Authors: Tina Leonard,Rebecca Winters
Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary, #Fiction
Seagal figured he’d set a new record for speed by the
time he got to the hospital. He sprinted inside, leaving Jack at the curb to
park the cruiser.
Capri looked pale, tired and in pain when he jogged into the
room the nurse led him to. “I thought I told you to stay still,” he said to his
wife, trying to make light of the situation to calm his heart, which was trying
to beat out of his chest.
“I listened,” Capri said. “Funny how your children didn’t.
Maybe a case of like father, like babies.”
He glanced at the doctor. “What’s happening?”
Dr. Blankenship finished looking over the charts he held.
“You’re about to meet your children, Seagal.”
Seagal’s gaze locked on his wife. He’d never wanted to hold her
and comfort her so badly. “This is it, lady. There’s no turning back now. We’re
going to be parents.”
Capri gave him a very slight smile. He could tell she was
really hurting. “There was no turning back when I first met you, Seagal,” she
said, then groaned and closed her eyes.
Nurses hustled Capri onto a gurney. He followed helplessly, not
sure what to do. His heart thundered. No one seemed to care whether he went in
to the big room that looked like an operating room, and then suddenly, a nurse
helped him into something she called a birth coach’s shirt. She showed him where
to wash and made him put sterile covers on his shoes.
“Are you all right?” the elderly nurse asked him.
He was pretty sure he’d know her if she’d take off her mask,
but at the moment his brain was short-circuiting. “I’m fine. Is she going to be
“Your wife is going to be fine.”
The nurse left him, and Seagal hung at the back of the huge
room, watching everything. He didn’t want to get in the way of the medical
personnel; he felt so useless. Was he supposed to take pictures? He and Capri
hadn’t discussed his role.
Someone nudged him over to Capri’s side, and told him to talk
to her in soothing tones.
He wasn’t usually a soothing presence for Capri. But once upon
a time, he had known just the right words to say to her.
Capri’s eyes were huge in her face. He could hardly bear to see
her like this. Taking her hand in his, he said, “You’re the most beautiful woman
I’ve ever known.”
She made little short puffing breaths, and then suddenly she
“A local anesthetic,” the doctor explained.
They were awfully busy under the green sheet. Capri had told
him he wasn’t to approach the sheet in any way, so he remained by her side,
letting her squeeze his fingers bloodless. He welcomed the pain; it wasn’t
nearly what she was going through.
“Seagal,” Capri suddenly said, startling him.
“Yes?” He leaned close to hear her.
“Mrs. Penny called.”
He blinked. “Can we talk to her later? I know she’s one of our
town’s revered grapevines, but—”
Capri squeezed his fingers to shush him. She was so pale he
sent a worried glance the doctor’s way. Dr. Blankenship seemed busy with
whatever he was doing under the green sheet thing, so Seagal looked back at
“Okay,” he said, “was there something special on her mind?”
“She said you’re sniffing around my flower shop.” Capri’s gaze
was on him, accusing. “Do you think somebody close to me may be involved?”
He was on the ropes here—he could hear it in her voice. “I
can’t say, honey.”
“You didn’t tell me,” Capri said.
“Keep soothing her, Mr. West. We need to keep Mom calm,” a
nurse said, glancing at a monitor.
He leaned close to his wife. “Let’s talk about this later.”
“I need to know,” she said, her gaze on him, haunted.
“I don’t know what you want me to say,” Seagal said, “I’m
simply following orders.”
Capri’s eyes widened. Belatedly, Seagal remembered that the
night of their worst argument, he’d said the same thing. It had effectively
ended their marriage.
“Capri,” he said, “no one knows exactly who is involved. But
this I do know. I’m about to be a dad. All I want to do is take care of you and
“That’s better,” the nurse said, her tone approving. “Whatever
you’re saying, keep saying it. We need to keep your blood pressure down, Mrs.
