Unexpected fate, p.14
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       Unexpected Fate, p.14
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         Part #1 of Hope Town series by Harper Sloan
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  “What are you saying, Doctor?” my father spits out. I can literally hear the force he had to use to get the words through his lips.

  “I’ll need to talk to you daughter in private, and then, when she’s ready, she can choose to share the information we discuss as she sees fit. I do apologize, Mr. and Mrs. Reid. ”

  I don’t move my eyes from my lap. I keep my head down even through the struggle of my mom physically pulling my dad out of the room. I don’t move when I hear him yelling out in the hallway or when I hear something crash. Not even when the door clicks loudly when the doctor shuts herself in the room with me.

  The whole time, my mind is spinning.

  Pregnant?

  Surely, she’s wrong. She must have someone else’s chart. I remember the question about my last period. I just opened the app on my phone and put what it said. My periods have always been erratic, so I never even gave it a second thought.

  “Danielle? Is it okay that I call you Danielle?”

  Page 52

  “Dani,” I mumble.

  “I’m sorry?”

  “It’s Dani. I’ve always hated Danielle. Sounds like a mouthful, so I go by Dani. It works. I don’t get any annoying nicknames. I’m just Dani. Dani Reid. That’s me. Holy shit, am I freaking pregnant?!” I end my verbal vomit on a scream that makes me wince.

  “I take it this is a surprise?”

  “Very much so,” I tell her, starting to freak out a little.

  “How about I go get our portable ultrasound machine and we get a little look. Might ease your mind and make it seem a little more real. Well, once the shock wears off. ”

  I nod my head, but I don’t speak.

  Pregnant.

  Holy shit. Cohen is going to freak.

  And my daddy is going to go apeshit.

  THE NIGHTS ARE SO LONG here.

  I’m left with nothing but longing to be home with my family and with Dani in my arms.

  It gives me nothing but time to sit and think.

  Think about the time I lost with Dani because I was too busy pushing her away.

  Time I’m losing now because I’m over in this fucking hell, hunting terrorists.

  And the worst feeling of all is that growing ache in my stomach that tells me I have to get home soon. I can’t explain it any other way. It’s a daily struggle to push the feeling aside so I can concentrate on my job and make sure I don’t get blown the fuck up in the process.

  One thing is for certain in all of this. This time away from Dani has proven one thing to me. That one night I had with her in my arms will never be enough.

  I roll over on the hard ground and close my eyes, and just like the night before and every one since I’ve been here, I see her smiling face.

  THE DOCTOR COMES BACK IN the room, dragging some weird-ass computer behind her. She flips the light off before she has me lie back on the exam table, and she puts my shirt over my stomach before I can get over my shock. My leggings are wiggled down until they are resting just above my crotch. And then I let out a yelp when she squirts some goo on me.

  “Sorry, Dani. I don’t usually run the ultrasounds, so I must have grabbed the gel that wasn’t in the warmer,” she mumbles more to herself than to me.

  I look down to where her hand is moving some wand-looking thing around in the disgusting goo. This is so nasty. All of this work for her to tell me that she read something wrong.

  I have almost convinced myself that there was no way she could be right. Hell, Cohen used a condom every time, so surely there is no possible way for me to be pregnant. I haven’t been throwing up. Everything has been normal. Just because I don’t have a regular period doesn’t mean I’m knocked up.

  I am about to open my mouth and tell her just that when the oddest sound echoes through the small room. “What the hell?” I question at the noise. It sounds like thundering hoof beats.

  “Well, that, Dani, is your baby. ”

  She sounds so pleased that I can’t help how my eyes narrow before the shock hits again. Jesus, it’s just the night for shocks.

  I hesitantly look over at the monitor she’s pointing to before my heart stops for a beat before picking up. I have no idea what the heck I’m looking at. I just know it’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my whole life.

  My baby?

  Cohen’s and my little miracle.

  The doctor starts pointing to everything and explaining what I’m looking at. Every word she speaks, I soak up like a dying woman. Already head over heels in love with the child I was convinced only seconds before couldn’t even be possible.

