Chloe came awake aware of two things: one, she was alone in the bed, and two, she didn’t like being alone in the bed. She sat up and blearily blinked into focus a sight that immediately had her brain clearing.
And her body humming.
“Officer Hottie,” she murmured, and had the pleasure of seeing the big, badass, steely man grimace at the nickname he hated.
Five years and she still loved to poke the bear. And right now the bear stopped shoving things into a duffel bag and looked at her, quiet and assessing, taking her temperature from across the room. “You’re awake.”
“Seems like,” she answered, hearing the exhaustion in her voice.
Evidently Sawyer did as well. His mouth tightened slightly as his eyes scanned her from head to toe. Whatever he saw had him moving from his duffel bag to the side of the bed, where he stood looking down at her. His dark brown eyes could be cool and unreadable—his cop eyes—or soft, melting chocolate, like when he was feeling frisky, though she hadn’t seen that side of him lately.
Your fault, she reminded herself, and tried to swallow the ball of anxiety over the fact that he was leaving for one of his dangerous DEA jobs while they were barely speaking. You’re the one who picked a fight over his job, which is as much a part of him as you are…
She couldn’t help it; the way he was taking on more and more of these types of jobs was a big problem for her. And because of that, it’d become a big problem in their relationship.
“You okay?” he asked, voice low and morning gruff. He hadn’t been up long then, and for some ridiculous reason, this made her feel better. She wanted to think that they’d slept entangled together and that he’d had a hard time pulling himself away from her, but the truth was she didn’t remember a damn thing except her haunting dreams.
The ones where he wasn’t in her life.
“I’m fine,” she said, and when he just looked at her, she shook off his concern because hell if she wanted him speaking to her simply because of worry.
She wanted him speaking to her because he couldn’t live without her, the stubborn ass. “Really,” she said. “Totally fine.”
As if the baby already had a sense of humor, she kicked Chloe in the bladder. Or maybe she was saying “Hey, be nice to my daddy.”
Sawyer’s big, work-roughened hand settled over hers, where she’d been rubbing her belly without even realizing it. “And the Bean?” he asked.
Ah, yes. The elephant in the room. The pink elephant in the form of their unborn daughter in her eighth month in the womb.
To say that the pregnancy had been unplanned was a huge understatement. What could they possibly offer a kid? Because this thought brought on more panic, Chloe shrugged that off too. She had a lifetime of experience of living in the moment, and she was going to keep doing it for as long as possible.
“The Bean’s okay, too,” she finally said, hoping that was really true. She shifted, trying to get comfortable, which was hopeless. As if in agreement with that, the baby turned and kicked her again. The people in Chloe’s life liked to remind her that she’d once been hell on wheels. She had a feeling her baby was a chip off the old block. “You’re leaving,” she said softly.
Sawyer didn’t respond to this because they’d already talked about it, and her husband wasn’t one to mince words. Or waste them. He kept his big, warm hand cradled around her belly for another beat, rubbing in a way that never failed to soothe both baby and mama.
Neither she nor Sawyer knew the first thing about babies.
Or happy childhoods.
Becoming a parent was a role that neither of them had ever anticipated. Aside from the fact that they’d each been raised by wolves, Chloe especially had absolutely zero confidence in her own ability to be a mother.
And then there was Sawyer. He’d had an unhappy childhood, and she had no idea how he felt about becoming a father. He was a man who would always honor his obligations, but it didn’t mean he wanted this baby.
She blew out a breath and looked out the window. Not quite dawn. Two weeks before Christmas and the trees were dusted with snow, as all of Lucky Harbor was.
Winter on the Pacific Northwest coast was only for the hardy.
And there was no one more hardy than her husband. His head was dipped to the task of rubbing her baby bump. He had thick brown hair that contained every hue under the sun and fell over his forehead in front when he was in the shower or otherwise occupied in bed. It was tamed now only because it was still damp from a shower, and he’d clearly used just his fingers to shove it back.
When the baby settled, he dropped his hand from her and went back to his packing. Chloe watched as Sawyer pulled a gun from the safe, checking it with the ease of a man whose gun was an extension of himself, and then it, too, went into his bag. She knew from experience that he had at least one other gun on him, and most likely a knife as well.
What was it about him checking his weapons like other men buttoned their shirt that was so damn hot? And how was it that even though she was the approximate size and weight of a buffalo, she still could get aroused just by looking at him?
The silence between them gave her a bit of a reality check. She might be turned on by him, but he wasn’t having the same problem.
“It’s only a week,” he said, and Chloe jumped.
He was at her side again, all lethal stealth. He set her fast-acting asthma inhaler on the nightstand for easy reach and then her cell phone, which he’d no doubt charged for her since she’d forgotten. His bag hung from his shoulder, and he watched her from those fathomless eyes. If she looked closely she could see the gold flecks in them. Sometimes, when he laughed, those flecks danced.