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|Beat of the Heart(Runaway Train #2) by Katie Ashley|
“Oh Christ,” I moaned. When I swung my legs out of the bed, Mia bolted up from the chair. I held my hand up. “Wait, I can explain.”
“Like you did the last time?”
“Once again, you’ve completely missed the mark. Her name is Andrea, and she isn’t my fiancée. She’s Jake’s step-sister—you met their shared sister, Allison, at the farm, remember? She’s marrying a suit from the label who Jake introduced her to. They’d all come down from New York for the Jersey show. I’ve known her since I was twelve—she’s like a sister to me, so yeah, I was all hugged up to her because I was happy.”
Mia paled as her hand came to cover her mouth. “Oh God…” she murmured.
I drew in a deep breath, trying to steady my fucking Merry-Go-Round emotions. “Look, I know men have fucked you over in the past so badly that you like to react first and ask questions later. That’s understandable. But you can’t pull that shit anymore. It’s not just about me or you. There’s a kid—my kid—to think about.”
Tears welled in her eyes before streaming down her cheeks. “I know. But when I thought you were engaged, all I could think of was how if I showed up, I’d ruin your life.” Staring down at her hands, she whispered, “I didn’t want to be like my mother.”
Even though I should’ve been mad as hell at her, I couldn’t help reaching over to cup her face in my hands, pulling her head up to look at me. “I never would have thought you tried to trap me, Mia. And regardless of what your mother did, your dad could never think you ruined his life.”
Dee appeared in the doorway. “Looks like you came around.”
“Yeah, my head hurts like hell.”
“So does my back.” He eyed me before snorting. “You’re one heavy motherfucker.”
I laughed. “Sorry man.”
“Look, since AJ seems to be all right now, I think you two need to get out of here.”
Mia shook her head. “But I have my patients,” she protested.
“I’ll cover for you.”
“Dee, I can’t let you do that.”
He held up a hand to silence her. “This isn’t up for negation, Mimi. You’ve put this shit off for too long. In case you missed the memo, you two have a lot to talk about, so get your asses out of here. Now.”
Mia scowled at Dee as she headed for the doorway. I trailed behind her. In silence, we walked down the hall to the elevators. “Even though Dee’s covering my patients, I don’t want to go far. Is the hospital cafeteria okay?”
I nodded. “Sure.”
The elevator dinged, and we walked in. We were the only ones on board. “So, um, have you felt okay?”
Mia made a face. “I got pretty sick around the two month mark. I’d say it was morning sickness, but since I was sick morning, afternoon and night, it was a little more than that. I had to get on an insulin pump full of vitamins to regulate me.”
Great, I’d not only knocked her up, but she’d had a hard time with the pregnancy. All alone. Shifting on my feet, I stuffed my hands in my jean pockets. “Yeah, my sister, Cris, had a really horrible time with nausea and shit. I’m sorry you had to go through that.”
“It’s okay. I’m feeling much better now.”
“You look good,” I said.
“Thanks. The nausea made it hard for me to keep food down, so I haven’t gained a lot of weight.”
“Mia, don’t do that.”
“Do what?” she asked, as we stepped off the elevator.
“You know exactly what I’m talking about.” As we walked into the noisy cafeteria, my hand came to rest at the small of her back. “You’re beautiful no matter what size you are, so get it out of your head that being pregnant and gaining weight is going to make you unattractive or undesirable to anyone…especially me.”
She stared at me for a moment, unblinking and unmoving. Finally, she murmured, “Thank you, AJ.”
Grabbing my wallet out of my back pocket, I motioned to the cafeteria line. “You want something?”
“I can get it,” she argued.
I rolled my eyes. “Just tell me what you fucking want, Mia.”
Instead of answering me, she gave her order to the food service worker. “A grilled chicken salad with honey mustard and a Mountain Dew.”
“Mountain Dew? Are you insane? You aren’t supposed to have caffeine,” I countered.
Mia turned to glare at me, but then her brows rose in surprise instead. I guess she didn’t think I would be one to have a lot of baby knowledge. I’d picked up a lot of my knowledge from my sister and Lily. “My doctor says I can have one a day. Trust me, since I’ve cut out my morning coffee, you want me to have a little dose, or I’ll cut someone.”
I laughed. “I can totally see you doing that.”
She grinned as we edged down the line. I ordered some pie and a coffee. I followed behind her with our tray as she picked out a table far away from everyone else. Once we sat down, we fell into a silence as we ate. After what seemed like a small eternity of scraping silverware and chewing, Mia glanced worriedly at me across the table. “AJ, there’s something else you need to know.”
“Jesus, Mia, after telling me you’re pregnant, how could there be anything more shocking?”