Colters' Wife eBook: Page2
Maya Banks (2010)
After a few moments, he turned around as if sensing her presence. Concern creased his brow and he walked over to where she stood.
“Baby, is everything okay?”
She smiled and nodded.
He frowned. “You shouldn’t be out here. You should be inside resting.”
There was more emphasis on the resting part. He was almost accusatory in his tone since he knew damn well she’d made love to Ryan and Ethan.
“I wanted some fresh air, and honestly, Adam, you worry way too much. I’m fine. I feel great.”
He tugged her into his arms and held her there for a long moment. His heart beat against her cheek and she nuzzled further into his embrace.
She slid one hand down to cup the denim-covered bulge between his legs. He backed away in a hurry, separating himself from her.
His green eyes flashed. “Just because you’ve got those two knuckleheads wrapped around your little finger doesn’t mean you’re going to get anywhere with me.”
She arched an eyebrow. “Are you saying I don’t have you wrapped around my finger?”
He scowled at her. “You know damn well I’d give you the moon if you asked.”
“Then make love to me,” she said softly. “I don’t want the moon. I want you.”
He sighed and shook his head. “Baby, I can’t. Don’t ask me this. Please. I—I can’t hold back. I’ll hurt you and that would kill me. You know me. I’m rough. I’m demanding. It’s better if we wait until after the baby’s born.”
His head reared in surprise. “Excuse me?”
“Bullshit,” she repeated. She crossed her arms over her chest and tapped her foot in irritation. “That’s such a load of BS and you know it. You’d never hurt me. You’ve never once done anything I wasn’t begging for.”
He looked at her in open-mouthed shock.
She turned abruptly with an aggravated huff and stomped out of the barn. Infuriating man. One would think she’d asked him to donate a kidney, though he probably would have agreed to that. But ask him for sex? And the world came crashing to an end. Weren’t men supposed to live, breathe and dream about sex twenty-four hours a day? Clearly no one had shared that little tidbit of information with Adam.
* * *
She was still in a fit of temper—and exasperation—thirty minutes later as she stomped around the kitchen, abusing the dishes. She still couldn’t cook worth a darn, but at least she’d mastered the cleaning aspect.
She was attacking the sink with a Brillo pad when warm arms wrapped around her and a mouth nuzzled her neck.
“Adam not cooperating with your mad seduction scheme?” Ryan murmured against her ear.
She sighed and leaned back into his arms. “He’s a rigid pain in my ass,” she grumbled. “And as far as I’m concerned, he can sleep on the couch tonight.”
Ryan chuckled and turned her around in his arms. “Cut him some slack. You know how he is when he gets an idea in his head.”
“It’s a stupid idea.”
Ryan pulled her against him and rested his chin on her head. “He’s not easy. He’s never been easy. But this is as hard on him as it is on you. He’s like a bear with a thorn in his paw.”
Holly pulled away and stared up at Ryan. “But he doesn’t have to be! That’s what irritates me to no end. He’s being all self-sacrificing and for what? He’s not happy, I’m not happy.”
“Would a foot rub make you happy?”
She stopped her rant. “Foot rub?”
He grinned. “If you come in the living room, I’ll give you the best foot massage you’ve ever had.”
She grabbed his hand and tugged him across the kitchen. He followed along, laughing.
He was being the worst sort of ass. Adam stood in the doorway of the living room staring at the rest of his family. A family that, for the most part, he’d avoided for the last three days.
Holly lay on the couch, her head in Ethan’s lap and her legs stretched across Ryan. Ethan idly stroked his fingers through her hair as he watched the movie playing on the television. Ryan was rubbing Holly’s feet, and she was sound asleep.
He missed touching her, feeling her in his arms. Whenever he was around her, his need was a tangible ache. He wanted to take her to bed and fuck her in a dozen different ways. And therein lay the problem.
