Peach - *Book Four*

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Twenty-Eight

Emma

“Ugh, men!” I grumble for the umpteenth time tonight and take one more slice of that delicious pepperoni and pineapple pizza that has lifted my mood significantly—along with Tessa. She listened to everything I needed to get off my chest: How horrible I felt when I found out about Dylan’s marital status and how much worse I felt when I saw Kate in Jack’s arms. Tessa reassured me over and over that I am not to blame for what that stupid moron did to his wife. I had no idea, and nothing would have happened had I known.

But when she said it didn’t matter who had fathered my child, but who acted like a father, I felt even worse about what happened with Jack. I don’t want to be mad at him. I want to trust him and not forbid him to see Kate. But it felt like a betrayal that he didn’t tell me he was meeting her today.

“I’m sure he didn’t think about the consequences,” Tessa says as she takes a slice of pizza as well. “Kate probably called him and told him how devastated she was and that she needed a friend right this instance. And sweet guy that Jack is, he came to the rescue.”

I frown. “But he should have told me.”

Tessa nods.“That would have been the wiser choice, but I’m sure he’s sorry. You know how much he loves you and this baby.”

With a deep sigh, I lean back into the soft cushions of the couch. “Yeah, I guess.” I tilt my head back and squeeze my eyes shut. I hate how things are once again tense between Jack and me because of Kate.

At the sound of the front door opening, I turn around, and a moment later, Sam and Hank enter the living room.

“Hi, Emma,” Tessa’s fourteen-year-old brother greets me with a big grin, which I return with a genuine smile. I love this kid. Tessa had to raise Sam all by herself ever since their parents died when Tessa was just eighteen, and Sam was six. And with Paul, Tessa found a man who fits in perfectly with them—along with Hank, of course.

“Hey, Sam,” I say. “How are you?”

“I’m good, thanks. Hey, Tess,” Sam addresses his sister, “I’ve taken Hank for a walk. Can I go over to Leo’s now?”

“Sure,” Tessa responds. “But you’ll be back by nine, understood?”

Sam salutes and winks at us before he vanishes through the front door.

After Hank said a quick Hello too, he lies down on his blanket next to the couch, and I turn back to Tessa. “So I need to talk to Jack, huh?”

“Yes,” Tessa agrees. “You love him just as much as he loves you, right? You are miserable without each other. I know you’ve talked about this before, but do it again until he gets it into his pretty head. But,” she adds and points her finger at me, “you have to admit it’s not easy for Jack either that Rob is your friend.”

I frown. “Ugh, yes. I know.” I pinch the bridge of my nose and squeeze my eyes shut. “The longer I think about it, the more stupid I feel. I shouldn’t have jumped to conclusions and run off like that.”

Tessa waves off my comment. “Don’t worry about it too much now. You two will be fine. And let me tell you: Make-up-sex is the best—especially when he fucked up. Because then he’s gonna make an extra effort when he fucks you.”

“Tessa!” I gasp.

She laughs. “What? It’s true.”

I shake my head and join in with her laughter. “I messed up too. Does that mean it’ll be the best sex ever?”

Tessa laughs even louder now. “I already feel sorry for your neighbors.”

“Thanks for cheering me up, Tess,” I tell her as I wipe the tears away that run down my cheeks from laughing so hard. It feels so good to be laughing again after this miserable day.

“Anytime, honey.” She gives me a wide smile.

I take a deep breath and gently stroke over my ever-growing belly. “You know,” I sigh, “when I found out I was pregnant, I thought this baby wouldn’t have a dad. At some point, I even considered giving it up for adoption so it could have two parents.”

“No way!” Tessa exclaims. “I’m so glad you changed your mind.”

I smile. “Me too. I wanted my baby to have a dad too, and with Jack, I might have found the right one.”

Tessa tilts her head, puts her hands over her heart, and gives me a dreamy smile. ”Aw, that’s so cute.” She sighs and leans closer to me so she can put one hand on my belly. “How’s the pregnancy going?” She gently strokes the bump before she leans back again.

“Good. I have to watch my blood pressure a little, but other than that, everything’s fine. But I can’t wait for it to be over. It’s already exhausting, and I still have more than two months to go.”

Tessa laughs. “Amy said that the other day as well. And she’s only four months in.”

“But she has a little kid already. That must be pretty tiring. At least I can sleep whenever I want. With Bella, that’s probably a little more complicated.” I look at Tessa, who sits opposite me on the couch, facing me, with her legs tucked up so I can’t see her hands. But for a while, I’ve been suspecting she’s up to something. Like right now. She’s obviously not listening to me anymore. “Who are you texting all the time?” I ask her with narrow eyes.

“What?” Tessa lifts her gaze and gives me the most innocent look. “Texting? No one.”

“Tessa, are you texting Paul?” I lean forward and catch her hiding something underneath her butt, and I can already guess that something is her phone.

I huff. “If you think I won’t touch your ass, you’re wrong.”

Tessa groans and rolls her eyes. “Fine. Yes, I am texting Paul. Can’t I text my boyfriend because I miss him?”

I cross my arms in front of my chest. “Is Paul with Jack by any chance?”

Tessa averts her gaze and mumbles, “He might be.”

A moment later, we hear the front door open, and I’m not at all surprised when Paul walks in and Jack is right behind him. I snort and roll my eyes at Tessa. “Did you tell them it was safe to show up now?” I shake my head in disbelief. “Ah, who am I kidding? I should have seen it coming. You are unbelievable, both of you.” I point my finger at Tessa and Paul, but it’s getting harder to suppress an amused smile because how could I be mad at our meddlesome friends for encouraging Jack and me to reconcile?

“Yeah, sorry,” Paul says with a grin. “Hey, Emma.” He walks up to Tessa to give her a gentle kiss. “Hey, Cinderella.” He sits down on the armrest of the couch next to his girlfriend and puts his arm around her shoulder.

Jack stands on the other side of the coffee table with his hands buried in the pockets of his jeans, looking at me longingly. “Hey,” he says with a cautious smile.

“Hey,” I sigh when I just as cautiously return his smile. Seeing him stand in front of me like this – so insecure – almost breaks my heart. There’s no sign of anger on his face; no indication that he’s mad at me for treating him like I did. So I was wrong when I thought earlier I couldn’t feel worse for what happened because now I do.

Just when I want to tell Jack how sorry I am, he is the one to speak. “Will you go home with me?” he asks.

I can hardly contain the smile that wants to spread on my face, that’s how happy his request makes me. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice how Tessa and Paul are watching us curiously, so I refrain from jumping into Jack’s arms. Instead, I whisper, “Yes.” And without further ado, I get up from the couch and grab my things. I turn to Tessa. “Thanks again for everything.”

“No problem, anytime!” she says as she hugs me.

“Thanks to you too, I guess,” I tell Paul and give him a peck on his cheek.

“Like Tess said, anytime,” he answers with a smile.

With that, Jack and I walk out the door and get into his car. Neither of us speaks during the drive to his apartment. Jack seems to be just as deep in thought as me, and I’m wondering if he’s thinking about everything that happened today as well; how it could have spared the both of us a lot of frustration if I had confronted him right away. But sometimes, rational thinking isn’t my strongest trait.

But then I look over to Jack, and he turns to me quickly with a small smile on his lips. A smile that makes me feel hopeful again.

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