But seeing that hope shining out of her violet eyes right at that second was worth it.
I’d help her through the depression if—when… No, I told myself. No, I decided then and there that I’d stay positive. For her, if not for any other reason. If it came down to it and she fell into that pit of darkness again, I would be there to pull her out like I’d done in the past. We would get through it.
Shaking my head, I gave her the smile I knew she wanted. “Okay, beautiful. If you want to do this, I’ll stand behind you all the way.”
“You’re going to be late,” I heard Shane call from the bedroom.
I grimaced at my reflection in the mirror before putting on a little more mascara. Normally I would blame Shane for me oversleeping, but this morning it was all on me. Our sex life was already wild and crazy. We could never seem to keep our hands to ourselves, but last night, when we’d gotten home and fallen into our own bed, I’d been insatiable. Maybe it was the hormone injections I was already taking, or maybe it was the feeling of being on top of the world with the offer of a possible chance of pregnancy, but I’d been so full of life that I couldn’t get enough of my delicious husband.
“Almost ready,” I called back as I reached for my gloss. I didn’t wear much makeup to work, just a little mascara, gloss and if needed a little blush when I was feeling washed out. I was still flushed from a night of anything-goes sex so the blush was definitely not needed.
Shane appeared in the doorway to our connecting bathroom. He was dressed in his usual basketball shorts and running shoes, having just gotten back from his morning run on the beach. His shirt was wadded up in his hands and sweat poured down his amazing chest. I paused with the lip-gloss wand halfway to my lips as I looked at him. Instantly my panties became uncomfortably wet and I had to clench my thighs together to relieve some of the ache that just one look at my husband caused.
I felt like I hadn’t just had a night full of orgasms. I ached like I hadn’t been touched in years, let alone a few short hours.
As if he could read my thoughts, Shane smirked and lifted a brow at me. The sight of that damn cocked brow did nothing to relieve my ache. “You’re going to be late,” he repeated, as if giving me time to protest what was to come next.
Like I ever would.
I dropped the lip-gloss on the vanity. It rolled off onto the floor, but I didn’t care. Reaching for the buttons on my top with one hand, I started hiking up my skirt with the other. Blue-gray eyes darkened and he stepped forward, helping me with my skirt before lifting me onto the sink. His big, rough hands clenched on my ass before he tore my panties away. I was already dripping wet and he groaned when his fingers dipped into me.
“We keep up this pace and you won’t be walking straight for a week, beautiful.”
It was my turn to smirk. “Wouldn’t be the first time.”
He chuckled as he pushed his shorts down his hips and wrapped his fist around his girth. “Won’t be the last, either.”
My thighs quivered in anticipation as I watched him start to enter me. My heart was pounding against my chest and all the air seemed to be pushed from my lungs as he thrust deep into me and then stopped. My legs wrapped around him, holding him deep, as I looked up at him through my lashes.
Shane was breathing harder now than he ever did after running five miles. He didn’t move his hips, letting us both savor having him deep inside of my body. His hands lifted and he cupped my face, his lips just inches from my own. “You’re so fucking beautiful, Harper Stevenson. I love you. You’re my soul.”
My eyes filled with tears and I closed them to keep them from spilling. Every time he said that, I melted a little more. “I love you too, Shane.”
It was the last thing either of us said for a long, long time. When we could both breathe again, the bathroom was a disaster. My makeup was on the floor across the room, the mirror had both our handprints on it and I was pretty sure we’d cracked the shower door. But we both were grinning at each other and I was definitely late for work.
I pulled off the wrinkled shirt that was pretty much worthless now. My skirt was going to have to be thrown away as well. Laughing because I couldn’t remember the last time I’d felt so carefree, I pulled my hair into a knot on top of my head and stepped into the shower to clean up. Shane started to get in with me but I pushed him back.
“I have a meeting after lunch. I should probably try to make it to that at least.”
He gave me a pouty face that made me wonder if I should just blow off work altogether for the day, but we both knew I would never do that. I didn’t have to work—ever, if I didn’t want to. Not only was Shane loaded but I’d gotten my inheritance from my father when I’d married him, not to mention I still had to claim the trust fund that Cecil had started for me when he’d first married my mother. No, I didn’t have to work a day in my life if I didn’t want to. I loved my job, though, and took pride in that I was an editor at Rock America.
After showering, I started getting ready once again for work. A glance at the clock in the bedroom when I went to get dressed showed that it was just after eight.
I lifted my head when I heard the hesitation in Shane’s voice. The look on his face scared me. He was pale and his eyes looked wild. He had his phone in his hands and I was worried that he was going to break it from the way he was holding it so tightly. “What’s wrong?” I asked, keeping my voice as calm as I could because I knew he was hanging on by a thread for some reason.
“My phone died on the flight home last night and I just looked at it,” he gritted out. “Someone...” He clenched his jaw, muttered a curse under his breath and shook his head. “One of Bambach’s staff spilled the beans about our visit. Everyone knows about it.”
I felt the blood drain from my face only for it to heat with embarrassment almost immediately. I walked backward on unsteady legs until my thighs hit the bed and I dropped down, burying my face in my hands.
