Page 24

Oaklyn: Ahhh! So cute!
“Uhhh…Is there something you want to tell me?”
I had to swallow more than once to make room to answer him. Even then, it came out weak. “Oaklyn’s pregnant.”
“Good for her.”
The ultrasound held me entranced.
She was only in her first trimester, but already I could make out the shape of a baby nestled in her womb. My body ached as if the hollow pain was trying to suck all of me in on myself to fill a void. I fought the urge to pull my limbs close to my body. Maybe if I was smaller, the pain wouldn’t be so big.
“You’ll get there,” Daniel said softly.
I blinked, breaking the connection. “Get where?” I asked once his words finally sank in.
“Being pregnant. I know how much you want a girl just like you to spoil rotten, and you’ll be a great mom.”
“If I’m a mom,” I snarked, shocked that the comment slipped free.
“You will be.”
“How do you know?” My eyes snapped to his, studying them for some hidden truth he knew that I didn’t. How did he sound so confident? How did I get some of that?
“Because you have too much personality for fate to not give you someone to pass all that love and sass on to. Even if it’s not your and Kent’s biological child.”
“Yeah, fate,” I scoffed. “Now there’s a real bitch.”
“How so?”
I should’ve known he’d figured it out. If I hadn’t been so busy rolling my eyes at fate, I would have seen the cautious approach to his question. Instead, my walls were down, and my anger slipped free.
“I mean, it’s been almost a whole damn year we’ve been off birth control, and it’s been nothing but one period after the next. Meanwhile, apparently, Callum can get Oaklyn pregnant from another galaxy without them even trying.”
Despite not picking up on his change before, I sure did after his silence. As soon as the words left my mouth, I willed him to snap back with a smart comment, a joke, anything. Anything to take the spotlight off the issue.
But it never came, and the longer the silence stretched on, the more determined I was to not look up and see the pity I knew would be there.
“What does Kent say?” he finally asked.
I would have rather he stayed silent.
Instead, he added more attention to me, giving me no place to hide, making it very clear what my silence meant.
“Don’t say my name like that,” I snapped, finally meeting his gaze.
“Like what?”
“Like I’m an errant child.”
“Then stop being one.”
He met my petulant glare with a cool challenge of his own.
“I’m not even going to sit here and ask questions to make sure you understand because you know better. We both know you know better.”
I let myself pout.
I glowered from under my lashes with my bottom lip sticking out—full-on pouting like a child not getting her way.
He let me pout.
Except he did it in an arrogant way that asked me if I was done yet.
It didn’t take long to cave because pouting as an adult was exhausting. He was right—I knew better. “Ugh. I hate adulting.”
“Don’t we all,” he commiserated. “You know you need to talk to him.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“I’m serious. This isn’t a weight you need to carry alone.”
“But what if it is?” The question broke free from a place I didn’t know existed, releasing a fear I hadn’t even acknowledged. “What if it’s my fault Kent can’t have kids?”
“Thankfully, he’s not a European monarch that married you for your ability to bear children,” he deadpanned.
“You know what I mean.”
“I do, and we both know that Kent won’t care either way. He loves you. If kids come along, then bonus. If not, then he will still be devoted to you. Or else I’ll kill him,” he added lightly.
I snorted. “Thanks, Uncle Daniel.”
He reached across the space and rested his rough hand on mine. “Anytime.”
Squeezing back, I smiled up at the man that became more than just an uncle. He saw me—the real me—when no one else did. And he brought me Kent. I guess fate couldn’t be too much of a bitch if she laid all that out for one person.
It left me wondering what fate had in store for Daniel, too.
“What about you and Hanna?”
“We’ll get there,” he answered easily. “And if not, that’s okay, too. Kids aren’t for everyone. Besides, I have you—a kid without responsibility. Your dad took the brunt of it.”
“What brunt? I was a dream child.”
He barked a laugh. “You were sure something.”
I laughed with him, and it felt good. I felt better than I had in a long while. It made me realize how much of a mistake it was to push the people I loved away. I’d been so scared of looking like a failure I’d shoved it away, creating a different kind of beast. When I should’ve known they’d love me no matter what.