Authors: Ana Layne
Watching Whitney with her little girl was quite the eye opener for me. I feel like I’m keeping the biggest secret bottled up, and I don’t even know this woman. This will be my life in a few months, and although I’m panicking slightly on the inside, I trust Lance and I know everything will be fine. I’m glad I’m here to sit with someone else and not be alone with my thoughts. I know I’m safe inside this gym, and
can’t find me here. He’ll never find me again.
“Lance looks so happy with you here. It’s good to see him smiling. It’s nice to see the impact you’ve had on him.” Whitney’s comment breaks me out of my thoughts.
“Thank you, it’s good to hear that. I know I’ve put him through hell, but he’s a good guy.”
“He is. He’s practically family. We’ve been through a lot together. He was there for me and Garrett when our parents were killed, and we were there for him when he lost his mom.”
“Oh. I’m so sorry to hear about your parents.” I avert my eyes to hide the pity I feel.
“It happened a few years back. It’s okay. We found this gym to help us cope with everything. I sure miss being out there, but being with this little girl is much better for me.”
“You used to fight?”
“Yeah, me and Raegan. I was a force to be reckoned with, those were the good days.” Randi Lynn coos, and she softly kisses her forehead.
“That’s amazing. I could never do anything like that.”
“You’d be surprised. So, Hilary, what do you do?”
I cringe at her words. It’s almost like she can read me and she knows something. “I was going to college, but I recently dropped out.” Her soft eyes are kind, and I feel like I just need to keep talking. That never happens with me, not with someone I’ve never met before. “Personal reasons. I got caught up in a bad relationship.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. Are you going to go back to school?”
“I plan on it, after the ba—I mean, after a little while.”
Way to freaking go, Hil, you almost spilled it.
Whitney perks up as if she knows, and she glances at the one spot I wish I could hide. I’m nowhere near showing yet, but I know she’s not stupid. She’s figured me out. I don’t know why I thought I could keep this a secret.
“Were you about to say
My face flushes. I’ve put myself in an awkward position. I lower my gaze and nod, clasping my hands together and sitting there wishing I could disappear. I raise my eyes to find she’s just patiently watching me. “Yeah,” I whisper.
“Congratulations!” She beams.
“Thanks.” My quiet reply doesn’t go unnoticed. Whitney awaits my explanation. “It wasn’t planned.”
“It rarely is. I understand.” She reaches for my hand.
“It’s not Lance’s baby,” I tell her, just as quietly as before.
Her eyes widen. “Does he know?”
“Oh, yes. He knows. We’ve never even had sex. The father was a big mistake on my part.”
She watches me with sympathetic eyes, and it’s taking all my strength to not cry in the middle of this office. Out of nowhere, she gasps, flinging her other hand over her mouth. “It all makes sense now. You were the girl dating Travis.”
“You knew about me?” I ask. Never mind the fact she just said
“We all did. It’s no secret about Lance and Travis. That poor boy had it bad for you, but he just couldn’t let it go. He even quit here for a little while after the last run in he had with Travis.”
I gasp at the thought of Lance quitting what he loves, and because of me. There’s no way I could have lived with myself if he never returned. “Oh shit. I feel terrible.”
“Don’t. You have him now. I’ve never seen him with a woman before, let alone serious about one. This is a big deal for him. He’ll be good to you if you let him, I promise. His mother raised him right.” Her eyes have a bit of a twinkle behind them and I know without a shadow of a doubt she isn’t bullshitting me. She’s being one hundred percent honest and I appreciate that.
“I believe you. It was so easy to tell you. Now I have to tell my parents, and I can only hope they will take this news well. I haven’t really been home to talk to them. For all they know, I’ve fallen off the face of the earth. I’ve let them down. What if they don’t forgive me?” The tears are sitting in my eyelids, and I know I need to wipe them away soon. I refuse to let them fall.
“Hey, don’t cry. They will forgive you. They’d be crazy not to. Everyone makes mistakes. We’re human.”
“You really think so?”
“Yes, I do.”
A genuine smile spreads across my face, and I’m feeling more confident about what I need to do. I know putting it off longer is just going to make it harder so I’ve decided that I want Lance to bring me by my house after he’s done, and I want to give them the news. Whitney is right. She’s got to be. They would be crazy not to forgive me.
I glance out to see Lance and Garrett sparring on the mats. Lance has so much passion radiating off of him as he moves. I wince every time Garrett throws a punch at him, but I know this is all in good sport. My heart melts a little in my chest and I can’t ignore the desire that’s building. Travis never let me see this side of him. I just saw him in the ring for competitions. This is different, and I love it.
Two hours pass, and Whitney and I continued talking. We’ve had conversations about everything from our likes and dislikes to who her obstetrician is. Garrett pops his head in and tells Whitney he’s heading out to Raegan’s appointment. He even tells me goodbye. I give him a curt smile as he walks out, and Lance follows behind him into the office.
“I hope you weren’t bored or anything these last few hours.” He tells me as he places his hand on my shoulder. I’m beginning to grow accustomed to the electricity that shoots through my body from his touch.
“Not at all. Whitney and I have been talking the whole time.”
Whitney winks at me, and picks up Randi Lynn who has just begun fussing.
“All good things about me, right?” His breath tickles the nape of my neck.
“Nope, I told her all kinds of atrocious things,” Whitney says. “Excuse me, guys, I think someone needs her diaper changed.”
“I was getting ready to see if Hil was ready to get out of here anyway. I’ll catch you later, Whitney.”
“Bye, Whitney, it was nice to meet you.”
“You too, Hilary. Keep your head up. I’m here if you need anything.” I stand, and she pulls me in for a quick hug.
