brides for brothers 02 - cowboy daddy (10 page)

BOOK: brides for brothers 02 - cowboy daddy
12.35Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

“And you’re not?”

“Hell, no! I’ve begged her to marry me. I told her I’d shout the fact that this is my baby from the rooftops. She keeps saying no.”

“Hmm,” Doc Jacoby muttered, one finger laid across his lips. Then he stood up and Pete did, too. “Sit down, boy. I’ll go talk to Janie and her mother. You wait here.”

“I’m tired of waiting. I’ll go with you.”

“You’ll wait here as I said, or I’m turning Priddy loose on you with a syringe.”

Pete collapsed in the chair.

“W
HEN IS HE GOING TO COME
?” Janie finally demanded. She’d been patient as long as she could be. “Doc will be in as soon as he can, Janie. You know that. Just relax.” Lavinia sat in a chair nearby the examining table, a magazine spread across her lap.

But Janie wasn’t fooled. Lavinia had been turning the pages at random. Janie didn’t think her mother had seen a single page.

“Mom, I wish you wouldn’t be mad at Dad,” Janie burst out. “Ever since dinner at the Randalls’, life at home has been crazy.”

“Don’t concern yourself. Punishment won’t hurt your father.” Lavinia grinned. “And it’s not the first time.”

“But I feel so bad about everyone getting upset. B.J. called yesterday. She said Chad and Megan are hardly speaking.”

“At least B.J.’s not having marital problems.”

“Only because she doesn’t have a husband. But what if Jake decides to take her house away?”

“Jake Randall may be upset, but he won’t be unfair. You know better than that. The Randalls are good men, even if they don’t understand women.”

“Do you think it has anything to do with their mother’s death?” Janie asked, returning to the question she’d asked Pete after their grocery shopping.

“Possibly. Jake and Pete were at very impressionable ages. Pete was five and Jake eight. Old enough to realize that their mother had left them, even if they couldn’t understand death.” Lavinia frowned and then began, “Maybe—”

Doc Jacoby’s entry stopped her.

“Hi there, young lady, Lavinia.”

Lavinia greeted her old friend, but Janie only smiled nervously.

“Janie, my girl, we have a small problem,” the doctor began.

Janie covered her stomach with her hand. “My baby?”

“No, child, no. We haven’t done the sonogram yet, remember? No, the problem is with the daddy.”

Janie stiffened and looked away.

“What do you mean?” Lavinia asked.

“Well, Pete Randall is waiting in my office. He claims to be the father of this child and wants to be present during the sonogram.”

“No!” Janie replied sharply.

“No what? No, he isn’t the father, or no, you don’t want him to be present?”

Janie didn’t look at the doctor. She didn’t want to face the kind man who’d taken care of all her physical ailments since her birth. With her head down, she finally muttered, “He’s the father, but I don’t want him here.”

Before Lavinia could say anything—and Janie could sense her intent as she stirred—Doc Jacoby responded. “Now, Janie, I believe a woman should have control over her own body. If you tell me to send Pete away, I will. But I think you ought to reconsider your decision. This is his child, too. Even if you don’t want to have anything to do with him, I think he should know about his baby.”

Janie thought he should, too. But she didn’t want to lie down on a table, her clothing removed, and allow Pete to stare at her stomach. Yet she guessed she didn’t have any choice. Swallowing the sudden lump in her throat, she whispered, “Okay.”

Lavinia reached out and squeezed her hand in support, and Janie dared lift her gaze to her mother and offer a weak smile.

“Good girl,” Doc said, patting her on the shoulder. “You put on the gown Priddy left for you and lie down on the table. I’ll knock before I bring Pete in.”

As soon as the doctor left the room, Mrs. Priddy replaced him, leaving mother and daughter no time to talk alone. But Janie knew she’d pleased her mother with her choice.

The gown, pink crinkle paper, was different from those she’d worn in the past. This one had snaps down the front, which would allow the doctor access to her stomach without revealing much else, thankfully. When a knock came on the door, she squeezed her eyes closed.

“Just relax, Janie. The doctor will take care of you,” Mrs. Priddy assured her.

It wasn’t the doctor making her tense.

“All right, Janie, I think everyone is here. We’ll begin the show,” Doc Jacoby boomed. Janie didn’t have to see him to know he was smiling.

“Actually,” Lavinia said, “it feels a bit crowded in here. Why don’t I wait in the reception room?”

Janie’s eyes popped open, and she pleaded without speaking for her mother not to abandon her. But Lavinia carefully averted her gaze.

