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Pain vibrated in his voice and her heart clenched at the grief still evident in his eyes.

“I could bear the thought of a daughter,” he choked out. “I even looked forward to it. But not a son. It feels too much like I’m replacing Colton.”

Her mouth fell open in shock. She wanted to immediately deny that by having another son he was somehow replacing his first child, but she remained silent. It may make no sense to her, but it was evident by the torment in Cam’s eyes that he absolutely believed it.

How could she argue with something so deeply ingrained?

She stood there a long moment, trying to make sense of it. She looked down at the tiny swell of her belly and was overwhelmed by a fierce need to protect her baby. She glanced back up at Cam, her jaw as tight as his had been.

Anger and sorrow warred inside her. Sorrow for him. For such a horrific loss. But anger that her child would pay the price.

“So you’d deny this child your love because he had the misfortune to be born the wrong sex?”

Cam’s nostrils flared and his eyes flashed with anger. He advanced toward her, bristling with outrage. “I never said that.”

“But nothing you’ve said or done so far tells me any different.”

He dragged a hand through his hair, rumpling it even more than it already was. “I’m trying here, Pippa. I’m trying really damn hard. You know I didn’t want this.”

“I get that! Okay? I understand. Believe me, you’ve made yourself more than clear on the matter. You didn’t want me. You didn’t want our child. But you know what? He didn’t have a choice in the matter. It’s not his fault his parents are brainless twits who didn’t do enough to prevent his conception. But you know what else? I’m not sorry.”

She broke off, her chest heaving.

“I’m not sorry,” she said again, more fiercely this time. “I’ll never be sorry that the condom broke. I want this child. I want our son. If you want to wallow in the past and deny yourself the miracle that this child is, that’s your problem. But I don’t have to put up with your stupid crap.”

She turned around and stomped toward the front door, yanking up the purse she’d dropped when she’d stormed in earlier. She really had no idea if John was around. At this point, she didn’t care. She’d walk to Ashley’s if she had to.


She yanked open the front door, walked out into the night and then slammed it behind her.

Oh, boy, was she an idiot. She’d fallen into bed with him. Even after he’d ditched her at the doctor’s office. He’d been clear from the start, and yet she kept agreeing to see him. Like she had some desperate hope that she was going to be the one to heal him.

She stalked down the driveway, determined to put as much distance between herself and the source of her stupidity as possible.

“Pippa! Damn it! What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

She flinched as Cam roared at her from the doorway. She pulled out her cell, hoping like hell that Ashley was home tonight. If not, it was going to be a long-ass walk to public transportation.

When she reached the end of the driveway and turned toward Ashley’s house, the beam of headlights flashed over her and the growl of an engine sounded. Cam pulled up beside her and rolled his window down.

“Get into the damn truck, Pippa. This is insane.”

She turned to look at him, never breaking stride. “What’s insane is me staying at your house another minute. I’m going to Ashley’s. I’ll be fine.”

He swore a streak that scorched her ears. Then he pulled the SUV in front of her and stopped on the shoulder. He got out and strode back to meet her.

“Look, at least let me give you a ride to Ashley’s. You don’t need to be out walking around in the dark alone.”

“As long as you promise to drive straight to Ashley’s.”

“Get in,” he growled.

She walked around to the passenger’s side, got in and slammed the door shut. She didn’t even look his way when he got back in and put the SUV in Drive.

When he started to speak, she jerked around and put her hand out to silence him. “Just save it, Cam. I don’t want to hear it.”

He fell silent again and turned into Devon and Ashley’s driveway. He pulled to the front and she slipped out almost before he came to a full stop. She slammed the door shut and walked toward the front door, never once looking back.

Ashley opened the door before she got there and only then did Cam pull away.

“Pippa? What on earth is going on?”

Tears filled Pippa’s eyes as she stopped in front of her friend. “I need a place to stay tonight, Ash. Is it okay if I crash here?”


“Look, Dev, I know he’s your friend, but he makes me crazy,” Pippa said.

Devon handed her a glass of juice with a look of sympathy.

“He’s a hard-ass, honey. Always has been.”

Ashley wrapped her arms around Pippa, or at least as much as she could with a bulging, ginormous belly. The two of them looked like poster children for fertility. Only, Ashley had a loving husband—at least Devon was over the moon about the impending birth of his child.

Pippa sniffled and swallowed some of the juice even knowing she’d suffer for it later.

“I can’t believe he’s so freaked because we’re having a boy.”

Devon glanced uneasily at both women, and who could blame him? One pregnant hormonal woman was enough, but two? He was probably ready to either start drinking or run screaming into the night. Maybe both.

“I get that it’s hard to lose people you love. I suppose some part of me should be all, ‘Awww, you poor thing,’ and fawn all over him, pat him on the back and be understanding, but damn it, I can’t do that!”

Pippa wiped angrily at her face and leaned forward on the couch to put her glass on the coffee table.

Devon slowly shook his head. “No, Pippa, I think you did right. Sympathy is the last thing he needs. Cam is my oldest friend, but it’s time for him to move on with his life and stop rehashing and living in the past.”

She nodded miserably. “It makes me seem heartless and I’m not. Really. It breaks my heart to see him so tortured but how does he think it’ll make our child feel to know he was rejected because his father didn’t want to make it look like he was replacing his first son with his second?”

“You’re protecting your baby,” Ashley said in a fierce voice. “You should never apologize for that. Cam’s an idiot.”

Pippa cringed. “It doesn’t make you an idiot to mourn people you love. I get that. I do. What makes him an idiot is not being able to look past something horrific and see that he’s being given a second chance. This baby won’t replace Colton. No one could ever do that. I don’t know how to make Cam see that. At this point, I don’t even know if I want to try. I’m tired. Tired of this stupid game we’re playing where we both pretend that we don’t want more and that we’re happy having this superficial relationship. I’m not happy. I’ll never be happy with a man who gives me only a part of himself. I’m a selfish bitch. I want it all.”

