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Chapter 27

Paddy

The familiar stench of commercial cleaner and bleach drifted up my nose.

Why was I sleeping in the morgue?

My brain drifted awake slowly as I fought through the heavy fog in my head. When it started to clear, the memories trickled in. I went to East Hastings and Dunlevy to pick up Alexis.

Why was she down in that rough neighbourhood late at night?

Oh no!

I got stabbed!

I wasn’t sleeping in the morgue.

I was dead!

What about Alexis and the baby?

Were they dead too?

“Are you having any pain, Paddy?”

I opened my eyes, bright light assaulting my vision. A pretty face loomed over me, her pink scrub top clinging to her large breasts while she pointed a thermometer at my head.

My mouth tasted like I ate a shit sandwich. I ran my tongue over my dry lips, my eyes drifting to the bedside table. “Water, please,” I whispered.

The nurse brought the straw up to my lips. I sucked through it, the cold water soothing my parched throat.

“Thanks,” I said.

“How is your pain on a scale of zero to ten?”

“Bad,” I moaned. My left shoulder was throbbing like a bitch.

Bad is not a number, sweetie,” she chuckled.

“It’s definitely a ten.”

“I’ll give you something to get you through the ride home,” she offered, pushing medication through my intravenous.

“I’m getting out of here already?”

“Why do you sound disappointed?” she asked.

I glanced up when my dad pulled back the curtain. They never gave me a room. I spent the night in the ER. “You don’t want to go home, son?”

“Of course, Dad. I just wasn’t expecting to get discharged this quickly.”

“You’re going to stay with us for a few days, until you get back on your feet.”

“Sounds good. I need my mommy to pamper me.”

“What about your girlfriend?” the nurse teased.

“I don’t have a girlfriend,” I said stiffly.

“Oh. My mistake. I thought the night nurse mentioned you had a pregnant girlfriend.”

“Alexis isn’t my girlfriend.”

“My apologies for assuming,” she said. “I’m going to see if the doctor signed your discharge papers.”

My father dragged a chair next to the head of my bed and sat down, his concerned dad face alerting me that a lecture was coming my way.

“Don’t start with me, Dad,” I warned.

“I was just going to remind you that Alexis is at our place.”

“Shit.”

“It was your idea.”

“Yeah,” I grumbled. “I remember.”

“She’s pretty torn up with guilt about what happened, Paddy.”

“She should be. She put our baby at risk so she could go out partying.”

“I don’t think that’s quite what happened.”

“Really? What was she doing at a bar?”

“I think you should give her a chance to explain.”

“I will, Dad. But I need to calm down first. I’m furious with her right now.”

“I know.”

“She needs to go home. Before I get there. I can’t deal with her today. I’m in too much pain.”

He rubbed the back of his head, releasing a heavy sigh. “She can’t go back to her apartment today.”

“Why not?”

“Some eagle-eyed fan guessed that Hannah is pregnant.”

“Great,” I muttered. “That’s fantastic.”

“The paparazzi descended on Horseshoe Bay like a flock of annoying seagulls. They had to close the bakery until things settle down.”

“She definitely can’t go back there then,” I barked.

“Take a deep breath, Paddy. There’s no sense getting yourself all worked up. At least you know Alexis and the baby are safe if she stays at our house.”

“I suppose.”




I reached for my pain pills on the nightstand, catching a whiff of my ripe armpit.

Take a shower, man. You reek.

I’d been at my folk’s house for two days, hiding out in the guest room. All I wanted to do was sleep anyway.

Alexis stayed away. I was impressed that she hadn’t barged through the door, demanding to talk to me. That was more her style than waiting patiently until I was ready to see her.

I knew I couldn’t avoid her forever. But I wasn’t in any shape to have a serious conversation when I could barely keep my eyes open.

My mom poked her head inside the door, smiling when she saw me sitting on the side of the bed. “Look who’s finally awake,” she teased.

“I really need to have a shower, Mom.”

“Yes, you do,” she agreed, wrinkling her nose. “It smells like dirty feet in here.”

“Gee, thanks.”

“I’ll have to try and put a bag over your dressing.”

“What time is the homecare nurse coming?”

“One.”

“I have time to have a quick shower before she gets here. Then it won’t matter if it gets a little bit wet.”

“Do you feel up to getting in the shower?”

“Yeah. I started cutting back on the pain pills. I’m tired of feeling stoned.”

“Do you want me to wait here, in case you have a problem?”

“If I get dizzy in the shower, I really don’t want my mommy coming in,” I laughed.

“Why don’t I send Alexis up here then?” she suggested gently.

