My throat still locked down with a lump the size of Texas.
I don’t even know how to process what I saw when I walked into my apartment. Dani looked so lost—until she turned to see me—and I still can’t place the emotions that crossed her face, but she almost looked guilty. A feeling I never thought I would see from her. I’ve struggled with the way I’ve felt for her for so long, but never once did I feel guilt.
Then, when I saw her belly . . .
Even with the flash of betrayal, I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful she looked with that sign of life growing on her tiny frame.
All the dreams I used to get me through almost seven months of deployment of the future we would live—together—gave me the focus I needed to push through the pain of missing her. All of it, just like our start, is over before it began.
I jump when I hear a knock on my window and look up to meet my dad’s concerned, blue eyes. I’m not sure how my mind knew that he was what I needed, but the second I see him, I let the emotions that were threatening to burst through tear through me.
“Dad,” I lament. My shoulders start to shake, and I don’t even care that the tears are starting to fall from my tired eyes.
His eyes narrow and he pulls the door open. I climb out, slap my arms around his back, and, for the first time since I left home, let him be my strength.
“Jesus, C-man. What in the hell is going on?” He pulls back, runs his hand over his thick, graying hair, and then grabs my chin, forcing my eyes to his.
“I just left the apartment,” I sigh, getting a hold on my emotions. “I’m sorry. I was doing a good job at keeping my shit together.”
He just looks at me, confused, before a flash of understanding flickers through his eyes. “I see. I know it must be quite shock. I’ll admit your mother and I were just as surprised.” His tone gives nothing away, clearly letting me run this show.
“I don’t understand. I can’t even seem to wrap my mind around what I saw, let alone everything that I’m feeling right now.”
He gives a soft laugh. “Yeah, it was a shock for me, too, when it happened to your mom and me.”
I’m explaining what seeing Dani like that did to me when his words register. “What?”
“When I first found out she was pregnant, shock was my first feeling, hands down, but then, when I realized what our love had created . . . Fuck me, that was one of the most incredible feelings in the world. I’ll admit it even made me cry, son. No shame in how you’re feeling.”
“What?” I repeat, shocked.
“Christ, Cohen. Did finding out you’re about to be a dad knock you stupid?”
“What?” I offer lamely, that feeling I had finally rid of in my gut returning.
“Uh, so I take it you didn’t just see Dani?”
“Yeah, I fucking saw her—wrapped up in Chance’s arms,” I snap.
His brows crinkle and he looks at me, waiting for me to continue.
“Wrapped in his arms, Dad. What more do I need to give you. They looked cozy enough that I didn’t stick the hell around.”
His eyes harden, and he shakes his head. I wasn’t expecting the hard hand against my head.
“The fuck!” I shout at him.
“The fuck about sums it up. I never thought I would say this to you, but damn, you sure did fuck things up big time with that idiot move.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” I ask, rubbing my head. “That hurt, old man.”
“You really thought she’s with Chance? Had been with Chance? Son, she’s six months pregnant. Do the fucking math.”
“Yeah? I left almost seven months ago.”
“Did you even pay attention in school?”
My mind starts spinning, trying to remember what little I know about the female reproductive system. When the truth hits me—hard—I have to stabilize myself with one arm on the truck.
“Yeah, son. Some stupid shit about the adding two weeks here, taking the time of conception and then adding some weeks—I don’t really know how the hell it works, but I assure you that she is very much pregnant with your baby. Trust me. It was a shock to us as well, but not once did we lose the faith you did in your girl.”
“I fucked up,” I exhale deeply.
“You sure did. Come on. I’m shocked your mother hasn’t broken down the door to see you, and we need to give Dani some time to cool off before you rush over there. I guarantee you, if she’s anything like her mother, the lack of trust you held for her will piss her off, maybe more than it will hurt her. Either way, you have some serious making up to do.”