We walk out of the office together, and Lance says goodbye to Howard. “She knows about the baby?”
“It sort of came out. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to.” I stutter.
“Hey.” He stops once we’re outside, then pulls my hand into his and softly kisses my cheek. I close my eyes to take in the sincerity of his kiss. “You never have to apologize to me for anything, got it?”
“Yeah.” My breath is ragged, and I’m sure I sound insane, but right now I don’t care.
He holds my hand for a minute longer before leaning forward and pressing his forehead against mine. “You’re giving me another chance, and you have no idea how happy this makes me, Hilary. I swear I won’t do anything to hurt you. You can trust me.”
Every breath inside of me has been stolen. I open my mouth to say something, but words fail me. Instead, I rise up on my toes and softly kiss his lips. He kisses me back eagerly. A moan escapes my throat. His silky tongue slides against mine as he pulls me closer before breaking the life-changing kiss.
“Thank you for giving
another chance,” I tell him.
“I’d do anything for you, don’t you see that?” He gives me another kiss.
“I do. Hey, Lance, I think I want to go tell my parents today if that’s okay.”
“If that’s what you want to do, we can do it. Do you mind if I go take a shower first? I don’t want to go to your parents’ house all sweaty.” He chuckles. I love his laugh. It’s music to my ears.
He raises his eyebrows. “Are you saying I stink?”
“You said it first!” I laugh, playfully slapping his arm. He opens the car door for me and I slide in the passenger seat.
He drives us to his house. I’m a little worried his dad may be home, but when I notice there are no other cars in the driveway, I breathe a sigh of relief. I know I’ll be meeting him soon, but I’d rather it not when Lance has to go take a shower.
He opens the front door and points to the living room. “You can sit in here if you want, or my room is down the hall. No one is home, so it’s up to you.”
To be safe, I stay in the living room. I watch as he disappears down the hallway, and I sink against the couch cushions.
I walk down the hall to my bedroom to get a change of clothes. I’m proud of Hilary for deciding to go ahead and just tell her parents. I know she will feel better once she gets this off her chest. I’m nervous, I admit. But I will show them I can and I will take care of their daughter and grandchild.
I step into the bathroom that is connected to my room, and shut the door. Once I’m alone, the kiss we shared invades my mind. Her lips are as soft as I remembered, and I want so badly to kiss her again.
After my shower, I don’t want to keep her waiting. I run the towel over my hair before I wrap it across my body. Steam from the bathroom lingers in the air from the heat of the shower. I open the door, and step into my bedroom.
Hilary’s voice startles me. “Oh, I’m sorry. I should have knocked or something. I felt weird just sitting in your living room so I figured I’d sit in here. I’m sorry.”
It doesn’t escape me that she just apologized twice for no reason. I turn to see her standing in the doorway. Her eyes widen at the sight of me in nothing more than a towel. “No, it’s okay. Let me just grab my clothes and I’ll change in the bathroom.”
“No, I’ll go back to the living room.”
“Hil, it’s fine, sweetheart. I promise.” When I grab my clothes from where I left them, she seems to hold her breath as I walk by. The old Lance would have dropped his towel in a heartbeat and taken the woman he wants. This new Lance is being respectful. I’m so proud of him.
After I dress, I find Hilary sitting on my bed looking at my room. I’m a tidy guy. My mom taught me to be clean. I’m probably one of the only guys I know with a clean room. Not a single thing is out of place.
“Hey, sorry about that. You ready to go?” I ask.
“Oh, yeah. Sure.” She rises to her feet.
I reach for her hand as we walk to the front door. “Do you want to take your car or my truck?”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“We can take my truck.” I lead the way outside. Before I open the door for her, I turn her to face me. I lean in closer, so my lips are a few inches from her ear. “Everything is going to be fine.”
She nods her head. I open her door and she climbs right in. I love looking at her sitting in my truck. I turn the radio up and listen to her softly singing along. I don’t let her know I hear her because I don’t want her to stop. Her voice is soothing. It’s like Heaven’s gates have opened and my own personal angel is singing. She can sing whatever she wants and I’ll never grow tired of it.
In a matter of minutes, we pull in at her parents’ house. Her father’s car is in the driveway, and her singing stops. I see her tense up out of the corner of my eye. Her hands are clasped tightly together and her breathing is deep and ragged. I reach over and gently pry her hands apart.
“Hil, look at me.” Slowly, she turns her head to face me. Her eyes are red and tears are beginning to well up. “You are a brave, strong woman. I’m here no matter what they say to you in there. You’ve helped me become a better man than I ever thought I could be and I can never thank you enough for that. No matter what, you have me.”
“That is the sweetest thing anyone has ever said to me.” A lone tear slides down her cheek, and I gently raise my other hand to wipe it away.
“No more tears, okay?”
Hilary nods her head and regains her composure. I let go of her hand and give her a wink. Once we’re out of the truck, I link our fingers together. As we approach the door, her body tenses again but all it takes is one gentle squeeze to relax her. As if she’s a stranger in her own home, she knocks. A tall brunette opens the door dressed from head to toe like she just stepped out of a magazine. This must be her mother.
“Hilary, it’s so good to see you. Come here, baby girl, we’ve missed you.” The woman envelopes her in a hug and looks at me. “And who is this?”
Hilary’s dad peeks his head around the corner and sticks his hand out. “Lance, it’s nice to see you again. Come on in, you two.” I shake his hand before he hugs his daughter.
We walk inside and are ushered to the couch. I wasn’t nervous before but even now my palms are beginning to sweat. It’s now or never. In just a few moments, things will either get easier or a lot harder. Either way, I’m ready.