Authors: Kacey Shea
Tags: #Uncovering Love series, #book 3
Book Three in the Uncovering Love Series
Copyright © 2016 by Kacey Shea Books LLC
All Rights Reserved. This book may not be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission from the author. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. All characters and storylines are the property of the author and your support and respect is appreciated. The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
Cover Design: Sommer Stein, Perfect Pear Creative Covers —
Photography: TheIrishWolf –
Cover Model: Robin Hill –
Editing: Brenda Letendre, Write Girl Editing Services –
Proofreading: Christina Weston & Angela Stephens
Formatting: Stacey Blake, Champagne Formats –
Table of Contents
To my sister—
For being brave enough to leave,
having courage to see a better life,
and learning your worth.
I love you.
ELIJAH SCREAMS AS I BALANCE
him on my hip. He’s teething badly, his little round face taut with pain. “I’m sorry Pam. I can’t make it in tonight.” I switch the phone to my other ear so I can make out my supervisor’s response.
She sighs, and that’s not patience I hear in her tone. “Not again, Carly. I hate to do this, but you know I’m gonna have to write you up. This is the fifth time this month you’ve called in. Maybe if you give me a little notice next time I can get one of our on call nurses to cover. They don’t mind, but not at the last second.”
Eli wails and I pinch my eyes shut. Tears spill out the sides. His cries bolster my own and I choke back a sob.
“Sweetie, you okay? We can talk leave of absence options if this just isn’t going to work.”
I have to feed my children. More tears prick my eyes. I cannot lose this job. It’s all I have anymore. I set Eli on the bedroom floor and pop a bottle of cold milk in his mouth, then wipe the tears from my face and prepare a convincing lie.
“No. Pam, that’s not necessary. Things are fine. Well, as fine as they can be with a sick one-year-old. Josh got called into work and I don’t have anyone who can watch the boys.”
“Hmm . . .” She clicks her tongue. “He got called in at ten o’clock on a Thursday night? What exactly does your husband do again?” Shit. I pluck the bottle from Eli’s greedy mouth and he screams on cue.
“I’m sorry Pam, I’ve gotta go.” I end the call and toss my phone on the bed. “Sorry, sweet boy.” Picking him up, I replace the bottle and cradle him. “You’re a good little boy for mama,” I soothe, and rock from side to side until his tears quiet and his eyelids become heavy. His heartbeat slows, calming my own.
I brush back his sweaty curls. I need to cut these locks soon. They’re babyish and make him look like a girl but I can’t bring myself to chop them just yet. I’m holding on to the baby phase, not willing to move on. I’ve always dreamed of having a large family but that’s not possible. There’s no way in hell I’ll bring another little life into this chaos.
Carefully lowering myself to the bed, I lie back against the pillow and roll his little body to the center. I curve my larger one around his sleeping form and place one hand on his arm. I’m so damn tired.
Where the hell is Josh?
I shut my eyes. I don’t want to consider the possibilities.
Maybe he’s dead.
I hate myself for the hope that brings. Who have I become? It wasn’t always this way. I try to remember better times and give in to the pull of exhaustion.
“My God, you’re amazing.” Josh leans down, places a chaste kiss on my parched lips. “He’s beautiful, baby. You did good.”
“Would you like to hold your son, Mrs. Martinez?” The nurse holds our infant swaddled in a hospital standard blanket. I nod and she nestles my little boy in my arms. I’m exhausted but I’ll be damned if I’m not the first to hold my son.
Josh sits at the edge of the bed, snaking one tattooed arm around me and the other beneath my arm that cradles our little boy’s head. I’m overcome with emotion, feeling safe and content. Through smiling tears I watch my husband gaze upon our son.
“He’s perfect, Carly.”
“He has your face, I think.”
“What should we name him?” We’ve gone back and forth for weeks. I want to call him Austin but my husband wants Ezra. Suddenly the argument seems irrelevant. How lucky am I right now, a healthy babe in my arms, my man by my side.
“He looks like an Ezra to me. What do you think?” My husband’s eyes snap to mine and a grin spreads across his handsome face.
“I love you so much.”
“I love you too.”
“Mama! Mama! It’s raining in my room.” My eyes flutter open and heart hammers in my chest. It takes a second to realize I dozed off. Not sure how long, but I’m soaked in sweat. My eyes adjust to the pitch black room and find Ezra standing in the doorway.
“Come here, baby.” He pads to the foot of my bed and uses his four-year-old limbs to climb up. Sitting, I reach for him and discover his little jammies are damp. The power’s out. I clamber around the pile of blankets and sheets, careful not to wake sleeping Eli, and unearth my phone. Three-twenty-two in the morning. The screen illuminates Ezra’s innocent face. I push aside the fact Josh hasn’t tried to call.
“Why’s it raining in my room?”
“It’s not raining, baby, it’s just really hot in here. Look, Mama’s hot, too. Let’s cool off and get some clean clothes, okay?”
He nods and I carry him to the bathroom, stripping away our clothes and rinsing off our sweat. I should do the same with Eli but he’s finally sleeping and I can’t bring myself to wake him.
We dry off, find clean clothes, and construct a temporary bed in the front living room of our duplex. I open the windows here and in the kitchen, earning fresh air that’s slightly cooler. Ezra curls up to sleep instantly and I carefully move Elijah, wishing I could plug a fan in. It’s still too warm.
Through the open window, the muted coach lights of neighboring homes cast an eerie glow against the night. We’re the only one on the street gone dark which means Josh didn’t pay the electric. I shouldn’t be surprised, but it still hurts.
The roar of the motorcycle breaks my thoughts. It growls louder until the engine cuts. He’s home. I tiptoe out of the living room and into the kitchen, where I lean against the counter that faces the door. A few moment’s wait, and his heavy steps reach the door. He swears under his breath and after a few attempts the door swings open with a loud creak.
“Where’ve you been?” He ignores me, tosses something on the counter with a bang, and frantically rustles through the cabinets.
“I need to find it. I just need to find it. It’s gotta be in here. This is where I left it.” He mutters as he knocks over bowls and dishes in his search.
He better not wake the boys.
“Josh. Where have you been?” I whisper again.
He stands and flips the light switch up and down. “God
where are the trash bags and why can’t I turn on a fucking light?” Shouting, he finally meets my gaze. The street lights cast shadows in the room and I can’t read him.