“Snow,” Capri said, and the nurse glanced at her. “My name is
“Now wait,” Seagal said, his voice low so the nurses and doctor
couldn’t hear. His blood pressure felt as if he needed someone to say soothing
“You’re still Mrs. Seagal West for
another two weeks.”
She closed her eyes.
“You’re doing fine,” the nurse said. “The doctor is almost
finished prepping you, and then it will be time to meet your new babies.”
Capri released his fingers. He tried to catch her fingers back
but she put her hand under the covers. So he stood beside her, staring down at
her pale face, wishing he knew what to tell her to make her happy, to keep her
“Okay, Capri,” Dr. Blankenship said. “I’m about to make an
incision. You’ll only notice some tugging sensations. If you notice anything
more than that, let me know, all right?”
Capri nodded. Seagal felt all the blood rush from his head.
“Get Dad a chair,” Dr. Blankenship barked, and the elderly
nurse led him over to the side.
“Breathe,” the nurse commanded. “Doc’s done this a thousand
times. Capri’s in the best possible hands.”
Wasn’t he supposed to be a fearless, tough guy?
Then why was the very idea of his wife being in pain making him
weak as a kitten?
“I’m failing at being a birth coach,” he told the nurse.
“We keep this chair in here for dads,” the nurse said, her tone
kindly. “You’ll feel stronger in a bit. Don’t worry. Your wife is in good
She patted him on the back, then turned to stand by Capri.
Seagal took another deep breath, braced himself, and went back to being there
for his wife.
* * *
Seagal left her side. She
felt alone as soon as he’d gone, and reminded herself that she was destined to
be alone in the future anyway.
Then he came back, and she felt better again.
“Are they going to be all right?” she asked.
“Of course,” Seagal told her. “The babies are doing fine.
You’re doing fine.”
“Where’d you go?”
He glanced toward the elderly nurse. She wasn’t paying any
attention to him. “I didn’t look under the sheet, if that’s what you’re
Capri turned her head to look at him. “I know.”
“Although, didn’t the sheet rule only hold when the babies were
supposed to make a different exit?” He took her fingers in his, and she was glad
for the warmth.
“The sheet is off-limits anyway.”
“I’m good with that.”
He’d agreed too quickly. She looked at her husband. “Are you
“I’m fine. Pretty eager to get started on the Dad of the Year
She tried to ignore what the doctor was doing. Once she’d heard
she hadn’t wanted to focus on
her stomach at all.
She was grateful Seagal was by her side.
“I should have told you sooner,” she suddenly said, and Seagal
squeezed her fingers. “You had every right to be here. And I wouldn’t have
wanted you to miss this.”
“I knew you’d want me,” Seagal said with his customary
She had a retort ready, but then Dr. Blankenship said, “Here we
are,” and a baby cried out, and Capri could barely see for the sudden tears in
“A healthy boy,” Dr. Blankenship said. “A little premature, of
course, but everything looks good for now.” He handed the baby to a nurse, who
went to suction the baby, and Capri felt Seagal take her hand in both of
“He sounds strong,” he said.
“Like you,” Capri said.
“Probably,” Seagal said, and she tried not to smile.
“And here is baby sister,” Dr. Blankenship said, holding up a
little girl for Capri and Seagal to see before the nurse whisked the baby
“Oh, my gosh,” Capri said, unable to help the tears that
started from her eyes. “They’re beautiful. Aren’t they, Seagal?”
He leaned over and kissed her forehead. “Like their mother.
He kissed her lips, just a brush, nothing pressuring, nothing
serious. Just an acknowledgment of the moment they’d shared.
Yet Capri wished it wasn’t just a moment, but forever, the way
they’d once thought it would be.
* * *
Kelly said to Capri. “He spends all his time staring in the window at the
babies.” She put two stuffed bears on the windowsill, one wearing a blue bow and
the other a pink. “I thought Seagal was supposed to be guarding you.”
“It was a ruse.” Capri smiled. “Thank you for the bears.”
