He came around and helped her out of the car and cupped his hand under her elbow as they walked up the flight of concrete steps to his apartment.

Once they reached the top, Riley unlocked the door. Shoving it open, he turned to Hannah and without a word calmly lifted her into his arms.

Taken by surprise, she let out a small cry of alarm. "Riley," she pleaded, "put me down. I’m too heavy."

"Let me assure you, Hannah Murdock, you weigh next to nothing." With that he ceremoniously carried her over the threshold, gently depositing her in the leather recliner.

Hannah smiled at him, a little breathlessly, although he’d been the one to do all the work. This man was full of surprises. All week she’d been convinced she was marrying a monster, but Riley had gone out of his way to prove otherwise. Perhaps this marriage had a chance to survive, after all.

Riley turned on the television and reached for the evening paper and, after a few minutes, Hannah excused herself and began unpacking a few of her things. Since they would be moving within a matter of days, she only removed items she’d be needing.

Since Riley seemed wrapped up in something on television, she decided to bathe. The water was warm and soothing, and as she rested her head against the back of the tub, she traced her index finger over her stomach. There was no evidence her body was nurturing a child – at least not yet – but she hadn’t reached the fourth month of her pregnancy. The doctor had told her to expect to feel movement at any time, and the prospect thrilled her.

When she’d finished, she dressed in a thick flannel gown and brushed her hair away from her face. Riley was still in the living room, sitting on the edge of his cushion, punching his arms back and forth. She noticed he was watching a boxing match, and she cringed inwardly.

He must have noticed her, because he reached for the television control and turned down the volume. His eyes widened as he assessed her.

"Is something wrong?" she asked, glancing down at herself.

"You normally wear that to bed?"

"Yes." He made it sound as if she’d donned sackcloth and ashes.

He nodded and punched the control, turning up the volume. "Then my guess is Junior will be an only child."

Hannah bristled; then, not knowing what else to do, sat down and tucked her feet under her. The fight taking place on the television screen was violent, with two boxers slugging it out as though they had every intention of badly maiming each other. Hannah winced and closed her eyes several times.

"Why would anyone fight like that?" she asked during a commercial break.

"Ten million might have something to do with it."

"Ten million dollars?" Hannah was incredulous. Standing, she looked around for something else to do.

She walked into the kitchen and poured herself a glass of water. The evening paper was on the floor next to Riley’s chair. She picked it up and read through it.

"Would you like to go to church with me tomorrow?" she invited.

"No." His eyes didn’t stray from the screen.

She set the paper aside and yawned.

"Go ahead and go to bed. I’ll wake you when I come in."

Hannah was skeptical, but the fight was only in the sixth round and it looked as if it could continue for a good long while. "You don’t mind?"

"Not in the least," he answered, and waved her toward the bedroom.

Hannah found an extra blanket in the hall closet and wrapped that around herself as she lay on top of Riley’s bed. It would have been presumptuous of her to crawl beneath the covers when she fully intended to sleep in the living room after Riley had finished with his program.

Although she was exhausted, Hannah had a difficult time falling asleep. What an unusual day she’d had. She’d married a man who was little more than a stranger to her, and discovered in the short time they’d spent alone that he was easy enough to like. She sincerely doubted that she’d ever grow to love him the way she had Jerry, but then Jerry had been a special man. It wasn’t likely that she’d ever find anyone like him.

Riley was rough around the edges; she couldn’t deny that. He drank beer as though it were soda and enjoyed disgusting displays of violence. Yet he’d gone out of his way to see to it that she had a wonderful wedding dinner. He appeared to be trying.

She smiled at the memory of how he’d hauled her into his arms and carried her over the threshold, then immediately frowned when she recalled the way he’d looked at her in her nightgown and announced that Junior would be an only child.

With a determined effort, Hannah closed her eyes. She knew she wouldn’t sleep, but lying in bed was a hundred times more appealing than being subjected to the boxing match.

Hannah stirred, feeling warm and comfortable. Her arm was wrapped around a pillow, although now that she thought about it, this particular pillow was anything but soft. Her eyes fluttered open, and she found a pair of intense eyes staring back at her. She blinked, certain she was seeing things.

"What are you doing here?" she asked.

"The question, my dear wife, is what are you doing clinging to me as if you never intend on letting me go?"

Hannah immediately removed her arm and bolted upright. To her surprise, she was beneath the covers. "How’d you do that?" she asked, noticing at the same moment that he wasn’t.

"Do what?" Riley asked with a yawn. He sat up and stretched his hands high above his head and growled as though he were an injured bear stalking the woods. The sound was so fierce it was all Hannah could do not to cover her ears.