  Holy crap. I’m going to be a mommy?

  Even through I’m scared out of my mind for what this means for my future—my future with Cohen—I let the love for this child wash over me and smile the brightest smile I’ve probably ever had.

  “So . . . surprised but happy?” she asks.

  “Very. ” And I am. I really am.

  “The baby’s father? I can print these images for you. ”

  “He’s overseas. But I would love to have a few copies so that I can show him when he gets home. ”

  “Of course. Do you know when he is expected to return? If you would like, just come on by when I’m on shift and I’ll make sure you guys are able to sneak a peek at this little one. You’re measuring right at twelve weeks, so unfortunately, it’s too early for a gender screen. But come back in a few weeks and we can see if that little one wants to give you an early show. ”

  “Thank you,” I breathe roughly when she hands me the printouts of my baby and moves to turn the lights on. “Hey, Doc?”

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  “Yes?” She looks over after she washes her hands.

  “Do you know if there is a back entrance you can sneak me out?”

  She throws her head back with a laugh and shakes her head. “I’m sorry. ”

  “It’s okay. He’s just a little . . . overprotective. ”

  “I noticed. ” She laughs. “I’ll step out and give you a minute. Congratulations, Dani. I want you to be careful. You shouldn’t be alone tonight because of the concussion. You also need to follow up with your gynecologist later this week. Is it okay to have your parents come back in now?”

  “Uh, yeah. Can you mention to my dad about my headache or something? It should keep his temper in check if he knows he can’t freak out. Gives me a day or so to let this sink in. ”

  She laughs but agrees.

  When the door opens five minutes later and my mom walks in, she immediately wraps her arms around me. I can tell she’s crying, but I wasn’t expecting to see a huge smile on her face when she pulls back. She leans in and gives me a kiss on my forehead.

  “I love you,” she mouths.

  I look over her shoulder and see my daddy. All six feet six inches of him, his tattooed arms crossed over his chest, and every vein bulging in his neck. His face is beet red, and his breathing is erratic.

  Daddy is pissed.

  “I love you, Daddy. ”

  “And I love you, my little princess,” he says, deflating some. Then, almost as if he remembered why he was so worked up, he stands tall again and his veins pop back out. “But I’m going to kill that motherfucker who touched you. ”

  Mom gives me a squeeze, and I stay silent. Because really, what am I supposed to say to that?

  Predictably, Daddy wouldn’t take me home. He didn’t say a word, even through all my complaining. Mom just giggled in the front seat. My head was killing me, so I wasn’t willing to put up the fight. But I wasn’t staying. My plan to call Lee the second we got over there was foiled when he answered and said that he was on a date.

  My father thoroughly enjoyed watching me stew in my anger over being held hostage by him.

  “Fine. I’ll call one of the girls. ”

  “The fuck you will, Dani! You might not remember how this night started, but I sure as
hell do. Until we figure out what is going on with these flowers and now that note—you aren’t leaving my sight. ”

  “I’m not staying, Daddy. I’m perfectly safe at home. And if it’s a problem, then Lee can stay with me. ”

  “Liam doesn’t own as many guns as I do,” he snaps, crossing his arms over his chest, again, in his international Axel sign for “don’t mess with me. ”

  “Lee is also a black belt and could kick even your ass. ”

  “Liam wouldn’t be able to do shit against a knife or gun, Dani. You’re safe here. I can keep you safe. ”

  “I’m safe at home!” I scream.

  “I know you’re not going to argue with me, your father, who happens to own a fucking company that specializes in fucking security, that you’re going to be better off without me watching over you. News flash, little princess: there isn’t a single person that I trust to keep my little girl and future grandbaby safe. ”

  His eyes soften slightly when he mentions the baby, and I just know that, despite his anger, which I’m sure will make another appearance, he’s going to love this baby just as much as he loves Nate and me.

