The Soul Mate Page 23

“Yeah,” I said, swallowing past the growing tension in the room. Damn. For that hour there, I’d nearly forgotten all about that little white piece of paper.


“You’re right,” I said, suddenly feeling like I was in a prison cell instead of a cocoon. “It might be good to get some food outside the house. There’s a pizza place around the corner open if you don’t mind my wearing this.”

He shook his head. “Not at all.”

Inwardly, I let out a little sigh as he pulled his shirt back on, hiding his contoured abs from view.

“All right, I’ll grab my purse.” Finding it in its usual spot, I took my clutch and led the way from the apartment building down to the row of little shops around the corner.

“There’s a river not far from here. It’s beautiful in the spring. One of the only places in the city where you can still fish.”

“You fish?” He raised his eyebrows and I nodded.

I opened my mouth and closed it. Then, thinking of what Mandy had said, I started again. “My, um, my dad and I used to go on fishing trips when I was little. He’s the one who taught me.”

“That sounds like a nice memory. Do you still go?”

My throat went dry. “No.”

That seemed like enough sharing for now. For a second I wanted to pat myself on the back, but I knew, even in my own warped mind, that wasn’t nearly enough.

We walked into the building and, lucky for me, Mason’s attention was captured by the glowing neon sign listing the restaurant’s specials. In a matter of seconds, a waitress appeared and led us to a table with windows that overlooked the river I’d been talking about.

“Seems like we’re destined to eat on the water,” I said. “First the golf course, now here.”

Mason nodded. “I like it. It’s…romantic.”

Less romantic was the pile of appetizers we got—a mountain of fried goodness that was destined to make us feel awful for days to come. Still, I couldn’t help but inwardly squeal at the thought of lots and lots of garlic knots dipped in spicy marinara.

Was that a pregnancy craving, or just a garden-variety craving? My thoughts tripped back to the white envelope and my throat went tight.

“So.” He eyed me warily, and I cut in.

“What is it? What’s the matter?” I asked, almost paranoid that he could read my thoughts.

He shook his head. “Nothing, nothing. I just… I kind of want to talk about the baby. If you don’t mind.”

“I don’t mind.” I shrugged, sort of relieved I wasn’t alone in this. “I think about her a lot.”

“Her?” he asked, cocking a brow my way.

I slapped my hand over my mouth. “Oh my gosh,” I murmured. “I didn’t even realize. I mean, I’ve sort of been calling her a girl in my head.”

“Does it feel like a girl?” he asked softly. “Have you been having symptoms?”

A rush of heat flooded to my cheeks. “I wasn’t going to tell you, but I have been having some, definitely not a lot, but a few symptoms.”

“Like what?” he asked, sipping on his soda.

“Well.” I cleared my throat. “My, uh, breasts? They’ve been really tender. And I also, maybe, have an increased libido. Possibly,” I added, my cheeks flaming.

His mouth spread into a wolf’s grin, and for a moment I wondered whether he was proud of himself for amping up my sex drive or if the idea that this baby might be real was too much for him to hold inside. Whatever the case, though, I found myself beaming back.

I grabbed a mozzarella stick and a knot of buttery bread.

“Have you had any cravings?” he asked.

“Well, I’m dying for these garlic knots,” I said. “I don’t know what counts as a craving, though. My mother ate lemons whole when she was pregnant with me.”

“Are you serious?” he asked with a chuckle. “I’ve heard some women tell me whacky things, but I don’t recall hearing that one before.”

I nodded. “Dead serious. My dad brought home limes because the store was out of lemons once and she chucked them at his head until he went to another store and found some.”

“That’s intense,” Mason said. “So are you telling me I should get a helmet just in case?” he teased.

“Couldn’t hurt,” I said with a laugh. “But, yeah, if that’s the response to a craving, then, no. I don’t feel the urge to pelt you with food.”

“Are you sure? Because I’ll duck.”

“Don’t you dare. If I’m carrying your baby, you’d better let me hit you with all the garlic knots I want.”

His smile warmed and sent a thrill through me. “Okay, fine. Deal.”

“Deal.” I nodded, then picked up a garlic knot and tossed it at him.

He snagged it out of thin air without even blinking and I gasped.

“I can read you like a book,” he said before taking a triumphant bite.

That may be true and I’m not sure how I feel about it.

“I guess I just have to use the element of surprise next time.” I shrugged and then took a bite of my own food.

When Mason finished chewing, he said, “So, you think about her a lot?”

“I do.” I nodded.

“What do you think about?”

“Oh, I don’t know. I guess I sort of think about what her nursery would look like and what kinds of things we could do together as she gets older. Teaching her to walk.”

“And fish,” Mason added, and my heart broke a little bit.

I had thought about that. Often. And I still hadn’t decided if it would break my heart to do it without my dad there or help me heal some.

“Yes, and fish,” I said quietly.

“Do you think you’re going to be an overly protective mom?”

“Why? You planning on taking her skydiving?”

“Not until she’s at least fifteen.”

“Eighteen,” I countered.

“Eighteen, then. No, I was thinking of teaching her to work on cars and how to ride horses.”

“You ride horses?” I asked.

He nodded. “I have cousins in Montana who own a ranch. I used to go there every summer to help out. My parents thought it was important that I get a full sense of the world.”

“Well, anything with animals is okay in my book,” I said. “Just don’t let her treat your patients or anything until after medical school.”

“We’ve decided on medical school for her already?” he asked with a laugh.

“It’s the family business,” I shrugged. “It seems likely, don’t you think? Plus, on her first Halloween we can get her tiny scrubs and a little stethoscope. How cute would that be?”

“You really have been thinking about this a lot, huh?” he asked softly.

I nodded. “A lot. And I want what’s best for us. Which is why…when we’re done here, I think we ought to go back to my place and find out what’s inside that envelope. I’m being a chickenshit and it’s time to rip this Band-Aid off once and for all.”

He nodded encouragingly. “I think that’s the right thing to do.”

I realized for the first time that he always wanted to open the envelope. He’d only been waiting for me. And the anticipation must have been killing him. I think in that moment I fell a little in love and instead of fighting it, I pulled the feeling closer and let it wrap around me like a warm blanket.

We waited for the check, which he paid like a gentleman, and then we walked back onto the street with our hands laced together.

“I like the idea of a tiny you,” he said.

“A tiny me?” I asked.

“Yeah.” He swung our hands back and forth between us. “Maybe she’ll be a veterinarian. A little bit of you and a little bit of me.”

“Makes sense.” I sighed. “Whatever she becomes, we know she’ll be smart.”

“If she has half your brains, she’ll be just fine.”

“I would say the same about you.” We stopped in front of my complex, and he leaned down and kissed me just as a raindrop fell on my shoulder. Slowly I wrapped my arms around his neck and fell into his kiss, pushing and pulling along with his tongue until my head swam.

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