And Jack could’ve prevented the incident last month if he’d just taken her out for finger steaks like she’d asked him to. His refusal to understand the depth of her craving had forced her to cook the yummy bits of breaded and fried steak herself. So, it wasn’t completely her fault that she’d accidentally started a small grease fire in the kitchen and she’d had to call the fire department. The fire department in turn had called the local ambulance crew, and they had contacted her brother Cam—a Crook County Deputy—who had called her entire family. Except no one had remembered to call her husband. So when Jack had come home after work to see the driveway filled with emergency vehicles and McKays, he’d lost his mind.
She’d had to spray him down with the hose to cool him off. Then she’d really caught hell for ruining his bajillion-dollar, triple-worsted wool suit crafted out of special sheep butt hairs or some such. And people claimed she was on edge during this pregnancy?
Besides, Jack had it easy. His job as her baby daddy entailed three things:
Sucking it up and listening to her every pregnancy complaint like she was reciting secret stock tips.
Keeping her fed and never ever ever mentioning the amount of food she consumed on a daily basis.
Fulfilling her sexual needs whenever and wherever she wanted; or keeping his dick far away from her on those bad pregnancy days she suspected she’d chop it off if he showed it to her. Happily those days were mostly behind them now.
Not such a hard list. So why was he dragging his loafers on getting on with checking off task number three today?
Keely had even given him a choice on where he could perform his husbandly duties. While she waited for him to choose, she studied her hot hunk of manflesh. The man defined sexy—who could blame her for wanting to jump his bones all the damn time? His dark hair was disheveled from constantly running his fingers through it. His silk paisley tie remained neatly knotted and he hadn’t taken off his suit jacket, which in her mind meant he hadn’t really started to work yet. So this was the perfect time for a break. Besides, Jack never really meant no.
“Come on, Jack.”
“I’ll make it worth your while,” she said, adding a purring rowr.
“That’s what I’m afraid of,” Jack said, without looking away from his computer screen. “And stop staring at my crotch to see if I’m getting hard,” he warned her.
“Just tell me if your boxers are getting tight?”
“Because A, I’m thinking about work not sex, and if you want to see me before midnight, which isn’t likely, you’ll find a way to entertain yourself and let me finish this. B, if I do take your offer to bend you over the conference table and fuck you until you scream, guaranteed one of your ten billion family members will decide to pop in and interrupt us. Again.”
Keely crossed her arms over her chest trying not to feel self-conscious. She could almost rest them on her protruding belly. “That was not my fault. I cannot control my family, Jack.”
“I know that only too well,” he muttered. “Besides, don’t you have a client scheduled?”
“She had to cancel.” That’s when she knew she should’ve lied. He’d see her offer as a way to kill time. When in actuality, she saw it as a chance to revisit their spontaneous pre-pregnancy trysts for the first time in what seemed like weeks.
Jack stopped typing and looked at her sharply. “Just because you’re bored doesn’t mean I am.”
Bored? Fuck that and fuck you too, buddy. Or better yet, I wouldn’t fuck you right now if you begged me. In fact…Then just like that surly girl disappeared and weepy woman took her place.
Awesome. She hadn’t run this hot and cold even as a teenager. She hated that a curt word or a scowl from him set her off into a fit of rage or a river of tears. Yet she was sick of him and everyone else muttering about her out-of-whack hormones.
So she opted to take the high road for a change. “Sorry to interrupt you.” Keely pushed off the doorframe and pulled the door shut behind her. Not slamming it. Point for her.
But Jack didn’t chase her down.
That thought caused a pang of sadness. But it also steeled her determination to do something besides wait around for him.
Keely grabbed her things from her office. Although it was only three-thirty, she shut off the lights and locked the building.
Once she was in her Escalade tooling down the road, she realized she didn’t want to go home. As social as her life was living amongst her assorted McKay and West relatives, she didn’t want to hang out with any of them.
The baby performed a kick/karate chop maneuver and she rubbed a hand over her belly. “Guess you’re fine with it bein’ you and me, huh baby D? What should we do? Daddy forbids horseback riding. No more putzing around on the ATV either.”
She could go to Ziggy’s—see who was celebrating an early happy hour. Throw some darts. Play some pool. But then again...her body weight balance had shifted so much in the last few months that she sucked at darts. Her oversized belly made it impossible to lean over a pool table to make a decent shot.
On impulse she drove to Spearfish.
