Wife by Wednesday (Chapter Eleven)

Blake was going to talk to Samantha tonight. Because keeping his father's shitty will to himself wasn't something he could do any longer. 'Honesty is our code word.' Samantha's absolute trust in him would make him a better man. It scared him that Jeff thought he could force Samantha into a pregnancy… that Blake would use her that way. Had he deserved that reputation? Maybe he did. There weren't a lot of people who thought better of him, except maybe her.

Keeping her trust suddenly became paramount.

It was just past six when he walked into his Malibu home. The sound of Mary in the kitchen drew him there first.

"I hope you've made enough for two," he said, catching the woman's attention.

"Oh, you're home. Thank goodness. I thought I'd have to call you."

"Call me? Why? Is everything okay?" Blake glanced around the kitchen expecting Samantha to walk into the room. She wasn't as used to Mary's services and often stood by to lend a hand with the chores.

"It's Samantha. She's hardly come out of your room all day."

Alarm bells went off in his head. "Is she sick?" He was already walking toward the stairs.

Mary followed behind him, dishtowel in hand. "I don't know. She said she's fine, but she isn't eating and I hear her crying."

Blake took the stairs two at a time and flew into his room. The door opened immediately and he could hear Samantha in the bathroom. Her sobs thrust a knife in his chest. When he heard her swear, he thought it best to avoid an audience.

"I've got this," he told Mary.

Closing the door behind him, Blake stepped into the doorway of the bathroom and found Samantha sitting with her back to the tub, her head buried on her knees.

"Samantha?" He reached her side as he called her name.

When she brought her tear-soaked eyes to his something inside him ripped apart. What could possible be so awful? For all the talk about women being emotional creatures, he hadn't seen it with the woman in front of him until now. Her lip quivered and a new round of tears started to fall.

"Honey, what's wrong?" He started pulling her into his arms but she resisted his touch.

"They d-didn't work," she said.

"What didn't work?" He settled on his knees and kept his hands on her shoulders so she couldn't turn away.

Samantha reached for a box at her feet, and waved it in front of his eyes. "These."

It took a few seconds to recognize what she held in her hand. Packages of condoms had been tossed around the bathroom as if Samantha had a fight with the latex. Several boxes were on the counter others by the tub.

"I don't understand what you mean."

Samantha picked up another box and threw it across the room at a wastebasket. "They didn't work!" she cried. She grabbed another packet, threw it, and missed.

Didn't work? What is she saying?

She buried her head on her knees again. "I'm pregnant."

Oh, hell. Every nerve in his body jolted. Blake braced himself… for what, he didn't know. The feeling of dread didn't come, dismay… no, that wasn't there either. Shock! Yes, he was definitely shocked. The last thing he thought he'd come home to after an appointment with his lawyer discussing a need for an heir was to hear his temporary wife declare she was going to have his child. His astounded disbelief knowing the trembling woman sitting on the floor of his bathroom was carrying his baby wouldn't set in for some time.

Damn, no wonder Samantha was so upset.

Blake gathered her in his arms.

She all but crawled in his lap.

"It's okay," he cooed in her ear.

Her sobs were so loud, so heartbreaking, that he felt a heavy guilt only the man who put her in this position could feel. "It's going to be okay."

And it would be.

Someway.

Somehow.

"Shhh."

"I didn't m-mean for this to h-happen," she hiccupped between words.

"I know." He did know. Without any doubt, he knew Samantha wouldn't have ever planned this event.

Vanessa… absolutely! If for no other reason than to be a Duchess.

Jacqueline… probably not, but then she wasn't mother material.

But Samantha… hell no. His wife was too real for games, too real for this kind of deceit. At least with him. Honesty was their key word, after all.

Blake shifted on the balls of his feet and picked Samantha up to take her away from her war with the condoms. Lord, how was it he had so many boxes of the damn things anyway? Oh, yeah… Vanessa swore she was allergic to anything other than the brand he now saw littered all over the bathroom floor.

In their bedroom, he kept Samantha in his lap and crawled onto the soft surface of the bed. Samantha's upsetting sobs reduced to whimpers until finally he felt her relax against his chest in what he thought was a much-needed slumber. The entire time Blake held her, stroked her hair, and told her that he was there and that everything would work out.

He'd make everything work.

****

During the night, Samantha woke a few times, always with the weight of Blake's arm circling her waist or his fingers stroking her skin. Her exhausted sleep gave way to a blurry-eyed morning with a headache that topped the charts. Add to that her typical lack of appetite and utter embarrassment over Blake catching her weeping in the middle of a bathroom floor surrounded by boxes of useless condoms, and Samantha didn't think things could get worse.

