Authors: Amy Andrews
‘Evie, can we please talk—?’
Her quick, sharp headshake cut him off. ‘Listen to me,’ she said, her voice low so the nurse wasn’t privy to their conversation. ‘I do not want to talk about what happened today until after Isaac is home and we know he’s safe and well. For the moment, for the foreseeable future, he is the
thing that’s important.
The only thing that we talk about
. The only thing we concentrate on.
In the time she’d had to herself, looking down at the precious little bundle that connected her to Finn, Evie had decided she wasn’t going to snivel about what had just happened. She’d drawn a line in the sand and that was her decision, and until Isaac was well enough to come home she wasn’t going to think, cry or argue about it again.
‘Can I have a commitment from you that you’ll do the same?’
Finn opened his mouth to protest but Evie was looking so fierce and sure, and after the bungled way he’d managed the whole ring thing he wasn’t keen to alienate her further. By his calculations, if everything went well Isaac would probably be discharged in a month or so once he hit a gestational age of around thirty-two weeks or a certain weight.
He could wait a month.
Live by her edict for another four weeks.
But after that she’d better prepare herself. Because he intended to propose properly and leave her in absolutely no doubt of how much he loved her.
He nodded. ‘Fine. But once Isaac is home,
we will be revisiting this, Evie
Evie shivered at the steel in his tone and the flicker of blue flame in his eyes. ‘Fine.’
Four days passed. Four days of tag-teaming, polite condition updates and stilted conversation. Evie taking the days, Finn the nights. Four days where Isaac continued to grow stronger and put on weight and have most of his lines removed and Evie was finally allowed to have her first kangaroo cuddle with him.
As she sat in the low comfy chair beside the cot, a squirmy, squeaky Isaac held upright against her naked chest, both of them wrapped up tight in a warm blanket, Evie wished Finn was there. The nurse took a picture but it wasn’t quite the same thing. This was the kind of moment that parents should share, watching their tiny premmie baby snuffling and miraculously rooting around for a nipple, even finding it and trying to suckle, no matter how weakly.
She felt teary but determinedly pushed them away. She’d been strong and true to her promise not to dwell on it—stress and exhaustion helping—and she wouldn’t do it now, not during this simply amazing moment when she and her baby bonded, skin on skin.
On the fifth morning Evie woke early and couldn’t go back to sleep, trying to decide if Finn would mind having his time cut short. Or at least sharing a bit of it with her. It made sense to go in—all she was doing was lying there thinking about Isaac anyway and she could feel her breasts were full.
May as well head to the hospital and pump.
Evie was being buzzed in through the main entry doors half an hour later. She noticed a group of nurses standing off to one side of the station and frowned. She smiled at them as she went past and they smiled back, indicating for her to hush and stay with them for a moment. Bemused, Evie turned to see what had them so agog. Her smile slipped as she realised they were watching Finn kangaroo-cuddling with Isaac through the isolation room’s windows.
It was a touching, tender moment, stealing her breath and rendering her temporarily paralysed.
Her two darling boys.
‘The great Finn Kennedy,’ one nurse whispered.
‘Who’d have thunk?’ said another.
Evie left them to their amazement. Not that she could blame them. She doubted anyone, Finn included, would have ever thought he could be brought to his knees by a tiny baby.
She stood in the doorway for a moment, just admiring them from the back. Finn sitting in the low chair next to the cot, obviously shirtless if the bare shoulder blade just visible through the folds of the blanket was any indication, skin on skin with his son.
She swallowed hard against the lump in her throat, preparing to enter. But then she realised that Finn was talking quietly to Isaac and she hung back, not wanting to intrude on a father-son moment.
‘There we are,’ Finn said, ‘I think we’ve got you comfortable now you’ve realised no matter how much you look for it, I’m just not your mummy. She’ll be along later. She won’t really talk to me because she’s mad at me and she’ll only have eyes for you anyway.’
Evie’s ears pricked up at the conversation and she leaned in a little.
‘My fault, I’m afraid, little mate. Totally stuffed everything up there. Take it from me, women may be complicated but in the end all they really want is for you to love them. I’ve never been good at that stuff, couldn’t even tell your uncle Isaac I loved him until he was dying in my arms. You’re a lot like him and I promise I’m going to tell you every day. And hopefully I’ll get a chance to tell your mum as well. Trust me on this, matey, never make
I love you
sound like an afterthought. Stupid, stupid, stupid.’
Evie held her breath.
