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This is Not a Test At Last (Lucky Harbor #5)

Anthony swung around and glared at her, his eyes burning. I saw your—

He grabs my finger, and I laugh.You want to go first, or you want me to go? he asks.

Dearest Ivie (Black Dagger Brotherhood #15.5)

I look at Annie, who is asleep in her swing, and bite my lip.You stay, he says, smiling. You can go to the hospital tomorrow when some of your anxiety has eased up.I watch as he walks down the driveway to his truck, and before he gets in, he looks back at me and raises his hand to wave.

Mine to Keep (Mine #2)

It’s only then that I remember how much I love him.
I’ve never taken care of a tiny human before. It’s all movement: running to get this, running to get that. Washing things, washing the tiny human, never washing yourself. It’s a labor during which you are given very little time to think about you. You. You who are still heartbroken. You who are managing your feelings even as you wrap, and wipe, and feed. Feelings you have no right to have. You do not think about these feelings or put a name to them. Live, live, live. Wipe, love, sleep. They all help me, but somewhere in the first week it becomes clear that I am Annie’s caretaker. Helena knows what she needs; Helena knows what type of formula she eats; Helena, where are the diapers? Helena, she’s fussy; Helena…

It’s all true. Annie and I have a system. I figure out that if you rub her back counterclockwise twice, then pat up from her lower back to between her shoulder blades, those difficult burps will be worked out. She has a protein allergy. I notice the bumps on her skin and take her to the pediatrician Della chose, an Iranian woman named Dr. Mikhail. She is stern and gives me the stink eye the whole time.

Most new mothers are nervous and hovering. You must have done this before.No problem, Kit. See you tonight. I sound all business. I want to pat myself on the back for not swooning.

Yeah, Neil and I are coming with to Barclays.Cool, he says. I didn’t know.

The Marriage Merger (Marriage to a Billionaire #4)

Della makes plans for everyone, I say. I want to see how he reacts to that. If he’s annoyed by Della’s tendencies to control everyone’s free time. But he just shrugs.When I look in the mirror after he leaves, I find egg in my hair. Also, I don’t look nearly as cute as I imagined.

Della shows up later while I am sorting through my box of mismatched socks. She walks right in, tossing her designer shit on my sofa.Oh no, she says. Why do you have that out?

What? No reason. I try to hide the box, even though she’s already seen it.She grabs me by the shoulders and looks in my eyes. You don’t get that box out unless you have high anxiety, she says. What’s wrong?

Della is correct. My box of socks has been around since I was a kid. My mom would complain that one of my socks was missing, and she’d throw the loner in the trash. Five year old me would get it out of the trash when she wasn’t looking and stuff it in my pillowcase. The other sock would turn up. I knew it even then. I was just keeping its partner safe until it did. When my mother changed my bed sheets, she freaked out about all the socks in my pillowcase. I heard her telling my dad I was a hoarder. I remember feeling shame. There was something wrong with me; my mother had said it with such conviction. Hoarder! Sock hoarder! Later, when my dad came to my room to speak to me, he told me that when he was little, he used to keep all the caps to the toothpaste tubes. He couldn’t bear to throw them away. He gave me a shoebox and told me to keep my socks in there instead. I hid it under my bed, my shoebox of shame, and when I felt anxious or lost I would pull it out and touch all of my socks. All loners. All waiting to be reunited with their twin. I eventually outgrew the shoebox … and by that I mean there were too many socks.Kit doesn’t come to Barclays. At the last minute he calls Della and tells her something’s come up. I don’t know who’s more disappointed: Della—who starts to cry—or me, as I sulk in a corner pretending to listen to Neil as he talks about rocket science, or some shit like that. We order drinks, and I pull out a pen to doodle on my placemat. Once again, Neil and Della have a conversation without me. I wonder when I became the weird one. The little social pariah who sits in the shadows, trying to discover her hidden artistic talent. I even ordered a different drink than my usual cranberry vodka. It seems so childish to order, now that I’ve furnished a house with Pottery Barn. I order another glass of wine. White this time. The night ends early, and Neil drives us both home. Della asks me if she can sleep over. I say yes, but I don’t like it when she spends the night. For all of her beautiful, smooth skin, and bright blue eyes, Della farts in her sleep. It gets really uncomfortable. Most nights I go sleep on the couch and then sneak back to the bed before she wakes up. Neil walks us to the door and kisses me goodnight.

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