I scrub my hand over my face. “Have you taken a test yet?”
In the years before Chelsea, I banged lots of women. Hundreds. But I never had a pregnancy scare because I was religious about condoms. There was an STD scare once—because those can happen even with condoms—but this is brand-new territory.
“Okay.” I stand up from the couch. “I’ll go buy a test.”
“I already bought one.” She smiles shyly. “I bought three, actually.”
“Oh.” My brow wrinkles. “Well, let’s go take them.”
I hold out my hand and pull her up from the couch. As I turn toward the hallway, her hand on my arm stops me.
“Jake . . . where are you on this?” She peers up at me, trying to read my face. “I mean, if I am pregnant . . . are we gonna be okay?”
I’m floored that she even needs to ask.
“Of course we’ll be okay.” I cup her jaw, holding her gaze. “It’s a hell of a shock, sure, but it’s not like we don’t know what we’re doing. Adding one more to the mix . . . will only make it better. Maybe.”
When she smiles, it’s full and relieved.
I kiss her forehead. “Let’s go piss on some sticks.”
“I couldn’t believe it when I didn’t get my period. I kept waiting for the cramps to start, I double-checked my calendar, and when the realization finally hit me, I was just like, wow! You know?”
Chelsea’s talking a mile a minute. She talked while she took care of the three tests and hasn’t stopped to take a breath while we wait to read them. She flutters around the room, like a twittering, gorgeous bird, putting laundry away, shifting things around on the dresser, unable to be still.
“I was thinking I’d like to have the baby down here with us for at least the first year. They’re so tiny when they’re first born, I don’t want to be too far away. I don’t know if we’ll need to do more construction, to make our room bigger—which will suck—but we have nine months still. There’ll be time.”
My mouth quirks up as her wheels spin. “Plenty of time.” I check my watch. “Speaking of time . . .” I tilt my head toward the bathroom.
Chelsea practically vibrates next to me. “I can’t look! You should do it, you look.”
“Okay, okay—I’m looking.” I chuckle as I walk to the adjoining bathroom to get the tests.
Chelsea’s voice follows me. “The kids are going to freak out. Regan and Ronan will be excited—Riley will probably be glad . . .”
I step back into the bedroom slowly, a heavy weight pressing on my stomach.
“. . . that she’s leaving for college in a year. I’ll have to talk to my boss at the museum. I wonder—”
“Chelsea.” My voice is firmer this time, drawing her smile to my face. “It’s negative.”
Pink rises in her cheeks and understanding washes over her expression, taking her beautiful smile with it.
She glances at the tests in my hand—and the weight in my stomach is replaced with an empty, sunken feeling.
Chelsea clears her throat and lifts her shoulder. “Well, I guess that’s good news then.”
But it doesn’t seem like good news.
She exhales a big breath and takes the white sticks from me, tossing them in the trash can. Then she moves around the room quickly, rearranging the things on the dresser she just arranged.
“Of course it is. I mean, the last thing we need . . .” She shakes her head. Her back is to me so I can’t read her expression. “I must’ve miscalculated my dates. Stupid. I’ll be more careful.”
She turns around, head down, moving toward the door. “I have laundry to do. Rory needs his uniform tomorrow and—”
Before she gets near the door, I catch her with my arm and pull her in close. She presses her face into my chest and a second later she lets out a deep, choked sob.
Chelsea’s not a crier. Or a sulker. She’s scrappy, tough in that feminine, enduring, always-making-the-best-of-things kind of way. And I do my damnedest to make sure she doesn’t ever have a reason to cry. Because I’m tough, too. Hard. Some would even say callous. Except when it comes to her tears.
They fucking wreck me, every time.
After a minute, she hiccups. “I don’t even know why I’m crying.”
I stroke the back of her head. “You’re crying because you’re disappointed. Because, even for just a little while, you thought we were having a baby—and you were happy about it. You want to have a baby.” My own realization comes just a second before I say the words. “And I do, too.”
Her head jerks up, eyes darting over my face. “You do?”
I wipe at her tears with my thumb. “Well, I didn’t, up until a few minutes ago. But now . . . yeah . . . the idea of having a kid with your eyes and my bubbly personality . . .”
That gets her laughing because I’ve been called a lot of things, but bubbly will never be on the list.
“. . . that would be incredible, Chelsea.”
Her brows draw together. “So, what are we saying? Are we going to try and have a baby? Like, actively?”
Some guys would say I’m nuts, to add more time-sucking responsibility, more stress to our family situation. Especially now, when it finally feels like we have a handle on things.