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By:Brenda Rothert


I blinked and opened my eyes a little wider, making sure I was seeing it right. Yes. There were two distinctive pink lines crossing in the circle. It was a plus sign, which meant …

I pulled the paper directions up from the sink and read them for the third time, just to be sure. And there it was. I was pregnant.

Excitement and foreboding swirled together inside me. This was what Ryke and I had been trying for. It was what we wanted. But memories of the baby I’d lost kept this moment from being completely joyous.

I tried to force down the sadness. My doctor said I could go on to deliver a healthy baby just like other women, even after having a stillborn one. And the beginning of a baby inside me right now was Ryke’s. The dark, beautiful man who owned all of me.

Would it have his black hair and perfect white smile? Would it be a boy or a girl? Questions danced in my head. I squared my shoulders and smiled at my reflection in the mirror. I was about to give Ryke the surprise of his life. I wouldn’t allow this moment to be anything but happy.

He was dozing beneath the covers as I approached, hiding the stick beside my thigh. I was almost to the bed when he cracked his eyes.

“Morning,” he said, his voice deep and sleepy. “Get back in here so we can make a baby.”

“I would, but …”

“But what? You’ve got plenty of time before work, babe.”

I held up the stick. “We already made a baby!”

He sat up with a celebratory yell and reached for me, sweeping me from the floor into the bed with him.

“You’re pregnant?”

“Yes! You knocked me up! Well done, Ryker.”

He kissed me hard, grinning when he pulled back. “Hell, yeah! We need to celebrate!”

“What do you have in mind? Breakfast in bed?”

He stripped the tank top off my head and reached for one of my bare breasts. “Later.”

Chapter 1 – five weeks later

I’d never been able to read anyone’s emotions based on their eyes alone like I could with my husband. Ryke’s caramel-colored gaze usually told me more than his words. And tonight, he was content.

We were in bed having a back and forth over who was going to turn off the light in the hallway. He said I should do it since I turned it on, and he had me there.

“But since I’m pregnant, it’s like asking the baby to turn the light off, and that doesn’t seem right. Baby doesn’t even have feet yet,” I said, smiling.

“That’s cheap,” he said, and even in the dimness, I could see the warmth in his eyes. “I’m considering turning the light off. But I need to know what you’ll do for me if I do.”

“Love you deeply for my whole life? You want something else, too?” My eyelids were getting heavy; this pregnancy, like my first one, had me feeling fatigued all the time.

Ryke groaned and the bed shifted as he got up. “You always know how to play me, baby. When’s the last time I said no to you?”

“Hmm?” I was fading fast. “Why would you want to say no to me?”

“You should probably be reminded occasionally who’s boss,” he said, and I smiled to myself at his teasing tone. “But you make it really hard to say no.”

“I think we should name the baby Pat,” I said. “Works for a boy or a girl.”

“No.” The last of the light in the bedroom disappeared, and Ryke’s bare feet padded across the wood floor back to bed.

“See? You put me in my place. Now let’s go to sleep,” I said. Ryke climbed under the covers and wrapped his large frame around my back. He settled his leg over mine and moved my long hair aside. When he was home, this was our go-to sleeping position. I missed it when he was on the road.

“When will we find out if it’s a girl or boy?” he asked. I didn’t even have to see his eyes to know he was excited about it.

“Mmm, about halfway through. Ten more weeks,” I said. A memory of the sonogram from my first pregnancy flickered through my mind. I would’ve found out I was having a daughter, but instead I found out my baby was gone.

“So you’re … ten weeks in, then?” Ryke said. “That went by fast.”

“We just found out I was pregnant five weeks ago,” I murmured. “And it hasn’t felt fast to me.”

“I know, baby. I’m sorry you’re so tired all the time.” His lips skimmed over my neck and I nestled my body back against his chest.

“It’s okay.” I hadn’t meant it was passing slowly because of the fatigue. Every day I wondered if the baby was okay. The months ahead of me seemed like forever.

“We’ll go on vacation when my season ends. Someplace tropical where we can sleep in every day in a hut on the beach and I can give you massages.”