"You said you’d wake me," she reminded him, not the least pleased with this turn of events.

"I tried."

"Obviously you didn’t try hard enough." Primly, she tossed aside the covers and leaped out of bed. "You had no right… We agreed – "

"Hold on a minute, sweetheart, if you’re – "

"Don’t call me sweetheart. Ever." She hated the way he said it. Jerry had always spoken it with such tenderness and love, and she wouldn’t have this man who was her husband desecrate the few precious memories she had of her fiancé.

"All right," Riley said, holding up his palms. "There’s no reason to get bent out of shape. For your information, I did try to wake you, but it was obvious you were in a deep sleep. It was either haul you into the living room or leave you be. I chose the latter."

Hannah glared at him. She’d risen quickly and neither the baby nor her stomach appreciated the abrupt change of position.

"Hannah, you’re looking pale. Are you all right?"

"I’m perfectly fine," she lied. The all-too-familiar sensation was taking root in the pit of her stomach. Her brow broke out in a cold sweat and her knees grew weak.

"There’s no reason to be so upset," Riley continued, undaunted. "I did the gentlemanly thing and slept on top of the covers. Our skin never touched, I promise you." He paused. "Hannah…"

She didn’t hear whatever he intended to say. With her hand over her mouth, she rushed down the hallway, making it to the toilet just in time to empty her stomach.

Riley helped her to her feet when she’d finished, and gently wiped her face with a damp cloth. "I didn’t mean to upset you. Damn, if I’d known you were going to get sick, I’d have slept on the sofa myself. I’ll tell you what – you can take the bed and I’ll camp out there until we move."

He was so gentle, so concerned. Hannah raised her fingertips to his cheek and offered him a feeble smile.

"My being sick didn’t have anything to do with being upset. It’s the baby."

He was silent for a moment. "How often does this happen?"

"It’s better now than the first few months."

"How often?" he repeated firmly.

"Every morning in the beginning, but only once or twice a week now."

"I see." He released his hold on her and handed her the washcloth. "In that case, forget what I just said. If you want to sleep on the sofa, be my guest."

Chapter Four

"Hannah!" Riley bellowed as he walked inside the apartment. He startled her so much she nearly dropped the box she was carting. "How many times do I have to tell you, you aren’t to lift anything?"

"But, Riley," she protested lamely, "this one isn’t the least bit heavy."

"I don’t care. Your job is to stay out of the way. Once we’re into the other house you can start unpacking. If I see you touch a single one of those boxes again, I’m going to lock you out on the balcony. Is that understood?"

It was understood three apartments over, Hannah was sure. Riley had been surly all morning. He’d left before dawn to pick up the rental truck and returned in time to find her hauling boxes from the kitchen into the living room. She was only trying to help, and he’d made it sound as if she should be arrested.

They’d been married a week now, and if these past seven days were any indication of how their lives would blend together, Hannah wasn’t sure they’d last the month. Riley seemed to be under the impression that she was one of his men – someone he could order about at will.

With so much to be done before the move, it was ridiculous that he expected her to do nothing.

The afternoon he’d returned to find a neatly organized row of packed boxes stacked in the corner had resulted in a tirade that had left Hannah shaken and pale. No one had ever stormed at her the way Riley did. He seemed to think she should laze around sampling bonbons while watching daytime television.

He regretted his outburst later and offered an abrupt apology, but by then it had been too late; Hannah could barely tolerate looking at him. She escaped into the bedroom and closed the door.

If only he wasn’t so unreasonable. He didn’t want her cleaning for fear the solvents would harm her or the baby. Nor did he want her painting, although he was often up till the early hours of the morning. In the evenings when he returned from the base, he wouldn’t even take time to eat the meals Hannah had so carefully prepared. Generally he grabbed a few bites on the run while she sat at the table, napkin in her lap, determined to ignore him as he shouted warnings at her about doing this or that.

The doorbell chimed, and Riley took the box from her arms, set it aside and answered the front door. Three men of varying sizes and shapes casually strolled inside. The first was dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt, the two others in football jerseys and sweatpants. The trio paused just inside the door when they noticed Hannah.

Riley stepped over to her and looped his arm around her shoulders, drawing her close to his side. "Hannah, this is Steve, Don and Burt," he said, nodding toward each one. "They’re my friends. Guys, this is my wife, Hannah."

"Your wife?" the tallest of the three echoed, obviously stunned.

"My wife," Riley repeated brusquely. "Do you have a problem with that, Steve?"

"None." Riley’s friend glanced apologetically toward Hannah. "It’s just that good friends are generally invited to the wedding, if you know what I mean."

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