Two Months Later
“THIS IS STUPID,” I SAID, hands in my pockets, still leaning against the wall outside the birthing room. I hated Chicago. I also hated New York. Come to think of it, I pretty much hated everywhere that wasn’t Los Angeles or my fiancée’s pussy. Lucky for me, I lived in both places.
“It can take up to two days.” Jaime blew out a breath and rubbed his eyes, pacing back and forth. “Melody was in labor for eighteen hours before she had Daria.”
“Dang.” Emilia snapped her head from the sketchpad on her knees and swiped her eyes along Melody’s tiny body.
My former Lit teacher, turned my best friend’s wife, was sitting next to us, reading on her Kindle. Her eyes shot up from the screen. A smirk formed on her lips. “Oh, yeah. And I was induced. Fun times.”
“I’m never having kids.” Emilia shook her head, her mouth falling open in shock. She wore baby-blue jeans, a green tank top, and her pink hair had flowers in it.
I lifted an eyebrow and jutted out my lower lip. “Thanks for the news. Next time, break it on national television.”
I didn’t care, though. The last thing I wanted was to share my soon-to-be wife with someone else. And kids could be demanding. We had ten years of acting like two idiots to catch up on. Maybe in three, four, six years. In the immediate future, though? No fucking chance.
She sent me a sly smile. “We’ve discussed it. You hate kids.”
“Hate is a strong word. I don’t care for them.” I shrugged. “And fuck, I can’t believe Trent is going to be a dad.”
Just as I said it, a doctor in green scrubs—or were they blue?—passed us by in the hallway and shot me a dirty look. Guess I should be more careful about dropping the f-bomb every two seconds in this place.
“It’s ridiculous,” Jaime agreed.
We heard footfalls, and Dean appeared down the hallway, running in our direction, clutching the hand of a young woman I didn’t know. I couldn’t decide who was a bigger manwhore, him or Trent. Although, now that Trent was going to be a dad, I guessed a lot of things were going to change for him.
“What did I miss?” Dean breathed out.
“Nothing, other than basic social skills.” Jaime shot him a dirty look, then glared hard at the chick he’d brought along with him. “No offense to the lady, but is this really an appropriate place to bring your date?”
“Cut him some slack.” Emilia yawned from her chair against the wall, continuing to doodle. Cherry blossoms. Her favorite. Mine too. “Nobody cares other than you.”
My phone rang in my hand, and I groaned. “I have to take this.”
Emilia smiled warmly and introduced herself to the girl Dean had brought along. She was always nice to the chicks Dean and Trent dragged to whatever social events we all attended, even though she knew she’d never have to see them again. That was Emilia. The sweetest. The nicest. And…mine.
I stuck one finger in my ear to block the noise from the commotion in the hallway and leaned against a wall. “Hello?”
“Yeah,” I heard Mr. Viteri say—he still wasn’t a man of many words. “I spoke to your financial adviser. So you’re putting aside six million dollars for that gallery on Venice Beach?”
“I want to make the offer tonight,” I confirmed. “Buying the whole complex.”
“Under your name?” Viteri’s tone was cautious, borderline helpful.
I shook my head, even though he couldn’t see it. “Emilia LeBlanc. My fiancée.”
“I remember,” Viteri gritted out, annoyed. “The same fiancée you’d like to marry without a prenup. Do I need to voice my opinion about this matter again, Mr. Spencer?”
I loved her. I loved her so fucking much there was only going to be one way out of this marriage other than death, and that was if Emilia woke up one day and decided to fuck every single guy on my phone’s contact list. Even then, I might forgive her.
I used to think people who didn’t sign prenups—rich people who didn’t plan ahead—were too stupid to have so much money in the first place. The natural selection of the upper classes. That’s what I’d called it. But now I understood. I understood why they did it.
They didn’t want to think about the what-if.
They didn’t want to consider failure.
Because to them, it simply wasn’t an option.
All I knew when I got down on one knee under a cherry blossom tree on our trip to Japan was that this time, Emilia wasn’t going anywhere. Ever. Unless it was with me.
Accepting the fact that you loved someone was much harder than falling for that person. It took time. And courage. But when I finally took that time, found that courage, when I finally let my guard down, I’d discovered something spectacular.
I wanted to create a world and fill it with her throaty voice and her smiles. With her laughter and peacock eyes and crazy wardrobe. She was a happiness capsule I took every day to ensure I was able to sleep, eat, and live well.
And I did all those things. Thanks to her.
I got off the phone and strode back to where all my friends were gathered. Dean’s date sat next to Emilia and gushed about her drawing. I puffed my chest out in pride.
Dean elbowed me and tilted his chin to Emilia. “You guys next? Kids?”
“Fuck you,” I said, like he’d suggested death and not the creation of new life.
“By the way, I thought about it and I’m willing to sell you your shares back. Figured you did enough groveling to everyone you owed an apology to.”
“How much?” I asked, turning to the wall, shielding my hands as I rolled myself a blunt. This whole thing was too much. Trent becoming a father was too fucking much. I made a mental note to make sure child services was going to visit that baby on a monthly basis with these two as her parents. I placed the tobacco and weed inside the rolling paper, spreading it evenly with the pads of my fingers.
“Seven point five million, plus an apology,” Dean hitched one shoulder.
