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Authors: Meg Jolie

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BOOK: Holding On
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He gave her a guilty smile as he sat up again. “I was afraid if I kept bringing it up, I wouldn’t be able to keep it a surprise,” he admitted as he pulled her back up, too.

He reached into the picnic basket and pulled out two champagne flutes and a bottle.

“Um,” she said as she pointed to her stomach. “Did you forget already? There’s a tiny little jellybean floating around in here.”

Jake gave her
an offended look.

,” he stressed with a smug grin. He pointed at the words on the bottle. With his free hand, he reached toward her belly, placing his palm flat against it. “No alcohol for you little slugger. Not for a long, long time, anyway.” The words were aimed in the same direction.

He did not just talk to my belly, did he
? she wondered. She realized that yes, yes he had. She wanted to burst into tears all over again. Instead, a small sniffle escaped.

In all the time I’ve known you, I’ve never seen you cry. Now twice in one day. Are you sure it’s not hormones?” he demanded with a cocky grin.

shrugged. She had never felt such a storm of emotions in one day. “It might be. And what do you mean by
?” she demanded with a giggle.

“Boys tend to run in our family,” he explained.
Then his voice turned into a teasing, theatrical tone as he said, “Us McGraths? We have manly sperm.” He shrugged. “My dad’s got two brothers and it’s just me and Luke. My cousins on Dad’s side are almost all boys. Jill’s the only girl. Manly sperm,” he reaffirmed.

couldn’t help but laugh. “And if it’s not? If you’re um,
sperm is an anomaly?”

His eyes
twinkled and he leaned toward her tummy again. He cupped his hands over his mouth—making an imaginary megaphone—and whispered loudly. “If you end up being Daddy’s little princess instead of Daddy’s little slugger, it’s fine by me. I promise I’ll love you just as much. But just be warned, you’re still going to play catch with me. And I’m still going to take you fishing. And I’ll probably try to get you to play football, too.”

“And d
olls,” Quinn pointed out, trying to picture it. A heart-melting vision of Jake sitting at a tiny wooden table, surrounded by stuffed animals flickered through her head. It caused her to smile. “And tea parties. Possibly ballet lessons…”

“Absolutely,” he said with a happy sigh.
“I draw the line at being asked to wear make-up. But anything else is fair game.”

She smiled thinking that if the time did come and he had a little pri
ncess begging to play dress up…She thought he’d probably cave. She could tell already that boy or girl their child was going to have Daddy wrapped firmly around its precious little finger.

“So this is why you left.” It was more of a statement than a question.

He nodded. “I wanted to surprise you. It’s always been my intention to surprise you.”

“I was surprised alright!” she
admitted. “How long have you had the ring?”

He shrugged and smiled mischievously. “A while. Let’s leave it at that.”

Quinn wanted to know just how long but she decided to let it go. For now.

“I had everything at home. Well, the picnic basket. I recall you mentioned that you thought the old-fashioned kin
d was romantic?” He was right. She’d forgotten but she
said that. It was her reason for liking them so much. “So I went back the next day and bought it. I already had the ring by that point.” Quinn blinked in surprise. That had been almost half a year ago. “I already told you my original plan. I was going to wait until you were done with school. I really did have a whole romantic getaway planned. Obviously, things got switched up a bit. So when I left, I stopped at the deli and got the food and the
champagne. Then I headed home for the basket, the ring, the blanket…I’m sorry I left like I did. I obviously wasn’t thinking clearly. I just felt like I had to get out of there. Otherwise I would’ve just asked you to marry me right then and there.” He reached up and slid a hand across her cheek. “I’ve known you most of my life. Once we finally started dating, I swear, I knew almost since the start that I wanted you in my life forever. But I wanted to do it right. I wanted to make it special. Did I do okay?”

She was sure she
was beaming at him. He looked nervous. As though he might truly have disappointed her. “You did awesome,” she assured him.

“We have so much to talk about. I know how your parents feel about you living in the dorm. But ma
ybe under the circumstances…?” He faded off and she nodded. “I mean, what if you end up with morning sickness? The dorm is no place for that. Not to mention that I simply want you with me. I don’t want to miss a second of this. I know they don’t believe in living together until after marriage. They might just have to settle for engaged. Although I
want to get married as soon as possible. How do you feel about that?” he asked, finally stopping the flow of excited words. The look he gave her was hopeful.

“I feel like I’d like to get married before I’m as big as a house,” she mumbled around a smile.

“You won’t be as big as a house,” he chided. “You’ll be perfect and beautiful. Just like you always are.”

eyes wandered toward her new picnic basket and her stomach rumbled. “Do you know what else I am? Starving. The two of us are

“That’s my boy,” he said a
s he reached forward and gave her tummy a pat.







































It was early morning, just after dawn.
The shades were drawn but the slightest bit of daylight shone through the hazy gray of the bedroom. Though it was Saturday Jake was awake out of habit. During the summer, the company’s busy months when so many new houses were going up, he put in long days. That meant sometimes being on the jobsite shortly after sunrise. But he had no intention of getting up yet.

was sleeping soundly. Her strawberry blond mass of curls splayed out against his black pillow case. A few wild, curly stray strands were spread across her cheek. He gently brushed them away so he could have an unobstructed view of her face.

