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|Beat of the Heart(Runaway Train #2) by Katie Ashley|
“It’s not Dee,” I said softly.
The sound of my voice caused her to jerk her head up. The bottle she was inventorying fell from her hand and smashed onto the floor.
“W-What are you doing here?” she questioned.
“I was in the neighborhood and thought I would come see you.” When her brows rose in suspicion, I replied, “Oka, so maybe I was over at Scottish Rite meeting with some fans.”
“Oh,” she murmured.
I nervously raked my hand through my hair before taking a few tentative steps closer to Mia. “I’m just going to shoot straight with you, okay? When I was over there and saw St. Joe’s, I realized how much I missed you and wanted to see you.”
“You did?” she asked, her voice vibrating with emotion.
The closer I got to her, the more panicked Mia appeared. “AJ, there’s something I need to tell you.”
“That you’ve missed me?” I teased, hoping to ease the tension in the air that you couldn’t have sawed through with a chainsaw.
“Yes,” she whispered. “But…something else.”
“That you’re sorry for not answering my calls and texts?” She nodded. “But most of all, you’re sorry you left me naked and handcuffed to a shower.”
She closed her eyes as if she was in pain. “Yes. I’m so, so sorry.”
Suddenly, I couldn’t get to her quick enough. Bounding around the edge of the cart, I reached out for her, but she jerked away, backing up into the wall. Fear and worry raged in her eyes, and although I was glad to see she didn’t appear pissed, I couldn’t help but feel something was off. When her hand flew to her abdomen as if she were shielding herself, my gaze roamed down her body to where her once baggy scrubs pulled tighter over her slightly rounded stomach—a stomach that had been noticeably flatter when we were together. It was at that moment that every molecule in my body felt like it exploded. “Holy shit,” I murmured.
When I snapped my gaze back to Mia’s, tears pooled in her eyes. “I’m sorry, AJ. I came to tell you—”
Even though I knew the answer, I demanded, “You’re pregnant with my baby?”
“Yes,” she replied as tears slid down her cheeks.
“Holy shit,” I repeated. The room began spinning around me. Mia’s voice sounded muffled like I was under the surface of the water. And the next thing I knew I was falling back while the world around me went dark.
Staring down at the nightmarish white stick, I felt bile once again rise in my throat. “No, please no,” I moaned. I gripped the sides of the marble bathroom counter to keep me from sinking to the floor. With my erratic cycles, I hadn’t been on heightened alert when my period was a week or two late. But when I started creeping into the three and a half week mark, I began to panic, which caused me to swing by Walgreens on the way home from work to buy two pregnancy tests.
I was now holding positive test number two in my hand. Part of me wanted to go back to the store to see if the third test would be the charm and somehow I wouldn’t be pregnant. How the hell was this possible? Just remembering how AJ and I used a condom each and every time we had sex caused a reel of erotic images of our sexcapdes to run through my mind. A flush filled my cheeks as warmth flooded my core. But then, one of those images sent me racing forward to the toilet and heaving up the contents of my stomach.
In the backroom at Eastman’s, we’d been too caught up in the angry, make-up sex to remember a condom. He’d pulled out. Although my medical training taught me that not enough sperm resided in pre-come and the pull-out method was fairly effective, I couldn’t help thinking that had to be the time. “Oh God,” I muttered, placing my hands firmly on the edge of the toilet bowl to steady myself from passing out. Flipping down the lid, I eased down onto the toilet and like so many nights lately, I began to cry.
Just when I thought I had clawed myself out of the greatest emotional hell of my life with Mama Sofia’s death and Dev’s betrayal, I slammed right back down to rock bottom with what happened with AJ. After Abby brought me home, she’d waited with me until Dee could come over—I was that hysterical. I took the next two days off work and made back to back emergency appointments with my therapist.
As much as I hated to admit it, I was pretty surprised AJ tried so hard in the beginning to get me to talk to him with his many phone calls and texts. Even if I wanted to believe it was just a misunderstanding with Kylie like he claimed, I knew it wouldn’t be the last time we were put into that situation. If I took him back, it would only be a matter of time before some other woman from his past, or maybe even the present, came back to haunt us—or more importantly me.
In the end, I wasn’t like Abby and Lily—I’d been through too much heartbreak to be a strong enough woman for a rock star. And while I wanted to hate AJ, I couldn’t. More than anything, I wanted to feel like I was making a sacrifice for him—I cared about him enough to know he deserved someone better, someone who wasn’t emotionally crippled by their past.
The doorbell ringing brought me out of my thoughts. On shaky legs, I followed Jack Sparrow down the hallway. With trembling hands, I threw open the front door. Dee pursed his lips at me before holding up one finger. “Baby girl, this better be hella important because I just left a partially satiated marine in my bed.”
“I’m sorry. You know I wouldn’t have called you unless it was a matter of life and death.”