Peach - *Book Four*

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Twenty-Three

Jack

I know I’ve done some stupid things in my life. Especially when it comes to interactions with other human beings. I know I’ve been unapproachable and distant most of the time, but what I did yesterday felt like a major screw-up, worse than anything I’ve done so far. The way I left Emma after our weekend—after we slept together—was a serious dick move.

I should have tried to explain myself better. Instead, I took off without giving her any reason why I felt I had to, and once I got home, I couldn’t stop thinking about her and our weekend and the painful expression on her face. I know she didn’t want to say she was disappointed, but I could see it in her eyes.

So when my inner, scolding voice wouldn’t shut up, I went back to Emma’s place, back into the arms of the woman I’ve fallen for so hard. And I made love to her, and I tried to dissipate every bit of doubt that she might have had about me, about us. That no hint of an anxiety attack showed itself, dissipated my last doubts as well.

The next morning, before we both have to work, we sit in front of one of the exam rooms at the hospital and wait for Emma’s doctor to do the next ultrasound scan.

“Hey, guys.”

We both look up into Rob’s smiling face. “Rob!” Emma beams at him. “What are you doing here? I thought it was your day off.” She gets up from her chair and hugs him.

“Susan called in sick today, so I’m filling in,” Rob explains with a stupid smile on his face after he’s given me a nod, probably the only greeting I’ll get from him. “Are you okay with me doing the ultrasound?”

I want to tell him to fuck off and don’t even think about touching Emma, but she beats me to it. Well, sort of.

"Of course I’m okay with that,” she says excitedly. “I want to see the baby.”

I look at her, and when I see the huge smile on her face, I keep my mouth shut and follow them into the exam room. I sit down next to Emma, who lies down on the exam table, and I watch Rob lift up her shirt and tuck some paper towels into the waistband of her pants. He spreads the gel on her exposed skin, and I realize that my whole body is tense and I’m grinding my teeth. And when he touches her belly, I wonder what else he’s touched.

What the fuck? When did I turn into that guy? Why am I jealous? Because I know he hasn’t touched anything, but the thought that Rob is Emma’s best friend, doesn’t sit well with me.

“Can you see if it’s a boy or a girl?” Emma asks hopefully. Damn, I was so involved in my internal monologue that I completely missed the first minutes of the scan.

"Uhm—let me check—ah, yes, there,” Rob says with a grin that I want to wipe off his face. “It’s a boy, as you said.”

“A boy! Jack, it’s a boy!” She grabs my hand but doesn’t take her eyes off the screen. I wonder if she can make out any distinct body parts because to me it all looks like a blurry mess. Oh, no, wait. There! I saw a hand.

Wow, this is fascinating. There’s an actual human being in there. And for some reason, now I feel even more protective over Emma than before. She’s mine, and I hope I can make that baby mine as well. I hope Emma will let me once it—he is born. I want to provide them with everything they might need.

Once we’re sure that everything is okay with the baby, Emma gets up from the exam table and wipes the gel from her belly. Rob sees us out, and when we’re out in the hall, Emma turns to me. “I have to run to the bathroom quickly. Will you wait for me?”

"Of course." I smile at her and gently press my lips on hers before she turns around toward the restroom.

I look after her, and once she’s out of sight, I notice Rob’s intense stare on me. “What?” I ask with one eyebrow raised.

He narrows his eyes. “I’m questioning your motives. What do you want from her? She’s pregnant with someone else’s baby.”

He’s not beating around the bush—I have to give him that. “Someone else who isn’t around,” I grunt. “So besides the fact that I like Emma, I want to help her out as much as possible.”

“So you’re playing baby daddy?” he asks in a tone I honestly don’t like.

“What the fuck is your problem? Is this really about my motives, or is this about me being the one who gives her what she needs? In every aspect? Do you want to be the one who does that?”

He comes a step closer, and I have to try hard to stifle a laugh because I don’t know if he wants to appear threatening. His eyes narrow even more, and this is turning into one of those staring contests of epic proportions. “If you give her even one reason to cry–”

I would have loved to hear what he plans on doing to me, but he’s cut off by Emma who’s back from the restroom. “Hey, guys. What’s going on?” She looks back and forth between us with a questioning look.

“Nothing,” I mumble. “Come on. We’re leaving.” I grab her hand and pull her after me.

“Jack, what–”

I don’t give her time to say more, and she just waves goodbye to Rob with a confused expression on her face. Luckily, the elevator just opened on our floor, and as soon as we step in, the doors close, and we’re alone. Emma tears her hand out of my grip and glares at me. “What the fuck, Jack?” She leans against the wall with her arms crossed in front of her chest.

I roll my eyes and let out an annoyed breath. “Rob is questioning my motives, and he threatened me.”

“He what?” Emma laughs. ”Aw, come on. Rob wouldn’t do that.”

I glare at her. “Are you saying I’m making this up? He probably thinks he has some sort of claim on you, being your best friend.”

“Are you serious right now?” she groans. “Stop air quoting and rolling your eyes. I thought we talked about this. Why are you jealous?”

“He gets so fucking close to you, and he’s a guy. Just because he insists that he isn’t more than a friend, doesn’t mean he wouldn’t mind getting inside your pants.”

