Read Bound to You Online

Authors: Vanessa Holland

Tags: #Romance, #General, #Contemporary, #Fiction

Bound to You (8 page)

Dammit
!

He jumped out of his truck and barged into Jack’s house, not slowing until he’d thrown open the door to his brother’s room and flipped on the lights.

Jack sat up with a start, his eyes wide. He patted around the bed, probably looking for a weapon, before he recognized Sam standing there.


What?” he said, throwing the covers back. “Is the house on fire?”


Why won’t you marry her?” Sam asked. “What’s the reason?”

Jack gawked at him and fell back to his pillow. “Good god, get out of my room!” he yelled. “
Bastard
!”

But Sam couldn’t let it go. He had to know. “Something’s wrong with us. You and me. Not the others. Just you and me. No, I’m worse than you. A girl gets close to me and I run. At least you kept Angie around for a while. What the hell’s wrong with us?”


I don’t know,” Jack said, moaning. “Get out.”


Mom and Dad’s forty-fifth is coming up. They did it. Why can’t we?”

He’d told Jenna he would have taken her to Texas with him if she’d wanted to go, but he wasn’t sure that was the truth. He also wasn’t sure her dad had really convinced him of anything. He probably would have left her anyway. Her dad had only given him a good excuse. But now there was a child involved. He couldn’t keep messing things up.

Jack sat up, scowling. “If I marry Angie will you leave me the hell alone and let me sleep?”


No. I’m this close to getting in my truck and running for my life. Answer me.”

Jack stared at him for a long moment, blinking, still trying to wake up. “Listen to me, you little freak. Your problem is you’re a spoiled rotten little brat. If I knew what was wrong with me I’d fix it. Go talk to somebody who isn’t screwed up. Now get out!”

He fell back to the pillow and jerked the covers up over his head.

Sam did, and wandered downstairs to the living room. He took out his cell phone and almost called Jenna, thinking he might just tell her the truth and try to talk it out with her, but then realized it was the middle of the night. She was a mother and needed her sleep.

The mother of his child.

The mother of
his
child.

He couldn’t pretend it had never happened, but he could get in his truck and go home. He could go home and start sending her checks every month. He wanted to do that, more than anything. He also wanted to stay, and pursue Jenna, and see his new son again – more than anything.


Dammit,” he whispered to himself. “This isn’t good.”

He sat perfectly still, knowing if he moved an inch, he’d throw up.

***

Sunday morning Jenna dragged through her routine feeling dazed, dizzy, and a little nauseous. She’d barely slept at all and aside from fatigue, Ethan was rambunctious and demanding. Brianna was like a junior reporter, following Jenna wherever she went. ‘What was he like?’ ‘What’d he say?’ ‘Was he mad?’ ‘What’s gonna happen now?’

Finally, Jenna had to flee on a mission to get the mail she’d forgotten to pick up yesterday. Even that didn’t work. She hadn’t taken five steps from the porch when the front door opened and Ethan came running out to join her. Brianna stood there holding open the door and shrugged apologetically.


Mama! Mommy!” Ethan called as if she were leaving him forever.

Maybe she didn’t really want to be alone, she decided, smiling as she watched her son take the steps down and jog to catch up.

She held his hand and slowed to match his pace. It was a leisurely walk down the long driveway, made pleasant by the company. Often Ethan wanted to stop and look at something and she more or less followed him, enjoying the brief moments when he wanted to walk with her and hold her hand.


This is what we needed,” she told him in one of those moments, loving the way he turned his curious eyes up to her as she spoke. “A nice little walk in the fresh air.”

In fact, being out in the breeze helped clear her mind. She felt awake for the first time in a long while. “It’s a fine day.”


Fine day,” Ethan repeated, grinning up at her.


That’s right,” she told him with a smile. “Every day with you is a fine day.”

Uninterested, he broke away and ran screaming nonsensically down the paved drive. Woods lined the drive and he spotted a bird and stopped suddenly, moving again slowly to stalk the goldfinch perched on a fallen tree branch. Of course, he didn’t make it. The bright yellow bird was far too alert. Ethan turned around and trotted back with his head down.

She wondered what was going on in his mind. She couldn’t remember being his age. Probably just moment by moment wonder. A wonderful way to live. No expectations. Disappointments fleeting.

She hunched forward and tiptoed toward him, dropping her voice. “I’m gonna git ya,” she teased. Ethan squealed and ran, screaming louder as she moved closer on his heels. She scooped him up and blew raspberries on his belly while he kicked and laughed.

When he squirmed to be free, she set him on his feet, straightening his shirt as he pulled away. Her cell phone chimed and she pulled it out of her pocket. She had a text, from Brandon.
We’re on,
the text read.

She blew out a breath dreading the phone call she’d have to make. She decided to wait until she could decide exactly what to say.

Ethan ran back toward her, but a few steps away he collapsed forward, catching himself just before he hit the paved driveway. He rolled over and looked up at her, still kicking his legs, though his eyes were slightly clouded.


Are you okay?” she asked him.

“’
kay,” he replied.


Are you tired, sweetie? Think some lunch would help?”

He nodded and stopped kicking his legs.

The same heaviness had come over her. He needed to rest from laughing and running, she needed to rest from the sudden sense of dread. With a strain on her strength, she picked him up and hiked him on her hip to finish the walk. He was getting so big. He would be tall one day, just like her. Just like his father.

At the driveway entrance she sat Ethan down to pick and throw blades of grass while she went for the mail. There was a box on top of bills - another white box with a red ribbon. A rustling sound came from the woods to her left as she walked back. She stopped to listen but the sound didn’t continue. A rabbit or a squirrel, she decided. Even a bird could make a lot of noise in the woods.

