Read Entangled Online

Authors: Ginger Voight

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #Family Saga, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Sagas

Entangled (22 page)

BOOK: Entangled
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He even slept on the couch, as opposed to sharing the bed with me. But he kept the door open, just so he could be there for me the minute I needed him.

He was everything that Zach could never be. If my stomach rebelled, which it did at least four times a day, he’d walk me to the bathroom and stay until I was finished, washing my face and keeping me steady even when I felt sick as a dog. He served me food in bed, which generally consisted of some form of soup, some ginger ale and plain crackers to keep my nausea at bay.

Saturday night
had been particularly harrowing. I ran a low fever and he cuddled me into the crook of his arm as he bathed my face to bring down the temperature. He was the one to call the doctor, and ease my concerns that it was nothing more than a bug, and nursed me through it so I could rest instead of worry.

Had he not been there with me, I would have been miserable… much like my pregnancy with Jason.

He stayed in bed with me that night, and that next morning he suggested once again moving back into his house. “That way if I’m not around, at least Cleo or Harrison would be.”

I shook my head. “It’s not right,
Drew. Not until I talk to Alex. What if he comes back and finds me there?”

“We’ll tell him that you weren’t well enough to live alone. If he truly loves you, he’ll understand.”

I sighed. I was tired of being tired and sick of being sick. I had forgotten how hellish the first trimester of pregnancy had been for me. At this point, simply brushing my teeth triggered my gag reflex and sent me running for the toilet.

With each passing day, I had realized that
I could wait forever and Alex was not going to come back. At least not the Alex I knew. The one who had entrusted me with his heart had been crushed under the weight of my betrayal. We could never go back to the way things were. I had devastated him, just like Nancy predicted. The most loving thing I could do now was move on, without burdening him with the consequences of my mistake.

And the most surprising thing about Drew was that he didn’t view my pregnancy as a mistake at all.
He was elated. That Sunday morning I awoke to find his hand resting gently on my stomach, a sweet caress that let his unborn child know that he was nearby. That one gesture brought me to tears as I watched Drew sleep against my breast.

He wasn’t cold and calculating and manipulative in that moment. He was simply the father of my child.
I had been so bitter for so long about Zach’s detachment that I could hardly begrudge a man who was ready and willing to step into the role. His entire focus was this child. Within 24 hours of discovering I was pregnant he had drawn up legal documents to ensure that I would be protected, putting me on his life insurance plan, and amending his will. He had gone the extra mile in every way to protect me and to take care of our child, to be the father that child needed and the partner that I wanted.

Who could ask for more than that?

That Sunday evening I returned to the Fullerton mansion in Beverly Hills. When he produced the engagement ring I had once discarded, I placed it on my ring finger once more. My heart could have waited forever for Alex, but I knew now my baby couldn’t. So I did it for my children, both my unborn baby and my future step-son, Jonathan.

That was the truest love affair I had found in California, a precious little boy who had entrusted me with his heart.
If I couldn’t have the love that I wanted for myself, I’d devote myself to giving these children the love that they needed. That was my life’s truest purpose.

Monday was New Year’s Eve, and Jonathan arrived bright and early to prepare for the party. We brought him into Drew’s study to tell him the news.

“You’re
what
?” Jonathan breathed as his eyes nearly bugged right out of his head.

“I’m pregnant,” I repeated. “Six weeks.”

He was stupefied as he tried to piece it together. Drew clarified. “I spent Thanksgiving with Rachel. One thing led to another, and now we’re going to have a baby. And tonight, at the stroke of midnight, we want to get married.”

I could practically hear Jonathan’s mind blow. “But only if you approve,” I said. “I won’t get married without your blessing.”

“Of course!” he squealed as he hurled himself into my arms. Then he panicked as he looked down at my stomach. “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to hit him. Or her. Oh my God!” he exclaimed. “We’re going to have a baby!”

Tears ran down my face as he squeezed me tight. “You’re not mad?”

He shook his head wildly. “We’re going to be a family for real. It’s all I’ve ever wanted.”

“Me, too,” I croaked as I held him tight.

“You should go check on the cake, Jonathan,” Drew suggested. “It should be arriving any moment.”

Jonathan nodded before he sped out the door.
He was in orbit, which made me feel better about my decision to marry Drew Fullerton.

In doing so, I was giving up my truest dream of a happily ever after
, but I had been burned by that quest before. Instead I was settling for security. By marrying Drew, my child had a doting father, a loving brother and a solid family unit. I already knew from what became of Jonathan how it could devastate my child to be torn between two parents.

This way b
oth Jonathan and I could have a family at last, and maybe that was happily ever after enough.

But Drew still had a few tricks up his sleeve. He produced a prenuptial agreement that said I was entitled to no marital assets if I ever cheated on him. This would spare him the fiasco he went through with Elise, who had spent years bilking him for money. She never married Derek because she would lose her alimony, and Drew had always had his suspicions the only reason she wanted custody was so that she could get tens of thousands of dollars a month in child support.

I signed the contract without complaint. I had no plans to fracture this marriage, and if I should ever stray for the course of true love, then I wouldn’t want Drew’s money anyway.

When I retu
rned to my guest room, which as it turned out had never been occupied by Olivia at all, I found an ivory wedding dress in my size. It was silk, with a dazzling jeweled empire bodice and sheer sleeves that feel long over the fingers, matching the crystal-studded chiffon overlay of the dress. It was lovely and it was simple, reminiscent of the dresses I had worn for the galas the year before.

