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Seven months later…

We sit around the conference table in Miles’s office and listen to Liam explain the growth of the company since we took over.

It’s pretty fucking epic listening, if I’m being honest, but sadly that doesn’t mean I’m fully focused.

I should be; I fucking love this shit.

But there is something else in this room I love more than knowing I’ve succeeded.

Tatum Callahan.

My beautiful wife and soon-to-be mother of our baby.

My eyes stray from Liam as they already have done a million times since she entered and sat down.

Honestly, us making her Warner Group’s Chief Marketing Officer when Charles announced his early retirement was the best thing that could have happened to this company.

Sure, Charles was great. He and his marketing department had run some unbelievably successful campaigns over the years. But times were changing, and faster than he could keep up with.

Tatum, however…she’s had her finger on the pulse of what people want and need from Warner Group, and it fucking shows on the graph I should be looking at.

Sure, Miles and I have had a lot to do with the success, Liam too. But Tatum and her department…fuck, they have smashed it out of the goddamn park. And we’re yet to hit the most successful time in the financial year.

Liam continues, and noticing my wavering attention, Miles kicks me under the desk. But it doesn’t achieve anything other than giving me a bruise. My eyes are locked on my wife.

She’s been struggling the last few weeks. I might keep trying to tell her that she’s beautiful and glowing in a way I’ve never seen her before, but she’s exhausted, her back and hips are aching and keeping her awake at night, and she’s doing her best not to eat every piece of food that passes under her nose. I have no doubt that it’s going to be a boy despite us not finding out at the scans. Callahan men breed men—it’s just how it’s always been. I don’t feel like breaking tradition with that yet, no matter how much she tries to convince me that her gut is telling her that we should be buying everything pink.

She’s aware of my attention, she always is, but that doesn’t mean she looks back at me.

My little brat.

She knows I want her eyes on me, but she won’t give them to me.

“Will you stop trying to eye-fuck Tate over the table?” Miles whisper-hisses, clearly not paying Liam any attention either.

“I’m allowed, she’s mine.”

“Don’t I fucking know it,” he scoffs, probably remembering the time he walked in on us going at it over Tatum’s desk.

We were celebrating her promotion.

It’s not our fault that Miles didn’t knock. The windows were darkened for a reason.

“Jealous, bro?” I tease.

“Of you fucking my sister? Absolutely not.”

“Not what I meant and you know it.”

“Not the life for me,” he mutters, earning himself a scowl from Liam.

I’m about to force myself back into this meeting when Tatum winces, her hand shooting to her belly.

My heart jumps into my throat, just like it does every time she makes a noise or does something that might signify that something is wrong.

I don’t say anything. I’ve learned my lesson over the past few months.

Our boy is probably just doing football practice on her ribs. We were told at our last midwife appointment that our little fella is in position and ready—not that we needed telling. Tatum could tell from those little feet and the pressure of his head on her bladder.

She relaxes for a minute or two, but then winces again.

“Tatum?” I whisper, unable to keep my concern to myself. There is something in her expression, something that fucking terrifies me.

I know we’re leading to a life-changing moment, and I’m so excited to meet our little guy, but also…knowing what Tatum is going to have to go through…fuck…I hate it.

I can’t stand it when she has a headache or her back is aching with her pregnancy. Her giving birth is going to kill me.

‘I’m okay,’ she mouths.

She’s also lying. I can see it in her eyes.

She blows out a slow breath, attempting to relax, but it doesn’t work, and the next time her face twists with discomfort, she lets out a little whimper.

“Tatum?” I ask, interrupting Liam and turning all eyes on her.

“I-I’m sorry. E-excuse me.”

She pushes her chair back and gets to her feet with the help of the table before shuffling toward the door, only she pauses before she gets there and grips her belly.

“Tatum,” I call, jumping to my feet and rushing to her. “Baby, what’s wrong?” I ask, covering her hand with mine, aware that every set of eyes in the room is focused on us.

She thinks for a moment, her lips rolling between her teeth. “I think…I think the baby is coming.”

“Oh shit. How do you know?” I ask in a panic.

“Well…it’s either that or I just pissed myself.”

“Oh, Jesus. Fuck. Meeting canceled,” I call before ushering Tatum out of the room.

“What do I do? What do you need?”

“Dry pants?” she deadpans.

“Umm…I don’t⁠—”

“What’s happening?” Miles asks in a rush, spilling out of his office with wide eyes.

“I’m having a baby, Miles,” Tatum says calmly.

