She shook her head in confusion. “I don’t get it. Why now? If you could have done this sooner, why didn’t you?”

His eyes darkened with regret. And they grew suspiciously wet, which made her even more aghast. She’d never seen Tate cry. Ever. He was always the strong one while she was the emotional wreck. She cried over sad movies, happy movies, those sappy Hallmark commercials at Christmas. She cried over news stories. Hell, she cried when she was happy. But Tate?

“I should have done it a long time ago,” he admitted. “I have no excuse other than I took you for granted. I took your love for granted. I wanted it all. The perfect wife, the perfect career. It was never enough. No matter how successful my firm became, I always wanted more until there was nothing left.

“Seeing what I did to you, what my neglect caused, was a huge wake-up call for me. I stood by and let another man abuse you. Do you have any idea what that did to me? I can’t even look at myself in the mirror anymore. All I can see is you huddled on the floor crying. All I can remember is you screaming your safe word. Every night when I go to bed, that entire night plays over and over in my head. It’s not something I’ll ever get over, Chessy. I have to live with that for the rest of my life.”

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“I wish I could believe you,” she said wistfully.

He reached across the table and captured her hand. “Just give me a chance, Chessy. One more time. I’ll never ask for another. If I fail you again, I’ll leave. The house and everything in it will be yours. You’ll never want for a single thing. I’ll make sure of it.”

She closed her eyes and paused. “There’s something I have to tell you, Tate. Something I only just found out. It’s why I came over tonight. It changes everything and I don’t know what to do.”

Concern blazed over his face. His grip tightened around her hand. She took a deep breath and put it out there.

“I’m pregnant, Tate. I’m pregnant with your child.”

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TWENTY-SIX

TATE stared back at Chessy in shock, sure he hadn’t heard her correctly. But the fear and apprehension in her eyes told him he had. Close on the heels of shock came unfettered joy—and relief. He’d been so afraid of what it was Chessy had to tell him. It’s why he’d pulled out all the stops in his bid to win her back because he didn’t want her to tell him she was filing for divorce.

He squeezed her hand, temporarily incapable of speech. Tears burned his eyelids and she stared at him, stunned, when one trickled down his cheek. He didn’t bother wiping it away. He wanted her to realize the magnitude of this moment for him.

“Chessy, that’s wonderful,” he whispered.

“But you didn’t want children,” she said, her voice thick with emotion. “You wanted to wait. Every time I brought it up, you said maybe next year. And I want you to know I didn’t do this on purpose. The very last thing I would have done is bring a child into an unstable marriage. It must have happened the weekend of our anniversary. I forgot to take my birth control pills.”

Unable to bear the distance between them one more second, Tate stood and walked around to her chair and pulled her up and into his arms. He hugged her tightly, his shoulders heaving with emotion. So much love welled up in his heart and soul. He closed his eyes and prayed for another chance to make things right. He had a family now. More than just him and Chessy. They had a child.

“Come into the living room so we can talk,” he gently urged.

She allowed him to lead her to the sofa and they sat down together. He pulled her into his arms and thank God she didn’t resist. He savored having her in his arms again. The last few weeks had been hell for him. Not being able to see her, talk to her, touch her. And yet he saw her every single day when he entered his house. Her stamp was on every single item in the house. It was impossible to look anywhere without seeing her reflection.

“First of all, it never crossed my mind that you got pregnant on purpose. But even if you had, I’d be overjoyed. Secondly, we’ve already established what a dumbass I am. I knew how much you wanted children. I wanted them too. But there were two reasons I wanted to hold off. One was me being purely selfish. I wanted you to myself a little longer and I knew once we had a child that I’d have to share you with our son or daughter. It shames me to say that, but I won’t lie to you. The other reason was because I wanted to be sure I could provide for my family financially. But Chessy, I’m thrilled that you’re pregnant. Is that why you haven’t been feeling well?” he asked anxiously. “Is everything okay with the pregnancy? Have you seen a doctor yet?”

“I haven’t seen an obstetrician yet,” she admitted. “I only found out because I went to my general practitioner to ask for medication for my stress and anxiety. They obviously ran a pregnancy test when they drew blood and it was then he told me I was pregnant. I knew I had to tell you right away so here I am.”

“Thank you for not keeping this from me,” he said. “I want to be able to share in every aspect of your pregnancy. I want to go to every doctor’s appointment and I want to see our child grow inside you. Feel him or her kick for the first time. And watch you grow rounder and more beautiful with each passing day.”

“You act as though me being pregnant fixes everything,” Chessy said quietly. “It doesn’t, Tate. We still have so much to work out. I keep going back and forth with myself over whether to see a divorce attorney or not.”

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