And the time to be free and easy and relaxed about this relationship, the honeymoon period of allowing themselves all the space they needed to adjust to the realities of this commitment, had suddenly run out.

She touched a hand to her stomach, determined to be excited by the discovery she had made the morning after Jared had left for Rome. This had to be a good thing. She was going to make it a good thing. So much had changed since that first pregnancy scare—surely his reaction wouldn’t be the same now? It couldn’t be. But still a part of her wished it hadn’t happened like this, without the proper planning and consideration.

Although, she had to see the irony of the situation—that the original wild child, the woman who had once reveled in her own impulsiveness, was now having impulsiveness thrust upon her due to a stupid mishap with her contraceptive pill.

“Katie, oh, my...” Megan pressed her hand over Katie’s, having picked up on the instinctive gesture. “You’re not...?” She looked speechless for a moment, but her eyes misted with emotion.

Katie nodded, her own eyes stinging.

Megan wrapped her arms around her in a tight hug. “This is so terrific. We’ll be as big as houses together. Jared must be overjoyed.”

Her sister said it with such confidence, but even so the whispered fear Katie had refused to acknowledge for two whole days—while she’d held off telling Jared over the scratchy Internet connection to Rome—shouted across her consciousness.

But what if he’s not?

“I haven’t told him yet,” she admitted as Megan finally released her.

“Why not?” Megan asked.

“Well, I...” She breathed, trying to get her excuses in order—not easy under her sister’s all-seeing eye. “There hasn’t been a good time. I only found out a couple of days ago and he was in Rome. And...well.”

“Well, when are you going to tell him?” Megan demanded, lasering through all Katie’s excuses to get straight to the point.

“I thought I’d tell him tonight, once we’re in bed together.” Because sex always made things simpler. And she knew he was ravenous for her, because she’d seen the hunger in his eyes when he’d kissed her after his arrival, and she was just as ravenous for him.

Surely if she just popped out the information while they were both floating on a wave of afterglow Jared wouldn’t freak out?

But even she could hear the question in her voice.

Megan frowned. “Katie, you do know he worships the ground you walk on, right?”

“I know, but...this is completely unexpected. And unplanned. We haven’t ever talked about children. I’m on the pill. Or I was. But I had a stomach bug three weeks ago, and I must have thrown up one or something. It’s low dosage so it’s—”

“Katie, calm down.” Megan gripped her arms to halt the stream of way too much information as all Katie’s insecurities came babbling out. “You’re blowing this out of proportion.”

“How can you blow a baby out of proportion?” Katie retorted, appalled at her sister’s cavalier attitude. “This is a baby, Megan!” she said, just to be sure her sister had heard her, as the magnitude of the problem really sank in. “It’s a person. A human being. Who is going to be relying on me and Jared one hundred percent.”

Megan’s lips kicked up in a grin. “I know what babies are, Katie. I’ve had a couple myself and I’m about to have another.”

“Yes, but you and Dario are so good at being parents. You’re naturals. I’m not sure Jared and I are. We’re not prepared for this. As overjoyed as I was when the stick turned blue, I...” She stopped and took a moment to draw a careful breath and admit her greatest fear. “I’m scared it might be too soon to take this step. I’m not sure either one of us is ready. But even though my head is telling me that, my heart knows I can’t give Jared a choice.” She pressed her palm to her belly again. Even if it was still only a collection of cells, the baby felt so real to her already. “Because I want to have this baby, so much.”

“Shh, Katie.” Megan’s smile didn’t falter as she cradled Katie’s face in her palms and wiped away a tear Katie hadn’t even realized had slipped down her cheek. “First off, no one is ever prepared. Even if they think they are. And Dario and I certainly weren’t,” Megan said. “You’ve already gone one better than us by managing to be together for a whole year before this happened, instead of one night,” she added, huffing out a self-deprecating laugh.

“I know, but...what if he doesn’t want to have it, Meg?”

“Honestly?” Megan said, looking so much surer than Katie felt. “I think once he gets over the initial shock he’ll be overjoyed too. Jared’s a tough guy. He’s survived a lot in his life, like Dario—a baby is not going to phase him in the least once he gets used to the idea. And it’s obvious whenever we see you two together...”

Megan took a breath. “Which isn’t nearly often enough for my liking, by the way,” she added, going the full big sister. “That you mean the world to him. And I’m sure this baby will too. Frankly, I think a much bigger problem is going to be dealing with his desire to keep you housebound once he finds out about your condition. It’s taken me three pregnancies to get Dario’s protect-at-all-costs gene under control and we’re still working on it. Plus, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion Jared might be even worse—given his choice of profession.”

“Really?” Katie asked, the surge of hope making her heart bob into her throat.

“Yes, really... But there’s only one way to find out for sure,” Megan said, and Katie was reminded of a year ago, in her tiny apartment when her sister had given her advice once before on her relationship with Jared. And look how that had turned out!

“Don’t tell me.” Katie put up her hand, the excitement now at least as big as her fear. “I just need to ask him.”

“Bingo,” Megan said, and they both laughed.

* * *

Tags: Heidi Rice Billionaire Romance
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