Ethan looked up at him then, raising his eyebrow in silent question. Despite his urge to turn around and walk away from the tender scene in front of him, he felt compelled to walk over.
He hadn’t intended to hurt her. God knew he’d do anything not to hurt her, but his avoidance of her had done just that.
“Can you get up without waking her?” Adam whispered to Ethan.
Ethan smiled. “Right now a herd of elephants could run through and she wouldn’t stir.”
“I’d like some time alone with her,” Adam said hesitantly.
The three didn’t often make demands of her time. Part of making the relationship work was not harboring jealousy or making her choose between them. But every once in a while, they did need time alone with her. It was a need they each recognized and respected.
“Sure,” Ethan said softly. He gently extricated himself from the couch, easing her head off his lap and onto the cushion. Ryan followed suit, and they both left the room.
Adam stared down at her for a long moment before finally sliding onto the couch next to her. When he lifted her head, she stirred and snuggled closer to him.
He ran his hand down the length of her body, enjoying the feel of her softness, her curves, the swollen mound of her belly. He couldn’t wait to meet their child. At long last their family would be complete.
She stirred against him, and her eyes fluttered open. She blinked then smiled, her eyes going soft with love. That look never ceased to knock the breath right out of him. Her love was the greatest gift he’d ever received, and it wasn’t one he had any intention of fucking up.
“I’ve missed you,” she whispered.
He bent and kissed her forehead as his fingers trailed over her cheek. “I was an ass. I’m sorry.”
She raised her head so that her lips met his. “I love you. You’re not an ass.”
“Could we go to bed? Just you and I tonight? I want to hold you and our baby,” he said.
Her eyes glowed and she nodded. “I’d like that.”
He helped her sit up, and she threw her legs over the couch as he stood up. He reached down to pull her up beside him then he scooped her into his arms and headed for the bedroom.
Her hands curled trustingly around his neck. The baby kicked and rolled against his chest, and his grip tightened around her as a surge of emotion swept through him.
Careful not to jostle her, he set her down on the bed. He reached for the covers and pulled them down, working them around her body. When he was finished, he crawled in beside her and pulled the comforter back over them.
He held her close to him, enjoying the feel of her soft skin against his.
“I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings, baby,” he murmured. “I don’t want you to think the wrong thing about why I wouldn’t make love to you.”
She grimaced and then her lips turned up into a rueful smile.
“You’re way too overprotective, but I love you dearly,” she said. “And I understand why. I don’t agree, but I’m not taking it personally.”
“Good. Because, baby, if I wanted you any more, I’d spontaneously combust. But if I hurt you… I’d never forgive myself.”
She smoothed her hand across his cheek and cupped his jaw in her palm. “Stop torturing yourself. Just hold me. I need you so much.”
His heart turned over, and he felt such a strong rush of love at her words. “I need you too. You’ll never know just how much. I’d do anything for you. I hope you know that.”
She rose up to kiss him. “If I promise not to try and rape you anymore, would you stop avoiding me?”
He burst out l
Holly moved around the kitchen, humming softly to herself. As she put the last of the dishes away, she checked her watch. The guys were out exercising the horses and would be gone for a little while yet.
She felt up for some fresh air and a short walk. Her back had been nagging at her all morning, and maybe if she could get out and stretch, she’d feel better.
She exited the house and set out on the path beyond the barn. She loved exploring the land surrounding their cabin. There was always a spectacular view to be had, no matter which direction she went.
Today, she circled behind the barn and headed into the trees up a gentle incline. She knew once she reached the top of the slope she’d be able to look out over a small valley and the river that cut through it.
She paused at varying intervals as the stitch in her side increased in intensity. God, she’d become such a wimp since becoming pregnant. She leaned against a tree for support as she heaved for breath.
She looked up and gauged the remaining distance. Not too far and then she’d sit on her favorite rock and enjoy the view.
