The Cowboy's Virgin Baby Momma - Page 77

“The hell we will,” she groused, wiping the ghost of his lips away before storming down the hall to take a shower.

An hour later, she sat on a blanket beneath the tall shade tree at Miller’s Pond, holding her cell phone as if it were a live hand grenade, trying to work up the courage to text Austin. Paige needed to tell him she was carrying their child. But first she had to find out where she stood with him. Find out if he was truly pushing her away or if he’d honestly been too busy and too tired to see her. Until she found out if their relationship was on solid ground or able to be salvaged, she was stuck in limbo. After spending her whole life lost in that void, Paige loathed going back there again.

“Pull up your big-girl panties and do it.”

Turning on her phone, Paige tapped out a text, inviting Austin to join her at the pond so they could talk.

When she hit send, she held her breath and stared at the screen, willing him to answer. A long minute later, she filled her burning lungs with air, then let out a dejected sigh as tears filled her eyes. Paige had heard somewhere that unstable hormones made pregnant women cry at the drop of a hat. She’d never really believed it until now.

“It’s probably not hormones,” she muttered, angrily swiping at her tears. “It’s probably just my foolish heart breaking.”

Hours later, Paige was in the kitchen cleaning up dinner dishes when her phone chimed. She wiped her hands and read the message.

Ashton: Sorry I missed you today. Just got in from the field and saw your message.

Weighing how much more rejection she could take, Paige nibbled her bottom lip and stared at the screen. “Oh, what the hell.”

We really need to talk.

Ashton: Come up tonight. I’ll do my best to stay awake.

Hope and dread soared collectively. Hope that they might smooth over the ragged edges of their relationship, and dread for not knowing how Austin would react when she told him he was going to be a father.

Interminable hours later, Paige quietly eased out the front door and all but ran up the road to Austin’s house. As she rounded the propane tank, her heart sank. He wasn’t sitting on the steps waiting for her, like usual. Paige continued toward the porch when the unmistakable sounds of snoring filled her ears. As she started up the stairs, she discovered Austin, stretched out on a padded chair near the door, sound asleep.

At least he made an attempt to see me.

Moving in closer, Paige knelt down beside him and studied his long, dark lashes, the rugged line of his jaw, the strong slope of his nose, and the lush yet masculine lips that had claimed every inch of her body. The urge to climb onto his lap and wake him with kisses skipped through her. But Paige needed to talk to him more than seduce him. She needed Austin’s mind clear and sharp, not muddled in sleep or endorphins.

Releasing a disappointed sigh, she stood and stared at him another long minute, then bent and pressed a feather-soft kiss to his lips. Austin jerked and softly moaned, then continued snoring again.

“No matter what happens, I love…I’ll always love you,” Paige whispered, then turned and quietly walked away.

As she stepped from the propane tank, she heard a man clear his throat. Paige instantly froze and nervously scanned the trees before remembering Houston’s insomnia. Raising her eyes, she saw him leaning over the wooden railing of a second-story porch—just like the one off Austin’s bedroom—watching her.

“That didn’t take long.”

Paige’s cheeks grew hot. “He fell asleep in a chair on the back porch.”

“Doesn’t surprise me. He’s been working his ass off trying to catch up all the things he’d let slide trying to save the ranches.”

He was telling the truth. He’s not purposely pushing me away.

Relief and hope zipped through her. Paige wanted to sprint back to Austin and wake him with those kisses and more.

“I’ll go over in a minute and tell him…he missed out.” Houston scoffed. “Have a good night, Paige.”

In other words, You’re dismissed. Cursing under her breath, she gave Houston a curt nod before continuing her trek across the dew-covered grass to the road.

When she climbed into bed, Paige texted Austin and told him he was sleeping so soundly she didn’t have the heart to wake him. When her phone chimed a second later, happiness soared as she read his reply.

Ashton: Sorry, little girl. We’ll need to try again soon.

“Yes, we will.” She smiled, then snuggled beneath the covers and fell sound asleep.

As the sun rose the next morning, Paige raced to the bathroom, barfed her socks up, then took a long, hot shower.

She kept herself busy, cleaning the house, sweeping the front porch, and tending the garden while waiting for the phone in her back pocket to chime. It never did.

While Grandpa headed for his recliner after dinner, Johnny lingered at the table.

“I’m still thinking about it,” Paige stated, trying to avoid listening to him plead his case for a loveless marriage again.

“What’s there to think about? Austin’s clearly avoiding you if you haven’t even told him yet,” Johnny whispered.

“He’s been busy.”

“Too busy to talk? Wake up and smell the coffee, Paige,” he scoffed.

“Leave it alone, Johnny. This doesn’t concern you.”

He stood and strode toward her, backing her up against the sink with his body. “Oh, it concerns me. It concerns me a great deal. Make the right choice, honey.”

After kissing her cheek, he walked out the door.

Paige tossed and turned until the wee hours of the morning. She couldn’t shut off her brain…or rather Johnny’s words that wouldn’t stop spooling through her brain. Too busy to talk? Wake up and smell the coffee, Paige. She hated that she’d allowed him to plant seeds of doubt in her mind. Hated that they were sprouting through her entire system. Hated that there was more than a hint of truth to his claim she couldn’t deny or make excuses for.

She had to make a decision.

Problem was, Paige wasn’t sure which one to choose.

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