“Oh, those are the babies’ gifts. This is for you.” She handed
Capri a box tied with a silver ribbon. “Best-friend privilege.”
Capri smiled. “Your turn is next.”
“I don’t know. I don’t think I have a man crazy about me like
Seagal is for you. What do you mean, Seagal guarding you is a ruse?”
“He’s just doing his job.” She got annoyed all over again
thinking about Seagal poking around in her shop looking for contraband and
accomplices—as if he didn’t know very well that she had control over every
aspect of her shop. “In my opinion, he and whoever on the force decided I needed
a bodyguard are just wrong. There are no drugs in my shop. They had to have been
put in the arrangements after we put them out at Christmastown.” She pulled the
beautiful silver bow from the box and opened it, drawing a lovely—and very
sheer—black nightie from the box. “Kelly, this is gorgeous. But don’t think I
don’t know exactly what you’re doing.” She held the nightie up, examining the
lovely lace strategically placed in sexy areas.
“Whoa,” Seagal said, coming into the room. “If that’s your idea
of a hospital gown, I’m into it.”
Capri stuffed it hurriedly back into its box, feeling herself
blush and hoping Seagal didn’t notice. “How are the babies? When are they
bringing them back to me?”
“Five minutes.” Seagal grinned at Kelly. “I’ll have to tell
Jack about your taste in nightwear.”
“You think he’d approve?” Kelly asked.
“He’s a live male,” Seagal said. “I feel safe saying he’d
“Then you two are discussing things even cop partners shouldn’t
be talking about,” Kelly said archly. “You go right ahead and tell Jack. Maybe
it’ll get his mind off Daisy.”
Capri watched Seagal carefully for his reaction to Daisy’s
name. Seagal smiled at Kelly. “You’re right. There are some things partners
don’t need to know about.”
Jack came into the hospital room at that moment, going over to
kiss Capri on the cheek. “What does your partner not need to know?” Jack asked,
glancing at Seagal. “Hi, Kelly.”
Kelly brightened. “Hi, Jack.”
“If I wanted my partner to know something, I’d tell him,”
“That’s what I thought. Locked up like Fort Knox as usual.” He
handed Capri a teal-and-pink-polka-dotted bag with lots of paper tissue poking
out the top. “This is from Aunt Mathilda. She said she’ll be by in a little
while to visit. Be prepared, I think she’s planning a shower for you. You caught
her by surprise by giving birth a little earlier than everyone expected. It’ll
be a Christmas baby shower now.”
“That’s so sweet.” Capri felt overwhelmed by her friends’
kindness. She glanced at Seagal, who gazed at her with a question in his eyes.
She wondered what he was thinking, because he certainly seemed focused on her.
She felt sparks, as she always did around Seagal. Turning away from her husband,
she opened Mathilda’s gift, smiling at the tiny Christmas sleepers inside. “Now
I feel like Christmas is on the way. This is all that was missing.”
Seagal took one of the outfits from her, admiring the tiny
red-and-white-striped outfit. “They’ll look like little candy canes.”
The proud look on Seagal’s face nearly broke her heart. It was
all Capri could do not to think about the fact that her marriage would be over
in less than two weeks.
Almost on cue, Daisy Donovan walked into the room.
Daisy carried a huge, gaily decorated gift bag and
beamed a smile at the men in the room. Kelly glanced at Capri with a
here-comes-trouble expression on her face, and Capri hoped it was just the
pregnancy hormones making her imagine that both men stood a little taller as the
beautiful Daisy made her way over to Capri.
“Hi, everyone,” Daisy said. She handed the gift bag to Capri.
“I stopped by to look at your babies, Capri. They’re beautiful.”
“Thank you. It’s sweet of you to come by.” The gift bag rested
awkwardly on the bed, and Capri forced a smile to her face. She didn’t dare look
at Seagal—but when he sat on the bed beside her, Capri felt so much better. She
smiled at her husband. “You open this one, since I opened the last two.”
