* * *
“I’M GOING TO have a baby,” Ivy declares as she stops directly in front of me. Well, her belly stopped directly in front of me, the rest of her soon followed.
Yes, indeed, my wife is definitely going to have a baby. Soon.
I’m getting ready—staring at the mirror as I mess with my tie, making sure it’s perfect—when she approaches me. I shoot her a grin, feeling good, feeling on top of my game. Life couldn’t get any better, you know? We’re celebrating today and with good reason.
“I know, sexy mama.” I turn away from the mirror and wink at her. “Trust me, I haven’t forgotten that I’m the one who knocked you up.”
She stares at me, no reaction to my wink or my words. She usually slaps my ass and kisses me. Says something sarcastic at the very least. But I’m getting nothing. And it’s kind of disconcerting. “Archer. I’m dead serious. I’m going to have the baby.”
“I know, babe. And I can’t freaking wait.” I study her, noticing that she looks a little pale and her pupils are dilated. Hmm. “You feeling okay?”
Rolling her eyes, she rests her hand on top of her protruding stomach, rubbing it absently. Then, not so absently. As in, she’s clutching her belly like she’s in pain. “I’m in—” She sucks in a harsh breath, holding it for a few seconds. “—labor, damn it.”
“Oh, Christ!” I lurch toward her, both of my hands landing on her stomach. The baby kicks at that precise moment, and I feel the hit against my palm and start to laugh. “Seems like she’s ready to make her escape.”
We have no idea what we’re having. Ivy wanted it to be a surprise and I went along with her plan but deep down, not knowing is driving me crazy. I’m dying to meet this little booger of mine and find out if I have a son or a daughter.
My guess is it’s a girl who’ll look just like my wife.
Ivy shoots imaginary daggers at me with her eyes. “This is the worst possible time for me to go into labor. You do realize this right?”
I shrug, rubbing her belly. I can’t resist it. My wife is f**king sexy when she’s pregnant. Even when she’s big and miserable, like she is now. Knowing that her body is working hard, growing a child within her, my child . . . I can’t help it. It turns me on.
She’s told me more than once I’m a sick f**k, but whatever. I’m allowed to find Ivy sexy when she’s pregnant. She’s my wife, after all.
“Your brother will understand.” And he will. Because Gage’s about to become an uncle, and I know he’s pretty excited by it though he would never admit that to anyone.
“But it’s his wedding day,” Ivy stresses. “You’re Gage’s best man. I’m Marina’s matron of honor. This is not good, Archer. She’s going to kill us.”
“Bridezilla needs to take a chill pill.” I reluctantly release Ivy and go to the closet where her suitcase for the hospital has been packed and waiting for the last two weeks. My girl is efficient, I gotta give her that. “We need to go now, babe. Let me change out of my monkey suit and then we’ll head to the hospital.” I pull the suitcase out and set it on top of the bed. Nerves bubble up inside me, but I ignore them. I need to be the steady one. I made that promise to my wife weeks ago. I don’t want her to panic or freak out while she’s in labor, so one of us has to keep their cool.
Ivy tilts her head, contemplating me. She’s still in her silky white robe that now barely wraps around her front. She can hardly fit into her dress for the wedding, so she should be glad she doesn’t have to make an appearance. “Marina is going to be furious.”
“She’ll get over it. She’s hours away from being part of our family for good. We can disappoint her, make her mad, whatever, but there’s nothing she can do about it because we’re family. So don’t worry.” I tug the tie that I’d been patiently working on only moments ago from my neck, letting it fall onto the floor, then start unbuttoning my shirt with one hand as I grab my cell and quick-dial Gage with the other. I keep an eye on my wife as she moves about the room, her hand going to her stomach every few seconds, as if she’s in pain. Which she probably is.
Worry seeps into me, thick and sluggish. What if something goes wrong? What if there are complications and something happens to the baby? Or worse what if something happens to . . .
Yeah. Can’t go there.
“You are the last person I want to hear from at this moment,” Gage says when he answers, sounding amused. And slightly irritated—but more amused, thank God; the news I’m about to deliver might not go over so well if he’s in a bad mood. “Your ass better be on its way over here. This wedding has to start on time or Marina’s gonna flip.”
I frown, let my hand fall from my now unbuttoned shirt. “My ass is nowhere near where you’re at.”
“Why the hell not? You better get over to the winery stat.” Gage and Marina are having their wedding at our friend Matt’s winery, which he’s considering opening up to various private events, thanks to the idea from his girlfriend, Bryn. We’re the first to use the facility. “The ceremony is in a little over an hour. Shit is going down, man. This is it.” At least he doesn’t sound like he’s being led to his doom.
“Yeah, about that . . .” I pause, listening to someone chat him up for a brief moment. “Something’s come up.”