told him this was wrong. “I don’t know yet. I feel overwhelmed.” She squeezed his hand. He wasn't sure what his response to that was meant to be. She leaned closer. “I did wrong by you, Nick. I forced this on you because I was scared of being alone. Scared you’d leave me, like everyone in my life has.” His heart boomed in his chest with such force that he leaned back. “What are you saying?” “I’m sorry. I made the biggest mistake, and I’m so sorry. I never meant for anyone to be hurt. I honestly thought you’d change your mind when it happened. I didn’t know how strong you felt, you see.” He drew his lips into a thin line. Was she implying what he thought? “You wouldn’t?” the whisper was all he could manage. “I love you, Nick. From that first moment I saw you, I loved you. You were this stoic, unreachable ass of a man, and I should have known better. Hell, everybody warned me to stay away from you—” “What are you saying? Skylar, what are you saying?” He pulled his hand away from hers. She swallowed and looked at him with those emerald eyes filled to the brim with tears. “You were going to leave and go on tour. I was scared. So I stopped taking the pill.” No. No. No . She couldn’t have done this to him. She loved him. He trusted her. She would never break that trust. It was impossible. “Nick, talk to me.” She watched him. She lied. Cheated. Betrayed. She broke his trust. He felt his insides burn until all he felt was sickness. The chair scraped on the floor as he pushed it back. He couldn’t look at her. “Nick. Please.” In the Marine Corps, they taught a man to improvise, adapt and overcome. His hands squeezed so tight. This was a mission he might never adapt or overcome.
“So are we done with time-out, or should I stand to attention and say, 'Permission to speak, sir'?” Skylar asked one afternoon after deciding she'd had enough. Fair enough, she made a mistake. Deserved punishment. But this was like marshal law. She was not a Marine. Nick stopped momentarily from doing push-ups in the lounge. Then, as if realizing she could wait, he continued with his routine workout. Putting down the book she was reading, she pulled herself up. “How long are you going to ignore me?” she asked. He did a few more push-ups then lifted himself off the floor. He took the towel from the settee and wiped the sweat off his face. “Nick?” she persisted. The muscles in his neck tensed. Hell she knew he was in there somewhere. All she needed was a reaction. Something to say he was still here. He sighed before turning to her. “You betrayed my trust. The one thing I asked for, the one thing.” “I'm sorry. Like I said, I never knew you felt so strongly about being a dad. I never understood. Maybe if you’d explained it to me—” She knew this was grasping straws time. His laugh couldn’t hide his hurt. “When the time was right, I would have told you.” “Can you tell me now?” Her throat constricted. Her eyes burned. “Can you tell me now why there had to be a deal-breaker in the first place? Most marriages don’t have that. Not if two people love each other.” Her voice softened. His silence was a painful reminder of the lie still between them. His jaw was a solid mass. “You can’t put this on me. You lied. I joined the Marines to get away from the lies and betrayal. Because if you don’t trust the man next to you, you lose your life.” Skylar folded her arms, making sure she shielded her unborn child. If Nick had physically used a knife to slit her open, and take her insides out and put her back together in the wrong order, it would feel like this. Exactly like this. There was no way out of this . No way back. It was time to make the decision, do what she knew was right. Only she still needed time. “I have an afternoon shift, so I'll see you later.” He took his towel and wiped his neck. “I'm on nights, so