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author’s note: so busy trying to get the 50k i forgot to post. currently at 42k and struggling, but for right now i’m giving you just chapter 13. hang in there with me.
“According to your test results you are pregnant, Keath,” Chance confirmed leaning over and held both of her hands. “I’m going to run more tests just to be sure but the initial tests came out positive. I made them run it three times to be absolutely sure.” There was a deep look of worry on his face. “How do you feel?”
She shifted in her chair uneasily. “I think I should tell you something, Chance, but it requires listening with a lot of friendship.”
He signed over dramatically. “It’s really hard work being your friend. You ask for quite a lot.”
She hit him in his shoulder playfully, but that even hurt her knuckles.
Massaging her hand, he asked, “What is it?”
Without reservation, she told him everything about the marriage to Sloan and then finding out about Pholsom being related. After letting him also know about what Sloan had told her about her father, she added she used the number on the card to contact Onyx Heart in order to find out if there were insurance cases in Lori’s name for the patients.
He sat in rapt attention and when she was done, he was on his third cup of coffee. “Wow! So you’re helping the old man, so he can help you?”
“Unless you want to be a really good friend and marry me,” she teased.
Sweat jumped on his brow suddenly. “Oh shucks, Keath-“
She chuckled. “I know, Chance, I was just teasing. Keep that commitment bone to yourself.” Sighing, she answered his earlier question. “Yes, I think it was Vick’s original plan to use my guilt to move into the home so he could find whatever my father left without me knowing. His stay put my renovation plans on hold and I think that’s what he wanted.”
“To give him time to look around the house,” Chance confirmed. “With all your construction why haven’t you found what your father has hidden?”
Frowning, she answered, “Maybe because my father didn’t hide it.” Insight seemed to fill her. “My mother used to say out of sight, out of mind. Maybe he hasn’t realize that my mother must have hidden the papers, but my mother must have known we would think about changing the house around and after her death would be in every nook and cranny of that house.”
“So she could have hidden something anywhere.”
“She never left the house after my father died and only I and Vick took care of her. She never made phone calls and she never wrote any letters. If she had given Vick a clue, he would have recovered something by now. If she hid anything, it still has to be in that house, but I highly doubt it. Maybe I can’t think straight with all these things on my mind now.”
He changed the subject slightly, “But that still doesn’t explain why Vick wants to frame you for murder or help Lori out?”
“He must have something over her,” she determined knowing. “Vick is most likely was using the same tactics our mother used in order to get people to do what they wanted. My mother used guilt all the time to manipulate me. Yet, what guilt could Vick have on Lori?”
“It’s got to be something in her past,” Chance said. “She’s older than both of you.”
“Almost old enough to be his mother,” Elena said in disgust.
“Cougars aren’t half bad. I don’t mind the relationship. It’s just the person in the relationship I mind. This lady isn’t wrapped too tight and with Vick’s influences, I have a feeling things are going to get worse. I’m glad you’re accepting Pholsom’s job position.”
Damn! She checked the time and was relieved she still had an hour and a half to go before meeting Pholsom. “Do you think this job might be too much stress on the pregnancy?”
“No, I don’t, but I’ll be monitoring you closely.” He chuckled. “So wait a minute,” Chance said in new realization. “You’re going to have the baby?”
There was no doubt in her mind that she would have the baby. It might be imperative that she let Sloan know, but she was not going to abort a child that had nothing to do with anything. “Yes, Chance. I won’t kill my baby.”
“So you’ll be having your husband-to-be’s grandnephew?”
The thought sounded very incestuous. “That does sound so bad.”
“It could be worse.”
Chance sighed worriedly. “It can always get worse, Keath, but that’s neither here or there. Who are you going to tell first?”
“Pholsom.” She checked the time again. “I better be going.” Folding the test results and putting them in her purse, she leaned over and kissed Chance’s cheek. “Thank you.”
He smiled honored and kissed her cheek back. “No, thank you, Elena for the friendship. Call me if you need anything.”
She knew she would and got up to leave. Just as she was stepping out of the café, Pholsom’s car pulled up and he jumped out of the driver’s seat to come around and open the door for her.
He looked freshly cut, just out the barbershop, but for something like that, he would have been in the shop all morning. Yet, that would have been impossible since Pholsom had been with her all morning.
Had he been freshly cut this morning?
For the moment she couldn’t really remember. When he’d walked in the door at her home this morning, he’d grabbed her immediately and excited her so fast she hadn’t really had a moment to access how he was dressed or catch any detail difference to his face.
There had been sunglasses, but by the time he pulled them off, she was in a rapturous state of mind. Damn, she needed to not lose her mind all the time she was with him.
“I thought I was going to meet you?”
“You did?” he said confused. “Well… I was in the area dropping off some documents and I knew Chance had you at the café, so I decided instead of us taking separate cars, we could just take one and I’d drop you back off later. The garage is open twenty-four hours and I’ll gladly pay for any extra fees.”
