The sight of Nova in his arms, I would’ve been melting myself.
I was melting.
I was also a little embarrassed by panicking, but the doc said it was better to be safe than sorry. So I’d hold onto that.
“I’ll go get the vehicle.”
“Is it far?”
“Not far. The lot’s right there.”
“We’ll walk with you.”
“You sure? You can stay in here, stay warm until I pull up?”
I wanted to walk with him.
I also didn’t want to take Nova from him. She was loving being in her daddy’s arms.
The sight was making me teary, and I swore I could smell lilacs again.
I fell in step beside him. “It’s not far. We’ll go with you.”
“Okay.” He shifted, hitting the auto button, and his vehicle was warm by the time we got to it.
“You want to sit by her again?”
I considered it, but she was going to fall asleep before we pulled out of the lot.
He put her in, and I went to the passenger seat. “I don’t want to keep her awake if I sit by her.”
He nodded, finishing up.
When he shut the door, Nova started to fuss again. I started a low croon, and she quieted.
When we pulled out of the lot, I kept on until we were a few blocks away.
“You want some coffee?”
He indicated a drive-thru for a coffee shop up ahead.
It was nearing five in the morning by now. Coffee didn’t make sense.
I nodded anyway.
He pulled through, ordered two coffees for us, and handed mine over.
It was when we were leaving the city that he said, “You were good back there.”
“The coffee place?”
“No.” A small grin from him. “The hospital. Before the hospital.”
I gave him a look, sipping my latte. “I was a mess. You had to bring clothes for me.”
His eyes darkened on me. “But you kept it together, and you didn’t waste a minute. You knew to go in right away.”
My throat was closing up, and I didn’t know why. “I just wasn’t going to risk anything.” I looked out my window. “I’m sure Valerie would’ve done better. She probably would’ve just known an earache was coming on and stopped it before Nova was ever in pain.”
“I don’t think it works quite like that, but give yourself some credit. I would’ve stayed and made calls. My parents. Eventually, I would’ve gone in, but Nova would’ve been in pain longer with me. You didn’t let that happen. You did that.”
I did what needed to be done
I would do what needed to be done.
“Why are you being so complimentary to me? You’re the natural one.” I looked back at him. “Ever since you found out about Nova, you’ve never wavered an instant. It was immediate. You were all about her. You never questioned anything or complained about anything. You uprooted your entire life for her.”
His eyebrows rose slightly, and he sighed, settling back in his chair. “When you told me about her, you were trying to take her away from me. No one was going to do that. I did what I had to do. She’s mine.”
His eyes slid my way, and I felt a message was there.
She was his. Not mine.
Quincey was quiet on the way back from the hospital.
Granted, we were tired, but I was wired and ready to fall the fuck apart. I kept glancing at her, but she was turned toward the window.
She still wouldn’t look over.
“Hey. Look at me.”
“What do you want?”
I didn’t want to wake Nova, but dammit, I needed Quincey to look at me.
“Quincey.” I went soft this time, gripping the steering wheel hard. “Please, look at me.”
Her head dipped a little. Her chin tightened, and she looked.
Silent tears were covering her entire face.
I cursed under my breath, but we were home. I pulled into the driveway.
Quincey hesitated, but she saw I was moving to pick Nova out of her seat. She walked without a word into the house and into her room. I took Nova through my room to her crib, and after making sure she would remain sleeping, I went back to my room.
I was tempted, so tempted, to sink onto my bed and let my own crap out, but no. This conversation needed to happen. We’d been enemies, then we were civil, then we were forced allies, and now… now it was more. A hospital trip made us more.
I went to her room but found it empty.
I checked her bathroom. Also empty.
Good. That meant this conversation wasn’t going to happen when Nova was sleeping close by. Grabbing her monitor and testing it to make sure I could hear Nova sleeping, I went in search of Quincey.
She was in the studio.
I shouldn’t have been shocked.
Music was on, and she was dancing furiously. It was her therapy.
Her eyes were closed. The music was loud and abrasive, it was angry. She was matching it perfectly.
I waited, knowing she was different. She needed to get this out of her. This was her way of falling apart. She did it through movement.
And I ignored how I wanted to grab her, how I wanted to peel her clothes off her, how I wanted to taste her and suck so hard that she came right then and there. I was ignoring how I wanted to push her against the wall, sink inside her, and—I had to stop, because dammit, I wanted her.
I’d been wanting her for a fuck of a long time, but everything had been put on the back burner for Nova. And now that was done and over with.
Logan’s words were in my head about what I was doing after this?
I bought a house here. I’d do anything for Nova, but this morning woke me up.
I wanted to do this with Quincey. It felt right to have her beside me, have her be the one holding Nova. Only her being the one to hold Nova.
She gasped, finally seeing me.
“I wanted to fuck you the first moment I saw you.”
Her eyes got big, but she wasn’t surprised. She knew.
I advanced. “Then you hit me with three punches. Someone I cared about was dead, I had a daughter, and you wanted to take that daughter away. I hated you at that moment. Detested you. I loathed your father even more because who the fuck do you both think you are? Coming after me. If you fought me over Nova, I would’ve taken you to court. I would’ve won, and you knew that. It’s why you signed that paper. Nova is mine. You can’t do shit about it. Your father can’t do shit about it. Logan was asking me the other day what I wanted? Because I’m going to be real again, I miss my friends. They’re my family. At first, I gave Valerie up for them, then I gave them up for Nova. I’m not giving anything up anymore. I’m going to be really selfish here.”