“Lavinia, I’ll be glad to bring Janie home, if you want. I’ll be real careful,” Pete promised.

“Thanks, Pete, if you’re sure you don’t mind. I can go on home and start making dinner. You’ll join us, won’t you?”

“Mom!” Janie finally protested, but the other two ignored her.

“Thanks, Lavinia. I’d appreciate that.”

Before Janie could think of anything to say, Lavinia slipped from the room.

“You don’t mind, do you, Janie?” Pete finally asked.

“You mean now that it’s too late, I get to voice my opinion?” she demanded.

“Calm down, Janie,” Doc urged. “Your blood pressure is going to shoot through the roof.”

“She has blood-pressure problems?” Pete asked anxiously.

“No, I don’t have blood-pressure problems!” Janie retorted.

Doc Jacoby heaved a big sigh. “Pete, you go sit down in that chair,” he said, pointing to the chair Lavinia had occupied. “You,” he began, turning back to Janie, “lie back and relax. I have other patients waiting.”

Janie did as she was told, allowing her gaze to roam to Pete, waiting tensely in the chair, before closing her eyes again.

“Okay, Janie, I’m going to open your robe so I can examine you,” Doc said even as he unsnapped the gown over her stomach. Then he began pressing on her stomach, making her regret the two glasses of iced tea she’d had at lunch.

When he grunted after placing the cold stethoscope to her stomach, she felt movement and opened her eyes to find Pete standing over her on the other side of the table.

“Is everything all right?”

Doc frowned at him. “Hmm? Oh, yes, yes, everything’s fine. Quit worrying, boy.”

Pete picked up her hand and threaded his fingers through hers. Janie tried to pretend that she didn’t like the touch, but she knew she was lying to herself. Pete’s grasp tightened as she clung to him.

“Okay, Priddy, let’s prep her for the sonogram,” the doctor muttered.

Mrs. Priddy, her lips pressed tightly together, came into Janie’s range of vision and began smearing some kind of petroleum jelly on her stomach.

“What’s that for?” Pete demanded, asking the question Janie was wondering.

“It helps conduct the transmission.” The doctor patted the small black machine on a cart. “This contraption is something else. With the doctor in the next county sharing the expense, we’ve improved the care for all our expectant mothers.” He beamed at Janie as if expecting a thank-you.

But she remained silent, waiting for the examination. Thoughts of her mother’s difficulties, combined with the tension of the past week, had her dwelling on the negatives of her situation.

Doc Jacoby took a ball connected with wires to the machine and began rolling it around Janie’s stomach. She even feared he might hurt the baby by pressing so hard.

“Doc—” Pete began, and then he stopped, but his hold on Janie’s hand tightened. Since the doctor ignored him, he said again, “Doc, shouldn’t you be more gentle?”

“You got experience with babies, son? Until you do, keep your advice to yourself.” He watched the machine as he continued to move the ball. Then he exclaimed, “Aha!”

“What is it?” Pete demanded.

“See that? That’s a heartbeat. That’s your child, Pete Randall, alive and well.”

“Doctor,” Mrs. Priddy whispered, elbowing him and pointing to the machine.

“What? What?” Pete insisted, looking from the doctor to the nurse and back again. Janie followed his gaze, apprehension filling her.

“Well, well, well. I thought that might be true,” Doc muttered to himself as he changed the position of the ball slightly.

“Doc, if you don’t tell us right now what’s wrong, I’m gonna—” Pete broke off, and Janie suspected he couldn’t think of a threat Doc Jacoby would believe.

“Nothing’s wrong. I told you that. But I do have some news. I don’t know whether you’ll think it’s good news or bad, but—”

“Doc!” Pete roared.

“You’re having twins.”

P
ETE STARED AT THE MAN
he’d known all his life as if he were a stranger. “What did you say?”

Doc Jacoby looked at both of them, a beaming smile on his face. “Twins. I said twins. I haven’t delivered a set of twins in five or six years. The last ones were, um, what were their names? They moved right afterward. Remember, Priddy?”

“The Blackwells,” Mrs. Priddy said crisply.

“Right, right. The Blackwells. Nice family. I remember—”

“Doc!” Pete roared again. “Forget the Blackwells. What about Janie…and the babies? Are they all right?”

“Well, a’course they are. Don’t you see those strong heartbeats?” Doc pointed to the screen.

Pete stared at the dual thumping, finding it hard to believe that they represented his children. Children! He was having not one but two babies.

