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Despite the darkness that's settled all around me, despite the quiet, stillness of my home, I am unable to sleep. I lay unmoving for several hours, my head still spinning with everything that's happened in the past twenty-four hours. I can't believe that just last night, I was inside Kylie, watching her come apart, and today she's trying to let me down easy and telling me she's going to make a go at things with her baby's father.

My stomach growls, reminding me that I never had dinner. I head to the kitchen, remembering there are leftovers of the pasta Kylie made last night.

While I wait for the microwave to heat my food, I pick up my phone and call Collins.

I don't bother with pleasantries. I don't bother asking about Tatianna – he seemed so reluctant to discuss their relationship at happy hour, I just launch straight into the hell my last few hours have been.

"Calm down, get yourself under control, man," Collins interrupts my rant.

I take a deep breath.

"What should I do?"

"Don't be a dumbfuck."

"That's your advice, asshole?" I'm about to hang up on him when the sound of his laughter fills the space between us.

"You're a Drake. Figure out it. Go get your girl back."

He's right. Colton didn't let the distance Sophie put between them keep them apart. She flew to Italy to escape him, and shit, he was married at the time. They had more of an uphill battle to wage than Kylie and I do, right? I won't just sit back and let this asshole squeeze his way back into the picture.

I shovel several forkfuls of pasta into my mouth, knowing I'm going to need the fuel, and grab my keys and wallet, then take off out the door.

Kylie

As I hang up the phone, a wave of nausea hits me, and I'm terrified I'm doing the wrong thing. There is no guidebook on how to be a single mother, or what to do when your baby-daddy calls you unexpectedly. I believed the right thing to do was probably to give him a chance.  A chance for Max to have a real family – instead of just me, trying to do it all and barely keeping my head above water. And speaking of doing it all, I've done too much today. My house is clean, and my laundry is caught up, but my arm is sore and achy.

I curl up in bed, laying on my side as visions of last night with Pace flood my brain. He'd been so strong, so commanding with his filthy words and massively large cock, yet tender and sweet at the same time with his concern over my casted arm. Just thinking of him produces a rush of conflicting emotions. I guess it's true what they say about wanting what you can't have. Even though he'd proven himself reliable, part of me still believes that he's too young and too immature to really settle down into the stable type of relationship I need right now.

Tears leak from the corners of my eyes and I hug my pillow to my chest. My heart is heavy and I'm so confused about my path, but I have to believe that if I put Max first, I will make the right decision.

Chapter Twelve

Pace

The florescent lights of the twenty-four-hour superstore shine brightly overhead, momentarily disorienting me from my task. I'm staring at a wall display of six different types of outlet covers. Given that it's nearly two in the morning, my eyes are glazed over as I try to read the packages to decipher the differences. Finally settling on one called Universal Baby Saver, I toss it in my cart.

My cart is already overflowing. I've gathered soft fleece blankets, teddy bears, balls, trucks, trains that make sounds, an inflatable dragon, because who doesn’t need an inflatable dragon? A have a small piano, a bean bag chair, a talking dog that speaks in Spanish, English and French, and all kinds of things that promise to keep drawers and cabinets safely locked. I never knew there was so much to worry about with little ones, or that there were so many dangers within my home.

Pushing the heavy cart toward the checkout lanes, I'm struck with a thought. Collins encouraged me to fight for her, but what if Elan is doing this same thing right now? Not knowing what I'm up against makes me feel edgy. I know in my heart that I'm the better man for her. I would never leave her scared and alone to deal with the after effects of our actions. He's already left her once. Who's to say he won’t do it again when things get tough?

I stop at the checkout counter and the young cashier beams up at me. "Wow. Stocking up, huh?"

"Yeah, something like that." Even I have to admit, it's probably a little odd to head out in the middle of the night and buy pretty much one of everything at a superstore in the suburbs. But Kylie inspired something inside of me. I feel different than I’ve ever felt before, and I am going to fight for her.

After unloading my car and bringing all the baby stuff inside and setting it up, it's nearly four in the morning. Time for some sleep. Tomorrow will be a big day.

Kylie

I tossed and turned all night, so when Max wakes up crying at six in the morning, I'm groggy and exhausted. I lift him one-armed from his crib and change his soaking wet diaper. His newest discovery seems to be his penis. Oh, joy. Every time I take his diaper off, he reaches down for it and tugs and pulls, in what seems like it'd be a painful way, but he doesn't seem bothered.

It only reminds me that I'm raising a boy –complete with all the parts and workings of a boy. He is going to need a man in his life. Sure, I can have the birds and the bees talk with him, but I'm fully aware that he would benefit from a man's perspective. Someone to discuss sports, and women with. I picture myself muttering, Go ask your dad, and smile. Until I realize it's not Elan in my mind's eye. It's Pace.

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