Quinn was sweet. She was smart. She was
gorgeous and feisty and loving. And she was all his. Even though the ring had been on her hand for several days now, he still had a hard time wrapping his head around it. He had wanted this for so long. Sometimes it still seemed too good to be true. The baby…He couldn’t be more excited.

He reached over and slid his hand up the edge of
the t-shirt she was wearing. It was one of his, old and threadbare but for some reason she was attached to it. She slept in it often. He rested his hand on her flat stomach. His heart and chest swelled with such an overwhelming feeling of contentment as he watched her sleep. He felt her breaths enter and exit as her stomach rose and fell gently under his palm.

For a long time now, all he’d wanted was Quinn to be his forever. To have a family with her. But she was a few years younger and still needed to finish school. And maybe the timing wasn’t exactly ideal. It might have been nice to have a year or two of quiet married life. Some time together, just the two of them before starting a family. But…it was what it was. She explained how she thought it happened. Regardless of
, he had no desire to complain.

He couldn’t possibly feel luckier than he did in that moment as he watched her sleep.

Both sets of parents had taken the news well. Better than well. The McGraths had been ecstatic. Just as Jake had known they would be. Then again, they’d always been a little more laid back about that kind of thing than Quinn’s parents were. They were well aware that Quinn spent most nights at his house.

They’d known Quinn for as long as he had. Since she and Luke had met and becom
e fast friends back when they were both in grade school. Because of this, his parents loved her long before they’d even started dating.


That was Jake’s one regret. His relationship with Quinn would be perfect if not for that one not-so-small detail.

His brother.

Luke had gotten a wild hair up his ass earlier in the year. He’d decided he needed a change of pace.
He left the family business to head out of town. He now lived about an hour away. Currently, he was dating and living with Tabitha Meyers. She was a girl whom he dated in high school. She’d been a year younger than Luke and Quinn. They’d been reunited by chance last summer and had started dating again.

Jake teased him for chasing after a girl
, willing it to be true. But the truth was, Jake knew he was running
a girl. Even though Luke had adamantly denied it. Jake knew his brother well enough to know he was lying. The thought filled him with just a hint of regret as guilt snaked through his veins.

But he couldn’t think about
it. He couldn’t think about what a shitty thing he’d done to his brother because it was too late to take it back. And possibly even worse, he wouldn’t take it back even if he could. So he shoved the thoughts out of his head. Because thinking about Luke’s feelings for Quinn, the feelings Jake had
Luke always had would put a damper on his happy mood. And what was the point? There was no going back now. And even if he did feel guilty he would never, not for anything, give Quinn up.

But Luke…

Had not taken the news about their baby well. Or at least, Jake didn’t think he had. When he’d called his brother to tell him he’d been met with a long, dead silence.

“You’re going to marry her, right? And take care of her?” he’d finally said.
His tone had turned hard.

They’d always gotten along well.
Not only were they brothers but they’d been best friends. Until lately. Because of Quinn. He was annoyed by his brother’s harsh tone.

“Yeah, Luke, I am,”
Jake had replied.

Luke’s response to that was to hang up on him.

That could’ve meant any number of things. Jake had tried to convince himself that it didn’t really mean
. But he wasn’t stupid. His brother still wanted Quinn. It was why he’d left town. Jake knew it. Their parents, Nora and Tom, knew it even though they’d never speak of it. It was only Quinn that had no idea.

, Jake thought as he laid there in the gloom of early morning,
Luke is going to have to get over it. I gave him his chance. Over and over and he didn’t take it. So he’s just going to have to get used to it.

He knew it wasn’t that simple, though. It never had been. And he was worried that things might never be the same with Luke again. If getting hung up on was any indication of his feelings.

It was Quinn’s parents’ reactions that they had both worried about. Turned out, they took it better than Luke.

In fact, t
o Quinn and Jake’s surprise, they’d taken it well. Period. At least they had after the initial shock had worn off.

Quinn had wanted to wait a few days to tell them. Jake had a feeling if Quinn had her way, she would’ve avoided the situation and
told them. But he’d been insistent that it needed to be done immediately. So after the picnic, they’d gone back to the Johnson’s. He’d told Quinn he wasn’t going home that night without her. So her parents had to be told because the dorms were closed. Under the circumstances, he hadn’t been willing to keep up the façade; he hadn’t been willing to pretend that they were not living together.

“You’re not mad?” Quinn had asked her parents in disbelief. Jake had given her shoulder a reassuring squeeze. Just in case.

“What good would
getting mad do at this point?” Pete had demanded.

To Quinn’s astonishment, it
had almost looked as though he were fighting off a smile. What with the way his lips seemed to be twitching. She knew her dad loved kids. She was just a little surprised he seemed so excited to already be having a

Carly had been patiently waiting on the couch. Ready to jump to Quinn’s defense if needed, but it hadn’t come to that.

BOOK: Holding On
13.85Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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