Sinking onto the bed, he gathered her in his arms and pulled her on top of his chest as he leaned against the headboard. “Michael was right. Though we leave in two days, staying in this house could turn me into a fat bastard.” Chuckling, he popped a kiss on her forehead. “I was full from the ten pounds of chips and dip I inhaled before your sister said dinner was ready, so I decided to skip. Besides, once I knew you were in here alone, I couldn’t resist.”
Emily gave a weak smile as her eyes soaked in his dimple, drowning in every inch of slight stubble on his chin. They followed the contour along each line and plane of his beautiful face, a face that’d kidnapped her heart and held it hostage from the second she saw it. A face that might soon be nothing more than a memory that’d touched her life for the briefest moment.
“Hey,” Gavin said, dipping his head, his eyes searching hers. “What’s the matter?”
And there it was. The question that would lead them both down a path that could break them. Their pieces scattering along a road that held so much hope. So much love and promise.
“I have to tell you something,” Emily whispered, her body as numb as it was when Gavin was gone.
A current of worry zipped through Gavin. He leaned up, straddling Emily’s legs over his waist. Cupping her cheeks, he searched her eyes again. “Talk to me, doll. What’s wrong?”
“I… I’m…” The words, wrong or right, caught in her throat as she tried to pull in a breath. Tried to get them to come out. This was it. She had to say them. Breathe… “Gavin, I’m pregnant.”
Relief, pounding like a crashing wave, washed over him. The woman he’d loved from the minute she stepped into his life, who he was sure he would have a family with, just told him he was going to be a father. Father. The word ricocheted through Gavin’s heart, the proud feeling behind that title reminding him of his own. This wasn’t bad news. Surely Emily was scared, as was Gavin, but she had no reason to be. He would do everything in his power to make sure she and their child were loved beyond any measure he could ever show. With excitement unlike anything he’d ever known flowing through him, Gavin brought Emily’s mouth to his. Kissing her hard, a cascade of moments to come filled his soul.
However, when she immediately pulled away, so did his excitement. The empty look in her eyes screamed out something that hadn’t crossed his thoughts. The choking feeling in his throat nearly consumed him as he waited for her to say something. Anything. He just prayed it wasn’t what he thought it was, because no matter how much he loved her—and God, he loved her—he’d never allow Emily to get rid of something that was a piece of them.
“Gavin,” Emily whispered, her heart exploding because, in the few seconds he’d kissed her, she felt a love so deep from him, she knew he didn’t understand what they were about to face. “It might not be yours.” She paused, her body trembling as she stared into eyes suddenly empty of emotion. Void of the spark she’d fallen in love with. She heard him swallow, heard his breathing pick up, and she shivered before she continued. “My last period was a few days before you and I were together the first time. I have an idea how far along I might be, but…”
“You’re most likely carrying Dillon’s child.” The brokenness in Gavin’s voice cut through the air. No longer able to hear what he was, he slipped from the bed and started pacing, his mind a complete clusterfuck of emotions he couldn’t come close to dealing with in that moment. Anger at the situation thrust upon him and the woman who filled his life beyond words spread through his body. Reaching for his sweatshirt, he pulled it over his head and looked at Emily. His heart fell when he saw her confused eyes staring back. “I have to leave.”
“What?” Emily breathed, standing. “Where are you going?”
Seeing the panic bleed from her eyes made him feel like an asshole, but he couldn’t stay. Trying to soften the confusion he knew was all over his face, he walked over to her and placed his hand along the delicate curve of her jaw. Her lips trembled as she stared at him, the deep green pools of her eyes begging him not to go. Fuck. Pain ripped through his muscles as he fought to do exactly that. Stay. Talk with her. Figure out how they could make this work. God help him. Though he wanted to, he couldn’t. He needed out, and he needed out now.
Without saying another word to her, Emily watched him turn and make his way out of the room. He took her scarred heart right along with him as he closed the door. The reality that he might not be able to handle the pressure of it all bulldozed through her mind, leaving her speechless and broken. A single tear slipped from her eye as she sucked in a shuddering breath. Once again alone with her thoughts, Emily tried to pull herself together as she flipped off the light next to the bed.
In the darkness, she sank onto the mattress, her gaze catching the shadows dancing across the ceiling. She slid her hand across her stomach, realizing the enormity of the torture to come. Day in and day out of not knowing whose child she was carrying would surely crack her. Emily found herself on a road she didn’t think she would cross so soon in her life. Definitely not under these circumstances. However, she needed to believe there was a reason this was happening. Continuing to cry, she fought hard to find that reason, but she couldn’t. It didn’t appear. As seconds blurred into minutes and minutes disappeared into hours, the only thing she knew she had to find was the missing piece of her heart that’d walked out the room a broken man. Without another thought, she stood, plucked a light jacket from her suitcase, and rushed into the hall. Brushing her tears away, Emily rounded the corner, running right into her sister.
Lisa reached out and steadied Emily by her shoulders. “Jesus, are you okay? I was just coming to check on you. I figured I’d give you some time to yourself.”
Breathing frantically, Emily shook her head and hurried into the kitchen. Lisa followed. Assuming Gavin had taken off in the car he’d bought her, Emily swiped Lisa’s keys from a hook on the wall next to the refrigerator.
“Where are you going?” Lisa asked.
“I have to find him,” Emily breathed, making her way toward the garage.
“He never left.”
Lisa’s words stopped Emily in her tracks. She whipped around. “What?”
“I mean, he didn’t drive away. I think he took a walk down by the pier.”
Emily’s heart stilled for a moment as she replaced the keys on the hook. But that only lasted for a second because as she turned, her heart rate picked back up as she approached the French doors off the side of the den. Swimming in a sea of hurt, she swung them open and stepped out into the cool night air. Shivering from a breeze skirting off the ocean, Emily threw on her jacket and started up a hill, just beyond her sister’s home, leading to weathered wooden stairs.
It didn’t take her long to spot Gavin, and when she did, her breath caught. As Lisa thought, he was sitting on a bench down by the pier, the ambient glow from a dockside light shining above his body. He looked like an angel, but she knew he was in hell. Overlooking the ocean and the man she loved, tiny beads of sweat formed along her forehead. With the wind blowing through her hair, Emily brought her hands up to her mouth and sucked in a breath, trying to find the courage she needed to go to him. Somewhere between remembering what they had been together and what they were always meant to be, Emily found that courage. Up until now, Gavin might’ve only represented a small part of her past, but she needed him to fill every second, minute, and hour of her future, and she wasn’t about to let him go for anything. She couldn’t. She refused.