“Shit.”

“Yeah, shit.”

“Okay, while you two stand there freaking out, I’m going to the bathroom to clean up.”

“We need to be going to the hospital,” I say in a rush, my voice a tone I’m not sure I’ve ever heard before.

“And we will, but not while I’ve got liquid running down my legs, and when my contractions are—” Her face twists in pain and her hands go to her stomach again. “Fuck, that really fucking hurts,” she cries.

“Okay, we’re going to the hospital right fucking now.”

Wrapping my arm around her waist, I try to guide her toward the elevators.

“No, I need the bathroom,” she demands, standing firm. “Miles, there is a packed bag in my office cupboard. Can you please get it and bring it to⁠—”

“Got it,” Miles says before darting off, following orders without question.

“Bathroom, Kingston. I promise I’m not going to deliver her on the toilet. There is time.”

“Him,” I correct as I spin us around and head toward the ladies’ bathroom.

She goes straight into a cubicle and strips the bottom half of her clothes off before sitting on the toilet. The whole time, I stand there completely useless and totally clueless about how to help her.

“Oh fuck,” she cries when another contraction hits.

“Fuck, baby. I hate this. I wish I could take the pain away.”

“This is only the beginning, King. You’re gonna need to man up. You⁠—”

“I got it,” Miles shouts, sounding a little too proud of himself for finding a bag before he rushes to my side. “Oh shit,” he gasps when he finds his sister half-naked on the toilet.

“Miles, don’t be a pussy,” she snaps. “King, there are pants, panties and most importantly, sanitary towels in that bag. Find them all for me. Then we can—motherfucker,” she barks.

“On it,” I say, finally feeling useful.

I find the packet of sanitary towels first and thrust them at Miles so I can keep searching for what she needs.

“I am not qualified for this,” Miles mutters, and when I glance up, I find him staring at the packet like it’s about to bite him.

“For fuck’s sake, Miles. It’s no wonder you can’t keep a woman for more than a night. Open the fucking packet and pass me one,” Tatum demands. “I feel sorry for your future—fuck. FUCK,” she bellows. “Will you two hurry up?”

“What? Why?”

“Are you timing them?”

“No. Are you?”

“Oh yeah, I’m sitting here focusing on a fucking stopwatch. They’re getting closer. Fast.”

“Okay, okay.” I find what she needs and pass them over.

Miles turns his back, giving her some privacy as she redresses.

“Call the hospital, let them know we’re on our way, and then start fucking timing. They’re going to want to know.”

“Yes. Yes.”

“Oh Christ,” he mutters, pulling his cell out and finding the right app while I dial the number for the maternity ward I’ve got saved in my contacts.

In less than five minutes, we’ve discovered that Tatum’s contractions are now less than two minutes apart. We’ve got her dressed and we’re heading for the elevator.

“Oh my goodness, is everything okay?” Judith asks as we approach, turning everyone’s eyes out here our way.

“Baby’s coming,” Tatum says simply.

“Oh my gosh.” She hops to her feet. “What do you need? I’ve done this three times; I’m practically an expert.”

Tatum cries out again as another contraction hits.

“Where were you ten minutes ago while I was battling with these two clueless morons?” she asks.

“Hey,” Miles complains. “We’re doing our best. This is out of our wheelhouse right now.”

“Dude, you looked offended by a fucking sanitary towel,” I point out as Judith presses the button for the lift.

“Yeah, well. I don’t have a use for them in my life.”

Judith laughs. She’s more than aware of Miles’s shenanigans. She’s had to send desperate girls away more than once over the years.

“Well, maybe you should open yourself up to learning a little about them. Might help you understand women a little better.”

“I understand them just fine,” he scoffs, not happy with her advice.

Thankfully, the doors open and we move inside.

“Tatum, would you like me to⁠—”

“Motherfucker, I hate you, Kingston Callahan,” Tatum cries, I swear crushing every single bone in my hand in the process.

‘No, no, we’ve got this,” I say. “Right, baby?”

“Easy for you to say. You’re not about to shit out a bowling ball.”

“Okay, now I know that isn’t anatomically correct,” Miles points out proudly.

“Shut the fuck up, Miles,” Tatum barks.

“Good luck,” Judith calls. “Send us pictures,” we hear before the doors close, and we begin to descend through the building.

“Is Lewis ready?” Tatum asks.

“Yes,” I agree.

“And the hospital bag is⁠—”

“In the trunk like it has been for weeks now. We’ve got this, baby.”

