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​“What about this?” Alex asked Ashleigh as he stood on the aisle staring at the various baby things. How in the world was it possible that a baby would need this much stuff?

“I’m not sure I like that one,” Ashleigh told him as she briefly glanced at the stroller he’d been studying for the last half hour.

“Which one do you prefer?” he asked. 

“It doesn’t matter,” she mumbled.

Alex turned to her then. All thoughts of strollers and bottles and cribs and bibs and diapers and… – holy shit babies required a lot of stuff – fled when he looked at her.

“What’s the matter?” he asked gently, reaching out to her and taking her hands in his. 


“Come on, baby,” he encouraged. He knew something was wrong. Ever since that morning when he suggested they go look for baby furniture, she’d been quiet.

Ashleigh stared back at him, her beautiful brown eyes glistening with unshed tears. “I think I’m just scared.”

He understood that all too well. She had just passed the thirtieth week of her pregnancy and for the first few months, it had been touch and go. It wasn’t until her fourth month that the doctor had assured them both that things were fine. She wasn’t on bed rest any longer and Alex had thought she’d been doing better.

“What are you worried about?” Besides the obvious, he wanted to say but he didn’t.

“What if I’m not a good mom?” 

Alex stared at her in disbelief. Really stared at her. She was the absolute most amazing woman he’d ever met. She was smart, funny, beautiful… and she had the biggest heart of anyone he knew. Just ask her brother Dylan who seemed to be hanging on to his sister like a lifeline these days. The man was regressing into a depression that none of them were equipped to help him with, but Ashleigh was right there beside him every day.

“You’re going to be an amazing mother,” he told her, pulling her close and releasing her hands so he could put his on her tummy. He was still amazed by the baby’s movements, and he found it fascinating just to touch her when the little one moved around. If anyone should be worried about being a good parent, he knew it should be him – hell, he didn’t even know what sort of diapers they were supposed to get. 

“But what if I’m not?” she asked.

“Baby, I have no doubt that you’re going to be a wonderful mom. To this baby and all the rest that we have.”

That got her attention and she glared at him with a small smile on her lips. “After this, I’m not sure we’re going to have anymore.” 

Alex laughed. It was a conversation they had repeatedly. He would mention it, she would argue, but he knew that in the long run, Ashleigh would want more babies and he wanted them too. With her. 

But he knew convincing her wasn’t going to be easy. They still hadn’t gotten married and he’d practically begged her on more than one occasion. Ashleigh insisted that she wanted to wait until the baby was born and until she could focus on the wedding. According to her, she didn’t have time to plan for a wedding.

There for a while, he’d accepted her reason. But, what this woman didn’t seem to understand was that he was tired of waiting. He’d spent years wanting her, years aching for a woman he knew he shouldn’t want and then, by the pure grace of God, he’d been blessed to have her in his life permanently, so Alex knew he couldn’t keep putting it off.

Which was why he’d been working with Sierra, Samantha, Xavier, her niece Stacy, and yes, Dylan, her brother. There was going to be a wedding. And it was going to be soon. 

“Well, I think I get to pick out the stroller and you can pick out… all the rest,” he told her as he glanced around. The shelves were lined with more baby stuff than he’d ever seen before in his life. Not that he made a habit of checking out babies or their stuff, but good grief… this was too much.


​“Ok?” he asked, not sure what she was “ok-ing”. 

“Yes, you can pick out the stroller. I get to pick out all the rest.”

Alex wasn’t sure why she sounded so triumphant. Had she seriously not looked around? How in the world was she going to choose? 

But, if letting her pick out all of the rest of the stuff made her happy, so be it. Because Alex had a few other things to take care of. And he was running out of time to do it. 

He only hoped that Ashleigh liked surprise weddings as much as she liked surprise parties. 

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