Devon cracked a grin and Ashley hugged her all over again. Pippa remained in her friend’s arms for a long moment, soaking up every bit of comfort she could.

“You may not see this now, Pippa, but I think you’re the best thing that ever happened to Cam,” Devon said.

Pippa sighed. “Oh, I agree. I’m not some martyr who refuses to see her own value.”

“Atta girl,” Devon said.

Ashley squeezed her.

Pippa crumpled into Ashley’s arms again, her misery overwhelming her. “God, Ash, I slept with him again. Tonight. After he ditched me at the clinic. After that spectacular demonstration of support, I still slept with him. Someone needs to lock me in my apartment for my own good.”

Devon cleared his throat. “I, um, think I’ll leave you two alone now. If you need anything, holler.”

Pippa watched in amusement as Devon all but ran from the room. Then she sighed and leaned her head on Ashley’s shoulder.

“I’m stupid, Ash. He’s stupid. We’re both stupid and I still love him.”

Ashley laughed softly. “Not stupid. Sometimes you can’t help who you love. God knows there were times I wished not to love Devon with everything I had.”

“He was a bonehead there for a while,” Pippa acknowledged. “I guess that was what gave me hope with Cam. I thought maybe he’d come around. I’m an idiot. You can say it.”

“You’re not an idiot! You’re smart and brave and I love you.”

Pippa smiled. “I love you, too, Ash. Sorry for getting you all wet and disturbing your evening with Dev.”

“Oh, like I didn’t crash at your place for days and sob and weep all over you like a dishrag.”

“Yeah, you did, but it all worked out in the end.” Her lips turned down into an unhappy frown. “I don’t see that being the case here. Cam seems too comfortable in his misery.”

“He’s really not so bad, Pip,” Ashley said softly.

“You’re not in love with him,” Pippa pointed out. “You’re not facing an impossible future tied to him but relegated to being a nobody in his life. Not that I would have ever acted this way, but I’m beginning to see why some women don’t tell the father of their baby that they’re pregnant.”

“You’re hurting now, but you did the right thing. You’ll see. It’ll work out, Pip. You have to believe it. Cam will come around. He’ll take one look at his child and be a complete goner.”

Pippa raised her head from Ashley’s shoulder. “I hope you’re right.”

* * *

The next day, Pippa rode into the city with Devon and had him drop her off at her café. She was getting so close to the grand-opening date, and as a result, her nerves were near to exploding.

All the paperwork was in order. Her first supplies had been delivered and her kitchen was set up with everything she could possibly need to start baking. All she had to do was…start.

She had a list of items she intended to have out on opening day. She’d already placed ads for the employees she wanted to hire. She needed at least one person to help man the front and an assistant in the kitchen as well as a delivery driver for when she began taking catering jobs.

She was finally, finally realizing her dream of opening her own business and she’d never been so scared in her life.

After making a few calls to set up interviews, she unpacked the delivery and put everything away. The more she thought about her grand-opening date, the more she wanted to hyperventilate into a paper bag.

But this is what she’d been working for. Cam had certainly made it a lot easier for her, but she would have accomplished it on her own. It might have taken her a few more months, but she would have done it. He’d only facilitated the matter.

Her cell phone rang and she went completely still. Then she pulled it out of her pocket and stared at the screen for confirmation of what she already knew. Her mother had her own ringtone. It was as unmistakable as Miranda herself.

“Boy, do you have rotten timing,” Pippa muttered.

She briefly contemplated letting it go to voice mail, but that would be cowardly of her and then she’d have to listen to Miranda complain that her daughter was avoiding her. Okay, it was absolutely true, but if Pippa didn’t answer, Miranda would simply persist. Better to have done with it now.

Besides, Miranda was harmless. Clueless, but utterly harmless.

With a resigned sigh, she punched the answer button and then put the phone to her ear.

“Hello, Mom.”

“Pippa, darling! Hello! Long time no talk. How are you?”

Pippa smiled despite herself. She always felt guilty about avoiding her mom. She knew in her heart of hearts that Miranda did love her. It wasn’t her fault she was… Well, Pippa wasn’t entirely certain how to describe her mother. Harmless worked well enough because Pippa truly didn’t believe her mother ever tried to be malicious.

“I’m good, Mom. How are you? How is Paris?”

“Oh, Paris was wonderful, but we’re on to Greece now. It’s so warm and sunshiny. I’m sure it’s much better than spring in the city. Don’t you think?”

“How is Doug?”

Pippa held her breath, hoping that she hadn’t just stuck her foot in her mouth. Was her mother still with Doug? She’d left the country with him, but one never knew with Miranda. She was just as likely to fall in love in Paris and go off with someone else. Miranda fell in love like most people changed underwear.

“He’s having a wonderful time. We both are. He sends you his love.”

That amused Pippa given that she’d never actually met the man. She was sure he was perfectly nice. But she doubted she’d ever know firsthand because it would be a miracle if her mother actually made it back home with the same guy.

In a lot of ways, Miranda reminded Pippa of a child who’d been given more Christmas presents than she knew what to do with. She’d pick one up, ooh and ahh, and then promptly drop it and move on to the next one.

That was Miranda’s love life in a nutshell.

“When do you think you’ll be back?” Pippa asked casually.

She hadn’t talked to her mom in months. Miranda didn’t know that Pippa was pregnant and she was racked with indecision over whether to break the news to her. It would likely devastate her mother, who considered herself far too young and beautiful to be called a grandmother.