Colters promise, p.1
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       Colters Promise, p.1

         Part #4 of Colters Legacy series by Maya Banks
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Colters Promise
Page 1

  CHAPTER 1

  LILY Colter sat in the small waiting room of the doctor’s office, glancing nervously out the window that overlooked Main Street in Clyde, Colorado. Across the street was her husband’s—one of them—office. Seth was sheriff of the small town.

  She’d parked around back because sooner or later, Dillon, another of her husbands, would drive through on his way to his pub, and he’d most certainly see her SUV in front of the doctor’s office, which would cause him to barge in, demanding to know if everything was all right.

  Michael, the middle Colter brother and the third man she called husband, was safely ensconced in his own veterinary office outside of town, so she wouldn’t need to worry about running into him. Hopefully.

  Her stomach simply wouldn’t settle and she didn’t know if it was because of nerves or because—

  She couldn’t think of that yet. She closed her eyes and squeezed her fingers into tight balls in her lap. It did no good to borrow trouble. Her mother-in-law, Holly Colter, would be the first to tell her that.

  It could be some weird stomach bug. Hadn’t there been something going around Clyde in the last week? But her issues had presented themselves long before last week and she knew it.

  She was unbelievably tired, she was sick over the most ordinary smells, and her breasts were so tender that the slightest pressure made her wince.

  The night before when her husbands had made love to her, it had been all she could do not to cry out—in pain—when they lavished gentle attention on her breasts, and she knew then that she had to confront her denial and see the doctor.

  “Lily Colter. ”

  Lily looked up to see the nurse standing in the doorway smiling at her. Slowly, Lily pushed herself from the chair and trudged across the room.

  The nurse was bright and bubbly, but then Tina always was. If she noticed that Lily wasn’t quite herself, she refrained from prying too much.

  When, however, she began to take Lily’s vitals and ask routine care questions about the reason for her visit, Lily murmured, “I’ll discuss it with Dr. Burton. ”

  Tina didn’t pursue the matter. She quietly finished taking Lily’s blood pressure and temperature, patted Lily reassuringly on the hand, and then promised that Dr. Burton would be along shortly.

  Lily slumped against the chair and eyed the exam table nervously. She was scared, uncertain, and worried over what Dr. Burton would say—what she was certain he would say.

  A moment later, a light knock sounded and the door pushed open. Dr. Burton stuck his head inside, smiled, and then ambled in.

  He took a seat across from Lily at the small table and opened the laptop he used for patient notes and records. He met her gaze over the top of the computer and studied her. “So, what brings you in today, Lily?”

  If he noted the oddity of her not having at least one of her husbands or another family member present, he didn’t say anything. But then there were some things, as she’d learned, that she had to do alone.

  This was one of them.

  “I think …” She closed her eyes. “I suspect … I could be pregnant. ”

  When she reopened her eyes, Dr. Burton’s were soft with understanding. But instead of saying anything, offering sympathy or reassurance, he merely nodded and then said, “Well, it seems to me the first thing we ought to do before we go any further is do a pregnancy test. Wouldn’t you agree?”

  She nodded.

  “Have you performed an over-the-counter test? Those things are pretty accurate. ”

  She shook her head. “I came here first. ”

  “Well, it won’t take but a moment. I’ll get Tina back in here. She’ll have you give her a urine specimen. If it turns out you’re pregnant, then we’ll go from there. No sense getting all het up for nothing, right?”

  She took in a shaky breath. “No, you’re right. ”

  He patted her on the hand and then rose. He leaned out the door and bellowed down the hall for Tina. A moment later, Tina returned, rolling her eyes at the elderly doctor.

  She showed Lily into the bathroom and gave her the instructions, which Lily didn’t really need, but she stared blankly and nodded as if she had no clue what was expected of her.

  Maybe she should have just done one of those stick pregnancy things. At least then she would be home, alone, and not in front of someone else when she received the shock of her life.

  A few moments later, she exited the bathroom and returned to her tiny exam room to wait. And wait. Each minute that ticked by seemed like an eternity. She kept eyeing her phone nervously, knowing that eventually someone would figure out she wasn’t at home and would want to know what she was up to. And she hated lying. But what was she supposed to say? If she said she was at the doctor’s, she’d have no fewer than three people in the waiting room for her when she got out. If she lied and then someone saw her and casually mentioned her whereabouts, it would be even messier.

  She sighed, leaned her head down onto the table, and closed her eyes.

  Breathe. Just breathe, Lily. They promised it would be different. They swore what happened with Rose wouldn’t happen again.

  Tears gathered, stinging her eyes and drawing up her nose. She’d gained so much strength during the last two years. Strength she hadn’t imagined she possessed. A newfound happiness and independence she would have thought beyond her reach.

  But this … This had the power to destroy her all over again.

  The door opened.

  She yanked her head up to meet Dr. Burton’s gaze. She stared hard, trying to see something. Some sign.

  He came in and sat across from her, his expression still unreadable. Some of the tension started to unknot in her stomach until he reached over to slide his wrinkled hand over hers. He squeezed and her world tilted sideways.

  “Lily, my dear, you are indeed pregnant. ”

  Even though she’d known, she’d suspected, the news still came like ice-cold water thrown over her head. Her mouth opened in automatic denial, but she clamped her lips shut and dug her teeth into the bottom one to prevent the sound of dismay from escaping.

  Dr. Burton’s eyes softened in sympathy. “I know the news isn’t ideal and probably not what you wanted to hear. But is it so bad?”