But then she remembered the pregnancy.

Point one for worse.

Her bladder forced her from Blake's arms and the warm bed. He didn't stir when she slid from their bed and padded into the bathroom.

Somewhere in the night, Blake must have cleaned up the mess she'd made. The boxes were gone, or tucked away. Good, she mused. She didn't want to see another prophylactic for as long as she lived.

In the mirror, she noted the dark circles under her eyes, the smudges of makeup on her face. Her hair stuck out in a few places and she'd hadn't managed to put on any night clothes before collapsing into bed.

What a mess.

Forcing herself away from her reflection, Samantha took her time with a hot shower. As her thoughts shifted to what would happen next between her and Blake, she forced them away.

No more assuming. She'd work through every turn of their relationship with him and did her best to keep her emotions on a tight leash. This pregnancy wasn't something either of them had wanted. But it was. Sam knew she couldn't give away a child, or worse, terminate her pregnancy. She was a responsible adult, not a teenage kid without options.

The headache receded into the back of her head as she left the shower. A little cream on her face, some gel under her eyes, and she felt nearly human. When she exited the bathroom in a fluffy bathrobe, she expected to find Blake still asleep.

He wasn't.

Still in the rumpled clothing he'd slept in, he stood over a small tray he brought up from the kitchen. Samantha noticed coffee, milk, and juice along with a couple of plates. On the serving plates were simple saltine crackers, toast, and hard-boiled eggs.

"What's this?"

Blake caught her elbow and encouraged her to sit. A serene smile met the corners of his mouth as he took the chair opposite her. "Pregnant women in their first trimester usually start their day off with bland food in order to settle their stomachs." He reported the facts that Samantha had already learned the hard way as if he were reading from a textbook.

"And where did you learn this?"

"Last night, when you slept, I used my phone for something other than looking up the latest market numbers. I brought coffee, decaf, but the articles I read said you probably wouldn't want it." He pushed the one glass of milk on the tray toward her. "But milk is a must for you and the baby."

With the word baby, Samantha felt tears sting her eyes again. So far, she'd only really looked at what was happening as a pregnancy. An event that changed everything. "This is so sweet."

"That's me, Mr. Sweet."

"Blake – " she started.

"Wait." He grasped her hand and bent down beside her. "We have a lot to talk about, but right now let's hold off. You need to eat and I could really use a shower." His thumb stroked the inside of her wrist as he spoke.

"But – "

He placed a finger over her lips. "Shhh…"

Samantha nodded, conceding to hold off their impending conversation.

Blake smiled and stood. But before he left the room, he placed his lips to hers for a tender kiss.

Maybe everything would work out.

An hour later, they both sat on the chaise lounge chairs on the back veranda overlooking the ocean. Blake wore tan shorts and a simple cotton shirt that stretched over his taut chest. The marine layer was far off the coast, giving the sun the opportunity to shine and the temperature to reach the high seventies.

Admittedly, Blake's idea of breakfast worked wonders, except for the coffee, which Samantha switched to herbal tea and now sat sipping from a warm mug.

Since leaving their bedroom, neither had said one word about the baby. But now the silence stretched between them as vast as the ocean.

"So?" Samantha heard Blake say.

"So."

A nervous smile played on her lips. Her hands twisted in her lap. "I didn't mean for this to happen." It was the one thing she really needed to know Blake understood. The whole reason he'd gone to her to find him a temporary bride was to eliminate a woman wiggling into his life permanently. And here she'd gone and done exactly that. Even if they ended their marriage after a year, a child would be there forever.

Permanent.

"You've already said that."

"I need you to believe me."

"Look at me, Samantha."

She hesitated before bringing her eyes to his. There she found a soft gaze and an easy smile. The same one he'd worn when she'd exited the shower. "I never thought for a minute you'd planned, wanted, or expected to be carrying my child."

A deep-suffering sigh escaped her lips. She spread her fingers over her thighs and forced some of the tension away. "Good. That's good."

Glancing back at the ocean, Blake said, "Did you suspect you were pregnant for long?"

Samantha shook her head. "No. I had no idea." She told him about her doctor visit, about how she'd learned of the pregnancy.

"And the doctor said condoms failed two percent of the time?"

"Yeah. I assumed that statistic was for complacent teens, not intelligent adults."

They mused over that for a few minutes, this time the silence was a comfort and not a rock in the road.

When Samantha glanced back over at Blake, his face had twisted into a painful expression. "What are you thinking?"

He shook his head. "I'm trying to find a way to ask you something."