Ever since I’d first been told that I wasn’t likely to have a baby of my own, I’d feared this day. As I’d struggled through visit after visit with one specialist after another, I’d been able to bounce back not only because of Shane, but also because we could deal with it out of the limelight of the world and their viciousness. Only my family and closest friends knew of my inability to get pregnant and I trusted them with my life, but I’d always worried that the press would get hold of the little bit of juicy news and then the world would know.
Know that I wasn’t woman enough. That I couldn’t give the man I loved a baby. That I was worthless.
For me, that was exactly how it felt. Those thoughts haunted me daily, but I’d been able to live with it because I could cover them up and go on my way. Now the world knew and I’d never be able to hide my dirty little secret again.
“Wh-what…” My voice cracked and I had to take a moment to clear my throat. “What are they saying?” He muttered something violent and threw his phone across the room. I watched with dispassionate eyes as it exploded into a hundred pieces, without flinching. Swallowing hard I nodded. “That bad, huh?”
He was across the room and dropping down on his knees in front of me before I had blinked again. His big hands trembled as they cupped my face. “I love you. That is all that matters, do you hear me? I love you and all I need is you. If Bambach’s therapy doesn’t help, I’m fine with that. You are the most important person in my world. No one but you.”
Shane had said those same words at least a thousand times, but they had never really mattered to me. He might not need a child, but I did. Seeing him with our nieces and nephews over the years had only made my need grow. He was going to be an amazing father and I wanted to be the one to make him one. I would have given up anything else in my life—with the exception of him—to make it happen.
“You can’t go to work today,” Shane said.
That pulled me out of my head. “What? Why?” I hadn?
?t been to work in a week. I needed to go to the office. I had responsibilities, people who were relying on me.
“Emmie says the paps are everywhere. If they could get past the guard at the gates they would have already been overrunning the house, beautiful.” He pushed a few strands of my hair back behind my ear before lovingly tracing the outer shell. “Don’t give those vultures what they want, Harper. Call Rex and tell him you’ll be working from home for the next few days.”
I shook my head. “I’m not going to hide in this house, Shane. That isn’t me. I need to go to work. I have responsibilities that need my attention.”
“Too bad,” he snapped and got to his feet.
The wildness of his eyes told me I probably shouldn’t argue with him right then. I knew he wouldn’t hurt me, but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t go off on someone else. How many times in the past had he nearly gone after a pap who had gotten too close? How many times had I had to call Emmie to do some quick talking or seek out Rex to pull some strings to get something Shane had done out of some trash magazine? How many times had I been unsuccessful? He was no longer the most notorious man-whore in rock history. Now he was the rocker with a short fuse where the paps were concerned. It actually was a better idea to stay home, not because I was hiding, but to keep from having to bail my husband out of jail.
“I’m not willing to let you put yourself at risk.” Shane’s tone was gentler now as he stared down at me with loving eyes. “The paps aren’t the only things we have to worry about. Do you remember how people reacted when we announced our engagement?”
I flinched at the memory. Of having to fight my way out of the magazine’s building as hundreds of angry fans had tried to attack me. It had been okay that I was dating the infamous Shane Stevenson. Marrying him, however, was another story. I’d become public enemy number one in their eyes and they had all tried to rip me apart.
Would they react the same to this?
I would have thought they would be happy. Most of them had slept with Shane before he’d met me, and I was sure most of them could have given him the one thing I couldn’t. That should have made them ecstatic, euphoric. They should be laughing at me—and probably were even then—not plotting to tear me apart with their bare hands.
“I’ll call Rex,” I mumbled as I shakily reached for my phone.
“The treatment isn’t working.”
I swallowed hard as I pushed my hair back from my face and looked over at the doctor sitting across from me. He’d been looking over my latest blood work and we both knew that his hormone therapy wasn’t working. My numbers had barely moved and he’d already changed my dosage twice over the last four months.
I dreaded waking up every morning because I knew I would have to give myself an injection. With each prick to my hip I lost hope a little more every day.
“You’ve had a rough summer,” Dr. Bambach murmured calmly.
There was no need to remind me of that. I went to bed every night thinking about the chaos my summer had been and woke up from nightmares of it each morning. The summer was the worst summer I’d ever had in my entire life, and having lived with my mother and stepsister, that was saying a lot.
I’d had my most intimate secret told to the world. Had the bus I’d had to call home for the entire three-month season destroyed twice. Nearly lost the dog I adored as if he were my child. And came so fucking close to losing Mia forever, something that left us all with nightly nightmares—you know, the kind that shot you up in bed in the middle of the night with your heart racing, your body covered in sweat and the fear that it was a lie. That the little girl you loved so damn much hadn’t been found…hadn’t been saved.
On top of all of that, paps had attempted to destroy my marriage and tried to make me question Shane’s loyalty to me. I’d tried to be strong through it all, tried to keep my chin firm and my head held high, but some of that pure venomous bullshit had been hard to stomach at times. Some of the pictures I’d had to see of Shane with past conquests, I wanted to wipe from my memory forever. My old insecurity had tried to rear its ugly head and it had taken everything I had within me not to let it all send me to a place where I questioned my husband’s loyalty to me.
