“I love you.” Her expression softened. “I can’t live without you, either.”
“I love you, too.” The gentle words didn’t soften my need for her. Fuck, I felt like a caged tiger, pacing back and forth at the bars of his cage.
“Good.” She tucked her hair behind her ears. “Because we’re going to compromise.”
“And live in Central America?” I teased.
“Hush. I’m serious. This is making us both miserable, and what you said during that fight…” She shook her head.
I was across the room in a few strides, taking her face in my hands. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have threatened you with lawyers. There’s no force on this earth that would compel me to take our daughter from your arms. I shouldn’t have said half the shit I did. I was out of my mind, but there are no excuses.”
“I get it. You must have been so shocked. I should have been clear from the beginning. We should have had a plan in place. Nixon, I know you’re going to be a fantastic father—you already are, and I can’t take her away from you any more than you could take her from me. When you add in how much we love each other, the only solution is for us to be together.” She leaned against my palm.
“You have no clue how much I want that,” I assured her. “But I’m not going to make you give up on everything you’ve worked for.”
“I won’t. We’ll do this whole thing called compromise and no, I don’t mean live in the middle.” Her hands grabbed onto my waist and pulled me closer until I was between her thighs again.
“What do you have in mind?” Good thing we were talking about our future—it was the only topic that was keeping me from ridding the cloth barriers between us and sliding home.
“You stay with the Raptors.”
My jaw ticked.
“Listen,” she urged, squeezing me tighter. “You stay with the Raptors and take the seven-year deal. In the off-season, we’ll all go to Breaking Boundaries, wherever they may be. All three of us.”
“That’s hardly fair. My off-season is four months on a good year and five on a bad one. I might be able to make arrangements for the early summer OTAs, but I doubt it. How the hell is that a compromise?” That still sounded a lot like she was giving me what I wanted and losing what she needed.
“I’ll talk to Breaking Boundaries and see if they’ll fund two-part-time psychologists in that full-time position, and we’ll make it work.” She nodded with a desperate look in her eyes.
My mind clicked into gear, reading the field of our future, and seeing the potential plays. “Fuck that. Tell them we’ll donate four million a year. That should cover their full-time psychologist. Then you can go as a volunteer for however long you want, whenever you want. Then all three of us—” I grinned and slid my thumb across her lips, “or more down the line, will go for the entire off-season.”
“Four million?” Her eyes brightened.
“If you want more, we can talk to our finance guy. I already have six mill tied up in charities, but we can figure it out. Anything that makes you happy, gets us a private tent and some decent food while we’re there.” I brushed a kiss over her lips. Drawing back was torture.
“But you won’t be able to go back to Minnesota during your break,” she said softly. “I know you like to see your family.”
I looked deeply into her eyes, making sure she understood every word. “You. Are. My. Family. You, and this little girl.” I caressed the side of her belly. “Wherever you are is home, and no matter where it is, we’re together.”
“Together. I like the sound of that.” Her hands slid up the lapels of my tux jacket. “So we can do this.”
“We can. But…what do you want to do about this spring? Are you going back?”
She shook her head. “They deferred my internship until May at my request. Unless you want our daughter to be a dual citizen, in which case—”
“You’ll delay your graduation.” I shook my head.
“By five months.” She shrugged. “What’s five months when we get to have the rest of our lives together?”
“Liberty.” I rested my forehead against hers, both overjoyed and saddened that she’d had to put her life on hold for me.
“I don’t want to be two days away from you, not when I’m this close to having our child. I don’t want a single thing to stand between us being together in that moment. I want you there with me, holding my hand, listening to me curse at you while I bring our child into this world. I’m not just delaying for your comfort, Nixon. I’m delaying it for mine. I need you.” She tugged on my lapels, and I fell into her kiss.