She stopped to open the box. Inside she found an old blue rattle made of plastic, and a plain white card that read, ‘For Ethan. SS’

After the wonderful owl clock, she was surprised by Sam’s gift, and a little disappointed. It looked like he’d bought the toy at a garage sale - it even had teeth marks on it. And it wasn’t the most appropriate gift for a child of two - he was well beyond rattles. She decided to hide it before Ethan saw it. She didn’t want him to put the filthy thing in his mouth.

Still, the thought that Sam had been there, thinking of her, and Ethan, gave her a sudden thrill.


He seems to be trying, at least,” she told Ethan.

But her son wasn’t sitting where she’d left him inside the entrance. Her eyes quickly darted looking for that bright patch of gold. She rushed to the street and anxiously looked around for his running figure. He wasn’t there.

Fear gripped her and she couldn’t decide which direction to search first. Had the rustling sounds she’d heard been Ethan? No, she’d seen him after that. Or had she? Every nightmare she’d ever had of losing him came crashing down on her all at once.


Ethan
!” she screamed. “
Come back here right now
!”

The undergrowth parted and Sam emerged, holding Ethan in one arm like a football.

Several seconds passed before she could comprehend what she was seeing. Then she ran and pulled her son from his arm.

 

 

CHAPTER SIX

 


What are you doing?” Jenna yelled at Sam. She held Ethan close in her arms.

Sam smiled, seeming oblivious to her anxiety. “Thought you had me there for a minute. I just barely got the box in when you showed up. Think he’ll like it?”

She was still holding the rattle, though the box and the rest of the mail lay scattered on the drive. “Don’t scare me like that. I thought I’d lost him.”

Sam frowned sharply but the humor stayed in his gaze. “Hey, I saved him from a cedar fly and an evil twig.” He walked past her, chuckling as usual, and picked up the mail and box.

She watched him, stepping to the side when he moved up beside her. How could he manage to look so handsome and happy when she felt as if she’d spent the night in a paint shaker?

When he turned and met her gaze, she busied herself checking Ethan for any scratches or bugs. “What are you doing skulking around?” She looked back toward the street. “Where’s your truck?” She’d only been looking for Ethan but felt she would have noticed his big green truck parked on the street.


I wasn’t skulking,” he said, giving her a defensive frown. “After I left the box I went on down the road and turned around and that was when I saw him running right at me in the middle of the street. He took off into the woods when I went to catch him.” He thumbed back over his shoulder. “I left my truck down there. Where I got out. This kid has some legs on him.”

Jenna couldn’t stop shaking despite the heat of the day. She’d been so focused on the present from Sam she hadn’t even noticed Ethan running past her – right out into the street. That was twice Sam had come to Ethan’s rescue. First, when he’d fallen on the steps, and now this. When he could have been run over by a car.


Thank you, for catching him.”


I wasn’t planning on bothering you today,” he said. “I mean, I was gonna call later. I have to fly back to Texas tomorrow morning. But now that I’m here….”


You’re going back home?” she asked, suddenly worried this would be the last time she’d see him. The last time Ethan would see ever him.


Just for a few days,” he said. “I’ll be back in a week or so.” His words were spoken to her but his eyes focused on Ethan, narrowing to a squint as he leaned in to look the baby over carefully. “Damn, Jenna, he’s the best-looking kid I’ve ever seen. And I’m not just saying that. This is really one good-looking kid.”


Thank you.” He was a beautiful baby. Everyone said so.

Sam looked deep into Ethan’s eyes until Ethan gasped and buried his head against his mother’s neck.


You’re embarrassing him,” she told Sam, flicking perspiration from her forehead, bouncing Ethan for some air between them. He was like a little heating pad, leaving her soaking wet if she held him very long. The temperature was already in the mid-nineties and promised a steamy afternoon.

She began the walk back to the house. Sam tousled Ethan’s hair and chuckled, falling in beside her. Then to her surprise, he gripped her around the shoulders and gave her a kiss on the temple. His hand fell, trailing down her back before moving away.

She glanced at him, shivering from her scalp to her toes, wondering what the kiss had meant, but he was looking around at the scenery. “Nice private place you have here,” he said. “You could use some fencing, though. How much land?”


About five acres.”


No kidding, that’s all?”


That’s all? We barely had a yard when we lived on the other side of town.”


No, it just seems bigger.” He slapped one of the lampposts that lined the edge of the drive. “The house, it’s not very old is it?”

She looked at the ‘manor’ her father had built. Not that it was anywhere close to the size of an actual mansion. But it had the appearance of an old Southern mansion, with the wide front porch and four stately columns.


My father built it about ten years ago. It was his dream house.”


No kidding,” he said, as if not really listening. He nodded to the rattle she was trying to keep out of Ethan’s sight. “You weren’t supposed to find that till tomorrow.”


I forgot to get the mail yesterday.”

He held up the handful of envelopes in his hand, probably all bills. “I saw. Think he’ll like it?”

She glanced at the cheap toy in her hand and tried to think of a diplomatic answer. “He loves all his toys at first. I wanted to thank you for the clock you gave him. It was really a very special gift. He’ll appreciate it when he’s older.”


Oh, that,” he said as if he’d forgotten. “I made that for my little nephew’s birthday, but I can get him something else. I wanted to give Ethan something and that was all I had on hand last night.”

Well, now she felt bad. “If it’s for your nephew, you should give it to him. Ethan’s too young to appreciate it right now.”

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