He and Ford exchanged long looks over Chloe’s head.
Nope, they weren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
I’m fine,” Chloe told Sawyer after another gut-wrenching, heart-stopping contraction.
No, Sawyer thought. She was not. And it was his responsibility to make sure that was fixed ASAP. He pulled out his phone and sent a text. Two minutes later, Josh made his way out of the crowd toward them, with Mallory at his side. Mallory was married to Ty, another good friend of Sawyer’s, and she was a nurse.
“What’s going on, sweetness?” Josh asked Chloe, putting a hand to her wrist.
Taking her pulse.
Chloe opened her mouth, probably to say nothing was wrong, when another cramp hit.
“Two and a half minutes from the last one,” Sawyer told Josh. “Four in the past twenty minutes.”
Mallory crouched on Chloe’s other side in her full-length ball gown and put her hand on Chloe’s taut stomach, undoubtedly feeling the same clenched muscles that Sawyer did. Mallory’s gaze was on Chloe’s face as she panted through the pain.
“Probably false labor, right?” Chloe gasped.
Both Josh and Mallory shook their heads.
“Damn it,” Chloe said. “I’m not leaving this party—” She broke off as another cramp hit, and the breath seemed to get squeezed out of her. “Holy cow,” she said between clenched teeth. “The Bean’s determined to be as big a pain in the ass as her daddy.”
Everyone but Sawyer laughed. He couldn’t take his eyes off Chloe. She was suffering, and it was killing him.
“Where’s the pain?” Josh asked. “In your back?”
“All the way around.”
Josh nodded and straightened. “We need to get things ready.”
“For what?” Chloe asked with wary suspicion.
Josh smiled at her. “Your baby.” He turned to Mallory. “Can you find out what our options are?”
Mallory nodded and moved off.
Chloe turned to Sawyer in disbelief. “My due date is two weeks away.”
“It’s not a return-your-book-to-the-library-on-time kind of due date,” Josh said. “Babies come when they want. And a baby from you and Sawyer…” He shook his head, like there was no measuring the level of stubbornness their baby would have. “Anyway, think of it like this—you’re getting a really great Christmas present a little early.”
“I can hike out and get my truck,” Sawyer said. “Four-wheel over the sidewalks if I have to. I can get us to the hospital—” He broke off when Chloe cried out with the next contraction and leaned into him.
“With the snow and ice we might get stuck on the road and that’d be far worse,” Josh said quietly. “I’ll call for an ambulance, but I think we’ll have a baby before it even gets here.”
“Oh, my God,” Chloe said in a whimper.
Sawyer wrapped his arms around her and pressed a kiss to her hot and sweaty temple. “It’s going to be okay.”
“How?” she demanded. “I’m going to have a baby at Town Hall! In a ball gown that used to be Tara’s robe!”
“I knew it!” Tara exclaimed.
Sawyer turned Chloe to face him and made her look into his eyes. “We’re going to handle this. Together.”
“Really?” she asked. “Are you going to push a bowling ball out your—”
He gave her a quick kiss on the lips and a hug. “Chloe,” he murmured softly, “you can do this.”
“But I don’t want to!” she cried. “I don’t want to do it. Not here, not now—oh, God,” she moaned, clutching her belly. “Not another one so soon…”
When the pain passed, Chloe opened her eyes and found Sawyer watching. Calm. Steadying. Always there for her.
“Always will be,” he vowed, making her realize she’d spoken out loud.
“Then if you wouldn’t mind,” she managed, “maybe you could take over this labor gig for me…”
He didn’t laugh or even smile. Instead, he gripped her hand and pressed it to his heart. “If I could,” he said with quiet intensity.
She huffed out a barely there laugh. “Trust me, you wouldn’t like it. Men aren’t built for this sort of thing.”
“If I could,” he repeated, and she realized he meant it to the core.
He would do anything for her, absolutely anything. Including taking on the DEA jobs for the money they needed to build onto their house to make room for the baby. Including walking away from those very same DEA jobs—that he freaking loved, he couldn’t hide that much from her—because they upset her.
Lucille, the town busybody in charge of all things social media and also in charge of tonight’s event, came rushing up, moving with surprising speed and agility given that she was older than God himself.
“Exciting!” she chirped at Chloe.
Word had already gotten out. No big surprise. Lucky Harbor wasn’t the kind of place that kept secrets very well.
“Yeah, exciting,” Chloe said. “Or terrifying. Take your pick.”
Lucille patted her gently on the arm and turned to Sawyer. “The kitchen would normally be our best bet, but it’s a wreck and the caterers are still in there. I’ve got the controller’s office unlocked and ready for you instead.”
This wasn’t the way he thought the birth would go, but life with Chloe had rarely gone the way he’d planned. It’d gone better. Here was hoping that streak continued.