Wanted by her lost love, p.3
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       Wanted by Her Lost Love, p.3

         Part #2 of Pregnancy & Passion series by Maya Banks
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  He fingered the paper in his pocket and then lifted his gaze to meet hers once more. “We’ll discuss the check after we go to the doctor.”

  Disgust flared in her eyes. “Resorting to blackmail now, Ryan?”

  “If that’s what you want to call it. I really don’t care. You’re going to the doctor with me. If he gives you a clean bill of health, then I’ll hand over the check and walk out of here.”

  Her eyes narrowed suspiciously. “Just like that.”

  He nodded, not bothering to tell her that there wasn’t a doctor in this world who could possibly give her a clean bill of health. She was dead on her feet. She was pale and very likely significantly underweight.

  She nibbled at her lip for a long while as if deciding whether or not to acquiesce. Then finally she closed her eyes and let out her breath in a long exhale.

  “All right, Ryan. I’ll go to the doctor with you. After he verifies that I’m perfectly fine, I don’t want to see you again.”

  “If he says you’re okay, then you’ll get your wish.”

  She lowered herself back into the chair, clearly exhausted. He bit back a curse. Was she blind or just that heavily into denial? She needed someone to take care of her. Make sure she ate three good meals a day. Someone to make her put her feet up and rest.

  He checked his watch. “We should be going. Your appointment is in half an hour and I don’t know how bad traffic will be.”

  Defeat crept over her face, but then she hardened her expression and rose once more. She retrieved her purse from the recliner and started for the door, leaving him to follow.

  Kelly stared sightlessly out the window as Ryan maneuvered through traffic. She was mentally exhausted from her confrontation with Ryan. She just wanted him gone. She couldn’t even look at him without all the hurt from the past crashing through her and turning her inside out.

  He parked in the garage of a downtown medical clinic and ushered her inside the modern building. They rode the elevator to the fourth floor and Kelly stood numbly as Ryan checked in with the receptionist.

  After filling out her medical history, she was ushered back for the prerequisite pee in a cup. When she exited the bathroom, a nurse directed her into one of the exam rooms where she found Ryan waiting for her.

  She bared her teeth in a snarl, prepared to order him out when he held up a hand, his expression as fierce as her own had to be.

  “I will hear firsthand everything the doctor has to say.”

  His eyes dared her to argue. She swallowed nervously, knowing he’d make a scene if she pushed the issue. She turned her back on him and leaned on the exam table.

  She just had to get past the exam, have the doctor tell Ryan that everything was fine, and then she’d be rid of him.

  A few minutes later, a young doctor came in and smiled at her. He gestured for her to get onto the table and recline. After measuring her and listening to the baby’s heartbeat, he wheeled in a small machine and then applied cool gel to her stomach.

  She lifted her head. “What are you doing?”

  “Thought you might like to get a look at the little guy or girl. I’ll do a quick sonogram for dates and measurement, make sure everything is okay. Is that all right with you?”

  She nodded and the doctor began moving the wand over her stomach. Then he stopped and gestured toward the small screen. “There’s the head.”

  Ryan crowded in so he could see the monitor. She craned her neck to see around him. Ryan looked back at her then hastily slipped a hand underneath her neck to lift her so she could see. Tears filled her eyes and her lips widened into a smile. “She’s beautiful!”

  “Yes, she is,” Ryan said huskily in her ear.

  “Or he,” she said quickly.

  “Would you like to find out what you’re having?” the doctor offered. “We can take a look.”

  “No…no, I don’t think so,” she said. “I want it to be a surprise.”

  The doctor took a few more minutes and then stood up, wiping her belly clean. He handed her a picture he printed out of the baby’s profile and returned to his clipboard. After a few scribbled notes, he looked back up at her. “I’m concerned about you.”

  She frowned and struggled to sit up. Ryan eased her into a sitting position, and she looked questioningly at the doctor.

  “Your blood pressure is elevated and there are traces of protein in your urine. There is significant edema to your hands and feet and I’d bet, judging by your weight, that you aren’t getting enough nutrition. You’re exhibiting signs of preeclampsia and it could lead to serious repercussions.”