“Wish I’d gotten to open the sexy nightie,” Seagal said, just
for her ears, winking at her. Capri blinked, not certain how to respond. Daisy
had gone over to chat with Jack, and Kelly looked as if she didn’t quite know
what to do with herself, so Capri motioned at her friend to go chat up Jack
Kelly came over and sat by Capri instead.
“Baby nighties.” Seagal grinned at the tiny clothes, holding up
a light pink one that read Daddy’s Little Princess and a blue one that had
Mommy’s Little Prince lettered on the backs.
“How nice,” Kelly said.
Kelly looked pea-green with misery as Jack laughed at something
“Look,” Seagal said, his voice so soft that Capri could barely
hear him, “you can’t just give her the run of the field.”
Kelly looked at Seagal. “What are you suggesting?”
Capri stared at her husband, curious as to the advice he was
going to offer.
“Ask him out,” Seagal said. “Don’t you think, Capri?”
“How would I know?” She wasn’t going to let on that she knew
very well what Seagal meant.
“Capri asked me out on our first date,” he told Kelly.
“I know.” Kelly looked at Capri. “But I’m not brave like
“It was a moment of madness,” Capri said.
“She wanted my body,” Seagal said.
“I always wondered how you two ended up together,” Daisy said,
giving Capri a look that clearly was displeased as she joined their
“Ah, past history,” Jack said. “Always fun.”
“I’d best be going.” Kelly got up. “Good to see you, Daisy.
Jack. Bye, Seagal.” She hugged Capri goodbye. “I’ll stop back in tomorrow. When
can you go home?”
“Maybe tomorrow. The babies will follow later.” Capri felt
anxious about leaving her babies behind.
“I’ll be going, too.” Jack saluted his partner. “Good going,
“I’ll walk out with you, Jack,” Daisy said. “Goodbye, Capri.
Congratulations to both of you, Seagal.” She hugged them both, Seagal longer.
Capri tried not to steam, and Kelly rolled her eyes at Capri behind Daisy’s
“Thank you for the baby gifts, Daisy.” Capri made herself
“I came as soon as I could.” Daisy put her arm through Jack’s.
“Walk me to my car, Jack.”
Jack raised a brow at Seagal as he walked out with Daisy.
“Well, that was interesting,” Seagal said. “Let that be a
lesson to both of you.”
“About what?” Capri demanded.
“That men need guidance.” Seagal looked innocent. “Cute
outfits, though. Very thoughtful of her.”
“Whatever,” Capri said, feeling very disagreeable. In fact, she
felt strange stirrings she recognized—and didn’t want to have. “Ask Jack out,
Kelly. Don’t give up without a fight.”
Seagal smiled at her, a slow, sexy smile that Capri tried to
discourage with a frown. “What?” she demanded.
“I was just wondering if that’s why you asked me out.”
“What do you mean?”
Seagal turned to Kelly. “She’s right. Ask him out. What’s the
worst that can happen? He says no.”
“Exactly,” Kelly said, “and that will stink.”
The babies were wheeled in and Capri sat up to gaze at her
children. “Look how perfect they are,” she told Seagal.
“They’re amazing,” Kelly said. “I can’t wait to be able to hold
“Auntie Kelly wants to hold you,” Capri told the twins. “Not to
mention your parents do, too.”
“Do they have names?” Kelly asked. “Not to rush you or
anything, but as an aunt-in-waiting, I’d like to be able to call them something
besides Baby Number One and Baby Number Two. I feel like I’m reading out of a
Dr. Seuss book.”
Capri looked at Seagal. “We haven’t talked about it yet. Since
they came early, we hadn’t had a chance to debate names.”
“Debate?” Seagal raised a brow.
“Do we ever have a discussion without a debate?” Capri said. “I
thought it was part of your nature to dissect every detail.”
“Yeah, but not baby names.” Seagal grinned.
