Series: Salvation #6
Special Edition Paperback Cover for the Salvation Series!
Book 1 of 2 in the Indefinite Duet
The day he said he’d never love me is when I vowed Quinn Miller would never break my heart again.
I wanted a family—but he wouldn’t give me that. As one of the top embryologists in the country, I’ve spent years creating babies in the lab for other people as my own dreams of motherhood fade.
I’m done waiting. I decide to start the journey to parenthood alone.
Then Quinn strolls back into my life, with all the finesse of a hurricane. I’m a fool to think I don’t want him anymore, and one reckless night of passion ends with me pregnant by the man I swore I’d never love again.
Now he doesn’t just want my heart, he wants it all. The baby. Love. A life where we’re happy.
But even as he promises me the future I always desired, I can’t help but fear that something will rip him away from me again.
This time… indefinitely.
“I’m going to have a baby,” I tell Catherine as we sit on the beach by her apartment.
“I’m sorry, you’re what?”
“A baby. I’m going to get me one.”
She looks at me with confusion and a little bit of fear. “So, you’re pregnant? I didn’t even know you were dating someone.”
I laugh. “No, I’m not pregnant . . . yet. Since I walked away from Quinn, I’ve become a damn nun. I tried to date that one guy, and I spent all night thinking about how he was too thin and couldn’t protect me from a fly. Then all I did was measure the rest of his body against the chicken shit.”
Quinn is not small—anywhere. He’s wide, tall, has muscles that have muscles, and I could talk shit to anyone and he’d be able to kick their ass. At least, that was the feeling I had around him. I loved to test that theory too, which usually proved to be correct, but he didn’t think it was as funny as I did. Also, it was his arms. His arms were so big and strong that I would hold on to them, loving that my fingers couldn’t come close to touching because of how thick they were. I really miss them.
Catherine sighs. “Okay, well, I’m missing where the baby part comes in. Usually, there’s a man involved when creating the baby.”
I look at her round belly, both happy for her and jealous of her. She has it all. She has Jackson, her company, and a bun in the oven. It’s everything I want. Sure, I put on this tough-girl exterior and pretend that I don’t want or need a man. While that is somewhat true, if it were the actual case, I never would’ve fallen for Quinn. I wouldn’t have spent the last six months agonizing over whether I was a fool for walking away from him.
And even now, after months of zero contact, I miss the stupid bastard.
I sit around, wondering how he is. I write emails I’ll never send. I call my friend Natalie to get updates about him through Liam, who is deployed with him. She’s dealing with raising two kids, her husband being gone, and my crazy ass who won’t hit send.
“I’m tired of waiting. I’m getting old, you’re having a kid, and Gretchen will probably have one after her wedding. Everyone is living, and I’m stagnant.”
“Or stuck on repeat.”
I glare at her. “There will be no repeat this time.”
Quinn and I are not getting back together. When I walked out that door, I walked out of his life. For good.
There was no misunderstanding regarding our current situation. I asked him to love me, he refused and let me go.
Now I’m going to fly.
“Still, you’re going to have to clue me in here.”
“I’m an embryologist. I make babies for a living, so, I’m going to do it for myself.”
She sits up, crosses her legs, and releases a deep sigh. Here we go. “Ash, are you sure? You want to be a single mother? Really? You work insane hours. You moved to Brooklyn, which is farther from your parents than you’ve ever lived before. I also know you want to be married when you start a family.”
“Yeah. I do. I want all of that. I want the marriage, the honeymoon, and the perfect life, but I don’t have that, Cat. I don’t have the guy, the house, the ring, the life . . . you do. You and Gretchen got the great guys while I got Quinn. All I’ve ever wanted was a baby, and with all the issues my mom had . . . I can’t wait.”
Catherine doesn’t love Quinn, but she always seems to side with him. It’s the strangest thing, and I blame Jackson. Him and his navy SEAL brotherhood crap. I’m well aware of how hard deployments are on the guys, that they are hard on Quinn—there was never any question of that. What about what it’s like for me, though? What about the fact that his issues became my issues? What about him pushing and pulling me back and forth like we were playing a game of tug-of-war where I ended in the mud at the end of each round?
“You know why he’s this way. You knew it when you started dating him.”
