Evelyn sat up and waited with bated breath. She would finally get her answer on why Anderson kept pushing her away.
“Okay,” she replied using a gentle tone, she didn’t want to discourage him. Their waiter came by with refills on their drinks and her house salad. Anderson took a deep breath and began,
“You know my mother died after giving birth to me, right?” She nodded and took a bite of her salad. Her mouth needed something to do or she would interrupt him with questions.
“Well, ever since I became old enough to know I could produce offspring it has terrified me. I saw what my dad did to give me a happy home with a mother figure. He put up with Meredith. She was awful to me and to him. I knew when she threw me out that I would sire no biological children. I never wanted to put a woman’s life in danger by giving birth to a child for me. I am not strong enough to survive caring for another if my mate were to die. So I decided to never take a mate, this way I couldn’t chance falling in love and my mate wanting children from me,” he shared and she stared at him in shock. He was so afraid of losing his mate in childbirth, he’d rather be miserable without a mate.
“I can understand how that would be a huge worry for you. How did you feel when you found out Roxie was pregnant?” she asked, she didn’t want to judge him. Everyone had fears, and this was his.
“I was scared for her the entire time she was pregnant and giving birth. Her C-section nearly killed me and she wasn’t my mate,” he pointed out, and Evelyn had to smother a laugh at his comment.
“Giving birth is a scary thing, but it is very rare for women to die because of it. Do you know what caused your mother’s death?” Evelyn asked, she reached across the table and took one of his hands in hers. She knew he needed the comfort of her and sharing this with her had been a huge step forward.
“My father only ever said she died right after having me.” He looked into her eyes and she could see the fear passing through them. Now would not be the right time to tell him she thought she was pregnant and with his child too. That piece of news she was going to keep secret a little longer.
“Maybe you should talk with him about it, he better than anyone knows what it is like to lose his mate in the same situation,” she suggested and saw a small smile appear on his lips.
“You are the third person to suggest that to me,” he told her and she chuckled.
“Then maybe you should.”
“You are right.” He nodded and she knew there was more to what he wanted to talk to her about.
“Was that all?” she prompted, knowing Anderson he would avoid talking about anything uncomfortable for the rest of the night.
“No,” he replied, and they paused when their waiter came back with dinner. She took a whiff of her lasagna and almost gagged. Her dinner was not what she wanted when her nose caught the smell of Anderson’s she salivated.
“Are you okay?” he asked and she had to shake away the cravings for his food.
“Yes,” she lied and he growled at her.
“Liar. What is it?”
“Your food looks better than mine,” she commented with a sulky expression on her face and was rewarded with a belly laugh.
“Come on,” he said and held out his hand for her plate.
“No, Anderson I know you need a lot to eat, I don’t want to take your food,” she objected and he shook his head.
“Anderson--” she began but he took her plate and pushed his in front of her. Her nose caught the smell of his chicken parmesan and she almost moaned.
“Here you take the lasagna,” she said scraping his portion onto her old plate.
“Thank you,” he said and dug into his meal, she took her time cutting up her chicken and eating. They fell into a comfortable silence as they filled their bellies, neither one wanting to break the sense of ease that had fallen upon them. Before she knew it, Evelyn had eaten the entire plate and looked up to see Anderson’s shocked expression.
“What?” she demanded.
“I’ve never seen you eat that much ever,” he commented and she frowned. Great, now she looked like a pig in front of the man she loved.
“I guess I was hungrier than I thought. I didn’t eat lunch today,” she explained and he frowned at her.
“So what else did you want to talk about?” she asked diverting the conversation back to him.
“It has to do with us, Evelyn. I was a complete idiot and let my fears get in the way of an amazing relationship. I was a jerk to ask you to continue with our physical relationship even after you broke up with me. I should never have let you walk away from me that day in the woods,” he explained.
“Then why did you?” she asked toying with her paper straw wrapper.
“The same reason I don’t want children,” he replied and she frowned at the don’t. He still didn’t want children and here she was carrying his.
“You were afraid I was going to die?” She put into words what he couldn’t, he nodded to show she was right.
“Yes, but that doesn’t matter anymore. My tiger is miserable without you, he won’t let me sleep, he won’t hunt, he won’t let me shift,” he explained and she frowned.
“Okay,” she replied crossing her arms over her chest.
“I want us to be back together. I know there are ways to have children without you getting pregnant. We can explore those options together,” he offered and then she saw red. He only wanted her back because his tiger wanted her. Never once in his speech did he say he was going to work on his fear, that he loved her or wanted her.
“So let me get this straight? You want me back because your tiger is unhappy. You aren’t going to even talk about getting me pregnant with our children. You just assume I will be okay with adopting or finding a surrogate. Both are fine in their own ways, but I want a child of my own. I want to experience being pregnant, I want to know the joys of bringing a little one into the world. Never once did you say I want you back Evelyn because I love you! Oh no Anderson Matthew Jones, I won’t be with you just because your tiger is unhappy. If you want me then you need to work through your fears and come back to me because you love me.” She threw some cash onto the table to cover her dinner and stormed out of the restaurant and got into her car.
She sped home, the second she got home she ran to the bathroom and threw up everything she’d eaten at dinner. Lying on the floor in her bathroom she cried. The man she wanted had asked for her back in the worst way. He did it all wrong and now she was pregnant with his child and no way to tell him. She gave herself ten minutes to lay on the floor in a pity party before pulling herself up and making a plan for her future. Yes, she was going to have to tell Anderson about the baby, but she was going to wait until she made it past her first trimester. She would tell him they could co-parent but the baby was not a reason for them to get back together.
“Hi Roxie,” she said answering her phone, knowing Roxie would want to know what happened.
“What happened?” Roxie demanded.
“He wanted to get back together because his tiger is sick,” she stated and heard an outraged gasp from her best friend.
“Yes, and I haven’t told him about the baby. I will wait until I am in my second trimester before telling him. I don’t want him to think this baby is his way of getting back together with me. I am going to do this on my own,” she told her friend.
“I agree Anderson went about this in all the wrong way, but did he tell you why?”
“Yes, he said he didn’t want children because of his mom,” she explained.
“How did you handle that?”
“I told him he should talk to his dad,” she replied, stripping out of the dress she’d worn to dinner.
“Same here. I hope he does. Did he say anything when you told him no?”
“No. I saw red and stormed out of the restaurant. I know we are mates, but I want him to want me not because his tiger wants me. I want him to say he loves me, to tell me I am his one and only. I want to be romanced and shown he has changed his ways. I need him to show me he is not going to run the second I tell him I’m pregnant with his child.” She put the phone on speaker and changed into soft shorts and a tank top crawling into her bed. Looking at the clock she saw it read nine-thirty, yawning she buried under the covers.
“You have every right to tell him no. He didn’t show you he had changed. My brother is an idiot, and I am going to tell him that next time I see him. Everyone can see he loves you, but he is afraid to say it. He is scared to let you see his vulnerable side and have his children. I am sorry Evvy,” Roxie whispered, and Evelyn felt hot tears sting her eyes.
“It’s okay, Rox. Now I know Anderson won’t change without someone bashing him over the head. I don’t want him to be pushed into being with me, he showed me tonight he doesn’t want me, his tiger does,” she replied.
“No. He loves you. He just did it in a backward way. Don’t lose hope, Evvy. I can hear how tired you are. I remember wanting to be in bed by nine every night when I was pregnant with the twins. Have a good night and let me know what happens at your doctor’s appointment on Monday,” Roxie told her. Evelyn bid her goodbye and plugged in her phone, falling fast asleep.
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