But she’d blown that perception all to hell with her tears.

His thoughts backtracked to the moment the minister had pronounced the couple husband and wife. Bran had said, “Finally,” before kissing Harper with such tenderness and wonder, Renner felt a little choked up. He’d glanced over to see Tierney crying hard enough to fog up her sexy smart-girl glasses. He’d never pegged her as the sentimental type. And that fascinated the hell out of him.

So he’d kept up his covert study of her during the reception. Tierney might not know how to work a room, but she sure knew how to rock a suit. Damn. He’d considered slathering her with compliments in case flattery would thaw the frosty void between them. But when she’d railed on him at the wedding reception about empty stalls and full haystacks, which weren’t her concern, he’d lashed out at her. And what had he found out? The woman’s aim was as sharp as her tongue.

A fact she’d proven again today. Yet, there’d been a couple of moments when she’d actually seemed sweet. Shy. Wanting to reach out to him, but unsure how he’d respond. Maybe it was an assholish thing to do, refusing to let her accompany him to the hospital. Being enclosed in his truck with her would be hell. Not because they’d argue the entire time, but because he’d lose his train of thought whenever he caught a whiff of that sweet fragrance she wore.

No, he had to be a jerk to her to make her stay put at the Split Rock. He’d apologize later.

A flash behind him caught his attention and Renner glanced in the rearview mirror just as a car signaled to pass. A familiar car.

Tierney’s car.


She gave him a little finger wave as her Land Rover sailed past him.

So much for her staying put.

Chapter Five

Abe’s sister-in-law broke off her conversation with the elderly lady manning the desk at the hospital when he entered the emergency room doors.

From the back, Lainie didn’t look pregnant at all. But from the front, she definitely had a baby bulge under her scrubs.

“Abe. Your wife”—she stressed the wife part and her eyes begged him to follow her lead—“is about finished with the CT scan. I’ll take you to where you can wait.” Lainie led him down the hallway to a room with a curtain that bisected one space into two.

As soon as they passed the patient on the left side, Abe said, “Is Janie all right?”

“Enough to insist she was fine and didn’t need anything but a couple of aspirin.”

“She’s a little headstrong.”

“Ya think?”

“So what’s up with the your wife lie, Nurse Lawson?”

Lainie’s mouth quirked. “Not a lie. She was your wife. She’s just not your wife now.”

Abe’s gaze dropped to her hand stroking her belly. “How’re you feelin’, Mama?”

“Like there’s a bowling ball jumping on my bladder.”

“Is my brother takin’ good care of you?”

“He’d wrap me in cotton batting if I let him. But yeah”—she smiled a bit dreamily—“Hank is beyond awesome.”

He knew how much Hank worried about Lainie working the last three months of her pregnancy. But Hank’s constant overprotectiveness didn’t dim Lainie’s glow when she spoke of him and the baby. “He worries because he adores you. And he’s gonna be just as bad with baby Lawson. Worse than ever, probably.”

She smirked. “I know. I’ll check back later.”

Abe stared out the hospital window. The town and the landscape became a blur as he tried to rein in his jumbled thoughts. Who’d run Janie off the road? Why hadn’t the person stuck around to help her out? He turned it over and over in his mind, but it didn’t make sense.

Finally the squeak squeak of rubber on linoleum alerted him to a nurse wheeling Janie into the room.

Christ. She looked about fifteen years old, wearing an oversized hospital gown and an ill-tempered scowl. But he was damn glad to see her feisty instead of frightened. “Why can’t I go home now?”

“That’ll depend on the CT scan results,” the nurse said. “You might as well rest. Once you get settled, you can ask for something to help you sleep.”

A sour look distorted Janie’s face. “No drugs.”

When Abe took a step closer, Janie held up her hand. “Stay right there, buster. Turn around. This gown doesn’t cover my rear.”

“I’m sure your husband won’t mind,” the nurse soothed.

“But he’s not—”

“At all put off by seein’ those delectable bare buns,” Abe inserted with a sly grin. “In fact, since my wife is a little shy, I’ll help her into bed if you have someplace else to be.”

“Knock yourself out.” Then the nurse was gone.

“I cannot believe you lied and told her you were my husband, Abe Lawson.”

“Hey, I’m just following Lainie’s murky logic that I was your husband, not that I am your husband.” He held his hands out. “Up you go.”

Janie batted away his offer of help. “I’m not an invalid. Turn around so I can climb on the bed.”

“So damn stubborn.” Abe faced the curtain and muttered, “Ain’t like I haven’t seen it before.”

The bed frame clanked and rattled as she wiggled to get comfortable. Just as he was about to suggest she swallow her pride and let him help her, a commotion stirred the curtain and Renner stormed to Janie’s side.


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