One day he came home to discover that Anya had started to can, their basement becoming storage for a zombie apocalypse. It would have concerned him if it wasn’t for the smile on her face. Also, he knew how much her mother liked canning and preserving.

Christmas passed in a haze for Xavier. It really did.

His first Christmas as a family, and they had her parents come to their place. Anya and Emma worked on the biggest turkey. Christmas Eve, they went to the foster homes, dropping off food, presents, and simply filling the whole place with cheer. Her parents joined them in bringing the Christmas spirit to many.

Every single day, the love he felt for Anya grew deeper. She had given him so much, and there was no way he could ever repay that.

On the second scan they discovered she was going to give birth to a baby girl. That was with her being five months pregnant. Another four to go.

“I can’t get up now,” she said when she was seven months pregnant. Her stomach was large, and the baby kicked fiercely. Their little girl, and they were disagreeing on the name. He wanted to call her Francine Leigh. She wanted to call her Lemon, after his favorite pie.

“Come on.” He took hold of her hands, and pulled her into his arms.

“Do you still love me even though I look like a beached whale?”

“Of course. It’s because of you being a beached whale that I love you.” She laughed. “I did help you become this way. Remember? We both have to answer to this.”

“Yeah, keep reminding the woman that you love how much you contributed to this while you still look hot, handsome, and sexy. Go on, Xavier, keep telling me how lovely I look.” She laughed.

“You know, I think I’m just going to say this is all your fault. I had nothing to do with your pregnancy.”

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He cupped her hips, pulling her as close as her stomach would allow.

“She kicks all the time.”

“You’re tired a lot,” he said.

“I know. It shouldn’t be much longer.”

“Anya, if something happens…”

“Don’t think like that.”

“No, I want you to understand. If I have to pick between our baby, or you, I will pick you.”

“Xavier.”

“No, I won’t do it. I love you, and I’ll love our baby.” He’d read that problems during pregnancy can occur, but not often. He didn’t want to take that chance. “You come through. I love you.”

She sighed. “I love you, Xavier.”

He kissed her lips, pleased that he’d told her exactly how he felt. Reading books about her pregnancy had turned him into a nervous wreck. Problems could happen, and he’d read each one. All of them had built up until he was convinced that Anya was going to die.

Anya ended up calling the doctor to help him calm down.

Two months later, Anya was serving up dinner, Logan’s favorite meatballs when her waters broke. Xavier stood by her seeing the water. “You spill the pasta water, babe?”

“No.” She put the saucepan down. “We need to go to the hospital. My waters have broken.”

He’d been in the process of grating cheese into a dish.

Pausing, he turned toward the woman who owned his heart. “Your waters broke.”

“Yes, remember what the doctor said, there’s no need to panic, or—”

“We’re having a baby! Shit, fuck, the baby is coming. Logan!”

Later that night after she had given birth to a beautiful, healthy, baby girl, Xavier sat beside her laughing.

“I overreacted, didn’t I?”

“You screamed. It was really high pitched,” she said.

Logan, who’d been in the waiting rooms with her parents, imitated the sound.

“Francine Lemon Leigh,” Anya said. “That’s what we’re going to call her. Our beautiful baby girl.”

There surrounded by the people he loved, and who loved him, he stared into his daughter’s eyes, and knew he would protect her. She was his daughter, part of Anya, and he’d love her for the rest of his life.

“Xavier,” Anya said, whispering in his ear. “Would you like to make another one?”

Epilogue

From the bastard boss to the devoted father, Xavier changed who he was. Francine was the first of five children in total. Anya was a natural at parenting, and she filled his world with so much love.