When They Weren't Looking: Wardham Book #3 (8 page)

BOOK: When They Weren't Looking: Wardham Book #3
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“Can we go somewhere fun tomorrow?”

She should have seen that one coming. The boys had enjoyed being home for a day and a half of their summer break, and now they were on hour thirty of a seven-year-old’s version of a hunger strike—a whine strike.

“Maybe Kyle could take us to the beach?” Connor muttered his suggestion into his brown rice pilaf, carefully avoiding her gaze, lest it still be hairy.

“I can take you to the beach.”

Max took up the cause. “But if you take us, then we’ll still have to go to the studio and watch old ladies stretch afterward. Uncle Kyle could take us while you work.”

That was probably a good idea, but Laney and Kyle were heading home in a couple of days, and he was babysitting tonight. “I’ll ask him. No guarantees. Now eat up.”

“Do you think Uncle Kyle wants to play FIFA Soccer?”

Evie bit back a retort that maybe they should play soccer in the backyard, instead. Normally she’d let it fly, but tonight she needed to stay zen, and an argument with her kids about video games wouldn’t service that goal.

Tonight, she needed to pretend she wasn’t pregnant at a girly drink-fest. And it wasn’t optional. Carrie had sent out the batgirl signal in support of their friend Karen Miller, who was currently in the midst of quite the emotional upheaval. Her fledgling relationship was…well, fledgling, with all the ups and downs that would be expected. And her family had just had an unexpected bump in the road as well. Karen needed her tonight. Just her, and not her issues.

Luckily, Laney was happy to come along. Times like this made her extra-sad that her sister was usually on the other side of an international border. Chicago was half a day’s drive away, and Laney’s job precluded lengthy visits. This week had been lovely, despite being tinged with intrigue and subterfuge, mommy-style.

She stabbed a piece of broccoli off her plate and waved it at Connor. “Remember when you used to call these munchy trees?”

He grinned and rolled his eyes. “Mom, that was forever ago.”

“Yeah, only babies say stuff like that.” Max piped up, unable to stay out of any conversation, ever. “And we’re done with babies in this family.” Connor nodded in agreement.

The glib pronouncement stole the air from her lungs.
Oh, boys
. They had no idea what was going to hit them. And they were so close. This baby would be the intruder into their brotherly club.

“You guys know that I love you, right?” She blinked back tears.

“Are we in trouble?” Connor frowned at her. “Because I don’t think that’s fair.”

She laughed. “No, not in trouble. I just want you to know that even when I’m grumpy or I’ve got stuff on my mind, you are both the best things in my world.”

“Even when we’re yelling?” Max’s eyes lit up.

“Don’t push it, Mr. M, but yes, even when you’re yelling.”

“Mommy?”

“Yes, bubs?”

“We like you, too.”

High praise indeed.

 

Laney and Kyle arrived while she was washing up after dinner. Laney swept down on the boys, and Kyle came to find her in the kitchen. He wrapped one arm around her shoulders and pulled her in tight for a brotherly hug.

“How you doing, Evie?”

“She told you, huh?”

He kissed the side of her head. “If you need me here…”

“I’ll be fine.” She returned the hug. “Really, I think I’m over my panic, for now.”

“Do you want us to postpone our wedding until you aren’t fat?”

She took advantage of their close proximity to lightly punch him in the gut. “Hey!”

“Too soon?”

She laughed. “Always. The boys wanted me to ask you if you’d take them to the beach tomorrow. I know you’ve got a lot to do—”

“Of course.”

“It’s okay if—”

“Evie. We’re family. It’s okay. Are they driving you nuts?”

“Crazy.” She sighed. “I should have put them in camp or something, but I wanted to save money.”

Kyle frowned. “Shouldn’t that be something that Dale helps with?”

“He’d pay half, but it’s still a lot of money.”

“We could—”

“No. No, no, no, no.” She shook her head. “I can stand on my own two feet. I’m not asking my baby sister to help me with this.”

