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Bad Boy's Baby(152)

By´╝ÜSosie Frost



Zach scowled. “I found those in the study. Your father put them in the fireproof cabinet so nothing would happen to them.”

The packages of pictures dwindled the older I became. The most recent one rested on top of the pile. I trembled as I held it, like it weighed heavier than the others. I recognized my high school graduation picture, but the message meant more than the diploma in my hand.

Shay—high school graduation—wish I could tell her she gets more beautiful every day.

“He never abandoned you,” Zach said. “Did you see the room he designed for you here? The only reason I took the damn master bedroom was because I thought you’d like that one. Hell, he even built you a balcony and planted your favorite flowers in the garden beneath it. He wanted you here.”

My voice weakened. “But I didn’t want balconies and flowers. I wanted my father.”

“And he wanted you. The first time I met him? He took me and my mother out for dinner. He wouldn’t stop talking about you, Shay. Not for a minute. He was so proud of you.”

“Why didn’t you tell me before?”

“Would you have believed me? Would it have mattered? Just because he wasn’t around didn’t mean he didn’t love you. It meant you didn’t let him love you.” He swore. “And you’re doing it again with me.”

“I’m not.”

“Bullshit,” he said. “Fuck, Shay. I’m crazy about you. Give me a sign I’m not wasting my time chasing after you.”

Oh no.

No way.

Now? He wanted declarations now? While we screamed at each other? While we hurt each other in my library sanctuary where he took me, loved me, and created a baby with me?

I looked away, head in my hands. He assumed that was my answer. I was just trying to make the room stop spinning.

Sweat broke out over me, everywhere, chilled and terrified.

I didn’t want to lose Zach.

I should have told him. Everything. That I was scared of loving my step-brother. That I wanted him more than anything in my life. That I had fallen for him hard enough to bounce through every floor of the mansion and still not strike bottom.

I should have told him I was terrified of loving someone with every pounding strike of my heart only to lose them to time, distance, or an accident on a battlefield across the world.

But I said the wrong thing instead.

“I just want some time to figure it out,” I whispered. “Please.”

“You know what?” Zach’s voice hardened. “There’s nothing to think about. There’s me, there’s you, and there’s something good between us. If you don’t want to see it? Fine.”

He didn’t finish his thought. I stood, stunned, as he stormed to the main hall.

“Where are you going?”

He didn’t answer.

“Zach, wait.”

He didn’t listen. I followed to the entry, flinching as the front door slammed behind him.

“I love you.”

But he was gone.

I cradled a hand over my belly. The baby was the size of a cocktail nut, but even she knew her momma was an idiot. Still, I didn’t see her helping when I should have run after him. My stomach heaved. I bolted for the bathroom instead.

This was a mess. Worse than a mess. I sat against the wall and held my head in my hands.

So this was what it felt like to be ruined.

Heartbroken.

Truly abandoned.

I hated it.

But I’d fix it. I didn’t know how, but I’d fix it. I was a coward, but I wasn’t a fool.

I needed him. The baby needed him. And if I only had the memory of his lips against mine between deployments, I’d make it work.

I loved Zach.

And it was time he understood that.





Chapter Twenty - Zach





Fuck, my head hurt.

Throbbing pain.

I couldn’t think. I couldn’t see.

And Shay begged me to come to some goddamned dinner party for her and her friends.

I couldn’t fucking stand up without the world spinning. I’d puke before I made it downstairs. God fucking forbid I stain her Daddy’s precious rug. We weren’t living in a house. It was a shrine to her own damn insecurities—some place she didn’t feel at home and wanted nothing more than to forget.

My phone buzzed. The sound grated through my skull and burrowed just to detonate an explosive charge.

Gretchen.

I shoved the phone off my nightstand and ignored it for the fourth time. She wanted to know how the physical went. But she knew the prognosis. Reminded me of it every goddamned day. Christ, she even wrote the damn prescription that fucked everything up.

Gretchen could figure it out.

But Shay wondered about the physical went too.

Jesus fucking Christ.

I liked it when I was the only one worrying about my own goddamned future. I already let the squad down. The last thing I wanted was Shay’s pity. Or her getting pissed off because I lied. Or that she’d find yet another reason to deny what she felt for me.

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