  Kelly regarded him in stunned silence.

  Ryan turned to the doctor with a frown. “What is preeclampsia?”

  “It’s related to an increase in blood pressure and an increase in protein in urine output. Typically it affects women after their twentieth week of pregnancy. It can progress to seizures, at that point it becomes eclampsia.”

  The doctor turned his stern gaze on Kelly before continuing.

  “You are only a hairbreadth from going into the hospital and staying there until you deliver, and unless I exact a promise from you and your husband that you’ll remain off your feet and take better care of yourself, I’ll forgo the warning and straight into the hospital you’ll go.”

  “He’s not my—” she began.

  “Consider it done,” Ryan smoothly interjected. “She won’t so much as lift a finger. You have my word.”

  “But—”

  “No buts,” the doctor said. “I don’t think you fully understand the direness of your situation. If your condition progresses, it can mean your death. Eclampsia is the second leading cause of maternal death in the U.S. and the leading cause of fetal complications. This is serious and you need to take all the necessary precautions to prevent an escalation in your condition.”

  Ryan blanched, and she felt the blood drain from her own face as well.

  “I can assure you, Doctor, Kelly won’t be doing anything but resting and eating from now on,” Ryan said grimly.

  The doctor nodded approvingly and shook both their hands. “I’d like to see her back in a week. And if the swelling gets worse or she develops a severe headache she’s to go directly to the hospital.”

  After the doctor left, Kelly sat on the exam table, stunned by the doctor’s pronouncement. Ryan slid his hand over hers and squeezed.

  “I don’t want you to worry, Kelly.”

  Worry? She nearly let out a hysterical laugh. Her life was a total and complete mess and she wasn’t supposed to worry. She was ready to run screaming from the building.

  “Come on,” he said quietly. “Let’s go.”

  She let him lead her out of the doctor’s office and to the car without protest. This couldn’t be happening to her. She sat mutely in the car as they drove away, refusing to even look at Ryan. She had no job, and now if the doctor was to be believed, she couldn’t have worked even if she hadn’t been fired. How was she going to support herself, let alone her baby? She had some savings but it was all earmarked for the baby and school.

  Helplessness gripped her and she didn’t like it one bit. The shrill ring of a cell phone startled her and she looked over to see Ryan put it to his ear as he expertly weaved through traffic. Her ears perked up when she heard her name.

  “We’re going by Kelly’s apartment to get her things. Book us a flight from Houston and call me back with the flight number and time. Then call over to Dr. Whitcomb’s office on Hillcrest and get Kelly’s medical report faxed to Dr. Bryant in New York. Cover for me and have Linda go over any contracts needing my signatures. I’ll be in the office in a few days.”

  He ended the conversation abruptly and set the phone aside.

  “What were you talking about?” Kelly said in bewilderment.

  He glanced over at her, a grim expression tightening his face. “I’m taking you home.”

  “Over my dead body,” she snarled. She crossed her arms over her belly and pressed he
r lips firmly together.

  “You’re going,” he said in a tone that brooked no argument. “You need someone to take care of you since you refuse to do it yourself. Do you want to risk the baby’s health? Or yours? Give me a solution, Kelly. Prove to me that I can leave here knowing you’ll be okay.”

  She stared woodenly at him. “Don’t you understand that I want nothing to do with you?”

  “Oh yes, you made that clear to me when you slept with my brother. But the fact is you’re likely carrying my child—or my niece or nephew, and either way I’m not going to disappear until I know you’re both safe. You’re coming to New York with me if I have to carry you on the plane.”

  “It’s not your child,” she said fiercely.

  His gaze raked over her. “Whose is it then?”

  “None of your business.”

  There was a long silence before he finally said, “You’re going with me. I’m not just doing this for a child that may or may not be mine.”

  “Why are you doing it then?” she shot back.

  He ignored her and stared out the windshield, his fingers curled tight around the steering wheel.

  When they arrived at her apartment, she got out of the car before he could come around for her and she hurried up the stairs. She could hear him behind her and when she tried to shut the door, he put up his hand and pushed his way inside.

  “We have to talk, Kelly.”

