Letting go of Law, I say goodnight and head to the other side of the house. When I get to my room, I fall into my bed, flipping my shoes off and dumping my purse beside me, not caring that I’m still in my dress. I let my eyes fall closed until I hear a phone ringing. Absently, I reach for my purse, pulling Paine’s phone from it and put it to my ear.

“I’ve been so worried! You missed our sonogram appointment. Why haven’t you texted me back all day? Was the shop that busy?” The woman on the other end of the line explodes with questions as soon as I pick up.

“You must have the wrong number,” I tell her, thinking she’s way too wound up for nearly one in the morning.

She pauses for a second—checking the number she dialed, I’m guessing. “No, this is my boyfriend Paine’s number. The man whose baby I’m carrying. The baby appointment he missed today,” she screams each word louder than the last, and the urge to vomit makes me drop the phone. I run towards to bathroom, losing everything Paine made me eat earlier.

I lie on the cold tile floor and let the tears flow. I can hear the phone ringing over and over in my bedroom.

How could I have been so freaking stupid? All the things Paine said tonight rush through my head. Suddenly, I’m thinking of all the times I remember girls at my dorm crying about men they had dated who had filled them with lies to get into their pants.

Peeling myself off the floor, I turn on the shower, wanting the smell of him off me. It’s too much to bear. I scrub my body clean, washing away his scent, but the little love bites he left still show. Seeing them makes a sob escape from deep inside me. Turning off the shower, I grab my robe, making my way back into the bedroom. I see six missed calls all from my number, meaning it’s Paine. I pull up his contacts, but the only number programed is mine.

Paine calls again, but I just clear it and click into his text messages. I see a bunch from the number that called, claiming to be Paine’s girlfriend. I scroll a few and read them. One is a picture of a sonogram pic. The others talk about missing him, and another is about all the dirty things she’s going to do to him. I drop the phone, not able to look at it any more.

What if I’m pregnant? Paine didn’t use anything with me. Maybe it’s, like, his weird kink or something. He liked going bareback, and maybe that’s why he has a baby on the way.

The phone rings again. It’s Paine calling. I should just shut it off, but my anger gets the better of me. He couldn’t have faked everything with me tonight, and maybe he does feel something for me, but it’s clear he has someone else, too. What can he say? “No, Duchess, I want to be with you, not her.” Oh, sweet, just ditch your ex for the newest fling. What happens when someone else comes along that catches your attention? Thanks, but no thanks.

I pick up the phone, wanting to hurt him back. I don’t give him a chance to speak before I start in. “Paine, it’s over. Go back to your pregnant girlfriend and leave me alone. I’m marrying Scott.” I hang up before he can respond. I turn the phone on silent and put it back into my purse. I can’t bear to look at it because it’s something that will just remind me of him.

Tossing my purse on my nightstand, I knock over the ring box Scott gave me when he asked me to marry him. Well, I guess saying he asked isn’t correct. It was him and my father telling me how this was a great idea and how Scott and I were a great fit. I flip open the box and stare at the giant diamond. It’s nothing like the ring I thought I’d wear one day. The one my grandma gave me flashes through my mind, but I push the image away. If I’m not going to be with Paine, I might as well make things easier around here. I slide Scott’s ring onto my finger with no intention of marrying him, but maybe it will give me some time to figure things out. Get them off my back. I’m guessing Paine isn’t going to want to solve my problems now.

The tears start to flow again until exhaustion claims me.



“Let me in, Law.”

“I’ve told you five times already. The answer is no. It’s three in the morning. Anything you need to say to Penelope can wait until morning.”

He’s standing in front of the house, in just jeans and a shirt. I’m sure he could get official and take me to jail, but he must sense the desperation in me enough to give me a pass.

I know it’s late and her grandmother is sick. I just need to wait until daylight and make this right, but I’m going crazy that for even a second she thinks that I’ve been with someone else. I haven’t touched a woman in years. Not so much as even had a kiss. It’s scientifically impossible for me to be having a baby with someone. I want to be able to talk to Penelope and explain this to her, but she won’t answer the damn phone.

Sighing, I turn and walk towards my car. I clench my hands into fists, frustrated beyond belief. All I can hear is her broken voice in my head. I’m shocked she would think I could ever do something like that to her, deceive her in that way. A pregnant girlfriend? She’s marrying Scott? I won’t stand for it.

I walk away from the house and get into my truck. I didn’t want to bring the motorcycle because it’s loud, and I know her grandmother isn’t doing well. I get in and drive away from the house, watching in the rearview as Law goes inside and shuts off the porch light.

I circle around the block and park along the fence at the back of the property. Silently, I jump the estate walls and creep along the trees through the woods. When I reach the back of the house, I climb up the railing along the porch. I’m able to lift myself onto the second-story balcony, and I hide in the shadows, not knowing whose room I’m outside.

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