She wandered around Walmart. Annoyed with herself for being lonely but not wanting any company. Wanting this baby out so badly, but scared to death for it to actually come out. Then the baby did a full belly roll inside her that took her breath away, forcing her to rest on a porch swing in the lawn and garden department.
As she rocked, her thoughts wandered to Jack. First time he’d been snappish with her for a while. He’d been solicitous lately—to the point she suspected the man was walking on egg shells around her.
Can you blame him after your meltdown two weeks ago?
That wasn’t her fault. The stupid mixer had gotten stuck and sprayed red velvet cake batter everywhere. What woman wouldn’t have thrown it off the deck and beat it to smithereens with a sledge hammer?
But Jack didn’t think her behavior was normal. He’d locked up all the power tools in the shed and refused to give her a key to the new paddle lock.
So maybe she’d had a few crazy moments. But instead of fighting back, Jack had become gentle with her. Not that she wanted him to be a dick, but he hadn’t been acting like the Jack she knew and loved.
“Ma’am? Are you all right?”
Startled out of her brooding, Keely glanced up at the young Walmart employee. “I just felt a little dizzy and needed to sit.”
“Okay.” His gaze slid to the cart parked alongside the garden hose display. A cart filled with bags of candy and potato chips. Three liters of strawberry soda. A tube of KY. And two containers of Brussels sprouts. “Is that your cart? Because I can take it up to the checkout for you.”
She looked him in the eye and lied. “I have no idea whose cart that is. It was there when I sat down.”
“Oh. I’ll just move it out of your way then.”
She sighed. So much for sneaking junk food into the house. But her Gestapo husband would’ve confiscated it anyway and lectured her on bad eating habits. He found no humor in her pointing out that her cravings weren’t clichéd like pickles and ice cream.
So it was the first time she’d ever left Walmart empty-handed.
Hungry—again—Keely stopped into a sports bar for a burger and ordered a salad, rather than a mountain of French fries. With her feet up on the bench seat, she watched the news and Wheel of Fortune. When she glanced at the clock, she realized she’d managed to kill three hours since she’d left the office.
But she still didn’t want to go home.
She checked the newspaper for movie show times. Two movies she’d never convince Jack to see were playing. Perfect way to entertain herself.
In the nearly empty theater she chose a seat where she could put her feet up. By the time the movie ended, her restlessness had abated and even baby D had settled down. So she opted to make it a double feature. For the second movie she armed herself with a jumbo bucket of popcorn slathered with butter, an extra-large box of Sugar Babies and a caffeine-free soda.
Mood lighter after the sappy love story and an action flick where the hero had blown up a shit ton of stuff, she sang along with the country tunes on the radio. So she didn’t hear the siren behind her, but she sure noticed the flashing lights in her rearview mirror.
So much for her good mood.
Keely watched as her brother Cam got out of the deputy’s car. By the time he reached her she’d rolled the window down. She felt her own panic rise when she saw the panic on his face. “Cam. What’s wrong?”
“Jesus Christ, Keely. Are you okay?”
“Yes, I’m okay. Why wouldn’t I be?”
“Because Jack’s been going out of his goddamned mind the last four hours trying to track you down.” He stuck his head in the window. “Where’s your cell phone?”
“I don’t know. I must’ve left the house without it. Or left it at the office.”
“You are a pregnant woman. You need to have that phone on you at all times, do you hear me?”
Enough. She was too damn old for another ass-chewing session, especially when she had to pee again. “Is that some kind of Crook County law I wasn’t aware of, Deputy? Are you gonna write me a fucking ticket for not having my cell phone on my person?”
“Don’t be a smart ass.”
“Don’t be a pain in my ass,” she shot back. “And I don’t need a goddamn lecture from you—”
“Yes, you do, when your husband has called the entire family to find out where the hell you are! He’s worried sick, Keely. Are you really blaming him when you’ve been out of contact for hours?”
Her mouth dropped open. “Are you kiddin’ me? I went to the movies after my husband told me to leave him alone so he could work! And then he has the balls to act all concerned, like it’s my fault? Bullshit.” She glared at Cam. “Not only did the bastard call my family to tattle on me, he called you and put out a BOLO on me too? Un-fucking-believable. He’s really gonna wish he hadn’t done that when I use a croquet mallet on his goddamned laptop and cell phone.” Just thinking about beating the fuck out of his precious electronics made her almost giddy.