“Fine.”

“Really?”

“Why do you seem surprised?”

“I didn’t expect you to agree that easily.”

“She’s seen my junk, Mom.”

“Paddy, there’s some things a mother doesn’t need to know.”

“You do know where babies come from, right?” I laughed. “My son didn’t just magically appear in Alexis’s uterus. I put my dick inside her.”

“Stop.”

“Why?”

“Because Alexis is like a daughter to me. And you’re my son. I prefer not to have those images in my head.”

“Sorry.”

“I’ll go find her.”

Alexis appeared in my open doorway a few minutes later. My heart swelled with love for the beautiful angel standing in front of me, her pregnant body triggering that primal male instinct from caveman times that still existed deep inside men. Or this man anyway.

Her long yellow dress hugged her breasts and swollen belly, flowing down to her ankles, her bare feet peeking out from the hem. She had her hair down, with only a hint of make up on her glowing face.

Alexis never dressed that conservatively. It occurred to me that she probably didn’t have any clothes there. The dress definitely belonged to my mother.

A memory flashed before my eyes. I still couldn’t remember everything from that night, but it was slowly coming back to me.

Alexis emerging from the bar dressed like a whore, her body on display in a skin tight tank top and a short skirt.

The loser who was harassing her.

Jordan.

She knew his name.

Alexis knew the scumbag who stabbed me.

She’d probably slept with him before.

That’s how they caught him so quickly. He wasn’t a stranger to her.

My jaw twitched, anger coursing through my veins. I could’ve died, leaving my son without a father.

“Get out!” I bellowed.

“Your mom said you needed my help to have a shower,” she whispered, her chin trembling as a lone tear trekked down her cheek.

“I changed my mind.”

“Paddy, please stop shutting me out.”

“Do you know the guy who stabbed me?”

“What?”

“The thug who plunged a switchblade into my shoulder. Do you know him?”

“I used to,” she admitted quietly. “He’s from my old neighbourhood in Gastown.”

“Did you fuck him?”

“What?”

“You heard me, Alexis!”

“Paddy, please stop yelling at me.”

“Answer the fucking question! Did you spread your legs for the piece of shit who stabbed me?!”

“A long time ago. What does it matter?”

“What does it matter?”

“It’s in the past.”

“We need to make an appointment at the STI clinic. Today!”

“They did a full workup on me when I got pregnant, Paddy,” she snapped. “I don’t have any diseases. I’ve never had sex without a condom with any man but you.”

“Why should I believe anything you say?”

“Because I’m your best friend. I would never lie to you.”

“What were you thinking, Alexis? Why the fuck would you go out to a bar like that in your condition?”

“My condition?”

“You’re pregnant!”

“It’s not an illness!”

“I don’t want you hanging around those girls anymore.”

“You can’t tell me what to do, Paddy.”

“You’re carrying my child. I have some say in where you go and who you associate with.”

“Oh really?” she snarled, folding her arms under her breasts as she marched forward until she was standing directly in front of me.

“Yes, really,” I bit back.

“Well, it’s a two-way street, buddy. I don’t want you going out on dinner dates with some crazy bitch who wants my baby!”

“What are you talking about, Alexis?”

“Your nurse friend from university? Heather?”

“How do you know about that?”

“She came to the hospital to see you, and return your jacket. You forgot it at the restaurant when you left to come get me. The restaurant where you went with her on your date!”

“It wasn’t a date.”

“She seemed to think it was.”

“She’s delusional.”

“Did you fuck her?”

“No!”

“Not even in university?”

“No! You’re the only woman I’ve ever been with, Alexis. You know that.”

“But she sucked your cock though, didn’t she?”

“What does it matter?”

“It didn’t until I found out you were seeing her behind my back, and making plans for her to be my baby’s mother!”

“That’s not what happened. She showed up at the funeral home and asked me out to dinner. I declined. I was going to come out to Horseshoe Bay that night and surprise you. But when I texted Hannah to see what you were craving this week, she told me you went to the city with your friends. That’s when I decided to call Heather. It was a mistake.”

“I see,” she huffed. “I guess you’re allowed to make bad decisions, but I’m not.”

“I’m not the one carrying our baby,” I said, closing my eyes as I tried to douse the fury bubbling in my gut. “And Heather didn’t stab you!”

“Your nurse is here,” my mother announced from the doorway.

“I guess you don’t need me,” Alexis snapped, spinning on her heel. She marched out, slamming the door behind her.

“At least you got everything out in the open.”

“How much did you hear, Mom?”

“Enough.” She pulled me into her arms for a long hug. “You guys are gonna figure this out, honey.”

