My eyes widened at him, and I shook my head.
Henry turned his horrified gaze to me, looking at me as though I had just run over his dog and crushed all his prized matchbox cars in one hit.
I cringed under the condemning glare and hung my head in shame.
Henry sucked in a breath at the damning admission. “Chook. How could you?”
“You don’t know what it’s like,” I choked out.
“Oh, I think we have a fair bloody idea what it’s like, but you chose him, and now you have to lump him. It’s not right we have to suffer along with you.”
“Everyone out,” Jared said to the room. “I have to get going soon, and I need to give Evie a proper goodbye.”
“No way, Jared. We have shit to do so save it for tomorrow night. Your bag is packed and in the car, and you need to leave now,” Mac ordered.
“Mac! Evie!” Tim shouted up the stairs. “The only reason why you two aren’t down here helping me better be because you’re dead.”
Jared and I both looked at each other and sighed. “Fine. At least give us a minute so I can kiss her properly without you all watching on.”
“Fine, one minute and that’s it,” Mac conceded.
Both she and Henry left the room, and Jared turned to me with a twinkle in his eye as he stood up. “I thought they’d never leave.”
I grinned as he reached my side. “Me either.”
He bent his head and kissed me, soft and warm and slow, like a gentle sigh.
“Will that tide you over until tomorrow?”
“No,” I murmured, tilting my head as I tugged at his shirt. “More please.”
He chuckled against my lips when a shouting match between Mac and Tim broke out downstairs.
“I left something under your pillow,” he said. “I have a feeling you might need it over the next twenty-four hours.”
Then he took a step back, tucking a curl behind my ear and tapping his finger on my nose with a warm smile. “See you, Evie.”
When I heard his car roar to life and back down the drive, I peeked under the pillow and let out a shout of laughter as Mac’s chocolate stash was revealed.
On the afternoon of the next day, I stood outside our yard at the edges of the makeshift aisle, dressed in a Monique Lhuillier blush colored gown. It was strapless with an embroidered corset and an A-line tulle skirt.
My hair had been left to hang down my back in big loose curls, and a fresh flower arrangement sat above my left ear. Coby, clad in a tuxedo, stood on my right, our arms linked. Mac, Quinn, and Cam hovered, dressed in similar style dresses in silk ivory, fresh flowers adorning their hair.
My eyes met Jared’s and I watched them travel the length of me, before returning my gaze, the heat in them leaving me breathless. I chuckled, remembering the first day I’d met him, opening the door and seeing that exact same look and fearing I’d burn to a pile of ash on the floor.
At his right stood Travis, nudging him with his elbow and saying something that caused Jared to laugh. Standing next to Travis was Mitch and Henry and the four of them in their tuxedos made for an impressive bunch of masculinity.
I turned to wink at Tim, and at my cue he started the music to begin the walk down the aisle. When the sounds of Africa by Toto rang out loud and clear, Mac and Henry let out simultaneous shouts of laughter at the knowledge they’d been thwarted, Mac gasping for breath as guests watched on in puzzlement.
I’d warned Jared the song was coming, and when the music began to play, my heart tripped over watching his eyes crinkle and the corners of his lips curl up in that sexy half smile of his.
I exhaled softly at the endearment and gave Jared a sweet smile as he came into the room, his green eyes meeting mine. He was wearing my favorite Led Zeppelin shirt today, and I loved how it stretched across his broad chest. I loved wearing it to bed more, particularly when he was away for work, so I could breathe his scent deeply into my lungs. His silky hair had once again reached the perfect length, and as he knelt in front of me, I reached out and brushed the strands from his eyes.
He ran his warm hands up my bare legs, watching them as they trailed slowly up my belly to cup my br**sts. I shivered, my skin breaking out in goose bumps at the touch.
His eyes followed his fingers as they travelled along the lace edges and the swell of cl**vage above.
His voice came out husky and low. “You’re not dressed. I can tell everyone to go home. I didn’t want to go ahead with the barbecue anyway with you being so sick. You should rest up for the doctor tomorrow.”
We had the family and close friends come for a Sunday afternoon get together. I could hear them out in the yard, Peter barking, people talking, Mac yelling about something. Henry was already playing his guitar, and Travis and Casey were talking with Jenna in the kitchen.
A frown knit his brow, and I caught his hands in mine when he went to pull away, holding them against my belly. My eyes met his again. I went to speak and hesitated.
He rubbed his thumbs over my palms. “Baby? You’re getting me worried.”
The flutters rising in my body, I answered him. “I’m pregnant.”
He froze and I held my breath.
“What did you say?”
He snatched his hands away, sitting back on his heels and the tears filling his eyes had me swallowing my own.
His voice shook. “You’re having my baby?”
I nodded, eyes wide, and he pushed back off his heels and splayed his hands over my stomach.
I tried to fill the silence. “I know it wasn’t planned, and we haven’t talked about, and I’ve got a tour to deal with, and your busy expanding the security side of your business. It’s bad timing and—”
He pressed his lips hard against mine, my mouth opening against the insistence of his tongue as he twined his arms around me, running one down the skin of my back while the other dove into the hair at the nape of my neck. The kiss was hard and full of emotion, and when he pulled away, his breath was ragged. When it evened out, he took my hands in his.
“It’s never bad timing for a baby, Evie. Is this why you’ve been so sick?”
My nod had him letting out a deep breath of relief, then he smiled and the light in his eyes had me pressing my lips together.
“I’m gonna be a daddy.”
I nodded again, returning his smile. “You’re gonna be a daddy.”
“Mum’s gonna go ape.”
I laughed. “Mitch, Travis, and Mac are officially off the hook.”
He picked up the pretty lemon sundress I’d laid out over the bed, and I held my arms up as he slipped it over my head, bending down to press a gentle kiss on my belly as he smoothed the hem down my legs. Then he stood up, taking me with him, and said, “Well, what are we waiting for? Let’s go tell them.”