Just With You

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CHAPTER 32

STELLA

Two Months Later

Standing in front of the full-length mirror, I sweep my long hair back and into a ponytail, staring at my reflection. Running my hands over my belly, I try to figure out how a watermelon has already made its way into my stomach. I swear, if I was only having one baby, you’d think I was nearing the end of my pregnancy, but no. I’m only halfway through.

Goodbye, feet. I’ll see you in a few months.

Hearing the front door open and close, I turn toward the door, watching Jace walk into the room. “Truck’s running, babe. Should be warm in just a few minutes.”

“I’m ready whenever you are.” Today is our ultrasound to find out the sex of our babies and to check in and see how they’re doing. We’re still unsure if we want to do a gender reveal party with Christmas so close, just a couple weeks away. Slipping my feet into my Birks, I follow him into the living room, where I left my jacket and purse.

“So, we taking bets on what they are?” he asks, pulling a gray beanie on his head.

“Betting on our kids? Gee, we’re gonna make wonderful parents,” I tease, and he laughs, pulling me into his arms.

“Damn right we will.”

“I think it’s boys,” I tell him, kissing his scruffy cheek.

“I think you’re right. You keep giving me babies and soon we’ll have our very own baseball team.”

“You’re dreaming if you think I’m giving you seven more children, Jace Miller. These two are more than enough, thank you.”

“We’ll see about that, woman.”

Jace holds my jacket open for me, and I slide my arms in, laughing when he tries to pull it closed, my belly having other plans.

“We need to get you a new jacket. I can’t have you in the cold like this.”

“Stop your fussing, I’m fine. I have on a thick sweater, and I’ll only be in the cold for a few seconds.” Swinging my purse over my shoulder, I motion to the door. “Shall we go?”

Muttering at me, he kisses my temple and opens the door, ushering me into the cold. He holds my hand down the walkway and pulls the door to his new Chevy open. It’s getting harder to climb into it, and I giggle when he grabs my ass and pushes.

“I swear you bought this truck just so you would have to do that.”

“Nope, but it certainly doesn’t suck.”

“What am I gonna do with you, Miller?”

Jace just swats my ass and closes the door behind me. Climbing into his own seat, he buckles and we take off. When we pull into the parking lot of my OB, I turn to him, reaching for his hand to squeeze tight.

“I want to find out what we’re having. No gender reveal party. We can FaceTime everyone tonight.”

“That’s what I was hoping you’d say,” he says with an infectious grin.

“Let’s do this.”

“Okay, so baby B looks to be just a tiny bit smaller than baby A, but that’s perfectly normal for twins. Both have strong, healthy heartbeats, and everything looks perfect.” Sandy, our ultrasound tech, smiles at both of us, showing us the image of our little ones. The black-and-white image makes them look like they’re cuddling each other in weird little alien form.

Jace takes my hand and brings it to his lips, his eyes trained on the screen.

“Now let’s see if these two will cooperate so we can find out what you’re having.” Sandy moves the wand over my stomach, spreading the gel so she can get a better view of the babies. I have no idea what I’m even really looking at until she points to the screen.

“Okay, there’s baby A. Let’s see if we can get a better image. Do you want to know what they are all at once or one at a time?”

“All at once,” I say, and Jace agrees with a nod.

“All right, let me take a couple photos, and then I’ll move on to baby B.” She taps on her keypad. I watch the screen flash a few times, and then she moves the wand again, bringing us face-to-face with our other nugget. She does the same thing, moving the view around before taking some more pictures. When she’s finished, she hits one final button, and photos begin to print.

Grabbing the small hand towel hanging next to the bed, she cleans my belly up. I pull my shirt down, sitting up as best as I can. Jace helps me get comfortable, and then Sandy hands me the strip of photos, a warm smile on her face.

“Congratulations, you two. I sure hope you like pink, because you’re having two girls.”

My jaw drops and I turn my head to look at Jace, whose eyes are about to bug out of his head. I look back to Sandy and start laughing, covering my mouth with a hand.

“Oh my freaking God.” I giggle, and Jace scrubs a hand over his face.

“In a matter of seconds, I just became outnumbered,” he jokes, and I grab his face to kiss him. “Wouldn’t have it any other way though.”

“I love you,” I whisper to him, and he hugs me tight.

“Love you too, Stell. Wait till Jules finds out. She’s gonna hit the roof.”

“More like wait till your mom finds out.”

“Oh no.” He groans, shaking his head with a chuckle. “She’s gonna lose her mind. She always wanted a daughter, and now she’s getting two granddaughters all at once.”

“Should we go home and start spreading the news?” I ask, holding my hand out so he can help me climb off the table.

“How about I take my girls to an early dinner, and then we break the news?”

A sharp kick on my right side has me grabbing Jace’s hand and pressing over the spot, both of us laughing when his hand shifts a moment later with another kick.

“I’ll take that as a yes.”

I shrug back into my jacket, and he walks us from the room, the ultrasound photos now tucked securely in my purse. We both wave to the ladies behind the front desk and then make our way out to Jace’s truck, my hand firmly clasped in his. That gorgeous smile of his is permanently etched into his face, and it makes my heart happier than anything.

Strolling the aisles of the small shop, I try like hell to find something for Jace’s Christmas present. I’ve come to a complete dead end every time I think of something.

I round the corner and find a table set up with cameras, several of them out on display. And it’s like a lightbulb goes off in my head, a conversation I had with Jace not long after we found out I was pregnant.

We’re sitting out on the back deck at Jace’s, curled up under a blanket on his wood swing. The breeze is blowing my hair around, and I pull the blanket up higher, my head on his shoulder.

“So, did you always want to be a police officer? Did you grow up playing with a fake badge and arresting your stuffed animals?” I ask, and he laughs, shaking his head.

“No. I went to college for business. I was going to open my own photography studio one day. But after the accident, and seeing how broken the system was, knowing that even on a twenty-five-year sentence, that asshole could be up for parole after killing two people, I needed to do something.”

I burrow into him, and his hold on me tightens. “Photography, huh?”

“Yeah. I loved taking pictures, no matter the subject. A sunset, my parents, one of Drew’s sport games. But my life has changed so much now, and I couldn’t abandon the department. I love my job, and maybe it’s not what I always wanted to do, but I wouldn’t change a thing.”

“Is that why you’re always snapping selfies of us on your phone?”

“Memories fade, voices and sounds disappear, but a photo is forever, Stell.”

I’m broken from my thoughts when an employee asks if I need anything. Looking back over at the display, I paste a smile on my face.

“Actually, yes. I want to get my boyfriend a camera for Christmas. What would you recommend?”

He gives me a smile and gestures to one on the table, and as he begins to rattle off the features and add-ons, I know it’s perfect.

The perfect gift for the perfect person.

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