He lifted Janie’s hand to his lips. “You okay, Janie?”

She, too, was staring in fascination at the machine. “Could there be some mistake, Doc? I mean, it’s still early.”

“No, Janie, no mistake. You’ve got two little buns in the oven. And I’m thinking you may be further along than I thought. Maybe closer to nine weeks than seven.”

Pete watched Janie as she took in Doc’s words. When her gaze flew to his face and then quickly away, he knew she was remembering their argument and the passionate making-up. The sudden longing that filled him to hold her again almost made him forget the news.

“I guess your mother is going to be surprised,” he murmured, both his hands holding hers against his chest.

“Happily surprised, I hope?” Doc asked, his smile having gradually disintegrated. “You two are happy, aren’t you?”

Janie stared at the doctor, seemingly speechless, and Pete squeezed her hand. “Of course we are, Doc. It’s the shock, that’s all.”

As if realizing Janie needed some time alone, Mrs. Priddy urged the doctor to take Pete to his office while Janie dressed. The two professionals exchanged a look that Pete didn’t quite understand.

“Janie will come to Doc’s office when she’s dressed?” he asked, wanting to be sure she didn’t leave. “I’m taking her home.”

“Yes, Pete, we know,” Mrs. Priddy assured him, patting him on the arm. Then she pushed him and Doc out the door.

“That woman can herd people better than anyone I know,” Doc muttered as he led Pete to his office.

Once they were seated, Pete leaned forward. “You didn’t hide anything from us, did you, Doc? Janie’s going to be all right?”

“As far as I can tell. A lot of things can happen in the next seven months. Maybe less. Twins usually come early.” He smiled reassuringly at Pete. “What are you going to do about all this?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, are you going to marry Janie or not? Twins can be a heavy burden for a single parent.”

“Damn it, Doc, I’ve been pleading with her to marry me. Both families are up in arms, the men arguing with the women, about our getting married. I don’t know what else to do.”

“Well, she must have some reason for turning you down. What is it?”

“It’s personal,” Pete snapped. He didn’t intend to share his and Janie’s private difficulties with the doctor.

Before Doc could question him further, making him feel he was back home facing Jake, the door opened and Janie slipped into the room.

“Sit right here, my dear,” Doc said, gesturing to the chair beside Pete. “We need to go over a few things.”

Pete couldn’t stand the apprehensive look on her face. He reached out and took her hand again. To his surprise, she didn’t protest.

“I’m giving you a prescription for vitamins that you are to take faithfully. Those two babies are going to need a lot of nourishment. Are you throwing up?”

“No.”

“Janie, the other day you threw up,” Pete reminded her.

The glare she sent him told him she didn’t appreciate his help.

“That was because of—of tension, not morning sickness.”

“Hmm,” Doc said, watching her closely, “Okay, we won’t worry about that so far. But if it starts happening, Janie, you let me know. Priddy says you’ve already lost four pounds since last week.”

“She has?” Pete asked, straightening in his chair. “Should she be doing that? I thought women gained weight when they were pregnant.”

“She’ll gain weight, Pete. Some women lose early on, but we’ll monitor Janie’s progress. And you, young lady, I want you to get plenty of rest. Take a nap every afternoon and go to bed early. Once you get beyond the first three months, you won’t be quite so tired, but don’t push yourself.”

“Yes, Doc.”

Pete thought Janie sounded subdued, and he wanted to pull her into his arms, to comfort her. Then he thought of something else he needed to ask.

“What about horse riding, Doc? Shouldn’t she give that up until after—after the babies are born?”

“I told you Doc said it was okay!” Janie said, firing up at his interference.

“You’re right, I did. But I think maybe it’s not such a good idea now, Janie. Twins change things a little.”

A little?
Pete thought they changed things a lot.

After a few more last-minute instructions, Pete led Janie to his pickup. He helped her in and then hurried around to the driver’s side. “Shall we go get the prescription filled before we go home, Janie? It will save you a trip tomorrow. And you probably should start the vitamins as soon as possible.”

“Fine.”

Pete headed to the drugstore, but he didn’t give all his attention to his driving. “Are you upset about the twins?” he asked.

BOOK: brides for brothers 02 - cowboy daddy
12.35Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Lizard World by Terry Richard Bazes
The Second Winter by Craig Larsen
The Devil's Playground by Stav Sherez
A Simple Charity by Rosalind Lauer
Break Every Rule by J. Minter
Death by Hitchcock by Elissa D Grodin
Cloud Dust: RD-1 by Connie Suttle