Author: Jaci Burton
Cara nodded. "But now you're going to notice everything. Like how fast your clothes are not going to fit."
"And how nauseated you'll get. And how your tastes in food will change."
Liz chatted with Kathleen and Cara while they cooked, and was so grateful for their help. When Gavin came back home with his dad, they settled in the living room to watch sports, but Gavin stepped in to see if he could help.
"How's that flu?" he asked, wrapping his arm around her to kiss her cheek.
"Cat's out of the bag. They know."
"Please," his mom said. "Give us some credit, Gavin. We've both been pregnant."
"Oh. Sorry. Liz and I didn't have a chance to talk about who we were going to tell and when."
"Understood." His mom came around the island and placed her hands on his cheeks. "Neither Cara nor I will say a word until you and Liz are ready to announce it. But congratulations. I'm so thrilled I'm going to be a grandma again."
He smiled. "Thanks, Mom."
After a while, everyone began spilling in. Liz didn't know why she'd worked herself into such a neurotic mess. Just as it was at Gavin's house, everyone was casual and relaxed, and of course, more than willing to pitch in and help with the cooking. While the guys worked on carving the turkey, the women set out all the side dishes.
The food was a veritable feast, and Liz could barely eat a bite of it.
"Tell me you're not dieting on Christmas Day," Jenna said, eyeing her barely touched plate.
"Hardly. You know I love food."
"All you did was push it from one side to the other."
Gavin speared one of the slices of turkey she hadn't eaten. "My guess is she stuffed herself prepping it all, and now she's too full to eat what's on her plate."
She could have kissed him. "You're not supposed to divulge my secrets."
"It's always a cook's prerogative to sample the food before it's served," his mother said with a wink.
"Well, it's all fabulous," Savannah said. "Thank you, Liz."
"You're welcome. Kathleen and Cara helped. So did Gavin."
"She lies. She did most of it herself," Gavin said. "The only thing I did was utilize my expert turkey-carving skills."
"He tried to slice his finger off with the electric knife," Mick said. "Thank God I was there to save him, or his career would have been over."
Gavin rolled his eyes. "In your dreams. My knifing skills are legendary."
"Yeah. In your own mind."
After dinner, Kathleen declared that the men were in charge of putting away the leftovers and loading the dishwasher. Despite much grumbling about missing the game, the guys headed into the kitchen to do their duties while the women settled into the family room.
"How have you been feeling since the wedding?" Tara asked her.
"Oh . . . fine."
"Really? No ill effects from that flu bug?"
"No. Not really."
Tara gave her a look. "Are you sure? Because you still look a little pale to me."
"Actually, you are a little pale, Liz," Alicia said. "There are a lot of people out sick on our therapy team with the flu. God, it's been awful. I've been hoping I don't get it."
"No, I don't have the flu."
"So, how far along are you?" Tara asked with a knowing smile.
"You're pregnant? How did I not know this?" Jenna looked affronted.
And Liz knew she'd never be able to hide this from the women she held so dear. She gave them all a smile. "Actually, I just took a test this morning, and it said I was pregnant."
"Seriously? That's awesome," Alicia said. "Congratulations!"
Then she was surrounded by everyone and hugged. She couldn't help but smile and laugh and shed a few tears.
"Dammit, you're all making me weepy and emotional, and you know I hate that shit."
"Well, get used to it. It'll get worse before it gets better," Tara said. "I was a water faucet and an emotional basket case when I was pregnant with Sam."
"I'm going to get a grip here very soon. I don't intend to let hormones get the best of me."
Kathleen laughed. "Good luck with that, sweetheart. I don't think you get to control your hormones when you're pregnant
She lifted her chin. "I refuse to let my body take over. It's bad enough I'm throwing up."
"It's only the first trimester," Alicia said. "After that, you'll be back to normal again."
She didn't think anything would ever be normal again. Her life-hers and Gavin's lives, were about to change forever.
Surprisingly, and considering it was late December, the day had turned out beautifully. No snow, and it was in the fifties, so the guys went outside to shoot baskets. After that, everyone came inside for dessert.
Kathleen's coconut cream pie was a big hit. Liz had made pecan pie, which everyone loved, and Savannah had made a peach pie that was to die for. Though she wasn't hungry, Liz had to sample everything.
"And now I'm so full I think I'm going to explode," she said.
"Think how awesome it's going to be not to have to suck in your stomach anymore," Jenna said.
Liz laughed. "You're right. That's the most awesome thing ever." She rubbed her belly. "Thanks, baby. My diet is officially over for at least the next, I don't know, seven months or so."
They all opened gifts, and then everyone left early in the evening, which suited her just fine. She loved Gavin's family-her family-but it had been one hell of a long day and she was utterly exhausted. Plus, after finding out she was pregnant, she wanted some time alone with her husband.
After they said good-bye to the last of the family, she and Gavin shut and locked the door. He slipped his arm around her waist and tugged her close, then brushed his lips against hers. She melted into him and took the moment to breathe in his scent, then laid her head against his chest.
"Thank you," she said, wrapping her arms around him.
"For loving me. For marrying me. For giving me a baby."
He tipped her chin up with his fingers, forcing her to meet his gaze. "How about I thank you? I was watching you when you fell asleep on my lap last night, thinking about how much my life has changed since I fell in love with you. And how much I want to make you happy."
Her eyes filled with tears. Gavin swiped them from her cheeks and kissed her again.
"You've already made all my dreams come true."
He laid his hand on her belly. "This is it, babe. You and me-parents. Think we can handle it?"
"I know you'll make a wonderful father. Now me as a mom? The poor kid."
"I don't know if I've ever known anyone with a deeper capacity to love than you. Our child is very lucky to have you as a mother."
All those years she'd fought so hard to become just as successful as her male counterparts in the sports world. She'd won that battle, but she'd never thought she'd have the man of her dreams.
She'd made so many mistakes along the way, and she'd almost lost Gavin. But he'd been there for her when she'd needed him the most, and he'd seen through all her bullshit and had wanted her anyway. She'd be forever grateful to him for busting through her walls and getting to her heart.
They spent some time sitting together around the Christmas tree, enjoying the quiet of the house and the twinkling lights.
"It's been a perfect day," Gavin said.
"A rough start to it, yet a happy one."
"You ready for bed?" he asked.
She nodded, and they turned off the lights and started up the stairs.
"You're off the hook now, you know," she said as they got into the bedroom.
He frowned. "Huh?"
"Well, now that I'm pregnant, I won't be after you to have sex with me every day."
"So now that you've used me for my baby-making abilities, you're casting me aside like a used condom?"
She laughed. "Yeah, it was good while it lasted, but we're through."
He picked her up and set her on the bed. "Nice try, Elizabeth." He loomed over her and tugged at her pants. "But I'm nowhere near through with you."
She reached for him to pull him against her. "And that's why I love you, Gavin."
Because she knew no matter how long they were together, every time would be as fresh, new and exciting as the first time.
And the best was yet to come.