She looked back to wave to Chance, but must have caught him by surprise because she saw a very concern look on his face. He recovered and smile with a wave in return.
Pholsom’s proximity pushed away any concern she should have taken to Chance’s look.
Getting in Pholsom’s car, she liked that he took her hand when he sat in the driver’s seat. “I’ve missed you,” he admitted.
Frowning, she said, “You just saw me this morning, Pholsom.”
“I did?” That same confusion came to him again. “Oh, yeah, well, it feels like centuries since then.” He busied himself driving off, but why did she have a feeling something wasn’t right?
She nervously rubbed her hands together because she didn’t have the gumption yet to tell him about the baby. “Your father has older sons?” she asked.
He looked a little bothered by her question, but he answered, “Yes, I would say they’re about a couple of years older than I. He likes to call that time in his life his Artie days.”
“Really? Sloan left them when they were babies?”
“He divorced their mother when they were about two or three. They were twins basically separated first and then Artie came here to Detroit and left Jerome pretty much with close friends. He’d sneak to visit his son and had them all thinking he was working, yet all the while he was living a life with my aunt. Phoenix and I met them during Jerome’s wedding and we’ve kept in touch since then. They harbor no hard ill feelings though against us at all. Jerome had family and friends to help him through everything, but personally I think Tyrone was born as asshole and would have been a sarcastic ass even if Sloan had stayed with his mother.”
“So Sloan really isn’t a nice guy.”
“It was cruel what he did to his sons, but he was a man torn between a woman he thought he loved and the father he wanted to be. I’ve forgiven him. His older sons have forgiven him. Jerome and Tyrone once said they wouldn’t have been able to switch places like they did when they were young if their father had been around all the time.”
He smiled wickedly. “Yes, they used to switch places all the time. They’re fraternal twins but they look almost alike. Sometimes Phoenix and I used to wish we were twins like them or even brothers at that, but we feel so close…” Suddenly he looked uncomfortable. “You have a brother right, Elena?”
“Yes,” she said. “I’m not close to him at all.” She wondered briefly if she should let Pholsom know all about the plot against her life, but then decided against it since even she really wasn’t sure that was Vick’s attempt. “I don’t think I want to be close to my brother.”
“I wish my uncle had found you sooner.” He kissed her knuckles. “I’m glad we’re making you part of our family.”
“Speaking of Phoenix, Chance was telling me a little about him.”
“Really?” he looked suspicious. “Why would Chance ever talk about Phoenix when they really don’t get along?”
“Truth speak, Phoenix doesn’t like Chance, but there aren’t many people Phoenix actually likes. What exactly did Chance say about Phoenix?”
“He told me Phoenix has a slight form of agoraphobia.”
Pholsom heartedly agreed. “He definitely has that.”
“But he was just out fussing at Chance.”
“Phoenix was with Chance? When?”
“Yes, right before I arrived I could see through the café windows he was there at the café, because I thought it was you.”
Pholsom seem to calm down but he still had this look of panic on his face, yet since he kept his eyes on the road she didn’t see his face all the way. “Did he say something to you? Phoenix?”
“I never got a chance to meet him. He was gone before I came in.”
Pholsom seemed to relax completely.
“I did notice you two look very much alike. Almost like twins.”
Shaking his head, Pholsom said, “We’re cousins. Like I said my mother ran away and died and Uncle Sloan made my aunt take me in instead of leaving me in the state’s care. We only share blood through our maternal side.”
“You ever found out who your father was?”
“Never thought too much about it,” he said with a nonchalant shrug. “I just figured him to be some dead beat John, but I never asked. Uncle Sloan was so good to me as a father figure, I never cared to know.”
Why did she think about the saying Onyx Heart had said about doing something one way so people don’t see the real truth? Why would Elena think something about Pholsom’s parentage story didn’t sit right in her gut?
Once they were getting closer to the facility, she said, “I think I should tell you something as soon as possible.”
“More than you marrying my uncle?” he teased.
She blushed. “More than that, Pholsom.”
“More than working for me?”
“What is it?” he asked concerned.
He looked from the road to her, but then had to veer sharply to avoid someone abruptly changing lanes. When he had the car back under control and was driving again, he glanced back over to her, he said, “With a baby?”
Elena giggled. “I think so,” she teased. “It could be just gas.”
He looked like he wanted to smile, but was still in shock. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to. We didn’t think-“
“We?” she asked. “You mean Sloan?”
“Elena,” he said urgently. “Are you going to have the baby?”
“Yes!” she said adamantly.
He pulled into a very long driveway and parked in an administrative parking lot. Turning to her completely, he said, “I’m sorry about this. We didn’t think everything through. I know it’s not what you planned, but-“
Elena put her finger up to his lips. “Please, Pholsom. I don’t regret it. Not one bit. I’m actually excited and Chance will be my doctor.”
A skeptical look came across his features. “Is this what you want? Really? The baby?”
“Yes.” Hesitantly, she asked, “Is this what you want?”
“Hell yes!” he said enthusiastically and drew her in a kiss.
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