“Go—FUCK.”

“They’re getting closer,” Miles points out.

“You fucking think?” Tatum hisses as we hit the ground floor.

He fumes behind us, not liking being chastised by his little sister. I get it. But honestly, he needs to learn when to shut up.

“Lewis, have you ever delivered a baby?” Tatum asks the second we have her inside. Lewis wasn’t waiting by the door; instead, he’s already behind the wheel with the engine running ready to go.

Even in the rearview mirror, I see him pale at the question.

“Um…no, Ms. Tate. I haven’t. Could today be the day I do?”

“If you don’t put your foot on the gas, it may just be.”

“You really think he’s coming that fast?” I ask, horrified.

“I do.”

The second Miles closes the door, Lewis does exactly as she suggests and floors it.

By the time we pull up outside the hospital, Tatum’s contractions are scarily close.

What happened to all the stuff I read about a woman’s first baby usually taking a while? Trust Tatum to be the exception to that rule.

Thankfully, a midwife is waiting for us with a wheelchair. The second we open the car door, she takes over making all the demands, leaving Tatum to focus on her breathing and not giving birth in the parking lot.

We race through the hospital and into the maternity ward.

“I need to push,” Tatum cries through her wails of pain.

“Okay, sweetie. We’re almost there. You see that door at the end of this hallway? That’s your room. That’s where your baby is going to be born.”

“Hurry, please,” Tatum whimpers.

“Dad, you need to come with us,” the nurse demands as we approach the door.

“Here, take the bag,” Miles says, thrusting it at me. “I’ll be right out here.”

I glance back at him before following Tatum into the room.

He’s pale and looks as terrified as I feel.

“You’ve got this, man. Look after my sister and nephew, yeah?”

“Always, bro. Fucking always.”

Rushing into the room, the door falls closed behind me and I swear someone hits fast forward on my life.

I help the midwife get Tatum onto the bed before she quickly examines her and tells us what Tatum already did.

The baby is coming right fucking now.

It all happens so fast; I almost don’t have time to panic.

Almost.

Tatum grips my hand in a tight hold, crushing as hard as she can, I can only assume so I can feel just a hint of the pain she is in right now. The other holds the gas and air mouthpiece to her mouth, and she sucks on it like she’ll die without it.

“I can’t do this,” she cries after the strongest contraction she’s had so far rolls through her.

“You can, Tate. You’re doing so well,” the midwife praises.

“I need painkillers. Give me everything,” Tatum cries.novelbin

“I can’t. It’s too late.”

“Oh fuck,” she screams, her entire body locking up and her face turning beet red, and she pushes.

“You’re doing so good, baby. He’s going to be here soon.”

“ARGH,” she screams again before falling limp. But her relief is short-lived because another contraction hits her almost immediately.

“Push as hard as you can. The head is right there.”

The midwife looks between Tatum’s spread legs, and I find myself doing the same.

“Oh my god,” I whisper when I find that she’s right. “He’s got loads of hair,” I tell Tatum.

“I don’t care, just get him out of me.”

I smirk. It’s the first time she’s said he.

“Next contraction and you’ll deliver the head,” the midwife says. I haven’t even registered her name. It’s all too much of a blur.

“Okay, okay. It’s—ARGH,” Tatum screams, her grip getting even tighter, which I didn’t think was possible.

“That’s it. That’s it,” the midwife encourages before Tatum falls back with an exhausted cry.

“One more contraction and you’ll have your baby.”

I look down again and instantly feel a little lightheaded when I literally see a head poking out of my wife.

Oh god. This is really happening.

Someone is going to hand us a helpless child as if we’re qualified to keep it alive.

Wrapping my free hand around the bar of the bed, I try to keep it together.

Tatum needs me not to lose my shit right now.

“It’s coming,” she cries before she gives it one final push.

“That’s it,” the midwife says as Tatum crashes back, exhausted, her eyes falling closed.

But the second a small cry fills the room, she’s fully alert again as if she hasn’t just been through all of that.

There is so much emotion in her eyes, so much love for our new little person, I fall for her all over again.

“Congratulations, you have a beautiful baby boy,” the midwife says before placing him on Tatum’s chest.

“Oh my god,” she sobs, tears immediately falling as she stares down at him.

Moving closer, I rest my hand over hers on his chest.

“He’s perfect, baby. You’re perfect.”

“I love him so much,” she hiccups.

“Me too, Tate. Me too. Both of you are my everything,” I say before leaning over her and pressing a kiss on her brow.