“Eight without an apology,” I said.
“Eight with an apology, just because you’re an asshole who can’t be bothered to do the right thing.”
I laughed. “Seven point five with an apology,” I repeated. “Do you want me on my knees?”
“Only if you suck a dick as good as your girlfriend,” he waggled his brows, and I punched him in the arm. Hard.
“The fuck!” he winced.
“I heard that,” Emilia said from the chairs beside us, reassuring me in her sweet voice. “He’s lying. And FYI, fiancée now.” She wiggled her engagement finger.
Huge, fucking huge diamond. Pink for my Pink, of course.
“I know he’s lying, baby. Come with me to the roof?” I asked.
She nodded and got up, leaving her sketchpad behind. When the doors to the elevator closed behind us, I placed the joint in my pocket and slammed her against one of the walls, kissing her hard. She moaned into my mouth and soon, her hands were in my hair, my hands were on her waist, and we were two bodies becoming one, despite our clothes.
“What do you want?” she asked me.
I needed to think of something fast. Over the last couple of months, we’d turned the question into our little joke. Ask me…what do I want?
I thought about it quickly before saying, “I want it to be black.”
“You want what to be black?” She was panting.
I shoved my hand into her jeans and rubbed her clit through her panties. We were so fucked if the elevator had cameras.
“Your gallery on Venice Beach,” I said.
She stopped kissing me. Stopped clawing at my hair. She jerked her eyes up and inspected me, suspicious. “No,” she said.
“Yup,” I responded. “I never understood why galleries are always so fucking white, you know?”
“Vic.” Her lips trembled, and her eyes glistened with tears. Happy tears. Because now I made her happy. All the fucking time.
“I love you so much, sometimes I feel like it’s not even real anymore,” she admitted.
I knew exactly how she felt. “It’s real, and it’s ours.”
I smoked weed while she danced on the roof and threw me smiles every now and again. I watched her with a smirk. Life was good. It was about to get even better soon, when this woman became completely mine.
And it was right, because Dad was dead, Daryl was dead, and Jo was living in a studio apartment on the outskirts of San Diego, working as a waitress, doing double shifts. She never made it back to Hawaii. Sometimes she tried to message me, begging for a loan. I never answered.
We spent no more than ten minutes up on the roof before going back down to the maternity floor where we were all waiting for Trent’s stripper to give birth, but no one was in the hallway. No one.
“You sure we got the right floor?” Emilia looked around us, confused. It looked like the right place. Then again, the problem with hospitals was that everything looked fucking identical.
We spotted her sketchpad on the chair down the hall just as a plump nurse breezed out of a room, squinting at the clipboard in her hand. “Friends of Vasquez and Rexroth?”
We both nodded.
“Congratulation, a healthy baby girl. Let me show you to the room.”
We practically jogged after her. The nurse knocked on a door, waited, and then Trent said, “Yeah?” and she let us inside.
Emilia went in first, but I held her hand, right behind her. Trent looked good. Happy. Fucking glowing, even. He held a tiny little thing in his hands, wrapped in a white blanket, with a light pink and baby-blue wool hat on her head. She looked so peaceful and sweet. Valenciana was lying in her bed, speaking in Portuguese with her mother who sat beside her.
“Brazilian, African American, and German,” Trent said, introducing his baby to us, and Emilia squeezed my hand.
“That’s a pretty long name. How about we use the initials and call her “Bag” for short?” I quirked a brow, and Trent laughed.
It was hard to tell, but I thought his daughter might be as good-looking as both of her parents, which was terrible news for the rest of the male population. Her skin tone was a light brown, and her eyes were grayish. Like Trent’s.
“That’s her heritage, dickbag.”
“Trent!” everybody in the room shouted in unison, and I grinned like the asshole that I was.
“Tsk-tsk,” I said, shaking my head. “So what are you going to call her?”
He handed Emilia the baby without asking her if she wanted to hold her, but by the smile that almost split her face in two, I knew she was game. She clutched the baby tight to her chest and cooed.
Then Trent looked at Valenciana, and she looked at him. Something passed between them. I knew they weren’t together. Even more than that, I knew this baby probably wasn’t an accident. Trent was one of the richest people in his Chicago zipcode, hot as fuck, and was bound to become even richer as we expanded. But none of it mattered right now, because it was clear that despite everything, they were both committed to this baby and loved her a whole fucking lot more than some married parents loved their kids.
“Luna,” they both said.
Emilia was close to fainting from happiness. She smiled and cooed some more and held Luna closer, mumbling about how it was a perfect name for a perfect girl.
Finally, it was Melody’s turn to hold the baby, and she took her from my fiancée before the latter managed to run away with her. The room was buzzing with excitement and laughter, and I kicked back, sat next to Emilia and smiled.
This was my family.
And even the nameless chicks they brought with them.
“I changed my mind about babies,” Emilia said through the chatter, leaning into me. “Maybe not right now or in a few years, but down the road, I want it. I think I really want it. What do you say?”
I smirked. Emilia LeBlanc of Richmond, Virginia was asking me to put a baby in her.
Then I shrugged and leaned back into her. “Don’t worry. I won’t stop trying to impregnate you, even after you get pregnant.”
“Deal?” I asked.