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“Will you be okay here with Tuck?” I asked her. “The guys should be home soon.”

McKenna nodded. “I’ll be fine. And you’re right, someone should be with her. We’ll talk when you get back.”

Unable to stop touching McKenna, I kissed her temple and told Tucker to take good care of her, then dashed down the stairs to grab my keys. I would follow the ambulance in my Jeep.

Chapter Two

McKenna

I’d imagined the worst when I heard the feminine moans coming from behind Knox’s closed bedroom door. My heart had shattered and crumbled into a million pieces as I came to the conclusion I’d lost him in the weeks I’d spent away. I’d chosen to go to Indiana and stay there while my friend Brian recovered from his car accident, but the second I heard what I thought was sex happening on the other side of that door, and that I’d lost Knox for good, I wanted to take back every moment I’d spent at Brian’s bedside.

Knox being in his bedroom with a laboring Amanda was the last thing I’d expected. And I knew that said something about the level of trust I had in him. If I wanted to be here, and see where things could go with us, I needed to work on my trust issues. But one thing at a time. I swung my legs over the side of the bed and tested my weight on my shaky legs.

“Should we go downstairs?” I asked Tucker. He nodded, taking me by the arm and helping me up from the bed. “I’m okay, buddy. I promise.”

He was so sweet and chivalrous, and just eight years old. It was an adorable combination. “Do you want to watch the new Spiderman movie? I got it for Christmas.”

“Sure, buddy. You get it started, I’ll be right down.” I wanted to throw the wet towels into the washing machine, figuring that the amniotic fluid currently soaking into the hardwood floors should be cleaned up before Knox got home.

After starting the wash, I met Tucker in the living room. He’d made a big nest of pillows on the couch for us and had the movie all cued up.

“Ready?” he asked.

I nodded.

Tucker grabbed the remote control. “I fast-forwarded it to the best part.”

I chuckled at his efforts, not bothering to explain that I’d prefer to watch the movie from the beginning. His enthusiasm was enough. He hit play and an action scene, complete with good guys and villains, played out before us. I decided it was actually rather thoughtful of him to fast-forward just to the good parts. Plus in the weeks since Christmas, I guessed he’d already watched this at least a dozen times.

I wondered how long Amanda’s delivery would take and if the baby would be okay. She was delivering really early, but I knew she was well into her third trimester, so I hoped that meant the baby was developed enough to be all right. I was glad I had Tucker cuddled in my lap to distract me. Otherwise I’d probably be pacing the floor, completely stressed out and worried.

Just as the movie was ending, Jaxon and Luke arrived home.

“Hey, guys.” I whispered my greeting so as not to wake Tucker, who was softly snoring against my shoulder.

Jaxon smiled crookedly. “You’re back.”

I nodded.

“Good. Knox was like a hormonal teenager when you were gone.” Jaxon lifted Tucker from the couch and cradled his dead weight as he carried him up the stairs.

Luke sat down beside me. “Where’s Knox? Does he know you’re back?”

“Yeah. It wasn’t quite the reunion I was expecting, though. When I got here, our friend Amanda from group was here and she’d gone into labor. Knox took her to the hospital.” I left out the embarrassing part where I fell like a sack of stones, dropping to the floor from shock.

I knew it was wrong, but part of me wanted to grill Luke about Knox’s activities while I’d been away. Had he behaved himself? Knowing he’d hooked up with someone would crush me, and since it wasn’t right to use Luke’s honesty against his own brother, I abstained. “How was winter break?”

Luke shrugged. “It was okay. I worked down at the hardware store with Knox most days, trying to build up a savings account for college. I’m going to keep working there a few days a week after school.”

I loved his determination. It made me realize that I’d taken my own education for granted. When it was time for me to go to college, all I had to do was apply, and even then I’d complained about the endless essays and applications. My parents had set aside money for years so I didn’t have to worry about anything when it was time to go. As much as I tried to put myself in Luke’s shoes, I knew I’d never really understand the struggles he had to endure. “I heard you guys volunteered on Christmas,” I said.

“Yeah. It was really cool. I think we’re gonna start doing that every year, make it our new family tradition. Holidays just aren’t the same without our parents.”

“I know what you mean.” I loved the idea that I might have inspired their new holiday tradition.

Jaxon returned from putting Tucker to bed, and stood in front of where Luke and I sat on the couch. “I think I’m gonna go out for a while.”

“Stay in with us,” I blurted. I didn’t want to worry and wonder where Jaxon was and who he was with; I felt responsible for the boys tonight with Knox away. Maybe it was my nerves, or maybe it was because of what happened to Brian, but I’d feel a lot more comfortable with us all under one roof.

“You have to make it worth my while then.” He smirked.

“Okay?” I hadn’t meant to phrase it as a question, but I was curious what he meant.

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