When she reached the top, she paused a moment, putting a hand to her back while she stared down at the running river. She turned her head to locate the bolder she usually sat on when a cramp rippled through her abdomen, knocking her off balance.
She panicked as her foot slipped over the edge. She wobbled precariously, fighting for balance. For a moment, she seemed suspended in midair. Then she fell backwards.
Her fingers grasped at the ground, knocking against rocks and roots and she landed with a thud and slid rapidly down the incline toward the river below.
Pain shot up her leg when her foot caught between two rocks and her ankle twisted. But it stopped her downward progress and she came to a jarring halt.
When she was sure she wouldn’t plunge down any further, she curled her arms around her belly, feeling for the baby’s movements. Mentally, she took stock of where she hurt.
Her ankle throbbed, and she looked down to see her foot still solidly stuck between two large rocks. When she tried to reach down with her hand to shove at the stones, her shoulder protested vehemently.
She was okay. She was reasonably sure nothing was broken. Her shoulder hurt like the devil, probably just pulled, and her ankle had received a good wrenching. If she could wrest her foot free, she could crawl back up the incline.
Another tremor began low in her back and spread around to the front of her belly, tightening uncomfortably. She rubbed with her free hand and tried to keep her right shoulder motionless.
Well, this was a fine mess. But she knew she didn’t have to worry. She might have to hang out here for a bit, but the guys would find her. They’d return from riding and probably freak when they couldn’t find her.
A twinge of guilt nagged at her. She shouldn’t have gone walking until they returned, but she hadn’t imagined falling, not when she’d walked this path so many times before without incident.
They’d be worried until they found her, but find her they would. Of that she was confident. Until then, she’d just have to try to relax. Maybe even take a little nap to get her mind off her aching back and her throbbing ankle.
Her abdomen tightened again, and she soothed her hand over her belly, trying to work away the discomfort. Then she closed her eyes and willed herself to be patient.
* * *
Holly opened her eyes and blinked rapidly, trying to make sense of her surroundings. She shivered as the cool evening air blew over her skin.
Raw, aching pain centered in her stomach and gathered in her groin. Her back felt as though someone was stabbing a fire poker in it.
She shifted, trying to sit up but quickly fell back when her body protested.
The sun had sunk in the sky and dusk wasn’t far off. For the first time, fear prickled down her spine. Why hadn’t they found her yet? She had no desire to be here after dark. Damn it, she wanted to go home and spend the night in the arms of the men she loved.
A sound had her turning her head upward. She strained to hear. Had she heard her name?
The harsh shout grew closer.
She struggled to try and free her foot to no avail. Knowing she had no choice but to hope they would hear her, she threw back her head and yelled as loudly as she could.
A few seconds later, dirt and rock rained down on her head.
“Ryan! I’m down here!” she shouted hoarsely.
A few seconds later, Ryan slid down the incline. Before she could utter a sound, he pulled her into his arms. “Oh my God, Holly, are you all right? What happened?”
His hands shook as he stroked over her body, touching her, reassuring himself that she was okay. He reached down and fumbled with the radio clipped to his hip.
“Adam, Ethan, I’ve found her. She fell down the incline behind the barn. Up where she likes to sit.”
He tossed the radio to the side even as the others responded that they were on their way.
“Are you hurt?” he asked anxiously. “What happened?”
“My foot is caught,” she said. “I twisted my ankle. I couldn’t get it free. And I think I pulled my shoulder out, but I can move it so I don’t think it’s bad.”
Ryan bent over her trapped foot and gently pried it loose. He ran his fingers over the tender areas. “I don’t think it’s broken,” he said, relief evident in his voice. “It’s swollen, but it looks to just be a sprain.”
Her breath caught as her belly tightened again, this time much more painful than before. “Oh!”
Ryan yanked his gaze to her, worry creasing his brow. “What’s wrong?”