“What about an old friend?”

“Didn’t you just quit your job?”

“Yeah, but I’ve got a sugar momma.”

Laney poked her head into the kitchen. “Did I hear my name?”

Kyle and Evie shared a private chuckle before Evie brushed past her sister, pausing to squeeze her hand. “In a manner of speaking. Come on, let’s go.”

They said goodnight to the boys and headed out. It was a short walk to the apartment of Mari Beadie, who was hosting the girls’ night.

As they walked down the street, Evie reflected with bittersweet appreciation on how rare this sister time was for them. “Thanks for coming with me tonight. You could have stayed with Kyle and the boys, but I appreciate the company.”

Laney shrugged. “It’s good practice, being social. I made a promise to myself that I’d do more of that in Chicago, and then I went and fell in love with Kyle, and I’ve spent the last six months on the road, or on the phone, or working.”

“It’ll be nice to have him there all the time.”

Her sister grinned. “Tell me about it!”

“Hey, no teasing the pregnant lady who’s only had sex once in the last two years, and is likely to not have it again for a very long time.”

“Maybe, you know, since the barn doors are open and all that…”

“No. Don’t go there.” Evie fought back a blush. Laney didn’t need to suggest it. Liam already had. And visions of the two of them twisted up in her sheets had occupied the three nights since. Three sleepless, erotically-charged nights.

“He’s cute.”

“He’s young.”

“So?”

“I’m not interested in giving him an adventure in being a family man. As soon as the caveman delight that he’s progenated has passed, he’ll remember that he had more fun before his life was tantrums and bedtimes and middle-of-the-night wakeups.”

“You know, I’ve heard a rumour that it’s not so horrible when it’s your own offspring.” Laney wagged a finger in her direction, and she swatted it away.

“I meant that for you.” Evie sighed. They both knew it wasn’t always true. But Liam… “The truth is, I just don’t know him. Outside of confirming he’s hot and knows what to do with his mouth, there are still a lot of unknowns.”

“So, get to know him.”

“Yeah.” As they approached the main drag, Evie shifted topics. “Plan for tonight? I’ll accept drinks, you’ll find a way to guzzle them?”

It worked like a charm, right up until Carrie cornered her in the apartment kitchen. “You aren’t drinking.”

Evie glanced over her friend’s shoulder. They were alone, but for how long? Everyone else was gabbing in the living room, but Mari had a small place.

“I’m not feeling well.” She smoothed out her features, projecting a calm, cool—

“It’s something you catch from a guy, takes about nine months to resolve?”

Not so cool, now, eh, Calhoun?
“How did you know?” Evie screeched as quietly as she could.

“I don’t know, it was just a guess. You look different. Good, but different.”

“That is such an old wives’ tale,” she hissed under her breath.

“Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone.”

“Except Ian.”

“He doesn’t count. You okay? Anyone else know?”

“Laney knows.” Evie puffed out her cheeks. “But my mom doesn’t yet, and now I think I’m going to need to hide from her until the end of the summer if it was that obvious to you. Crap. I really don’t want anyone to know.”

“If you need help, spreading the word would—”

Evie pressed her hand against Carrie’s. “I can’t handle anyone knowing until…”

Carrie nodded. “You don’t want to tell anyone and then lose the pregnancy.”

“It would just…”

“No, I get it. Mum’s the word.” Carrie gave her a quick hug, then twirled past to open the fridge just as Mari walked in. “Oh, look, we need to make more margaritas!”

Evie let out a weak whoop, and stepped out so she wasn’t in the way of the blender brigade.

Carrie hadn’t asked her about the father. Her friend might be blunt and sometimes bitchy, but she’d really just wanted to know Evie was okay. A tendril of tension uncurled itself from her chest. She wasn’t breathing easy, not yet, but at least her panic levels weren’t rising. It was something.

