“There’s only one in there, right?” she asked the nurse, her voice high and almost panicked.

The nurse and I both smiled. “Yes, there’s just one baby. And he or she looks to be growing just fine. Did you want to know the sex?”

“Yes, please,” Amanda said.

“You’re having a girl.”

I held her hand while she cried, her eyes fixed on the screen. It seemed Amanda wouldn’t be alone any longer.

Helpful deed done for the day, I dropped Amanda off at home and texted Knox as I sat on the bus alone. Being around someone even more alone and lonely than myself all day had inspired a visit. I missed him.

Chapter Nine

McKenna

When I arrived at Knox’s place, Tucker had already gone to bed, but Knox, Jaxon, and Luke all sat together in the living room. While they were normally so good-natured, tonight the mood felt tense. I toed off my shoes at the welcome mat and ventured in to see what they were discussing.

Luke sat on the sofa with his head hanging in his hands. Jaxon and Knox were perched in the arm chairs facing him, all of their expressions sour.

“Do you want to talk about it or are you going to keep moping around like someone kicked you in the balls?” Jaxon asked, looking squarely at Luke.

“Cool it, Jax,” Knox warned. “Luke? You wanna talk?”

Luke peered up, his eyes wandering over to mine and then back to his brothers. I sat down next to him. “Everything okay?” I asked.

He shrugged. “Just girl problems,” he said, releasing a heavy sigh. “Mollie broke up with me.”

I hadn’t known that he had a girlfriend, but perhaps this was the reason he’d once asked me about how to make a girl’s first time special. I still got a happy little feeling remembering how he’d opened up to me. “I’m sorry.” I squeezed his hand.

“If Knox has taught us anything, it’s that there are plenty of girls to go around. There’s no sense getting your panties in a twist over this one. So pull your tampon out and man up,” Jaxon said, rising from the chair. “And on that note, I’m going to bed. You guys are depressing.”

Knox frowned, watching Jaxon retreat up the stairs. “Ignore him, Luke. Jax is an ass**le.”

Luke’s twisted expression relaxed slightly. “How do you know when you’re in love?” he asked Knox.

This should be interesting. I waited, breathless, to hear his answer.

Knox’s brows drew together. “You just do.” He hesitated for a few seconds, running his hand over the back of his neck, looking deep in thought, like he was trying to put into words whatever was churning inside his head. “I guess you know when you want to spend time with the girl, protect her, and take care of her.”

My heart melted at hearing his description of love. We might not be there yet, but I hoped we were on our way.

“Like you are with McKenna?” Luke asked.

Knox’s dark eyes met mine, and all the oxygen was ripped from my lungs. He didn’t say anything else, he just watched me for several long moments while my heart pounded steadily. The warmth of hot adrenaline pushed through my veins. He was looking at me like he wanted to do unspeakable things to me and I was staring back at him, challenging him to take whatever he wanted. He already had my heart.

“Knox?” I asked, breaking the heavy silence. “Will you give us a minute?” I tipped my head toward Luke. I wanted to talk to him alone and I might spontaneously combust if Knox kept looking at me like that, all dark and hungry.

“Sure.” Knox rose from the arm chair. “I’ll just go check on Tuck.”

Luke released a heavy sigh full of sorrow. I scooted closer to him on the couch. “You okay, bud?”

“Yeah.” He flashed me a weak smile. “This love shit sucks, though.”

“What happened with Mollie?”

He shrugged. “She acted like she was into me, we went on a couple dates, and then I heard at school today she was seeing this other guy the entire time.”

“Then she wasn’t worth your time. You’re an amazing guy, Luke, thoughtful, smart, funny, and handsome. High school can be brutal, but you’ll be at college soon and trust me, you’ll be beating the girls off with a stick.” I grinned wickedly at him.

He laughed. “Yeah, right. If I can even afford college. Every time I bring it up, Knox changes the subject. I’ve been applying to every scholarship I can find, but they’re really competitive and so far, I haven’t been offered a single one. I’m screwed without some financial help, no matter how good my grades are. My high school offers a scholarship to the valedictorian, which I have a good shot at – but it’s a thousand bucks. What will that get me? Books for one semester?” He shook his head in defeat.

It crushed me to know that his future hung in the balance like that. “I wish there was something I could do to help,” I pondered out loud.

“Just having you around helps. There’s way too much testosterone in this house.”

I couldn’t argue with that. “Well, I plan on being around for a while. Someone’s got to keep Knox in line.”

Descending down the stairs, Knox glanced our way. “Did I hear my name?”

“Nope,” Luke and I said at the same time, sharing a secretive smile.

“Well, I guess I’m gonna go up, too, “Luke said. “Night, guys, and thanks, McKenna.”

“Night, Lukey!” I gave him a kiss on his cheek and watched him wander up the stairs before turning to face Knox. “How was Tucker?”

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