“I had it designed for you,” Drew informed me from behind. “I held out hope that you would wear it and pledge your life to me.” His eyes met mine. “Olivia never knew I planned a wedding today.
She moved out weeks ago, just before Thanksgiving. If you weren’t here, she wouldn’t stand in your place. She couldn’t stand in your place. It’s always been you, Rachel. I just wanted you to know that.”

I gave him a brave smile. I had already told him that I needed time to be the bride and the wife that he wanted. In my heart, I still belonged to Alex, even if he didn’t want me anymore. Drew promised to be patient, but I already knew that he would never stop trying to romance me.

He wanted a wife in every sense of the word, and I knew I owed it to him for all he was doing to take care of me and our baby.

“I think
it’s bad luck to see the bride in her gown before the wedding,” I commented.

“Bad luck is behind us, Rachel,” he promised quietly. “I’m going to give you your happily ever after if it’s the last thing I ever do.”

He left me to change.

There were tears in my eyes as I slipped into the wedding dress. I had never expected to wear one again, and couldn’t imagine a world where I didn’t walk down the aisle to Alex. Despite my momentary lapse of judgment, I still dreamt about him every single night, and had hoped beyond hope that we would
be able to salvage a relationship somehow, even if we couldn’t be together.

I supposed some things were unforgiveable… like my sleeping with his brother. Honestly I couldn’t even blame him for leaving. If the situation had been reversed, I would have done the exact same thing. He had Max to protect. If he couldn’t trust me with his heart, there was no way he’d risk Max’s. And I’d certainly never ask him to.

He had moved on, and so, I decided, must I.

By marrying Drew, I was not only giving my child two loving parents, I was giving Jonathan the family he had wanted for so long. We could go back to the way things were when things were good. We would have fun. We would enjoy each other. We would be there for one another.

Sure it wasn’t camping on a grassy hill in Ventura County, but being the wife of Drew Fullerton promised a fine future for my family. And for my heart, it was possibly the finest of all gilded cages.

I placed my hands on my tummy, where my unborn child grew. I already knew I would give my dying breath for my children. I would do whatever it took to keep them safe, and give them the lives they deserved.

This had always included Jonathan… who had been my spiritual child if not my biological one.

By the time I walked down the stairs toward my future, I had no further doubt that I was doin
g the right thing for everyone. Unlike my first “engagement” with Drew, this was my decision through and through, one I had come to thoughtfully… and hopefully with a lot more wisdom and foresight.

I mingled among the crowd, most of whom didn’t remember me at all from my stint as hostess just one year before. Most looked right through me, as if I weren’t wearing a wedding gown. No one put it together until a preacher positioned himself outside under the flower strewn arbor. Murmurs filtered through the crowd as Drew took his place in front of the microphone.

“Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests. I would like to welcome you to the new year. I am fortunate enough to enter into a new life at the stroke of midnight, where I will marry my soul mate, Rachel Dennehy, on the terrace. We welcome you to join us as we two become one at the stroke of midnight.”

Cheers filled the ballroom as everyone filed outside.
Roughly twenty minutes before midnight, a live string orchestra began to play Canon in D Major. Jonathan looked ever dashing in his tuxedo as he offered his arm to walk me down the aisle. I held a bouquet of champagne colored roses, and candlelight lit my path as I walked to the arbor where Drew stood.

Instead of handing me to his father, Jonathan stood to my left and faced the preacher. We joined not just as a couple. We were uniting as a family.

“Dearly beloved,” the preacher began. “We are gathered here tonight to join this man and this woman in the bonds of holy matrimony. This sacrament is the foundation of the family unit, and is not meant to be entered into lightly. Is there any present who feels that there is just cause that these two people should not be married here today?”

I held my breath. In my fantasies, this was the part where Alex would rush through the crowd, shouting that this was wrong… that he loved me… that we were meant to be together no matter what the fates had to say about it. But silence followed the preacher’s question,
thus slamming the last door on my heart’s fairytale ending. I turned to the preacher so that he could walk us through our vows.

“Andrew
Jonathan Fullerton, do you take this woman, Rachel Elizabeth Dennehy, to be your wedded wife? Do you promise to cherish and keep her, honor her and protect her, through all of the days of your life?”

Not love
, I thought.
No, he couldn’t promise to do that
. Only Alex had because only Alex could.

Drew’s eyes met
mine, they were confident and sure of the vow he pledged. “I do.”

“Rachel
Elizabeth Dennehy, do you take this man, Andrew Jonathan Fullerton, to be your lawfully wedded husband? Do you promise to cherish and keep him, honor and protect him, through all of the days of your life?”

“I do,” I squeaked, which made the audience round us chuckle.

“The rings,” the preacher instructed.

Jonathan produced two bands. The preacher held them up reverently. “
The wedding ring is the most fitting symbol for love. It represents a love that is strong and solid, one that has no beginning and no end. It is one binding, unbreakable circle.” He handed the diamond studded band to Drew. “Repeat after me: with this ring…”

“With this ring…”

“I take you as my wife, my partner, my soul mate and my friend.”

“I take you as my wife, my partner, my soul mate and my friend.”

“Accept this token as my promise…”

“Accept this token as my promise…”

“Of uncompromising faithfulness and lifelong devotion.”

“Of uncompromising faithfulness and lifelong devotion.”

He secured the ring on my finger. I took the thick white gold band from the preacher, repeating his vows as I slid the cool gold onto his steady hand. “With this ring, I take you as my husband, my partner, my soul mate and my friend. Accept this token as my promise of uncompromising faithfulness and lifelong devotion.”

The preacher checked his watch. “As this year ends, we put to rest our quarrels and our grudges. We start anew, with endless dreams, full hearts and
enduring hope for the future. Let the countdown begin.”

BOOK: Entangled
12.12Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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