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|Beat of the Heart(Runaway Train #2) by Katie Ashley|
She nibbled on her bottom lip. “I’m not sure.”
At her hesitation, I clenched my jaw. “You’re still not sure about me, are you?”
“That’s not it.”
“Yes, it is. Jesus Christ, Mia, after all I went through to get here today, you still have your doubts about my commitment to you and Bella?”
She sighed and turned away from me.
“It’s never going to be enough is it?” I demanded.
Grabbing her by the shoulders, I forced her to look at me. “No matter what I do, you’re always going to let the ghosts of your past fuck things up for us, aren’t you?”
“No, I’m not.”
“You don’t want to go back to Dev—he’s just a means to an end where you don’t have to make a choice.” I gripped her tighter. “Dammit, Mia, I want to be with you and only you. I’ve never cheated on you, and I’ve never lied to you. I’ve made some mistakes where we’re concerned—that’s the truth. But what happens between us next is all up to you.”
“What do you mean?”
I dropped my hands from her shoulders. “I’m not going to let you keep playing with my feelings. I will be a father to Bella, but whether or not, I’m your boyfriend or your future husband or the man you might love, ends today. If you don’t come with me to Mexico—”
Mia shook her head wildly. “Don’t you dare give me an ultimatum!”
“You’re leaving me with no choice. You keep saying we barely know each other. Fine then, come to Mexico with me for two weeks. Get to know me, get to know my family, get to know part of Bella’s heritage. Prove to me that you’re really trying.”
“It sure as hell doesn’t feel that way. You’re making me out to be some bad guy that I’m not. I’m just a guy who cares about you and wants more with you. You can’t keep judging me for my past or my occupation.” Staring into her eyes, I shook my head. “I have your ticket waiting. But I’m serious, Mia. I gotta know you’re truly with me and aren’t going to bail. That’s not fair to me, and it won’t be fair to Bella.”
Tears pooled in her eyes before streaming down her cheeks. “I know. And I’m sorry, AJ. I really am.”
“Yeah, well, you know where to find me. The flight leaves at two tomorrow afternoon—with or without you.” I leaned over and gave her a brief kiss on the cheek before striding out of the doctor’s office. Even though part of me felt like an ass for being so demanding of her, I knew I had to get my point firmly across. I didn’t play games, and I wasn’t going to continue playing this one with Mia. The ball was in her court, and she had to make a decision.
As I got on the elevator, I dialed Rhys. “Get your ass over here and pick me up.”
“Shit dude, did things not go well?”
“Yes and no.”
“Well, lucky for you, I’m just five minutes away. Traffic is still crazy as a motherfucker.”
“Whatever. Just get here when you can. I gotta lot of shit to do before I leave tomorrow.”
“Mia not coming with you?”
I sighed as I tugged my hand through my hair. “I don’t know.”
“I say you at least have time for a few beers after the day you’ve had.”
With a chuckle, I replied, “That sounds like a plan.”
The rest of the day after the ultrasound I was an emotional wreck. Before I went back to work, I had put on a happy face at Mama Sofia’s where free desert was given to all the patrons in honor of Isabella—Mia’s Moose of course. My dad was absolutely on cloud nine when I told him, especially about the name. Of course when he had questioned me about AJ, I had shook my head. How could I explain to him what I was feeling? How the doubts and fears of my past continued crippling me in the future with AJ? Not to mention that the one and only time AJ had actually said the words ‘I love you’ was when he was under emotional distress handcuffed to a shower.
I knew my dad wanted to talk to me about it—maybe even counsel me on what to do. But just like when everything was going so wrong with Jason, I hid from him. Like a total coward, I snuck out of Mama Sofia’s before he could come back to my table.
In the end, I knew there was no one I could talk to about this. It was my decision, and mine alone, to make. That’s what made it so fucking hard. Of course, the worst part of all was how much I loathed myself. I had become totally unrecognizable to myself, and I couldn’t just blame my irrational pregnancy hormones. No, I was reaping shit I’d sown a long, long time ago. The old me wouldn’t have led Dev on when I knew that I would never take him back. But there was a part of me that got some sick vindication from making him suffer.
I didn’t know what was wrong with me. Deep into the core of my being, I knew I wanted to be with AJ. There was absolutely no rational reason not to give him another chance. He was the father of my daughter. I had fallen in love with him in the midst of our lust-haze. But nothing about me was rational at the moment. I kept focusing on the irrational side of things—my insecurities about AJ’s career and his women, and the way I felt like I could never be good enough, or even, enough for him. Somehow I always kept coming back to my self-loathing conclusion, that he deserved someone better—although the thought of seeing him with another woman made me physically sick.