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Between Commitment and Betrayal: Chapter 39

DECLAN

“JUST GET them over here as fast as possible,” I told my brother early that morning. “I want that place down as fast as possible.”

It only took him an hour to get a demolition crew over to the property and another hour of Everly sleeping for her to wake up completely startled by the sound of banging outside. I watched her surprised reaction as she vaulted out of bed.

“Everything okay?” she stuttered and then whipped the covers off when I smiled and nodded as I read some bullshit article in the news about speculations regarding the Hardy empire. “Declan Hardy, what the actual fuck?”

“What?” I glanced up to see her eyes wide as saucers before I grabbed my coffee and took a sip, then went back to reading the article.

“They’re destroying my house!”

“This is your house,” I responded.

“Oh my God. I have stuff in there.”

“I had an assistant make sure it was cleared out before the demo started.” I pointed toward the front door. “Most everything of value is in suitcases out front.”

“Why are you tearing that down?” She looked stricken.

“You said it made sense for you to start there with me. Now it makes sense for you to start here.”

“You’ve completely lost it. I would be fine living over there and trying to make this work.” She shook her head at me, but I saw the small smile she had, like she might have been willing to plan everything out all the time but she loved that I acted without hesitation most of the time.

“I won’t. I won’t be fine being without you again, not now. Not ever.”

I saw how her eyes twinkled, how she wanted this as much as me. “I’m staying in the guest room, and you’re going to have to earn anything more, Declan Hardy.”

“I’ll earn whatever the hell you want me to as long as you’re here, as long as we’re in this together, as long as you know I love you.”

“You can’t start saying that all the time now.”

“I can and I will. I think I knew the night you danced with my niece. At least a part of me knew.” I took the ring I’d been holding in my back pocket since I’d gotten dressed that morning. “You want a different ring?”

“Declan, I’ll wear a ring once we discuss the bab—”

My phone rang and an unknown number popped up. When she motioned for me to answer, I picked it up fast to get rid of whoever was on the line. “I’m bus—”

“Hi, Mr. Hardy. Congratulations again on the pregnancy. We’re looking forward to seeing you and Everly on Friday at 3 p.m. We tried to get ahold of Everly about some forms but were unable to reach her. Could you—”

“What did you just congratulate me about?”

“The baby. Oh gosh did she not tell you?”

I hung up the phone and stared at her wringing her hands together like she knew exactly what the call was about. “When were you going to tell me?”

“I wasn’t sure.” She chewed her cheek, ready to answer every question honestly but without giving me a damn emotion again. It was fine. I had enough emotion here for the both of us.

“How far along are you?” I asked quietly, trying to keep my blood from boiling over into my voice.

“I don’t know. We’ll figure all that out on Friday.”

“Is it even mine?” I shouldn’t have asked, and yet she’d hidden it from me like she didn’t want me to be a part of it. My blood boiled over at the thought that it might not be.

“I’m sorry … what?”

“Is. It. Mine?”

“Are you kidding me?” She gripped the chair she was standing next to, and her face turned a warmer hue, almost like she was heating from within.

“Why would you keep it from me then? Do you think it’s Wes’s?” I closed my eyes at his name and pinched the bridge of my nose. “We’ll get through it either way.”

She took one breath. Then two. Then walked up and shoved me hard. “You want a test, Declan? Let’s make sure to get that on the docket for Friday too. Paternity test for you, and I’ll get an STD test for me.”

“What the fuck for?” I ground out.

“Well, we were never exclusive. I don’t know what you two have been doing or what you were doing with anyone else.”

“Nothing’s happened with any other woman since the moment I met you. I fucking love you,” I bellowed, and her eyes welled with tears.

“Well, that’s just great. I love you too, and I don’t want to fight,” she said it with pain and her voice cracked as one tear rolled down her cheek.

I fucking felt that one drop turn my whole life upside down because I watched as my wife’s eyes rolled to the back of her head before she crumpled to the floor. I got to her before she hit the ground and yelled her name out of fear.

She was breathing fast, and her skin was hot to the touch, but her eyes fluttered open immediately. “I’m tired. I think I might have a fever or something,” she murmured.

“Fuck.” I lifted her from the ground and set her on the couch, then called a private doctor immediately. She grabbed my hand when I hung up with him and started to dial 911.

“I’m fine, Declan. I didn’t pass out, just got really dizzy. I’ll be fine. If you call an ambulance, we’ll be at the hospital instead of here, and I don’t want to be there all night.”

God damn it. Her eyes pleading with me had me calling a whole fucking team of private doctors that belonged to HEAT instead as I took her temperature that registered 103.5.

“It came on fast. It’s fine.” She waved me off, but when I called the doctor back to tell him about her fever, he answered calmly that this happened sometimes with the flu. Because of her pregnancy, however, he recommended a cool bath. Then I told him to hurry the fuck up and get her before hanging up.

I scooped her up, a man on a mission to take care of not just one person in my life that I knew I loved but two.

“Declan, what are you doing? I just need to relax.” Her teeth were chattering already, her body trying to work on bringing down the fever.

“You’re taking care of a baby now, Drop. It means I have to do what’s best for both of you.”

I held her while I turned on the bath water. Thankfully, I’d had a large claw-foot bath installed next to the shower, not that she was going to enjoy the luxury of it all when she realized the temperature. She eyed it with trepidation. “I guess I can relax in the bath.”

With her shivering already, I knew damn well she wasn’t going to like this. “It’s going to be cold.”

“Oh, no.” She shook her head and started to back out of the bathroom, but I snatched her and pulled her nightshirt over her head. “Baby, I’ll go in with you, okay? Just five minutes. We have to get your body temp down. It’s not good for you or for our baby.”

“Our baby?” She glanced away. “You said you don’t believe if it’s yours.”

“Even if it’s not, it’s going to be.” My hand spread across her belly because I knew I wouldn’t let her go even if she was having another man’s kid. “I’ll raise it as mine.”

She stared at me. “You really mean that, don’t you?”

“More than I’ve meant anything else in my life,” I told her. Then I slid my wallet from my slacks and toed my shoes off. I picked her up and stepped into the tub, cradling her like a baby as I sat down in the cool water.

“Jesus,” she gasped and clung to me. “Did you put it to zero degrees?”

“It’s lukewarm,” I chuckled but sobered to realize she really must not be feeling good. “You’re burning up, so it feels freezing cold. The doc will be here soon. We’ll get you feeling better in no time.”

“Declan”—her eyes met mine as she looked up—“you’re the only person since Andy I’ve slept with.” She whispered it softly as she laid against my chest and tried to cuddle into my warmth. My whole body was on fire with her confession. Had she felt better, I would have taken her in that tub.

Instead, I stroked the waves of her hair and held her tight, knowing I would never ever let her go.


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