“And I hoped to fix him.”
She rolls her eyes. “That could be your first problem.”
“I loved him enough for both of us.”
Catherine falls quiet. “I’m sorry, Ash.”
“It’s fine. I’m done waiting to start my life and have the things that I want. That was the second disastrous relationship I’d been in, and I’m not ready to love anyone else. So, fuck the man, I’m going to get the baby and be just fine.”
Quinn has been the last three years of my life, but before him, there was Antonio. God, I loved him. I thought he was the one. Everything with us was perfect. We fit so well, complemented each other in every way. I was so in love with him I thought I could never have found anything like him again, and then I met his wife.
I still can’t think of that without wanting to drive to his house and cut off his balls. I’m hoping she did it for me when she found out. I hate him, but then again, he brought me to Quinn.
Who I remember I also hate.
Catherine takes my hand, bringing me to the present. “If that’s what you want, then I support you.”
I nod once. “It is.”
“You know, we may actually get to live out our plan if you have a boy.”
Oh, Lord. “I don’t think either of us should plan to marry off our babies before they’re born.”
She laughs. “Still. It would be funny since I’m having a girl. If you have a boy, then they can grow up and fall in love.”
“It would be.”
I leave to head back to New York in a day, and it feels weird knowing that I won’t be around Cat all the time. She’s married to her big bad CEO husband, Jackson. They’re building an empire, kicking asses, and she’s off saving half of Hollywood from their disasters and rehab issues, so I only see her once or twice a week. It’s just . . . not the same without her.
Gretchen has moved to Virginia Beach, is engaged to an insanely hot SEAL named Ben, and works for Cole Security Forces. As does pretty much everyone else we know, and then there’s me.
The lone wolf.
No boyfriend. No life. Just my job and the love of my city that I will never leave.
“Ash? What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” I shake my head with a smile.
After almost twenty years of friendship, she knows me, I know her, and we both know bullshit when we smell it.
“I hate being so far from you. When you left, I always thought that maybe you’d come back. I knew it was dumb because you weren’t going to leave Jackson, but I hoped that he’d bring you back to me. Then I let that go and figured that at least I had Gretchen. Now she’s gone. I’m just sort of lost.”
She sits straighter. “You are not lost. You’re the only one out of the three of us who has ever been sure of her direction. Now look at you, you’re going to have a baby on your own terms. Seriously, that’s insanely brave.”
Maybe it is, or maybe it’s stupid. I probably am also the last one who should have a kid, even if I think I’d be a good mom. I know I want children, and I was raised in a house where we always had family around. They were loud, intrusive, and irritating, but I wouldn’t change any of it.
My cousin, who I used to babysit, is engaged. I can’t take it.
I wanted a minimum of four kids, but at this rate, I’ll be lucky if I have one.
“I’m not going to get my hopes up that it’ll work. I know better than anyone else that some women, no matter what, can’t have kids.”
“Do you truly think you’re going to have issues?”
I shrug. “I don’t know, but the issues my mom had were hereditary. She is the poster child for fertility issues.”
“You’re still young. She was older when she tried for you.”
I laugh. “We’re lying to ourselves if you think we’re young, Cat. I’m the same age she was when she started trying. There were forty-three eggs I lost in the time that I was with jackass number one and jackass number two. Eggs that were probably my best chances.”
Catherine laughs. “You’ve been counting your eggs?”
“I’m looking at reality. Those were good childbearing years, which is why I’m glad I froze some.”
“I still don’t even understand that one.”
She doesn’t have to. “It’s what I do for a living, and I wanted to know what a woman went through. Then I figured I might as well keep them because I have no idea if I’ve still got any left.”
I’m being slightly dramatic, but there’s also truth to it. I’m not twenty-nine anymore. I’m getting older, and if I keep putting it off to meet the “right guy” I may have no eggs left. I don’t want to go down the road of IVF. This is really the best option, and seeing how I’m not young and dumb, I can handle it on my own.
“Well, whatever you need from me, I’m here,” Catherine says, offering her support.
“I appreciate it.”
“What happens next?”
I lean back in the beach chair and let the sunshine beam down on me. “I find me a baby daddy.”
Loss of pregnancy and grief.