“I’ll leave you two to discuss. I think the parking lot should
be clear of Daisy by now. I do wish she wouldn’t ride that motorcycle around
everywhere,” Kelly griped.
“Better than a broom,” Capri said, and Seagal laughed.
“You girls are mean.” He went over to look in the bassinets at
his children. “I’m naming the girl Lila May.”
“That’s…not happening,” Capri said.
“And the debate begins. Goodbye, you two. Let me know what’s
going on the birth certificates.”
Kelly left the room, and Capri raised her brows. “Lila May
sounds like a name a man picks when he wants the wife to do all the work.”
Seagal shrugged. “Probably.” He reached out to touch his
daughter. “She’s so tiny we’ll have to give her a big name to compensate.”
“Why are men always concerned with compensating?” Capri asked,
still nettled by feeling what she recognized as jealousy. “Do you have to look
so happy every time Daisy shows up wearing a short skirt and a smile for
He sank back on the bed beside her. “It’s an ego boost. Not a
Capri sniffed. “Still.”
“The babies are getting restless,” Seagal said, glancing over
at the bassinets. “Aren’t you supposed to feed them?”
“I can’t with you in the room,” Capri said primly.
“Oh.” Seagal nodded. “You want me to leave just when things are
“Breast milk is not interesting.”
He looked hopeful. “There’s never a time a breast isn’t
Capri sighed. “Hand me Carter, Seagal, please.”
He looked at her. “Carter?”
“Can you do better?”
“Sara and Carter West,” Seagal said, mulling the names. “I
think it’ll work. Now, can we get on to the good stuff?” he said, handing her
“Go,” Capri said.
“I didn’t look under the sheet,” he reminded her. “I promise
not to look at anything you don’t want me to.”
It seemed mean to cast him out when he wanted so badly to be
with his children. She thought about their impending divorce, and the fact that
she still hadn’t read Seagal the riot act about poking around her shop for signs
of trafficking. “I’m not happy with you,” she said.
“Daisy means nothing to me,” Seagal said, reaching out to rest
an arm around her shoulder. “Trust me, she didn’t the day you asked me out.”
Capri stared into her husband’s eyes. His expression was so
sincere, and it was true that Daisy threw herself at every man.
Capri had thrown herself at Seagal, too. And she’d never
regretted that, not even when they’d decided their marriage wasn’t going to work
“This isn’t as exciting as you think it is,” she said. “It just
involves a pump.”
He grinned. “Sounding kinkier all the time, babe.”
* * *
to understand,” Seagal told
Capri an hour later as he stretched out on the rollaway the nurse had brought in
for him, “is that even if I could leave you on your own, I wouldn’t.”
The babies had been taken back to the nursery. They weren’t
allowed to be out of preemie care for very long, just long enough to let Capri
express some breast milk while they were in the room. Then the nurses used her
milk in the feeding tubes. Capri longed for the time when she could actually
hold the babies to her breast.
“What do you mean?” she asked Seagal, distracted by the sight
of her husband stretched out on the bed, distracted by thinking about her
babies, and distracted in general.
“I’m with you for two reasons. One, a man needs his children.
Two, I’m protecting you. Even if you were fully ambulatory and capable, there
are outstanding reasons you need me.”
Capri thought about bursting her husband’s bubble but decided
against it. “I know you were snooping around in my shop, Seagal. It’s hard to
trust you when I know you either don’t trust me, or don’t think I would know if
someone was using my shop as a front for some kind of nefarious operation. I
really don’t appreciate it.” She looked over the bed rail at him, annoyed. “So,
did you find anything?”
He shook his head. “There’s nothing there. I think the floral
arrangements were a random placement opportunity. I mean, the operation was
planned to a T, but it was small-time and hardly professional, where something
more sinister would be. I think we have a case of inside activity rearing its
ugly head in Bridesmaids Creek.”
