For a moment I didn’t answer, because I wasn’t sure, but the pain didn’t return. “Yeah. I’m fine. I guess it was just a weird cramp.”

He touched my hand as he glanced around. “You sure?”

I nodded. “It was just a cramp. Probably the fried chicken.”

“You did eat a lot of fried chicken.”

My eyes narrowed. “Not that much.”

Some of the tension eased out of Nick. “You ate, like, six pieces. Two of which were mine.” He paused, his sage-colored eyes glimmering. “And my biscuit. You also ate my biscuit.”

I did eat his biscuit. “I was hungry.”

He chuckled as he turned back to the tree. “You want this one?”

“I think it’s perfect with its ‘holly berries.’ ”

Bending down, he easily picked up the long, narrow box. “Look at you, such a quick learner.”

I laughed as he propped the tree up in the cart, and we moved on to the decorations. As we picked out ornaments and a garland, I waited for the pain to return, and was relieved that it didn’t happen again.


We headed toward the front of the store, taking a shortcut through home furnishings, which caused us to walk right through the baby section. My attention wandered over the endless sea of baby stuff.

“You want to look around?” he asked, following my gaze.

My heart flip-flopped. “You okay with that?”

He shot me a weird look. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

I shrugged. “It’s really too soon to even look at any of this stuff.”

“You can get some ideas, though.”

“You have a good point.”

“I always have good points.”

“Aren’t you just a humble-brag.” I started forward, eyeing the changing tables. “Do you really think I need one of these?”

Nick followed with the cart. “Unless you plan on changing the baby on a kitchen counter, I’d say yes.”

I giggled at the image as I brushed my fingers over the white pad. A display of tiny shoes were placed near the table.

“Oh my gosh.” I picked up the pair of little white Mary Janes. Both shoes fit in one hand as I turned to Nick. “Look at this! Look at how small they are.”

He shook his head. “There’s a part of me that can’t even fathom feet that tiny for shoes.”

“I know.” Grinning, I bit down on my lip. “If we have a girl, I’m so buying these shoes.”

“You can buy ten of them if it makes you happy.”

My gaze flew to his and held. The sincerity was right there. I couldn’t look away from it. Words bubbled up to the tip of my tongue and I forced myself to look away. I put the shoes back. From there I roamed to a matching dresser and a rocking chair. There was so much stuff. Car seats. Strollers of various sizes. Rockers. Bouncy chairs. Diaper genies and so many different types of baby bottles.

Standing in the middle of the baby section, I simply gawked at everything. “I think I’m going to have a panic attack,” I told him, only half serious. “I mean, I need to get all this stuff. That’s a lot of stuff. And where am I going to put all of it?”

Nick picked up a package of dishwasher safe bottles. “Correction. We need to get this stuff and we have room. My grandfather’s house is mine. It’s in the will. I had been thinking about selling it once . . . well, you know, and moving into something smaller,” he said, placing the bottles back. He returned to the cart. “But seems smart to keep the house, especially with a baby coming.”

I was staring at him again. “You . . . you’re saying that we—like me and the baby—could move in with you?”

He arched a brow. “No. I was talking about that guy and girl over there picking out strollers.”

I was still staring at him.

“Why wouldn’t you? You’re right. You don’t have the space. I do. It would work perfectly.” He leaned on the cart and picked up my hat, twirling it in his hands. A sly grin curved his lips. “And I like the idea of sharing a bed with you.”

Although I knew his mind was probably happily playing in the gutter right now, I was absolutely floored by his offer. I don’t know why I was surprised. Nick had a house. I had an apartment. He had room. I didn’t. And this was our baby.

Moving in together was a huge step, but having a baby was an even bigger one.

God, we had done things so ass backward, but I didn’t care as I stood there, openly staring at him.

I love you.

I wanted to get those words out. I wanted to scream them at the top of my lungs, but once again, I couldn’t get them past my tongue.

Who knew three little words would be so hard to speak?

Chapter 26

“So when will I get to meet Nick?”

My eyes widened as the subject of my mom’s question swaggered out from my bathroom half dressed. Dark denim jeans hung low, showing off the vee shape of his lower stomach. While I would never ever pass up the chance to appreciate the hotness of his near nakedness, we were going to be late to dinner.

But his bare chest glistened from the shower he took, and I wasn’t convinced that he was wearing any underwear. I bit down on my lip as I eyed the tightly coiled muscles of his abdomen. Desire pooled low in my stomach. My hormones could just be going crazy, but I couldn’t get enough of him.

Nick had to run into the bar late Sunday morning to help move more new equipment into the kitchen. When he showed up at my place, he’d been greasy and sweaty, immediately stating that he needed to get into the shower. Which was a great idea, because we had a group date we were supposed to be at tonight, but I was . . . well, I was going to blame pregnancy hormones.

He had undressed but his shower stalled when I kissed my way down until I was on my knees before him. So the fact that we would be running late was partly my fault.

“Stephanie, honey, are you still there?”

Pushing those thoughts out of my head, I turned around and stared at my dresser. “Yeah, I’m here. Sorry. I was distracted.”

Nick chuckled from behind me.

I rolled my eyes. “I don’t know when you can meet Nick, Mom.” Pausing, I peeked over my shoulder to gauge his reaction. If he looked like he was ready to pass out then that would probably be a bad sign, but he appeared engrossed in pulling the sweater out of the gym bag he’d brought with him. Was he purposely ignoring what I was saying? Or did it not bother him?

“Well, I think you two should figure that out,” Mom insisted, and I fought a grin as I recognized her “mom” voice.

“I can ask him.”

“He’s there?” Mom laughed. “So that’s why you’re distracted.”

“Mom,” I groaned as I twisted around so I faced Nick. “Mom wants to know when she can meet you.”

Nick glanced up as he shook out his sweater. Nice wrinkle removal technique there. “I can’t really head down to Martinsburg right now. Not with my granddad,” he said, and that made sense. “But if she’s coming up here, I’d love to meet her.”

He’d love to meet her. My heart did a little dance in my chest. “He said—”

“I heard him, dear. Please tell him that I totally understand about his grandfather and he’s in my prayers,” Mom replied. “I was thinking about coming around Christmas. How does that sound?”