“I’m not so sure about that,” I said.

“Do you want the nurse to come up here, or do you want to come downstairs?”

“I thought she wasn’t coming until one,” I sighed.

“She’s early.”

“Great. There goes my shower.”

“I’ll get her to show me how to change the dressing. That way I can redo it later if you get it wet in the shower.”

“Thanks, Mom.”




I couldn’t sleep. I’d slept so much in the past few days, I guess my body decided I’d had enough rest. I wandered to the window, staring at the house next door, glowing in the moonlight.

My house.

The one I bought for my new family. I didn’t want to live there without her.

Alexis was my soulmate. We were born on the same day. Fate brought us together. I loved her with every ounce of my being. Nothing would ever change that.

I was running out of time to marry her. It was already November. I had to make her my wife before Christmas Day. We would both turn twenty-six on December 25th. I promised her I’d marry her when we were twenty-five, and I had every intention of fulfilling that promise.

The old floor creaked under my footsteps, the wind howling outside as I made my way to the far end of the hallway. I stopped outside her room, smiling at a distant memory. The first time she slept over.

My parents renovated the guest room, painting it pink and purple. They covered the walls in peel and stick sparkly butterflies. My mother filled the dresser and closet with new clothes. A purple comforter with an enormous pink butterfly covered the white canopy bed.

Alexis was blown away. She didn’t have a cell phone, so she took pictures with mine and sent them to Hannah. Her mother cried when she saw them. She called my mom and thanked her profusely. That always amazed me. Mrs. Taylor was never resentful. She wanted the best for her children, and she was grateful that we welcomed Alexis into our home.

My hand froze on the door knob, her soft cries sending a bolt of fear surging through my gut. I opened the door slowly, peering into the room. Alexis was in bed, curled up on her side with her back to me.

“Alexis?” I whispered.

She rolled over, squinting in the dark. “Paddy? What are you doing in here?”

“I heard you crying.”

“You heard me crying from the other side of the house?”

“No. I was standing outside your door.”

“Why?” She sniffed, reaching for a tissue on the nightstand.

“I miss you.”

“I miss you, too.”

“Can I get in bed with you?”

“I’m naked,” she warned.

“That’s okay,” I whispered, pushing down my boxers. “I’ll get naked, too.”

I crawled under the covers, reaching for her warm body. She wrapped her arms around my chest, gazing up at me with weepy eyes.

“Why are you crying?” I murmured, brushing my lips over her mouth.

“Every time I close my eyes, I see him. Plunging that knife in your shoulder. I remember sitting on the cold pavement, holding you and praying you didn’t die. Because I can’t imagine my life without you in it.”

She stroked my cheek, kissing me softly before she continued.

“You’ve been my best friend for so long. Every milestone in my life, you’ve been there. You always had my back, no matter what. Waiting patiently for me to figure out what you already knew. We were meant to be together, and you were willing to wait for me, for as long as it took. And I’m sorry it took me so long to grow up and get my head out of my ass. I’m sorry you had to stand by, knowing I was sleeping with other men. And I’m so sorry that my stupidity almost got you killed. But I promise you, it ends here. I’m totally, one hundred percent committed to you from this moment on, for the rest of my life. Because, Paddington Wallingford-Yargey, I love you.”

I blinked back tears, my heart swelling with so much love for this woman.

My woman.

Finally.

Our kiss was slow and deep, our lips enjoying a long exchange of soft caresses. There was no hurry. We had the rest of our lives to make love. I wanted to take my time, worship every inch of her body with my mouth. And that’s exactly what I did.

She was a quivering, happy mess after I gave her two orgasms. I wiped my face on the sheet before settling next to her.

“Are you okay?” I whispered, kissing her gently on the mouth.

“I’m just so happy,” she said, caressing my jaw while she gazed lovingly into my eyes. “Make love to me, Paddy.”

“I want to. So bad. But I’m afraid of hurting the baby.”

“I’m more afraid of hurting you,” she sighed, glancing at my bandaged shoulder.

“I’m fine,” I said, grabbing a pillow and tucking it under her hip. “It’s just a little stab wound.”

“It’s more than that, Paddy,” she whispered. “I saw it.”

“No tears, baby,” I murmured, lifting her thigh as I positioned myself between her legs.

“You looked up how to have sex during pregnancy,” she laughed.

“I may have done that before I came to your room.”

“You’re such a nerd,” she teased.

“And I’m all yours.”

I pushed inside her, our bodies moving together in perfect harmony.

“And I’m all yours,” she whispered. “Forever.”

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