Her mouth opened and shut a couple of times before she found her words. “I guess I hadn’t really thought about it. I assumed you understood, and you weren’t upset, so I didn’t pursue any line of thought where you would be. I didn’t know you, Nixon.”
“And according to what you just said, you apparently still don’t know me, so let me make this clear. I don’t know what’s going on between us, but we need to figure it out. If not because of the obvious attraction we share, then definitely for the good of our child.” I swallowed the tension in my throat as she drew her lower lip between her teeth.
“I know. It’s just a really heavy subject that comes with a lot of choices I’m not ready to make.” She folded her hands in her lap. “You’d think for someone who is trained to read people and diagnose mental health issues, I’d know my own mind a little better, right?” She flashed a quick, fake smile.
“We really suck at communication, don’t we?” Except when we were in bed. Skin-on-skin, we communicated effortlessly. I’d never been so at-ease around a woman, and so torn up at the same time.
“We’re going to have to change that,” she admitted. “Look, if you need to make your flight—”
Two knocks sounded on the door, and the doctor entered with her nurse. I gave her a nod as she made her apologies and took my spot at Liberty’s side as the doc got her ready for another ultrasound.
First, she checked the baby’s heartbeat with the doppler, and my own settled peacefully as I heard the steady whoosh-whoosh fill the room. I laced my fingers with Liberty’s and lifted the back of her hand for a kiss.
Then the pictures started. The doc took measurements as our baby filled the screen in blotches of black and white. Just when I thought I’d guess a body part right, I’d be wrong. I thought a leg was an arm, and a head was an abdomen.
“Do you want to know the sex?” the doc asked as a small smile spread across her face.
Liberty and I locked eyes. Did we?
“I do,” I admitted. How else was I going to prepare for everything we’d need?
“I do, too,” she agreed, her eyes sparkling with excitement.
We both turned to the doc, and Liberty’s grip on my hand tightened.
“It’s a girl,” the doc announced, clicking away on the ultrasound machine.
A girl. I sputtered a laugh of pure happiness. We were going to have a little girl. God, what if she was just as reckless as I had been…as I still was? What if she—
“A girl!” Liberty beamed at me.
Every worry vanished with her smile, and I kissed her soundly, uncaring that the doc was still taking pictures. It was firm, but chaste, and conveyed all the joy in my heart that I couldn’t find words for.
“I hope she has your eyes.” I ran my fingers down Liberty’s cheek.
“I hope she has your smile,” she answered, giving me one of her own. Then she gasped.
“What?” Panic rose up. Had the doc hurt her?
“You have thirty-five minutes to make your flight. Go!” She pushed at me.
Fuck. “I’m not leaving you here.”
“Oh, stop. I’ll call Heather. She works across the street. Now seriously, go. Our daughter needs her daddy to keep his job.” She yanked on my tie, pulling me into a quick kiss before shoving me away again. “Get out of here!”
I kissed her again, quick, hard, and with a scandalous slide of my tongue before grinning at her. “I’ll call you from the road.”
“Be careful!” she called out.
“Always am,” I answered.
Once I shut the door, I cut the calm act and broke into a sprint. I had a plane to catch. And as for everything else that had gone down in there? It was time we stop sweeping everything under the rug and deal with the very real things coming our way.
You know, as soon as I got back.
The clear night sky twinkled with stars, the crisp October air kissing our cheeks as we walked the grounds of the Executive Mansion. The historical red-brick estate was nestled atop nine acres of lush greenery, the gardens offering a perfect place for the Raptors’ charity gala benefiting the Concussion Legacy Foundation. An expanse of hickory trees lined the property, and the smell of Carolina lupines and crested irises permeated the air as Nixon ushered us from group to group.
I mentally patted myself on the back. I hadn’t made a fool of myself in front of the governor and his delightful wife. But the night was still young, so I didn’t count my chickens just yet. Instead, I did my best to stick close to Nixon, relishing the warmth and ease being in his presence created.
“Love your dress,” Teagan said as Nixon thankfully stopped us near a constructed bar at the back of the gardens. Twinkle lights wove through the trees branches, and a string quartet played from a makeshift stage on the other side of the gardens. “You’re practically glowing.”