  “Don’t you look at me like that, Dani. I’m still going to kill that asshole who knocked up my little girl. ”

  I’m not sure what it was in his tone that made me look back over at him. “What? I can tell you have more to say. ”

  “I didn’t want to get into this while everything that happened today is still so fresh, but I have to say . . . I’m disappointed in you, Dani. I never thought that you would do something like this to Cohen. I just hope that, whoever that bastard is, he’s worth the trouble he caused. I might not have told you, but I couldn’t have picked a better man for you to end up with than Cohen, and when he finds out you’re pregnant with another man’s child, I don’t see how that can end well. ”

  He turns and walks out of the room. His words hit me right in the gut before they slam directly into my heart.

  Another man’s child? What in the hell!

  I don’t even take a second to process my anger. I grab my cell out of my purse and search for the number I need. It doesn’t take long for the call to connect.

  “’Lo?”

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  “Chance? Can you please come get me?” I hiccup through a sob.

  CHANCE DIDN’T ASK ANY QUESTIONS. He pulled into my parents’ driveway thirty minutes later and honked the horn. I didn’t even pause. I got my purse, grabbed the bag with my meds, and walked out the front door. I could hear my dad yelling when I jumped in the passenger seat and slammed the door before locking it.

  Chance looks at me with questions in his eyes before he looks past me to where I’m sure my father is fuming.

  “If I drive out of here right now, is it going to get me killed?” he asks.

  “Possibly. ”

  “Right. Well, seeing as I like being alive and I plan to keep on breathing for a while longer, I’m going to step out of the truck and have a chat with your dad. ”

  Before I can stop him, he opens the door and steps out.

  Shit!

  I can hear them talking, but not what is being said because the window is up and the hum of his engine is drowning them out. Hesitantly, I reach over and press the down button until the window is cracked slightly.

  “ . . . just came because she called me and sounded upset. I owe it to Cohen to make sure she’s okay, sir. No offense, but if she isn’t okay here, then I’ll step in. ”

  “Is it yours?” my dad barks.

  “Is what mine?”

  “The baby. ”

  Chance looks over his shoulder at me. His face is stoic, but his eyes flash in warning. Warning of what, I’m not sure.

  “I was unaware that Dani was expecting, sir. ”

  “Cut the bullshit, Chance. Are you sleeping with my daughter? With your roommate’s girl? Do you think I don’t know about the nights she’s been sneaking over to your place?”

  Holy shit. This is bad.

  “Axel!”

  I look between the two men standing toe-to-toe in my parents’ driveway to see my mom running down their porch steps.

  “You need to step away right now. This, all of this, is none of your business, and as much as it kills you that it isn’t, it’s time to shut the hell up before you cause your daughter more pain. We will have words later about what you’re accusing her of. ”

  God, I love my mom.

  Chance doesn’t give him a second to reply. He steps away, turns, and walks back to the driver seat.

  Mom calls his name and gets his attention before he can shut the door. “She needs to be watched tonight after her fall. Wake her up every few hours. I trust you to take care of her?”

  “Yes, ma’am. ” He shuts the door and backs out of their driveway.

  I can tell he has plenty to say, but he’s keeping quiet.

  “I’m sorry, Chance,” I whisper.

  He doesn’t speak, but he reaches out and grabs my hand, holding it tight in his and giving me just what I need at the moment.

  Someone else to be my strength.

  The second we got back to the apartment, I took off to Cohen’s room. By the time my head hits his pillow, I was ready to crash. Chance gave me the time I needed—and wanted—to be alone. The only time I saw him was the two times that he woke me in the middle of the night.

  I can’t believe that my own father would think so low of me. Even through my hurt that he would even say such a thing, I can see where the thought sprouted. Cohen’s been gone, and by his own account, he knows I’ve been coming over here. It makes sense, even if his lack of faith in me is heartbreaking.

  I don’t realize I’m crying until I feel the bed depress.

  “You want to talk about it? I’m not good with the chick shit, but I can try to help. ”

  “I think you’ve guessed that I’m pregnant?”

