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The house was dark as I silently padded to the kitchen. Vance and Charlie were still asleep, but they wouldn’t be for long.

I dug the small basket out of its hiding place and spread a little fake grass on the bottom before scribbling the five notes I planned to put inside the numbered eggs. Folding each note, I added them to the plastic eggs and wrote the numbers one through five with a permanent marker on their pastel shells. Popping the final note into the last egg, I added the last piece of my surprise. I arranged them in order inside the basket so Vance would open them exactly how I planned.

The sun was just beginning to rise when I slipped back into bed and snuggled up to his back.

“Mmm,” he groaned sleepily before turning over to face me. He pressed a lingering kiss to my forehead, and I closed my eyes, basking in the sweet gesture. “Good morning.” His voice was scratchy and thick with sleep, but still so sexy.

I nuzzled into his neck, breathing in that masculine scent that always drove me wild. It was especially enticing now. “Mornin’,” I crooned.

“Is Charlie up yet?”

“Not yet.”

“I’m surprised she didn’t sniff out the candy in her sleep and demolish her Easter basket before we woke up.”

“Me too.” I chuckled. We’d put her basket together last night after she went to bed and placed it in the center of the kitchen table, so she’d find it as soon as she got up. Like every other kid I’d ever known, she had a serious sweet tooth, and I made sure to get every egg-shaped version they made of her favorite candies.

“I have a little something special for you too,” I announced.

“Is that so?” Vance asked suggestively. Desire sparked low in my belly, but that wasn’t what I’d meant. As much as I’d like to give in to that desire, I had to do this before I lost my nerve.

I wiggled out of his hold and grabbed the basket from my nightstand. He sat up, watching me with curiosity. Walking around to his side of the bed, I perched on the edge of the mattress and handed him the basket.

“You have to open them in order,” I instructed as he plucked an egg from the grass.

 

He cracked it open and unfolded the small scrap of paper and read the single word written on it aloud. “We.” Setting it aside, he continued, opening the next one. “Are.” He kept going, reading each note before setting it aside.

“Having.”

“A.”

When he got to egg number five and opened it, a plastic rectangle fell to his lap as he plucked the final slip of paper from the egg. I held my breath as he unfolded it, absently grabbing the stick from atop the blanket. It had landed face down, so he hadn’t yet seen what it was. Then he read the final note.

“Baby.”

A second passed. And then another as what he just said began to register, and he slowly turned over the object in his hand. It was a pregnancy test with two bold pink lines indicating it was positive. His gaze lifted to mine, shock and something else I couldn’t name shining in his eyes.

“Is this for real?” he asked, and I nodded as tears welled in my eyes. I was already so damn emotional. “We’re having a baby?”

Wonder. That was the unnamed emotion I’d seen. He was practically glowing with it now. He dropped everything and shoved it aside, pulling me onto his lap in one smooth motion. His hands cupped my face, dragging me closer.

“We’re having a baby?” he asked again as though it was too good to be true.

“Yes,” I replied as my eyes misted over. “We’re having a baby!”

His lips crashed down on mine in a kiss filled with laughter and tears. “How did this happen? You’re on birth control.”

I shrugged. “It’s only ninety-nine percent effective.”

“So basically, I have super sperm?” he asked, amusement twinkling in his eyes.

“Sure,” I replied with a giggle, “we can go with that.”

Once our laughter died down, he pulled me to him, gently brushing his lips over mine. “I can’t believe we’re having a baby,” he mused, cradling my face in his big, strong hands. “This is a pleasant surprise.”

“I’m glad you think so. I was a little nervous about telling you.”

“Why?” he asked, his brows drawn together.

“I wasn’t sure if you were ready for another child yet. I mean, we’ve talked about having more, but it’s so soon, and we’re not even married yet.” Not to mention, this must’ve brought up old wounds from the past. He and Sarah had tried everything, even in-vitro, and were never able to conceive. That was what led them to adopt Charlie. I was certain this had to stir up those memories and the pain associated with them.

“Considering I’m already forty, I wouldn’t say it’s too soon,” he offered with a crooked grin. “Besides, this is a blessing. I’ll get to be a part of the journey and watch your body grow and change.” His hands fell to my waist, and he flattened his palms over my stomach. “I’ll get to witness this tiny life growing inside you and hear their little heartbeat at every appointment. I’ll be there to hold your hand when you bring our son or daughter into the world. I will be there every step of the way. You won’t have to do this alone.”

I didn’t realize I was crying until Vance reached up and swiped his thumb under my eyes, removing the dampness that settled on my cheek. His words meant so much to me. I’d been scared and alone during my last pregnancy. My mom had been there for me as much as she could, but she hadn’t known the truth. She didn’t know that I was slowly dying inside while growing another life.

But this time was different. I was loved. I had a partner who cherished and respected me. This time, I had a say in the matter. This was something I wanted. The timing wasn’t exactly what I had planned, but that didn’t make it any less special.

This was the life I’d always wanted—a home, a family, a man who loved me—and I was finally getting it.

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