Just What I Need (The Bradfords)

BOOK: Just What I Need (The Bradfords)
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Dedication

For the fans of the Bradford series—because the e-mails, Facebook posts, and tweets matter. Thank you.

Chapter One

Eve knocked on the door to the dressing room. “Danika?” she called as she pushed the door open a moment later.

Dani wasn’t in the main sitting area, but the door to the tiny washroom was shut.

Eve debated about bothering her. Eve Campbell was the new girl. She’d known her husband’s group of friends and their women for a few months now that she and Kevin had gotten back together. All of his friends and their wives had shown up to see Kevin and Eve renew their vows. They’d had multiple dinners over the past several months. Dani was as nice and sweet as all the other girls. But of the four—Jessica, Dani, Sara and Morgan—Dani was the least likely to be fussing about her appearance.

For one, she had a natural beauty that didn’t need any makeup to shine through. For another, she was far more comfortable ruining her nails on a home do-it-yourself project than she was worrying about if her polish was the right shade, so Eve doubted Dani was primping. But that didn’t make the decision about bothering her or not any easier.

Eve turned to go, then thought about it again. Dani was going to be needed in the church soon.

She knocked on the bathroom door softly. “Dani?”

“Yeah?”

“Sam’s looking for you.”

There was a pause, then, “Okay.”

Eve heard the water run in the little bathroom, then another pause, then the door swung open and Dani gave her a big smile.

A really big smile.

“You okay?” Eve asked.

“Absolutely,” Dani said enthusiastically. “Definitely. I’m great.”

Yeah, that was really perky. Danika Bradford was a happy person by nature, but not someone Eve would describe as perky.

Eve narrowed her eyes. “Should I get Sam?” Did Dani get nervous being up in front of people? Maybe she was feeling fat. All the women looked gorgeous in the deep plum, floor-length halter dresses, but Dani was pregnant. Really pregnant. And she had to stand next to Sara. Next to Sara anyone would feel fat.

Dani pressed her lips together, like she was fighting to tone down the smile, and shook her head. “No, you can’t get Sam,” she said, the smile escaping in spite of her efforts.

Now Eve was really suspicious. Dani always wanted to be with Sam. And vice versa.

Eve crossed her arms. “Dani, what’s going on?”

“I just…um…”

“Are you sick?”

“Not exactly.”

“You’re not throwing up?”

“No. I’m…contracting.” She said it like Eve would expect her to say, “No. I won the lottery.” The smile was obviously real.

“You’re…” The word sank in and Eve felt her eyes grow wide as her gaze dropped to Dani’s belly. “Did you say
contracting
?”

Dani nodded excitedly.

“You’re early,” Eve pointed out. As if Dani didn’t know that.

“Five weeks,” Dani agreed.

“But…”

“It’s fine, Eve,” Dani said, grabbing her hand. “Seriously. They’re not strong and they’re not close together. I thought they were Braxton-Hicks last night. I’ve had some of those for a while now. But, well, they’re not.” She grinned again. “They’re real.”

She looked thrilled.

Eve was less so.

Eve glanced toward the door that led back to the sanctuary. Why did
she
have to be the one to come in here after Dani? Dammit.

She knew exactly zero about labor and delivery.

“Everyone in the sanctuary is more medically inclined than I am,” Eve said.

Kevin and his best friends were paramedics, Jessica was a nurse, Ben was a trauma surgeon and even Sara had seen the guys deliver a baby in a mall once. Eve had heard that story at Sam’s birthday party a month or so ago.

“That’s why I decided to let you in on the secret,” Dani said, cupping her big belly. “The rest of them will try to talk me into going to the hospital.”

“And I won’t?”

“You better not.”

Eve chewed her bottom lip, torn about what to do. “If they would, I probably should.”

“Yeah, but we don’t know each other as well, so I won’t listen to you the same way as I would everyone else.”

Eve frowned, but acknowledged that she had no leverage to get Dani to do anything she didn’t want to do. “Still, you want to do the right thing here. And Sam will kill me if he finds out I didn’t
try
to get you to go.”

“Not until Dooley and Morgan are husband and wife,” Dani said with a quick shake of her head. “It’s like forty-five minutes tops. I can wait that long.”

Eve took a deep breath. Dani sounded really confident. And she was the pregnant one. What did Eve know about all of this?

But… “Dani, you’re in
labor
. You can’t really put that off.”

“Sure I can.” She waved her hand as if erasing any concern. “I’ve got plenty of time. There is a wedding going on and
that
happens first.”

“It’s a
baby
,” Eve insisted. “I don’t think he or she really cares about the vows.”

Dani fully straightened and pinned Eve with a serious stare. “You want to be my friend, don’t you?”

Any other time, Eve would have laughed at that. She’d never been treated like the new girl or an outsider by any of Kevin’s friends and certainly not Danika. Dani was probably the sweetest of the group. And they were already friends. That’s how this group worked. If one of them loved you, they all loved you.

But Dani was in labor.

Eve would let Dani boss her around for now. She sighed. “Fine. Do you think you can stand upright for forty-five minutes and not make faces or sounds that will alert your very attentive husband to the fact that you’re about to have his baby?”

Dani gave her another big smile. “Yep. I had a backache all night and he doesn’t know.”

“This seems a bit more than a backache.”

“It’s
fine
,” Dani insisted. “The contractions are just starting. We have time.”

“Sam might not agree.”