Long before Tatum is ready to lose him, the midwife lifts him from her chest, and another appears as if from out of nowhere so they can weigh him and check Tatum over.

After a couple of stitches, they cover her in the dressing gown from her hospital bag and return our boy—now wrapped in a soft yellow blanket—onto her chest. He’s been weighed and checked over, but despite deciding to come out a little early, he’s in perfect health and ready to take on the world.

“Ready to have a go at feeding him?” the midwife asks.

Tatum nods eagerly, although her eyes never leave our boy.

The midwife talks her through how to do it, and like any good Callahan man, he picks it up super fast.

“I’ll leave you three alone for a little bit. Call if you need anything,” the midwife says before slipping from the room.

“Well,” I say, “that was⁠—”

“Unexpected,” Tate finishes for me. “Do you think Liam is still talking about that graph?”

I can’t help but bark out laughing.

“Who cares? The most important thing right now is that I was right,” I preen. “And you know what that means?”

Tatum groans.

“I get to choose our little man’s name.”

We agreed early on that if we had a girl, Tatum would name her, and if I was right and we had a boy then I would. I’ve been teasing her with terrible name suggestions ever since.

But the truth is, I’ve known from the very beginning what I wanted to call our son. I just have to hope she agrees.

Taking in a deep breath, I prepare to tell her.

I could have before now, but I didn’t want her to veto it before she’d met him and understood why it was the right one.

“Okay, well…welcome to the world, Princeton Warner Callahan.”

Tatum sobs before dropping her lips to the top of his head.

“You like it?” I ask nervously.

“I love it. It’s perfect. I love you, King.”

“I love you too, baby. And you, little man. You’ve no idea what’s in store for you.”

Lorelei

Tatum and Kingston’s wedding night

“You look lonely.” The deep, familiar voice rumbles through me as his shadow swallows me whole.

Sucking in a deep, hopefully calming breath through my nose, I close my eyes and pray for strength.

I love my best friend dearly. She has been hands down the best person who has ever entered my life. But the world she inhabits, the people she is connected with… yeah… not exactly my type.

I come from nothing, and despite working my ass off to try and better my life, I already know that I’ll leave this Earth with exactly the same as I entered with. Unlike those currently surrounding me.

Watching Tatum get married was… a headfuck.

She looked beautiful—beyond beautiful. She was a vision wrapped up in the most incredible dress. She was so perfect that no one else in the room would believe that she was suffering from the effects of our drinking session last night.

She wanted to be good, but I’m pretty sure she was lying to herself from the second she thought about those intentions, let alone said them out loud.

She was marrying her brother’s best friend. A jerk she’s spent her entire life hating. A man her father handed her over to in his will. And if she wants to secure her inheritance, then she has to see it through for a year.

Crazy? Yeah, totally fucking crazy.

But also…

Some might say it’s romantic in a way—secretly, I might just be one of them.

They’ve been enemies their whole lives, both doing anything they can to rile the other up. Now they’ve been brought together in a way they never expected, and well… who knows what the future will hold?

The sparks are already flying—and not just the angry ones.

They’re hot together. Anyone with eyes can see that.

Disappointment niggles inside me, but I don’t have time to focus on the fact I’m here as Tatum’s only bridesmaid, alone.

Instead, I straighten my spine and attempt to prepare myself for turning toward Kingston’s best man, his younger brother Kian.

“Not lonely, just… taking a moment,” I say coolly.

Refusing to look at him, I track the closest barman’s movements in the hope he can feel my burning stare and supply me with something that will help me get through the next few minutes.

But it never happens—he’s too busy with a group of pretentious older men who are drinking top-shelf whiskey as if it’s water.

The overt show of wealth makes my skin crawl.

“Well, you look too good to be having a moment alone. Care if I join you?”

But it’s too late, he’s already sitting on the stool beside me as if there isn’t a chance in the world of me saying no.

I guess that’s the kind of ego you grow when ninety-nine percent of the female population wants to screw your brains out.

Well, Kian Callahan, welcome to the one percent who would rather scratch their eyes out with a corkscrew than worship at your stupidly expensive shoes.

Schooling my features, I finally spin on my stool to face him.

“Seems like a pointless question, don’t you think?” I ask, dropping my eyes down to where he’s sitting.

If I didn’t know that his navy suit had been tailored to fit him to perfection, then it wouldn’t be hard to figure it out. The way he wears it… well, it’s probably the only positive thing I can come up with about him if I’m being honest.

