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3: Corabelle

Gavin ran his finger across my palm, and I felt so much calmer. The rumble of the rolling suitcases faded down the hall as he pulled the stool up next to me by the bed. “That was tough, huh?” he said.

“Thankfully the pain meds are kicking in. I didn’t think I could take another minute of his beady glare.”

Gavin laughed. “He is pretty pissed at me.”

I pressed his hand to my cheek. “They’ll adjust. It’s all pretty new, even for us.” I kissed his fingers. We had to talk about what happened. I could play the sick card, but really, we should just dive in. Get through the hard stuff before it got too late to bring it up again.

“We haven’t really talked about that last conversation we had on the beach,” I said.

“You’ve been too busy trying to re-create the Pacific in your lungs.”

I tried to smile, even though my lips were cracked and dry. We had so much terrain to cover, I didn’t really know where to start. “Where did you find someone willing to give you a vasectomy so young?”

“Mexico. Cash-under-the-table thing.”

“Was it safe?”

He shrugged. “I went to a doc here and they tested it. Said it worked. Nothing seemed damaged. He was pretty pissed I had done it and wanted the name of the doctor.”

I let go of his hand. “Did you give it to them?” The heat rushing to my face made my head hurt again. I tried to slow my breathing, stay calm. A coughing fit would end the conversation fast.

“No.” He shifted over and braced his elbows on the bed rails, resting his scruffy cheek on his wrist. He was tired. He’d probably been in that chair for days.

“Have you gone home at all?”

He reached out and ran the back of his knuckles across my upper arm. “For clothes. Now that your parents have descended, this is all the time I get with you.”

“Maybe we can tell the hospital that you’re my husband.”

“Your dad won’t back us up like he did with Finn.”

I sighed. “They could kick you out, maybe.”

“They won’t.”

“Aren’t there visiting hours?”

“Probably. I don’t exactly play by the rules.”

“That’s true.” I laid my hand on his thigh. “I’m sorry I never told you about the marijuana.”

He exhaled with a long gush of air. “I never thought you’d keep a secret from me.”

“I was embarrassed. Katie got me started, and it helped me on the test, it really did.”

“But you never told the doctors. Not even when Finn was sick.”

Tears formed in the corners of my eyes, hot and painful. “I couldn’t bear everyone hating me.”

“We wouldn’t have.”

“Everyone would blame me.”

“You don’t know that.”

“I did!” I grabbed fists full of the sheets, pain shooting through my head despite the meds. I could feel another cough coming on, deep in my chest. I didn’t think I could suppress it.

Gavin reached for my arm, holding it tight. “I don’t blame you. I don’t think anyone would have. When you found out you were pregnant, did you keep doing it?”

“No!”

“Then you did what you were supposed to do.” He ran his fingers along my arm, gently, carefully. I relaxed back into the pillow, slowly bringing the upset down.

“I’m sure lots of women do it,” he said. “It probably didn’t do anything.”

I breathed in carefully, testing the cough. It had passed. “People always ask if you could change one thing, what would it be? I would change that.”

“Probably everything would have happened just the same.” He kept the pressure against my skin, feather light but comforting. He knew me. He knew what worked.

“At least then I would know it wasn’t something I did.”

He let go of my arm and stood up. I thought he was going to leave, and I could feel my chest tighten in distress, but instead he lowered the rail out of the way. “Scoot over. This bed is bigger than the one at your parents’ house, and we seemed to fit on it just fine.”

My cheeks burned to think of all the things that had happened on that narrow white bed. My parents had to have known, although the news of the baby still seemed to catch them by surprise. Of course, we all thought the shot would protect me.

I shifted over, feeling the heaviness of the tube on my leg and the pull of the tape. God, was there pee running through that into a bag somewhere? Could Gavin see it? “You’re never going to want to have sex with me again,” I said.

Gavin snorted. “I want to have sex with you now.”

“No way. I’ve got pee running down my leg.”

“Sexy.”

I wanted to punch him, but even that seemed to require too much strength. He settled in next to me, cradling my head against his shoulder.

“I’ve seen you with your feet in stirrups, pushing until you’re red in the face.” He trailed his fingers lightly along my arm, making me shiver. “I’ve seen you covered in puke with the flu.”

I groaned. “This conversation just keeps getting sexier.”

He turned my face to his. “I’ve seen you before you were out of diapers, if you recall. There is nothing that could happen that would change how I feel about you.”

I wanted to believe him, to feel that same blind faith I’d known as a girl who had never known any love but his. But he had left me. “Something did, once,” I said, my voice barely above a whisper.

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