I was over all of that. I had moved on and accepted that Shane loved me, only wanted me. That I was all he needed.
Some days it was harder to remind myself than others.
So to say I’d been under some stress was perhaps the biggest understatement in the history of all understatements. I was running on fumes from the stress and I could barely make it through each day without needing a freaking nap. I just wanted one day without having to look over my shoulder, one day of nothing but peace.
Maybe Santa would bring it to me for Christmas this year.
Doubtful, but hey, I could still hope.
“You know that stress is a huge factor in the endocrine system, Harper. I’m not saying it is all that is wrong, but I feel that it has been a huge factor for you lately.” Bambach scribbled something on a prescription pad before looking up at me. “I’m going to change your dose again and I want you to take it easy. You need to avoid stress as much as possible.”
I gave a humorless laugh at that. “That’s not asking too much, is it?” I still hadn’t completely forgiven the man for one of his staff leaking the one secret about myself I had hoped never to share. He’d been very sorry and had even flown to California for all of my follow-up visits, at his own expense. If he hadn’t filed criminal charges against the receptionist who had been the leak, I would have gladly let Emmie file a civil suit against Bambach and his entire staff who had been in the office the morning of our first visit. If he wasn’t the last hope I had for getting pregnant, I would have already been done with him. Something I was sure the good doctor knew.
“I’ve promised Shane that if this dosage adjustment doesn’t show any results, that I’m done,” I informed Bambach now, folding my hands together in my lap.
I had come alone to this visit, hadn’t even told Shane about it. He was more stressed than I was after the disaster of a summer and I didn’t want to put him through more than I had to. I knew that he was worried about me and how I was going to take it if the hormone therapy didn’t work. After going through hell with him, I now knew that not having a baby wasn’t going to be the end of the world.
I still hoped though, even if that hope got a little weaker every day.
“That is completely your choice, Harper,” Bambach assured me. “Give me until Christmas to get you sorted, though, please.”
“Christmas, then,” I agreed and stood when he handed me a new prescription. “But no longer.”
It was the beginning of October. Waiting until December was plenty of time to see if the new injections would do anything. I nodded my head at the doctor and left his office. He’d arranged for our appointments to be handled in my regular doctor’s office, so I didn’t have to worry about anyone questioning my comings and goings. No one other than my personal doctor knew what happened when I came in and that was the way we would all keep it.
As I left the office, I found Peterson waiting by the entrance. He was my shadow these days, whereas in the past he’d only been in the background, there when I needed him. Since the first attack on Shane’s tour bus, Peterson had started sticking to me like glue. I had no privacy when I left the house. Without the quiet—and I suspected, deadly—guard, I knew Shane wouldn’t let me out of the house.
Outside, Peterson opened the back of the blacked-out SUV that was already waiting. Theo, or T-Rex as Emmie and Natalie had taken to calling him because he was as big as one, was behind the wheel and keeping the engine idling. I climbed into the back seat and Peterson shut the door before taking the front seat.
“Work?” Theo asked with a raise of his brow.
“Might as well,” I muttered and leaned my head back against the headrest.
We’d only been back in So
Cal for a few days and I needed to catch up on the stacks of work piling up on my desk at the office. I’d handled most things from the bus over the summer via email, messenger, and Skype when I’d needed to attend any meetings as well as having things overnighted to me regularly. My personal assistant had also dealt with a good bit of all my responsibilities. None of that made up for being at the office in person and I had eighteen weeks of such things sitting on my desk.
Eighteen weeks. I shook my head at the time that had passed from the beginning of the Demon’s Wings and OtherWorld summer tour. It was supposed to only last fourteen, but when Gabriella Moreitti had been shot saving Mia, we’d all stayed in Northern California until she was ready to be released from the hospital. Sticking around and making sure the woman, who had selflessly risked her life to save my little niece, was going to live to breathe another day was the least that we could have done.
My boss, Rex, hadn’t minded. I’d been able to give him the story as it unfolded and he’d been more than happy to let me stay as long as I needed to. Rock America was one of the few magazines that had an exclusive insight into what was really happening. Just like he’d done when I’d married Shane, he’d raked in a fortune in sales not just on our weekly edition, but on our online daily as well.
It was a short trip to the office. Peterson got out of the passenger seat as soon as Theo pulled to a stop outside the huge building where Rock America was housed. Theo would park the vehicle and then camp out somewhere in the building so that he was within running distance in case Peterson needed him. Meanwhile Peterson would stand outside my office door, scaring most of the people who approached my office door.
I wasn’t happy about this new arrangement at work. It was hard to do the things I needed to do with him standing out there interrupting my day. Normally people would come to me when they needed something. Now, I had to go to them, and that meant putting my own work on hold until it got sorted. I’d started to feel sorry for poor Peterson standing out there all day so I’d put a chair just outside the door, but he refused to sit in it. He took his job very seriously. Sometimes I wished he would just take a chill pill and get the broom handle out of his ass.