  She whirled around. “Yes, we do. You said we’d talk about the check. You were certainly willing to throw it at me when you called me a whore. I want it now and I don’t give a damn what you think about the fact I’m taking it.”

  “I’m no longer offering it.”

  “Oh, nice,” she said sarcastically.

  “I want you to come back to New York with me.”

  Her mouth fell open. “You’re insane. Why would I go anywhere with you?”

  “Because you need me.”

  Pain speared through her chest, robbing her of breath. “I needed you before.”

  She turned away before he could respond. She framed her belly with her palms and tried not to panic.

  Behind her Ryan was silent. Disturbingly so. Then when he spoke there was an odd, strained tone to his voice.

  “I’m going out to have your prescriptions filled. I’ll pick us up something to eat. When I get back, I want you to be packed.”

  His footsteps were heavy on the floor and then the door shut quietly behind him.

  She sank onto the tattered recliner and massaged her forehead. Two days ago she had a plan. A good plan. She had everything mapped out. Today she had no job, her health was suspect and her ex-fiancé was pressuring her to go back to New York with him.

  It made her cringe, but she realized she was going to have to call her mother. She’d once sworn she’d have to be dying to ever ask her mom for anything, but right now that seemed the lesser of two evils.

  “What doesn’t kill me will make me stronger, right?” she muttered.

  Lame. So lame.

  Still, she picked up the phone, drew in a deep breath and called the last number she had for her mother. It was entirely possible Deidre no longer lived in Florida. Who really knew with her?

  She’d washed her hands of Kelly the minute Kelly graduated high school and all but shoved her out of the house so she could move in her latest boyfriend. She’d informed Kelly that she’d done her duty and devoted eighteen of the best years of her life—years she’d never get back—to raising a child she’d never intended to have.

  Good luck, see you later, don’t ask me for anything else.

  Yeah.

  Kelly was about to hang up when her mother’s voice came over the line.

  “Mom?” Kelly said hesitantly.

  There was a long pause. “Kelly? Is that you?”

  “Yeah, Mom it’s me. Look, I need your help. I need a place to stay. I’m…pregnant.”

  There was an even longer pause this time. “Where’s that rich boyfriend of yours?”

  “I’m not with him any longer,” Kelly said in a quiet voice. “I’m in Houston. I lost my job and I’m not well. The doctor is worried about the baby. I just need a place to stay for a little while. Until I get back on my feet.”

  Her mother sighed. “I can’t help you, Kelly. Richard and I are busy and we just don’t have the space.”

  Hurt crowded into her heart. She’d known this was pointless, but somehow she’d hoped… Quietly, she turned the phone off without saying anything else. What was there to say anyway?

  Her mother had never been more than a resigned babysitter.

  Kelly smoothed a hand over her belly. “I love you,” she whispered. “I’ll never begrudge a single moment I have with you.”

  She leaned back in the recliner and stared up at the ceiling, hating the helplessness that gripped her. She closed her eyes in weary resignation. She was exhausted.

  The next thing she knew she was being shaken awake. She yanked her eyes open to see Ryan standing over her, a plate and glass of water in his hands.

  “I brought you Thai,” he said gruffly.

  Her favorite. She was surprised he remembered. She struggled to sit upright and then took the plate and glass from him.

  He pulled a chair from the kitchen and sat across from her as she ate. His scrutiny made her uncomfortable and so she focused on her food, not looking up.

  “Ignoring me isn’t going to help.”

  She paused, set her fork down and then leveled a stare at him. “What do you want, Ryan? I still don’t understand why you’re here. Or why you want me to go back to New York with you. Or why you care, period. You let me know in no uncertain terms that you wanted me as far out of your life as possible.”

  “You’re pregnant. You need help. Isn’t that enough?”

  “No, it’s not!”

  His jaw tightened. “Let’s put it this way. You and I have a lot to work out, including whether or not you’re pregnant with my child. You need help that I can provide. You need someone to take care of you. You need top-notch medical care. I can give you all of those things.”

  She thrust a hand into her hair and leaned back against the recliner. He immediately leaned forward, slipping from his chair and going to his knees in front of her. He touched her arm, tentatively, as if afraid she’d recoil.