Emma throws her hands up in the air. “That’s ridiculous. And what would it matter if he did? I wouldn’t let him. And now that you brought up people who want to get inside other people’s pants—what about Kate? Because she sure wouldn’t refuse another quick fuck.”

“Oh no, we’re not talking about Kate again,” I growl. Damn, why am I mad at Emma now when Rob was the one who pissed me off?

“Then we’re not talking about Rob either,” Emma returns through gritted teeth. Yes, excellent. Now we’re yelling at each other.

“Fine,” I huff.

“Fine,” she puffs.

The elevator doors open on the ground floor, and I step out, expecting Emma to follow me, but she stays put. I give her a questioning look. “What are you doing?”

“Going back to the maternity ward. I have to work,” she says indifferently as she presses the button for the floor we’ve just left.

“But–” I stand there dumbfounded, not capable of reacting quickly enough to keep the elevator open. And before I can do or say anything else, she leaves me staring at the closed doors. I take a deep breath and run my hand over my face with a frustrated groan.

Ugh! Good job. What was I thinking? I pissed Emma off, and now she goes back to the one guy I don’t trust. Of course, I can’t stop the pictures in my head where she comes running to him, telling him what a fucking idiot I am, and he’s going to laugh up his sleeve, comfort her, and advise her to dump my sorry ass.

I don’t want to run after her though. I don’t think we can have a civil conversation right now and talk things out calmly. With a heavy heart, I take one last deep breath before I turn around and go to work as well.


What a shitty day this has been! I could hardly concentrate on work, and any conversation I had with colleagues or basically anyone lasted for about two minutes before I scared everyone off with my grumpy mood. I sent Emma several texts, telling her I was sorry, but she never answered.

As my last attempt, I send her another message when I leave work: “Can we talk? Please?”

And to my utmost surprise, she finally answers: “Okay. I’m home now.”

I take that as an invitation to come over, so instead of going home, I go to Emma’s place. When I stand in front of her door, I take several deep breaths to gather my thoughts because I feel like a mess. I hate that we argued over something this stupid.

Emma doesn’t open after my first knock, and I’m wondering if she’s doing that on purpose. And when she answers her door after my second knock and what felt like a couple of hours, I’m sure she wants to torture me.

She’s wearing shorts that show off her beautiful legs and a t-shirt that doesn’t leave much to the imagination. I barely manage to hold back a groan when I try to keep eye contact and not let my gaze wander over her body. “Hey,” I finally say.

“Hey,” she answers. “Come in.”

This feels like a déjà vu of the worst kind. I follow her into her living room, just like I did every time we fought. This is what we do: I show up at her place, and she leads the way to her couch where we sit down, facing each other.

Emma clears her throat. “I talked to Rob,” she says with a deep sigh.

“And?” I ask when she doesn’t go on.

She takes a deep breath. “And I think all men are stupid.”

I blink at her and open and close my mouth a couple of times. I expected a lot, but not that. “Stupid,” I repeat.

“Yes, stupid. You are stupid because you are jealous of another man who is one of the most important people in my life, but on a whole different level. He will never give me the things you give me, make me feel what you make me feel. And Rob is stupid because he thinks he has to protect me and that I can’t take care of myself. So you’re both stupid for not trusting me. I don’t get why you two can’t coexist in my life without acting like complete morons.”

"Oh wow.” I let out a long breath. “I guess I messed up, huh?”

She smirks at me, which I take as a good sign. “I already know from what Liv told me you’re the overprotective kind of guy. But please, stop acting like the jealous boyfriend. Because there’s no one whose touch I crave more than yours.”

I let out a long, slow breath before I scoot closer to her and take her hands in mine. “Okay,” I breathe on her lips that are mere inches from mine now. I watch her as she closes her eyes and bites her lower lip. I rest my forehead against hers. “I’m sorry I ruined that ultrasound moment for you today. You were so excited, and being the idiot that I am, I had to start a fight.”

“No, Jack,” Emma murmurs, “you didn’t ruin anything. Nothing could have ruined that moment.” She takes a deep breath, and her lips stretch in a wide smile. “We’re–” She hesitates a moment before she corrects herself, “I’m having a boy.”

I grin when I understand what she almost said. “We’re having a boy.” But judging from the blush that suffuses her cheeks and how she averts her gaze, I assume she doesn’t want to say it.

“Yes, we are,” I whisper before I close her mouth with a kiss, keeping her from contradicting me. She tenses up for a tiny moment, but when we deepen the kiss, her body relaxes again. To make sure that she doesn’t worry about what I just told her too much, I grab her hips and lift her onto my lap. And after only a few moments of kissing her, tasting her, and feeling her, I completely lose track of time and space.

I run my hands under her ridiculously tight t-shirt, and I only just manage to cup her breasts. She squirms under my touch when I gently caress her sensitive nipples through her bra, and when she grinds her hips over my almost painful erection, I groan, growing a little impatient.

“Ah, yes, Jack, don’t stop!” Emma moans into my mouth.

Oh, I’m not planning to. In my mind, I’m already picturing her naked body underneath mine, but then I’m having the second déjà vu for tonight. Before we can move this to her bedroom, there’s a loud knock on her door.

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