‘And now she thinks I only love her because she’s part of some package deal with you. That I only see her as
mother. And I can’t tell her she’s wrong, that’s she’s the sexiest, smartest woman I’ve ever met and I’m crazy about her because I promised her I wouldn’t talk about it until you were home. So you need to hurry up and get home, you hear?’
Evie blinked back a threatening tear as she listened unashamedly now.
‘Because the truth is I don’t want to live a day of my life without her in it. I love you, little guy, and the same applies to you, but it’s different with your mother. I want to hold her and touch her and kiss her and make love with her and do all those things that people in love do. You probably won’t ever realise this because she’s your mum, but she’s one sexy lady.’
Evie blushed at the rumble in Finn’s voice.
‘And of course I love her because she’s your mother and there are things she can give you that I can’t, but I love her also because she can give
things that you can’t—a different kind of love. And I never thought I’d hear myself say this but I need that. And I want to give her the love that you can’t. I want to love her like a woman deserves to be loved. And I never want to stop.’
Evie let the tears come this time. She didn’t try to stop them. She pushed off the doorframe and was at his side in five seconds. Bending her head and kissing him two seconds after that.
‘Why,’ she demanded face wet, eyes glistening, ‘didn’t you say those things in Pete’s?’
Finn looked into her beautiful, interesting face made even more so by two wet tear tracks, his heart thudding in his chest. ‘Because I’m emotionally stunted and incredibly stupid.’
She laughed and kissed him again. ‘Do you really mean all those things? About loving me as a woman, not just as Isaac’s mother?’
Finn smiled. ‘Of course. You wouldn’t let me tell you so I figured I’d tell him.’
Evie crouched beside him, peeking inside the blanket at Isaac snuggled up in a little ball against Finn’s chest. ‘I’m glad you did.’
‘So am I,’ Finn murmured, looking down into her face. ‘I’m just sorry I got it so wrong for so long, Evie. I
love you. Just as you are. Evie Lockheart. No one’s mother or sister or doctor. Just you. You helped me love again, feel again, and I need you in my life. All of you.’
Evie nodded, two more tears joining the others. ‘And I love you.’
Finn dropped a kiss on her mouth and it was the sweetest thing Evie had ever known.
‘Don’t think you’re off the hook for the flash mob and the blimp, though,’ she warned as they broke apart.
Finn grinned. ‘I’ll consider myself on notice.’
And then a tiny little snuffly sneeze came from under the covers and they smiled at each other, brimming with love.
EVIE LOOKED up from watching Isaac happily crawling around the back yard to see her husband approaching with a massive wrapped box.
Finn grimaced as he set the heavy box on the ground. ‘Delivery for the birthday boy.’
Isaac turned at the interesting new arrival and crawled their way, gurgling happily. It was hard to believe a year had passed since the frantic night of his birth and while the doctors still corrected his age to nine months, it was still his
His milestones were behind, he was only just crawling and he was smaller than most kids his age, but he was bright and engaging and his parents were besotted with him.
Finn bent and picked his son up off the grass, kissing him on the head. ‘What do you think about that?’ he asked him.
Isaac kicked his legs excitedly and Finn and Evie laughed as they helped him pull the paper off the box and get it open. Inside sat the most exquisitely carved and decorated rocking horse Evie had ever seen.
‘Finn,’ she breathed reverently as he pulled it out and placed it on the grass. ‘It’s beautiful … Where did you get it?’
Isaac squirmed to get down and Finn obliged. ‘It’s not from me,’ he murmured, upending the box and searching for a card. A piece of thick embossed card slipped out.
Finn read it. ‘It’s from Khalid,’ he murmured.
Evie stared at it. A Saudi oil prince had sent Isaac a first birthday present. The sun shone down on the exquisite workmanship and they both admired it for a moment.
‘Is that … gold leaf?’ she asked.
Finn nodded. ‘I think so.’
They looked at each other and laughed. Then they heard Isaac giggling too and looked down to find him peeking out of the box at them.
‘But who needs gold leaf when you’ve got a box?’ Finn smiled.
And Evie watched with joy and love in her heart as Finn pushed a giggling Isaac round and round the yard in his cardboard car.
All the characters in this book have no existence outside the imagination of the author, and have no relation whatsoever to anyone bearing the same name or names. They are not even distantly inspired by any individual known or unknown to the author, and all the incidents are pure invention.
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First published in Great Britain 2013
by Mills & Boon, an imprint of Harlequin (UK) Limited.
Harlequin (UK) Limited, Eton House, 18-24 Paradise Road,
Richmond, Surrey TW9 1SR
© Harlequin Books S.A. 2013
Special thanks and acknowledgement are given to Alison Ahearn for her contribution to the
Sydney Harbour Hospital