That and just how fucking good-looking he is. 𝑛𝑣𝘭.

I bite down on the inside of my cheek.

It’s not fair. In fact, it’s really fucking unfair that, not only was he born into one of the wealthiest families in the country, enabling him to walk straight into a high-profile, very well-paying, and powerful job, but he was also gifted with model-like looks.

How are the rest of us mere mortals meant to compete with the likes of him?

A rush of copper fills my mouth as bitterness floods my veins.

“I’m amazed I’m the first,” he says smoothly before looking in the direction of the barman and immediately getting his attention. Of course.

It physically pains me not to roll my eyes.

“Macallan, please,” Kian orders. “And another—” He glances over at me for confirmation of what I’m drinking.

I refuse to comply or allow him to buy me a drink. Buy—what a joke. Of course this wedding includes an open bar. Other than watching my best friend say her vows, it’s the best part of the whole day. Hopefully, if I drink enough, I’ll be able to ignore the stench of pretense that permeates the room.

You could leave, a little voice says.

Tate has gone. Kingston literally dragged her away to celebrate their nuptials alone.

Lucky her…

“I’m fine, thank you.”

Kian’s eyes narrow in irritation before his hand darts out, stealing my glass from the bar before me.

“What are you⁠—”

“Pornstar martini,” he says to the barman after sniffing my glass. My chin drops. “She’ll take another.”

“H-how did you…” I stutter like a fool once the barman has retreated.

He smirks, making perfectly symmetrical dimples pop in his cheeks before he winks cockily.

Jesus.

“I’m not just a pretty face, Lorelei,” he rasps, his smirk growing.

His voice flows through me, and damn him if my thighs don’t involuntarily clench.

It’s a natural reaction to a virile man, I try telling myself. It has to be that, because there is no way on Earth I’m in any way attracted to this arrogant jerk.

“Debatable,” I mutter under my breath as I turn my attention back to the bottles lining the bar. They’re almost as pretty, and they certainly contain less bullshit.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that,” he says, shifting his stool close so that the heat of his arm warms mine.

“Yes, you did,” I say confidently. “Was there something you wanted other than to interrupt my peace, Kian?”

I don’t look over to see his reaction. I don’t need to. The reflection of the gold trim that covers the bar does the job perfectly well.

His nostrils flare and he sucks in a sharp breath as his lips part in surprise.

I mentally give myself a high five. I’m not sure it’s often anyone gets the upper hand when it comes to any of the Callahan brothers.

“I don’t feel like we got off on the right foot,” he says, attempting to turn this back around again.

“Is that right?”

We’ve actually met a few times over the years thanks to our mutual friends, but I don’t know him. I’ve never cared to.

He exudes more than enough of everything I hate to put me off for a lifetime.

I guess it should be expected that he’s forgotten we’re already acquainted. He was with some fake blonde bimbo the first time we met, and he was as big an asshole that night as he has been every other time I’ve met him.

“I was merely pointing out that it’s tradition that the best man and bridesmaid hook up at a wedding if they’re single.”

“Then I guess it’s a good job that I’m not single, isn’t it?” I retort as our drinks are placed before us and my feet hit the floor.

“If that’s true, then he isn’t worthy of you.”

Walk away.

Just walk away.

“And why is that?” I ask, unable to follow my own advice.

Spinning on the balls of my feet, I find myself at eye level with him. Many would cower the second his eyes locked on theirs. But while I may not be as powerful or important as him or anyone else in this room, I refuse to bow down to them.

Money doesn’t make you more important. Your job title doesn’t make you more or less worthy of anyone’s time or attention.

The only thing that matters is the kind of person you are. And the one staring back at me with a mixture of mirth and expectation lighting up his green eyes is a selfish jerk who only cares about his reputation.

“Because a beautiful woman like you should never be attending an event like this alone if you’re not single.”

I raise a brow but keep my expression neutral.

“It’s a huge risk when instead of missing him,” he explains before throwing his whiskey back and pushing to his feet, moving closer. He towers over me even in my heels, forcing me to raise my chin to keep eye contact. “You could be spending your time getting to know me better.”

His alcohol-laced breath rushes over me and his eyes bounce between mine as if I’m meant to be… what? Impressed at that pathetic attempt to pick me up?

“Fortunately for him, it’s a risk he doesn’t need to worry about. Goodnight, Kian. Good luck with your next victim.” And with those words hanging in the air between us, I walk away, making sure I put as much sway into my hips as possible.

This content is taken from free web novel.com