  “Come with me, Kelly. You know this has to be worked out between us. You have to think about the baby.”

  She held up a hand, furious that he’d try to manipulate her with guilt. But he caught her hand and lowered it, and then ruthlessly pressed his advantage.

  “You can’t work. The doctor said you have to rest or you risk the health of your child as well as your own. If you can’t accept my help for yourself, at least do it for your baby. Or is your pride more important than his or her welfare?”

  “And what are we supposed to do when we get to New York, Ryan?”

  “You’re going to rest and we’re going to figure out our future.”

  Her stomach lurched. It sounded so ominous. Their future.

  She was a fool to agree. She’d be a fool not to agree.

  She was willing to swallow her pride and take the check. Shouldn’t she be willing to accept his help for her baby’s sake? For their baby’s sake?

  “Kelly?”

  “I’ll go,” she said in a low voice.

  Triumph flashed in his eyes. “Then let’s get you packed and get the hell out of here.”

  Four

  When Kelly woke the next morning, she struggled to make sense of her surroundings. Then she remembered. She was in New York—with Ryan.

  In a matter of hours, Ryan had had her packed and hustled to the airport. They’d landed at LaGuardia close to midnight and he’d ushered her into a waiting car.

  By the time they’d arrived at his apartment, she was dead on her feet. Once inside, she took her one bag and headed toward the guest room. The aching familiarity of the apartment—an apartment that used to be hers—threatene
d to unhinge her. It even smelled the same—a mixture of leather and raw masculinity. She’d never tried to change that. It had reminded her too much of Ryan, and she hadn’t wanted to remove it.

  Down the hall was the bedroom where she and Ryan had made love countless times. It was where their child was conceived and where her life had been irrevocably altered.

  Once again, she’d been reminded of how much of an idiot she was to come back here.

  But this morning she felt resigned to her fate. After a quick shower, she dressed and padded into the living room where Ryan was already sitting typing on a laptop. He looked up when he heard her come in.

  “Breakfast is ready. I was waiting on you to eat.”

  Wordlessly, she followed him into the kitchen where she saw a table set for two. Taking a platter off the warmer, he carried it over to the table and began spooning healthy portions of eggs, toast and ham onto their plates.

  As she sat down, she was forced to admit that she felt better than she had in weeks. She had certainly gotten more rest in the past twenty-four hours than she had in a long time.

  “How are you feeling this morning?” he asked as he took a seat across from her.

  “Fine,” she mumbled around a mouthful of egg. Her appetite was coming back and she concentrated on the delicious food in front of her.

  This whole thing was weird. The ultrapoliteness. The cozy breakfast for two. It was so awkward that she wanted to go back to the bedroom and crawl back into bed.

  After a long silence, Ryan spoke up. “I’ve made arrangements to work out of the apartment for the time being.”

  She stopped chewing then swallowed the food in her mouth. “Why?” she asked flatly.

  “I would think the answer is obvious.”

  “This isn’t going to work, Ryan. I can’t stay here with you hanging over my shoulder all the time. Go to work. Do whatever it is you normally do, and just leave me alone.”

  His lips thinned and then he got up and walked away without another word.

  She stared down at her plate, furious that he acted like the victim. As if she was some horrible, ungrateful bitch.

  Fury and aching sadness knotted her throat. How could she ever get past what he’d done to her? Maybe he was just as determined not to forgive her for her supposed transgressions, but Kelly was the innocent one in this whole sordid mess. Ryan had turned his back on her. He didn’t seem to want to acknowledge that little fact.

  She fiddled with her remaining food, pushing it around her plate until restlessness forced her to her feet.

  Wandering aimlessly back into the living room, she stopped in front of the large window offering a view of the Manhattan skyline.

  “You shouldn’t be on your feet,” Ryan said from behind her.

  She sighed and turned around, shocked to see him in just a towel. She swiveled back to the window, but the image burned in her eyes. His broad chest rippled with well-defined muscles and his lean abdomen was sculpted like a fine work of art. She used to spend hours exploring the dips and curves of his body.

  “I’m sorry if I embarrassed you,” he said in a low voice. “I guess I didn’t give it a thought considering our past relationship.”

 
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