“I’m going to kill him. I can’t believe Ethan did this!” He looked fit to be tied, waving his hat for emphasis.
“What did Ethan do?” Autumn stared at him, protectively cradling her baby.
“Entered me in a calendar pinup contest.” He read from the screen of his phone as Mia slipped downstairs and joined Autumn. “‘Dear Mr. Lassiter, we’re pleased to inform you that you have made it to the finals in our Cowboy of the Month Calendar contest. Your photos and description have been posted on our website for the final voting phase. We will announce the twelve winners on May first. If chosen, you will be notified and a time and date set for your calendar photo shoot.’ Can you believe that?”
“You think Ethan entered you in that contest? Why would he do that?” Mia asked.
“Hell if I know! But he told me I looked like a pinup just the other day.”
Autumn looked at him askance. “Ethan said that?”
Jamie colored. “We were moving a mattress—” His gaze darted to Mia. “I mean, we were just fooling around—oh, to hell with it. Just tell Ethan he’ll get his.”
He stormed out of the room. Autumn shook her head. “I don’t understand men,” she said to Arianna.
Before Mia could answer, the doorbell rang. She got up to get it and was surprised to see Luke.
“Can I come in?” he said, and she fought the urge to hurl herself into his arms. As angry as she’d been with him, she’d missed him like crazy since she’d moved out and it was torture to keep her distance. She longed for the little things like sharing a meal with him, or chatting with him after she came home from work, but she missed the big things, too. Making love to Luke had been everything she’d ever dreamed sex could be, so to only have one night to enjoy it seemed much too cruel.
Something of her thoughts must have shown in her eyes because the cowboy smiled. He came inside, shut the door behind him and leaned against it, one arm behind his back. “You have an appointment coming up, don’t you?”
It was the last thing she expected him to say and it took her a minute to gather her thoughts. “What appointment?”
“Your doctor visit. It’s an important one, right? To find out if you’re having a boy or a girl?”
“Oh—yes. Next Tuesday.” How did Luke know about that?
“Can I drive you?”
His nearness made it difficult for her to concentrate. It conjured up images of the night she’d spent in his arms. He’d made love to her so tenderly and thoroughly it made her ache now to think of it. “O-Okay.”
“What time?” Luke reached out and touched her, just a gentle caress of his hand along her arm. He bent down and brushed his lips over hers. She shivered and leaned closer. She craved his warmth, his strength. She wished he would hold her until all her worries slipped away.
“Nine-thirty. In the morning.”
“I’ll be here at eight forty-five. Take care of yourself until then. Don’t work too hard.” He tugged her a little closer. Mia held her breath. “Go to bed early.” He pulled her closer still and kissed her again—a longer kiss this time—making her breathless. As his kiss went on and on, Mia forgot everything else but the handsome cowboy holding her. The cowboy she wanted more than anything else. When he let her go and straightened up, he had to hold her steady until she regained her balance. He handed her the single pink rose he’d held behind his back and opened the door. “And think about me, because I’ll be thinking about you.”
After he was gone, Mia clutched her flower and walked unsteadily back to the living room, where Autumn waited, her eyes dancing with mischief. She laughed when she saw Mia’s face. “Uh-oh, I know that look. That’s a girl who’s come under a cowboy’s spell.”
“Just when I think I’ve figured him out, he does something like this.”
“They’re crafty, those cowboys. Luke’s set his sights on you and he won’t give up easily.”
Mia flopped down on the sofa again. She hoped he didn’t give up. She wanted them to work out a way to be together. She wouldn’t give in on what she wanted, though.
If only Luke would be the man she knew he could be.
On Tuesday, Luke jingled his keys in his hand until Mia shot him a look that told him to stop. He noticed that her foot was tapping up a storm, though, so he wasn’t the only one nervous about the appointment ahead. He had never felt as out of place as he did in Dr. Fitzpatrick’s waiting room. Done up in grays and browns, it was tailored, modern, and much too cold for Luke’s taste.
He sat on a cushioned seat beside Mia, surrounded by other women, most of them visibly pregnant. One mother-to-be’s belly stuck out so far she looked like she’d swallowed a watermelon.
Or perhaps a basketball.
He glanced surreptitiously at Mia’s only slightly rounded abdomen and wondered if she’d even come close to looking like that.
A new thought occurred to him. What if she had twins? He panicked a moment as he tried to think where they’d fit another crib into the already packed spare room, then cautioned himself to take it one step at a time. No sense letting his imagination run away with him.
Mia stood up when a nurse called her name, and Luke followed suit awkwardly. Now that he was here, he couldn’t imagine they would let him in to the examining room. On the other hand, he needed to stake a claim to Mia—and this baby—right now, before it was born. Something told him it would be too late if he waited until afterwards. He’d seen how wrapped up Autumn was in Arianna. If Ethan got a sidelong look from either of them he was lucky. No, he couldn’t give Mia any more chances to push him away. He meant to be her partner in this, starting right now.
“You’re coming in?” Mia asked.
“That’s right.” He waited for her to protest, but she didn’t. Instead she mutely paced after the nurse. So far, so good.
Inside the examining room, the nurse instructed Mia to change into a paper gown and take a seat on the table. Luke sat down in one of the chairs to the side as if he belonged there and prepared to enjoy the view.
Mia picked up the gown and turned her back to him, undressing so carefully he only caught glimpses of skin as she changed—enough to alert his body that something interesting was happening, but not enough to satisfy him.
Not by a long shot.
When she sat on the table, her legs dangling over the side, Luke sighed. She looked so sweet. And delicious.