Sam Bradford was the most laid back of the guys with the exception of Dooley Miller. And today, with it being his wedding day and all, Dooley was a lot more excitable than usual. It was funny, really. The whole group of guys was close, but Dooley was Kevin’s best friend, so Eve knew him better than the rest. She’d also gotten to know Morgan better than the other women because they’d had some one-on-one time. Neither the bride nor the groom showed a single sign of being nervous, but they were both eager to get the ceremony done and officially be man and wife.

Eve thought it was really sweet and it made her want to renew her vows to Kevin all over again. Hearing his voice wobble a little and the look of love in his eyes as he’d said those words to her had done all kinds of things to her heart. She loved being a
wife
and loved how much Kevin’s friends obviously enjoyed and nurtured their marriages as well. Morgan and Dooley would be no exception.

“Sam won’t be right next to me anyway,” Dani said. “And I’ll be standing almost at the very end, behind all the other girls, and the bouquets Morgan picked out are ginormous. I promise to tell him the minute it’s over.”

“Then I’ll go back out front and tell Sam that I couldn’t find you.”

Dani grabbed her arm. “No, wait.”

“For what?”

“I, um…just don’t want you to leave.”

Eve peered at her closer. Looking into the other woman’s eyes something became immediately clear—while Danika really was excited, she was also nervous.

Spontaneously, Eve wrapped her arms around her. She didn’t care if they weren’t BFFs or that the women who
were
Dani’s BFFs were right outside. “It’s going to be okay, Dani. You’ve got this.”

Dani gave her a tight squeeze, then took a breath that shuddered through her and pulled back. “Okay.”

Eve tipped her head to get Dani’s full attention. “That church is going to be full of people who can, and will, take care of you. No matter what happens.”

Dani gave her a shaky smile. “Yeah, I know.

“You sure?”

Dani laughed. “I’m
sure
. I know the next few hours might be interesting, but I can’t wait to do this.”

Eve raised an eyebrow, but Dani really did seem excited and happy to be in labor. Who was she to judge? “Okay, what can I do?”

“Distract everyone from me, keep their attention on Morgan and Dooley.”

“Then you’ll tell Sam what’s going on the second the marriage is official?”

Dani smiled. “Yes. But quietly. I don’t want to be the center of attention.”

Eve finally laughed at that. “Well, I think that’s too bad. Morgan will get the first part of the day but I think this is going to be quite the finale.”

Dani nodded. “Yeah, I guess you’re right.”

Eve didn’t know how long Dani had until things got serious, she didn’t know how serious serious was going to be, and she had absolutely no idea how to deliver a baby. She suddenly really wanted to get Dani out into the sanctuary where there was a doctor.

Sure, Ben Torres was more of the pull-impaled-objects-out-of-a-chest-cavity kind of doctor but he’d gone to medical school and had a kid of his own. He
had
to know more about this baby stuff than Eve did.

 

 

Dani took a deep breath, checked her hair in the mirror, reapplied her lipstick and turned to Eve. “Okay, I’m ready.”

She was. She was ready to be a mom. She was ready to share this with Sam, to see him as a dad…to have the lower backache that had been there since month four gone. But she hadn’t planned on
this
being the day.

The doctor had prepared them for the fact that twins usually came early. Their obstetrician had been happy once she made it past thirty-four weeks and had told her and Sam to be ready “any time now”. But it had never occurred to her that she should bring her suitcase along to the wedding.

They hadn’t even told all their friends that they were expecting twins yet. Sam figured the longer he waited, the less ribbing he’d get from the guys.

Dani was just grateful that none of them had made any comments about how
huge
she was for someone supposedly having only one baby.

Yep. This was going to be interesting.

“You look beautiful,” Eve assured her.

Dani gave a little snort. She looked fat. She didn’t mind because it was for a very good reason—two very good reasons, in fact—but she definitely felt conspicuous. And next to Sara everyone looked fat, even without being eight months pregnant with twins.

Dani appreciated having Eve here at the moment for sure. Eve had a way of confronting a situation and then dealing with it. She’d done it with Kevin and his little brother, Drew. When it had become apparent that Kevin needed to step up and take Drew in as his temporary guardian, he’d done it, but it had been far from perfect. It had been Eve who had been there to tell him it was okay if things were a little rocky and she hadn’t hesitated to call him on his bad decisions.

“You’re okay with this, right?” Dani asked. She had let Eve in on her secret because she had to share it with
someone.
There was no way she could keep this excitement to herself for even an hour. And she knew Eve would take it in stride.

But maybe that wasn’t fair. She had lots of time until the babies showed up, but Eve was going to have to act cool—and possibly outright lie—until this wedding was over.

Eve looked at her for a moment and Dani prepared herself for the truth. Eve was all about honesty. There had been some bumps in the road for her and Kevin because of dishonesty and now she was absolutely the one to go to if you wanted to know if a pair of jeans made your butt look big or if your curtains were ugly. If Eve said she wouldn’t fake it with her, then Dani would have to tell Sam. And then she’d be on her way to St. Anthony’s.

“I’m okay,” Eve finally said, “but here’s how it’s gonna go down. I’m going to make sure this thing starts right on time, I’m going to be a diversion when you need it, and I’m going to let Ben in on our little secret.”

Dani started to protest but Eve gave her a frown that shut her right up.

BOOK: Just What I Need (The Bradfords)
13.98Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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