As the conversation swirled around her, Evie let her thoughts drift. If Dale wasn’t such a judgmental ass, if she lived in a larger, more anonymous community, maybe she wouldn’t be so worried about people finding out. Because she wasn’t going to mind being a single mom. She wasn’t kidding herself—it was going to be hard, being the only adult. Not being able to run out for some precious adult moments without booking a babysitter. But it wouldn’t be long before Connor could watch his younger siblings for an hour or two, and if she could organize the kids on the same visitation schedule, she’d have a weekend to herself every two weeks. That’s more than a lot of mothers got.

A cackle of laughter snapped her back to the present, and she found herself surrounded by a debate on which West brother might settle down first. Carrie and Stella were laying even money on Evan, but Evie knew that wasn’t likely to happen.

Evan West. Another path Evie could have gone down.
Did
go down a few steps, before turning and scurrying home like a scared bunny. Because she’d known they weren’t meant for each other. It turned out she wasn’t meant for Dale, either, but at the time…Dale was Evan’s opposite in almost every way, and that was a big part of his attraction. What a terrible idea that had been.

A niggly little voice in the back of her head pointed out that Liam was a lot like Evan. A rush of heat flooded her chest at the potential. No. She wouldn’t just throw herself at him because he made her feel good. She’d done that once, and look where it had gotten her.

And if he was like Evan, making her feel good would be all he was good for. There was no happy ever after in Evan’s future.

She didn’t realize she was voicing that opinion aloud until everyone turned to look at her.

“Why?” Carrie asked the question everyone else had written on their faces. Evie pressed her lips together and shook her head, but a rousing protest rose around the room. It wasn’t like Evan would want her to keep any part of their history a secret—that had always been her issue. No, Dale’s issue. She tossed her head back and sighed. Evan proudly wore his sexual identity on his sleeve.

She couldn’t help but blush as she searched for the right words. “It’s not a secret that Evan’s gay, and it’s not a secret that we dated for a couple of years. We weren’t in love, but we
were
happy, and suffice it to say that being with me wasn’t a problem for him.” She glanced around the room again. They might all think that Evan would settle down with a guy one day, but Evie was pretty sure she knew why that had never—and would never—happen. “This isn’t inside knowledge at all, but my guess is, the type of relationship that would finally hook Evan isn’t with one other person.”

“What other kind of relationship is there?” Stella wrinkled her brow, then looked affronted when Laney and Carrie burst into hysterical laughter on either side of her, and that led to a discussion of ménage romances and the hypothetical awesomeness of having two men.
Not so hypothetical for some of us
.

“Threesomes are intense, that’s for sure.” Evie turned beet red as everyone swiveled their heads back to her again.
Inside voice, Calhoun
. She’d managed to keep this secret for so long, why did it spill out tonight?

Karen blinked hard, processing what she’d just heard. Evie winced, knowing where her friend’s thought process would immediately go. “Evie! You and the guy in Toronto?”

Carrie gasped and wagged her finger in the air. Only Laney remained un-phased. This was one secret she’d already shared with her sister.

“No, not the guy in Toronto.” She shook her head. Nothing to be embarrassed about. And it was germane to the conversation. “Evan. A long time ago, and it wasn’t my scene. But it meant something to him, more than just hot sex.”

Everyone processed that for a minute, then the conversation drifted back to Karen’s brother. The NHL player was returning to Wardham for rehab, and even the happily married Carrie seemed eager to sign up for nurse duty. Chase was good looking, that was for sure. Lighter colouring than his sister. Evie’s thoughts stuttered there, swirling around the fact this kid might not look like her and the boys. Might have Liam’s dark hair and eyes. A shiver danced up her spine.

“Evie?” She glanced up at Stella, hovering anxiously beside the couch. “I’m sorry about before, if I seemed…naïve…I didn’t mean to suggest that anything…I mean, about what you did. Aw, crap. I’m bungling this.”

She reached up and pulled the younger woman down to sit beside her. “Thank you, but really, not necessary. It was a long time ago.”

BOOK: When They Weren't Looking: Wardham Book #3
10.67Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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