  “Figured as much when your dad was about to rip my head off and assumed I had slept with you. I thought he knew you and Cohen were together?”

  I sigh. “You should know him well enough to know that, when he’s mad, he gets . . . irrational. I guess he didn’t consider that it was something that happened before Cohen left. And everything that happened today, with the note and then the baby bomb, I guess he just lets his emotions get the best of his. ”

  “I won’t insult you by questioning if this is Cohen’s or not, but you do realize that it’s going to be on the top of everyone’s assumptions that this baby isn’t his?”

  “I’ve waited for him my whole life, Chance. Everyone who knows me knows that. I just can’t believe my own father . . . ” I trail off and leave it hanging. No sense in beating a dead horse.

  “Why don’t you tell me about the note? Then give either your girls or Liam a call. You need your friends around you, and honestly, Dani, I like you enough, but I don’t know how to be the shoulder you are bound to cry on at some point. ”

  Page 55

  I laugh and take a deep breath, willing my hurt feelings not to fester into tears. “Yeah, okay. ” I tell him all about the note and what I remember it saying, which isn’t much, but he promises to check with the guys at work to get more details. In the end, I feel a little better just having someone to talk to, but I decide that he’s right and I need my people.

  Not knowing what to say to the twins yet, I pick up and dial Lee, knowing that he can help me sort my head before I call them. Having just dropped his date off, he agrees to head on over to the apartment. I can tell he wants to ask questions, but he hangs up with the promise to be over shortly.

  “Well, you really managed to go all out in the drama tonight, Dani,” Lee says, leaning back against the headboard and opening his arms so that I can rest against his chest.

  “Can you believe I’m pregnant, Lee?”

  “Honestly? I can’t say I’m shocked. I mean, it’s Cohen. ”

  “What t
he hell does that mean?” I laugh.

  “The man wore a cape for, what . . . like, twenty years. He’s some super-secret black ops marine. I’m pretty sure he could kill me a million different ways—the man is just born to have super everything. ”

  “We used a condom, Lee. ”

  He gags. “I love you, Dani, but I don’t want to talk about that shit. Let’s just leave it at shit happens and his super sperm battered down the shield. ”

  I slap his stomach. “God, you’re disgusting. ” I settle back down for a second before I push up and spin to look at him. “Do you think Cohen will think the same thing my dad did?”

  Lee doesn’t say anything, which doesn’t help the trepidation I already feel. “I’m not going to lie to you, Dani. From the outside, without all the facts, it looks shady. But you said it yourself. Your dad didn’t even know how far along you are. ”

  “I would never betray Cohen like that. ”

  He smiles. “Yeah, I know that. It’s a shitty situation, Dani. Wait until Cohen gets back before you start to worry about it. I will say, I wouldn’t keep this from the girls. ”

  “I didn’t plan on it. I just need to process things. I’ll call them tonight. ”

  “Sure thing, babe. Come on. Let’s get some rest. I came straight here after a night out with Stacy. I’m fucking beat. ”

  Lee and I managed to get a good few hours in before the knocking started. Chance left a note that said that he was over at Megan’s and would be back later. He’s been spending a lot of time with her lately. I teased him about finally dating, something I’ve never seen him do, but he told me that it isn’t anything other than helping her out with her daughter. I push back my normal embarrassment and guilt when I think about my first impression of her. Now, having met her, I know she is just a grieving woman who needs her friends.

  I step out of Cohen’s room and walk to the door. When I look through the peephole, I smile and shake my head at the noise four fists can produce against one door.

  Well, that didn’t take long.

  I open the door right when Lyn is about to bang on it again and just barely dodge her fist.

  “Damn, Lyn!”

  “About time, bitch,” she snaps.

  “Hey, Dani. ” Lila gives me a hug and follows her sister into the apartment.

  “Where’s Lee?” Lyn asks, looking around.

  “Right here. God, could you be any louder. I was out with the screecher before I came over here, and God, my head hurts. ”

  All three of us look over at Lee and gawk.

 
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