  Lily’s eyes watered. “I don’t understand. I was so careful. I took all my pills. ” Her cheeks colored at the next admission, but he was her doctor and they’d certainly been down this road before. “We don’t use condoms anymore. Maybe I should have insisted we continue. I know they would have done anything for me. But I’d hoped after I started on birth control that we wouldn’t need to. ”

  The doctor squeezed her hand again. “Birth control isn’t one hundred percent effective. It’s close, but you’d be surprised at how many ‘oops’ babies I’ve delivered over the years. Sometimes these things just happen, and I’m always convinced that if God intends it, then he finds a way for it to happen. Maybe this baby was just meant to be. ”

  And Rose wasn’t?

  She wanted to scream it. Why was this baby more deserving of a chance than her sweet, darling daughter had been?

  She pushed her knuckles to her mouth and rocked back and forth, desperately trying to maintain control and hold back her grief before it exploded out of her.

  Dr. Burton sighed. “I’m going to write a script for some vitamins, and I want you to start taking them. You’ll also need to make another appointment on your way out. I want to draw some blood before you leave just so we can take a look at things. My suggestion is to take a few days and think this over. Don’t react in the moment. Give it some time to settle in and then you might see that it’s not such a bad thing after all. You know those boy
s will be all over you, and their parents won’t be any different. You’ll have help, Lily. You won’t face this alone. ”

  “Thank you,” she murmured. She even tried to return his reassuring smile, but she failed miserably.

  The rest of the visit was a blur. Tina came in and drew several vials of blood before handing her a prescription along with some samples of prenatal vitamins that she wanted Lily to start on right away.

  “And if you’re still taking your birth control pills, you need to discontinue those immediately,” Tina said.

  Lily nodded numbly, only wanting to get out so she could breathe again.

  A few moments later she stumbled out of the doorway into the brisk, cold morning. Her breath escaped in a visible puff and she stood there a long moment, gulping in the chilly air.

  Then, realizing she was standing on the sidewalk for anyone to see, she hurried around the corner of the building to the small parking lot in the back where she’d parked her SUV.

  After she climbed in, she started the engine but didn’t turn on the heat. Her fingers curled around the steering wheel, and for the longest time she simply stared forward out of the windshield. Then she lowered her forehead to the steering wheel as hot tears rolled down her cheeks.

  CHAPTER 2

  CALLIE Wilder trudged into her house, dropped her purse onto the floor, and promptly flopped onto the couch. Face-first. She groaned once but couldn’t summon the energy to adjust her position. She was so tired, and she felt like complete and utter crap.

  She wished Max were here. She missed him dreadfully. Especially now that she’d come down with the creeping crud, and all she really wanted to do was curl into his arms and sleep for about a week.

  He didn’t often go anywhere without her. One of the benefits of being married to a man who had a Midas touch when it came to business and investments was that she could often indulge in one of her greatest passions. Traveling. And Max was every bit as much of a free spirit as Callie was herself. It was how they met. Only Callie had been backpacking through Europe and Max … Well, he had much more luxurious accomodations than she’d had. But that had all changed soon enough.

  From the moment they’d met, there was an undeniable spark between them. She’d been drawn to him, found him irresistible. He’d taken over, lavished luxury on her, and she’d spent every available moment with him in his hotel suite.

  The only problem was that their meeting hadn’t been accidental at all. Max had targeted her and purposely seduced her. All over a piece of land that he considered his legacy.

  Just remembering had the power to send shadows through her mind. She hated that the way they met and the wonderful month they’d spent together was forever tainted because it hadn’t been real, even though Max swore he’d fallen hard for her from the start.

  He’d come for her, all the way to Clyde where she’d sought refuge in the bosom of her loving family. Thus had begun the long, rocky climb to where they were today. Happily married. Forgiveness given. It hadn’t been easy, but looking back, Callie knew she didn’t regret a single moment because everything that had happened had brought her to where she was today. Stronger. Loved.

  Happy.

  No, he didn’t often go anywhere without her at all, but his sister had called, and Max had left suddenly, worried and quiet. The worry aspect didn’t bother Callie so much. Max was a born worrier when it came to the people he loved. But the quiet part was what bugged her. He hadn’t said a word. He’d simply told her he had to go and then left.

  That had been two days ago. He’d called but he hadn’t volunteered what the issue was and she hadn’t pushed. She’d find out when he returned even if she had to drag it out of him.

  He was getting better about not being so closemouthed about personal stuff, but he was still a clam. Callie was working on him.

  Her cell phone rang, and she groaned again because she didn’t want to move in order to answer it. But it was one of her brothers calling—they all had the same ringtone—and if she didn’t answer, they’d only worry and come out to check on her.

  She fumbled with her pocket and finally dug the phone out, putting it to her ear while she still lay facedown.

  “’Lo,” she mumbled.

  “How are you, baby girl?”

  Dillon. Just hearing his voice sent warmth through her chilled veins. Of all her brothers—and she loved them all dearly—she and Dillon were most alike. The rebels or free spirits of the bunch. She’d always shared a closeness with Seth, a bond that she treasured, but she and Dillon had been cut from the same mold.

  “Tired,” she said, not even bothering to lie and say fine. If it had been Michael or Seth, she could have gotten away with the lie, but Dillon had tossed her out of the bar bright and early, and he knew she didn’t look good.

  She could hear him frowning through the phone.

  “I think you should come over here until Max gets back. Let Lily fuss over you. Or if you won’t come here, at least go over to Mom’s so she can baby you. ”

  As tempting as the suggestion was, she was simply too exhausted to move. Going anywhere would require far more energy than she possessed. She wanted Max and Max wasn’t here.

  “I’ll be fine,” she croaked out. “Just tired. ”

 
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