"Just ask."

"But what if you give me an answer I don't want to hear?"

Wow, his honesty humbled her. For a brief moment, Blake appeared to her a man vulnerable to hurt and pain just like anyone else. Instead of that thought making him a lesser person, it made him all the more loveable.

She swallowed with the thought of love swimming in her head. Where had that come from? Damn, this pregnancy thing was already seeping into her emotions and making her a little crazy.

"If you want an answer, you'll have to risk the question. One thing you can count on with me is honesty."

The grey of his eyes met hers. "Do you want to keep the baby?"

Her heart kicked in her chest. "Do you want me to give it up? An abortion?" Her insides started to coil on themselves but she couldn't read Blake's expression and didn't know what he was thinking? Was he just asking to find out where her mind was, or did he want to remove the pregnancy and go on as they were?

"I'll answer your questions after you answer mine."

That was fair. "I never considered anything other than having the baby."

Blake's shoulders slumped in. Was that relief, or resolve? "Blake?"

He smiled. "I'm happy to hear that."

"Are you?"

"I am. I know this is all happening fast. It isn't anything like either of us thought it would be, but…"

"But?"

Blake pushed himself off the chaise and started to pace. "This is the way I see it. We're not kids. Ten years ago my thoughts would have been different, yours too, I think." He waited for her nod to continue. "When two people, who are not kids, find themselves pregnant they go ahead and have the baby. The bonus here is that we're already married."

Oh my God. He's jumping really far ahead. "We didn't plan on staying married."

He stopped pacing and moved to sit on the edge of her chair. "I know. And maybe we won't. I think a baby changes things. No… I know a baby changes things. But until we both know exactly what we want I say we move forward slowly."

"How does that look?"

"I like where we're at, Samantha. I like coming home to you, having you here. Until one of us wants to change that, I say we just continue on like we've been doing." His gaze searched hers.

"And after the year is up? After the baby is born?"

"The year doesn't have to change."

She knew that, but hearing him say it aloud tossed cold water on her face.

"You didn't want to hear that," he said, seeing her reaction.

"No. It's what we agreed on."

His hand slid up her calf and rested on her knee. "Do you want more than a year?"

"Right now, I don't know what I want. I just found out I'm pregnant. I'm going to be a mother forever. That's the only solid thing I know is going to happen. Everything else is a big, fat question mark."

"Let me give you one more solid thing then." He patted her knee. "I'm going to be this child's father. I won't abandon you, or our baby. You have my word."

She knew that. Deadbeat duke daddy didn't sound like Blake.

"Can I ask you something?" She knew she was about to open him wide with her question, but she needed to know his thoughts.

"Of course."

"Do you want more than a year?"

He paused, took a breath. "I think we owe it to our child to give each other the option for more time."

"Stay married for the baby?" Didn't that sound like a bad soap opera?

He didn't answer, instead he asked. "Do you like it here with me?"

What a silly question. Of course she did. "It doesn't suck."

He laughed. "So we push aside deadlines and contracts unless it does suck."

"Can we do that?"

"Honey, we can do whatever the hell we want."

She laughed then. A real laugh that hadn't come since she'd learned of the pregnancy. "Until it sucks then. I think morning sickness sucks."

He laughed now, inching closer to her. "That doesn't count. I'm told delivery sucks too."

"Yeah, well… that won't count either. I'll get fat. That sucks."

Blake's hand inched up her thigh, past her hip, and lay on her now flat tummy. "I'll bet you'll be adorable with a baby bump."

"Ha, you say that now. You'll think it sucks later, I'm sure."

His warm hand slid around her waist and up her ribcage. When it reached the underside of her breast, her brushed a thumb over her clothed nipple. "These will swell, that won't suck," his voice grew husky.

Samantha caught her lip in her teeth. "I'm told they hurt and you won't be able to touch them. That will suck."

He leaned forward. The heat of his breath filtered over her lips. "I can handle all those sucky things if you can."

"Is that a challenge?"

His eyes sparkled with mischief. "Maybe."

"It sucks that you know how to push my buttons."

His lips lingered over hers, not touching, but so close. "I suck already?"

"I can handle it."

A brief brushing of his lips over hers wasn't enough. She leaned forward wanting more. But he pulled back a tiny bit. "I'm glad it's you having my baby," he confessed. "You're going to be a wonderful mother."

"You don't know that."

"Yes, I do." He kissed her, really kissed her to the point where stars sparkled in her head and she forgot she was outside where the world could watch.

In Blake's arms, as he nibbled and kissed his way around her lips, neck, and jaw, the world didn't suck.