Finding a Hart

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Chapter 19

Stephanie

I sat in my driver’s seat and put my keys in the ignition. I didn’t start the car and instead watched Jared’s back. It had been an interesting night.

Once he was out of sight, I pulled out my phone. Troy had called me twice. I hit his name and it rang once before he picked up.

“Finally.”

“Hi to you, too,” I said as I buckled my seatbelt. “What’s going on?”

“I swear, I’m thinking of asking your voicemail out sometime.” Troy’s voice had a teasing tone to it. “I talk to her more than I talk to you.”

I chuckled and let my head fall back against the seat. “She sounds like a hussy.”

“She’s too predictable to be a hussy. At least your back-talk keeps me on my toes. Were you working late tonight?”

“Yeah. I was actually just heading home.” I turned the key to start my engine. “What’s up?”

“I just wanted to see how you were.” He paused for a second. “And maybe cash in on that rain check.”

I closed my eyes and briefly considered it. The second I did, a pair of green eyes flashed through my mind, though. “I’m sorry. I’m going to eat and try to get some sleep. Another time?”

“Yeah. I promised Liam I’d play some Call of Duty with him tonight anyway.”

I grinned buckled my seatbelt. “Send him my love.”

“Fuck that,” grumbled Troy. “He already gives me enough shit about you. He’s lucky I don’t knock out his teeth and make him uglier than he already is.”

“I’m not sure if you’ve realized, Walters,” I said as I connected the Bluetooth “You’re twins. Identical ones. You look the same. And neither of you is ugly.”

“I’m definitely the better looking twin.” He laughed softly. “Bye, babe.”

I made it home and quickly got ready for bed. I slid under the covers and stared up at the dark ceiling. My mind replayed the evening in my head and like I had for so many nights lately, I thought about Jared Hart. I couldn’t help but smile. Jared was going to be a great father. It was obvious that he was already in love with that little boy.

My smile faded when I thought about how being around Jared made me feel. It was like nothing I’d felt before and I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or not. There was something about him that made me feel alive and peaceful at the same time. I loved watching him with his son, from the moments he was uncomfortable and jumpy to the ones where he was almost like an old pro.

He had enough going on in his life without me drooling after him like some high school teenager, though. He was a new dad. He was a client. I needed to push any thoughts to otherwise out of my mind and focus on the big picture. With that, I forced my mind off and closed my eyes.

Thursday and Friday morning, we met for coffee like any other day of the week. On Friday, though, a sense of sadness washed over me.

“I hope you have a good coffeemaker at home.”

He grinned and pushed the banana nut muffin towards me. “The best homemade coffee in the world couldn’t replace this, Steph.”

“You’re such a charmer.” I playfully tossed a chunk of walnut at him. “I’m going to miss you.”

He was going to be off of work for eight weeks, which meant that my mornings were going to be dramatically different.

“I’m going to miss you, too.” His smile was soft but his voice was serious. “Have you started looking for my replacement yet?”

I rolled my eyes. “You not being in here just feeds into my laziness. The drive-thru and I will end up being great friends.”

“You’re still coming by tomorrow?”

“Yes, sir. So if you have any dirty magazines or weird habits, better hide them now.” I grinned when he let out a loud laugh.

“Noted.” He glanced at his watch and sighed. “I need to get to the office a bit earlier today since it’s my last day for a bit. I’m sorry to cut this short.”

I smiled in an attempt to hide my disappointment and finished off the muffin that we had been sharing. We both grabbed our cups and headed to the door. Jared’s hand pressed to the small of my back as he held the door open and the shiver that ran through me had nothing to do with the chill outside.

When we made it to my SUV, he pulled the door open and offered me a crooked smile. “I got you something else.”

“What do you mean?” I raised my brows and watched as he reached into his jacket pocket like he had the week before. He produced a small pastry bag and handed it to me. I opened it quickly and looked inside, laughing when I caught sight of the contents. “You got me a cake pop?”

“A chocolate one, too.” He reached up and ran a hand through his hair almost nervously. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Vanilla Latte.”

“Yeah, you will, Jare.” Ever since the DNA results had come back, I had made an effort to stay more professional with him. Knowing this was our last coffee date, I couldn’t help myself. I leaned in and kissed his cheek. “Have a good day at work.”

I waved to him as I pulled out of the parking lot and headed to work. I was about halfway through my day when Robin poked her head into my office.

“Rachel’s supposed to be on call tonight but she’s sick. Do you have the coverage list?”

I glanced over at the chart I had taped to my filing cabinet and shook my head. “They’ve all had such insane weeks. I don’t want to pile an unexpected on call shift onto anyone. I’ll take it.

“You sure?” Robin raised her brows and I just nodded my head.

“Yeah. It’s no big deal.”

And it wasn’t. I normally picked up shifts when the others couldn’t handle them. At that time last year, on call shifts had been a normal part of my life so I knew how exhausting they could be. Besides, they gave me an extra opportunity to be out in the field.

“Okay. Thanks, Gibson.” She turned to leave but changed her mind, suddenly refocusing those all-knowing brown eyes on me. “How are things going with the Hart family?”

I felt my cheeks redden slightly and looked at my keyboard to hide it. “Good. He’s going home Sunday and I’m doing a home visit tomorrow. I think it’s going to be great for both of them.”

When she didn’t respond, I glanced up and caught my boss looking at me speculatively. She continued examining me for a moment before nodding.

“Okay, good. Keep me updated.”

And then she disappeared.

I worked for the rest of the morning and spent my afternoon in court. Despite the fact that I went on call at five and really needed to go home to get some sleep just in case, I ended up at the hospital.

Kara was there when I walked into the NICU but she just smiled at me and went back to helping the parent she was next to. I walked right to Chris’s bed and smiled down at the sleeping baby.

The hat was missing from his head, leaving his soft hair on display, and he was swaddled nice and tight. I reached down and scooped him into my arms, cuddling him to my chest gently.

It was amazing to think that just two weeks before, I had found him in a pile of dirty boxes. In two short days he would be going home with a man who was already completely in love with him.

“I had a dream, you know,” Kara drawled as she came and sat on a stool next to the glider. “That you had twin girls that looked just like Mario and Luigi from the video game.”

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