“You think local people are involved and that it wasn’t an
“Right. At first I was afraid we might have a cartel situation
going on, or a developing gang. Because of the timing, I’m beginning to suspect
that it was opportunistic because of the holidays. Only locals would know our
traditions here.” He looked thoughtful. “As you know, not everybody in
Bridesmaids Creek has the town’s best interests at heart. There are people here
who don’t love the BC legend like most of us do.”
“You left Bridesmaids Creek. I don’t remember you claiming to
love it before.”
“I always loved the town and its people. I wanted to move up,
and that meant working in other departments in other places.” He looked
thoughtful. “Opportunities to get promoted don’t come along all the time. I had
to take advantage of what came my way.”
It was true. She didn’t blame him for that. But there were
moments and words she remembered that were painful.
“I know you think I left you alone so much because I didn’t
care about you, Capri. That was never the case.”
“I wanted to believe it wasn’t,” she said softly.
“Believe it,” Seagal said, his words clipped. “Maybe the timing
“Probably not.” Capri sighed. The nights had been long. She’d
been busy trying to take over her grandmother’s shop. “We didn’t talk a
He didn’t say anything for a moment. “We might have gotten
married too soon.”
After he and Daisy had broken up,
were the unspoken words. Capri turned her head on her pillow, and put a hand on
her stomach where the stitches tugged painfully. “Maybe.”
“It felt right at the time.”
Capri blinked away a tear. “I know.”
Things hadn’t worked out. It wouldn’t matter in two weeks.
They’d walk into the courthouse, talk to a judge, sign some papers and walk away
with the babies as the only things that bound them.
She didn’t want to think about it.
“Anyway, we have two beautiful children,” Seagal said.
She clicked out the light overhead, casting the room into
“Yes?” She lay still, listening.
“There was never another woman for me after our marriage.”
She swallowed. “I know.”
“What I’m trying to say is that I never thought about anybody
else after you asked me out. I was gone a lot, but it was always about my
She knew he was telling the truth. Seagal was an honorable man.
He would never have cheated on her.
Even if he had still been in love with another woman. And that
bothered her more than she could say.
* * *
, Seagal took Capri home. “Home sweet home,” he
“It’s not a sweet home without the babies,” Capri said.
“They’ll be here soon enough. They just need a few more days to
acclimate.” Seagal helped Capri walk inside, smiling when she gasped at the
sight of all the flower arrangements and fruit baskets piled in the living room.
He’d crowded many of the gifts into the formal room, on top of the stuffed
floral sofa, and near the white-mantled fireplace.
Then Capri saw he’d put up a Christmas tree, and her eyes
widened with delight—just as he’d hoped. “Oh, Seagal! Thank you!”
She moved slowly to the fireplace, where he’d hung stockings
her mother had brought over with the babies’ names on them. “These are darling!
Carter and Sara,” she murmured, looking at the beautiful gilt-lettered red
“Your mom came by,” Seagal said. “She brought the stockings,
helped me decorate the tree, put the wreaths on the doors. I was doing all right
by myself, but I was glad when the cavalry arrived.”
Capri smiled. “I don’t know when you had time to do this.”
“I’m learning to be very organized.” He eased her toward her
bedroom, but she glimpsed the tiny presents under the tree before he could.
“What are those?”
“Those are from Santa. They’re for the babies. Come on, Mama,
let’s get you to bed. Doctor’s orders.”
“What are they?” she asked, eying the tiny
blue-and-pink-wrapped packages. There were three of them, one with a blue bow,
one with pink and one with silver.
“Santa didn’t tell me.”
“You are Santa,” she said. “What did you buy the children?”
He grinned. “Footballs.”
She stared at him. “Footballs.”
“What else does a dad get his brand-new babies? I can’t wait
for them to come home so they can open them.”
“They won’t open them, Seagal.”
“It doesn’t matter. They’ll be here for them when they get
home, and then they’ll be here when the babies are ready to play with me.”