A sudden gush of wetness surged between her legs. Followed by yet another spasm low in her belly. Oh God, she was so stupid. She was in labor. Wasn’t it supposed to hurt more than this? All she’d felt was a mild discomfort. Minor tightening, but the problem was she’d been feeling it all day. Had she been in labor that long?
“Ryan, I think my water just broke.” She tried to keep the anxiety out of her voice but knew she failed miserably. “And it hurts. I think I’m in labor.”
Ryan paled. “How long?”
“All day, I think.”
He cursed long and hard. “Why didn’t you say anything?” he demanded. “Why did you come out here?”
Tears filled her eyes as another contraction left her breathless. “I didn’t know,” she gasped out as a tear spilled over onto her cheek. “I didn’t realize. I’m sorry.”
He gathered her in his arms and rocked back and forth. “I’m sorry, sweetheart. I was just so scared. God, we couldn’t find you anywhere. I was so afraid of losing you.” He raised his head and looked around. “God damn it, where are they?”
She stiffened in his arms again and moaned softly as another contraction struck.
Ryan’s hand shook as he checked his watch. “That wasn’t even two minutes from the last.”
Holly and Ryan both looked upward as Adam shouted down to them.
“Down here! I’ll need help getting her back up,” Ryan called. He looked at Holly and squeezed her hand. “Don’t worry, love. We’ll take care of you.”
She squeezed back. “I know you will.”
Adam slid down a few seconds later and knelt beside Holly, deep concern etched in his face. “Are you okay, baby?”
“She’s in labor, Adam.”
Adam jerked around to Ryan. “Are you sure?”
“I’m sure,” Holly said dryly.
“Fuck,” Adam swore. “We’ve got to get her the hell out of her and down the mountain.”
She raised a hand and gently cupped his cheek. “There isn’t time.”
“What do you mean there is
“Her contractions are too close together,” Ryan said grimly. “I think she’s close.”
Adam’s face drained of color and panic flared in his eyes. Ethan shouted from the top, and Adam hollered back, “Stay there. We’re bringing her up.”
Adam bent and gently scooped Holly into his arms. He nodded toward Ryan. “Climb up, we’ll have to relay her up. I don’t want to take a chance on falling with her.”
Ryan scrambled up the slope, stopping several feet up. He dug his feet into the soil and reached down for Holly. Adam carefully moved upward until he reached Ryan. Then he eased Holly into his brother’s arms before scrambling ahead of him.
When they reached the top, Ethan reached down for her, hugging her tightly against his chest. His breaths came ragged and his heart pounded against her cheek.
“Thank God you’re all right,” Ethan whispered as he kissed her forehead.
“She’s in labor,” Adam said shortly as he and Ryan climbed up beside Ethan.
Ethan’s grip tightened around her. “Go get her things. I’ll take her to the Rover.”
“There’s no time.”
“What do you mean there’s no time?” Ethan demanded.
“It’ll have to be here,” Adam said quietly. “Her contractions are coming too close. We don’t have time to get her into town.”
Holly moaned as another contraction, this one much stronger than the last, ripped across her belly.
Ethan swore and took off across the ground at a fast pace. Adam and Ryan hurried ahead toward the cabin.
“Ethan, I’m okay,” she gasped out. “You don’t need to worry.”
He pressed another kiss to her forehead as they neared the cabin. “I’ll always worry about you, doll.”
When they entered the house, Adam and Ryan rushed into the bedroom. “Put her here,” Adam directed, motioning toward the bed. “We need to assess the situation. Ryan, you get on the phone and see if we can’t get the midwife up here pronto.”
Ethan set her down on the bed as another contraction gripped her. She closed her eyes, clenching her teeth. For something that hadn’t been painful throughout the day, it sure was making up for lost time now.
Adam smoothed worried hands over her face, pushing her disheveled hair from her eyes. “I’m going to strip you down, baby. I need to see what’s going on.”
She nodded and sucked in another breath as another pain followed closely on the heels of the last.
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