way you’re feeling to hormones,” he said. “This process, meeting your girls for the first time, bonding with them… it’s something more than chemicals. It’s almost magical.”

I smiled, wiping the last few tears away. “No offense, but you’re the last guy I’d expect to talk about magic.”

He laughed, sitting back down. “I’ve delivered enough babies to know that there’s no other way to describe it. Mothers go from the pain of labor to the love of motherhood the second they lay eyes on their kids. There’s nothing else like it in the world.”

There was something wonderful about what I saw in Alex then, this tough, towering guy showing a touch of sensitivity. I sensed that he didn’t let this side out very often.

“And is that how you felt seeing the girls?”

He turned his head toward the window, long moments passing as he watched the snow gently fall.

“It was… something else.” He didn’t say another word for several long moments. “Truth be told, I’m still wrapping my head around it, knowing that I’m a father.

“You know, when I walked into the delivery room and saw you there, I wondered if I was seeing things.”

“Same here.” I wrung my hands together, the subject hard to even talk about. “I was sure that you were out of my life for good. I was all set to raise these girls by myself, and…”

I realized what I’d said. Maybe Alex was ready to accept that the kids were his, but he’d said nothing about whether or not he was going to help raise them.

I cleared my throat, trying to think of some way to dodge the subject.

“How the hell did you end up in rural Colorado?”

Chapter 16


Her question was so direct that all I could do was laugh.

My smile faded, however, when I realized there was no way to answer that other than with a lie. The more I thought about it, the more I understood that, with the girls being mine, I was pulling Georgia into my life and that meant into all the danger it entailed.

“You OK?” she asked.

I shook my head, coming back into the moment. Whatever the situation was with Nico, it’d have to wait.

“Yeah, just fine. Still processing all of this, you know?”

I stepped over to her. Once I was near, there was no way I could resist taking her hand. Her skin felt so damn good against mine, and the post-birth glow of her face only served to make her look more beautiful than she already was.

She squeezed my hand back. “Take your time. This is a lot for both of us. But… do you know how long the girls and I are going to have to be here for?”

I opened my mouth to speak, the buzzing of my phone in my inner coat pocket giving me pause.

“One sec. Sorry, when you’re running an ER, you don’t get the option of ignoring texts.”

“Of course.”

I took the phone out and checked the screen. At first, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing—it was from Nico. I scanned the paragraph of text, my blood running colder and colder with each word I read.

Once I’d read it all, I closed my eyes and set the feelings the text had brought up in me aside. I’d gotten good at compartmentalizing emotions over the last decade or so of my life working with the mob, for better or for worse.

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