I shook my head. “I miss Julia, and I want her home,” I cried.

“Aw, Ellery. Come here, baby,” he said as he wrapped his arms around me. “She’ll be home soon.”

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Suddenly, I heard voices coming from downstairs. I jumped up from the bed and flew down the stairs. When I saw Peyton and Henry by the door, I grabbed the car seat from Henry’s hand.

“Julia, Mommy missed you so much,” I cried as I took her out of her car seat and held her tight.

“God, Elle. Are you okay?” Peyton asked.

“She’s fine,” Connor said as he came walking down the stairs. “She just missed Julia.”

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Connor walked over and kissed Peyton on the cheek. “Thank you for looking after her,” he said, and then walked over and shook Henry’s hand. Connor kissed Julia on the head and told her how much he missed her.

“What’s going on with you?” Peyton asked as she sat down next to me.

“I missed her, Peyton. It was the first time we’d been apart since I found out I was pregnant, and it was hard.”

“Aw, sweetie,” she said as she put her arm around me. “I’m sorry; I should have just brought her home sooner.”

“No, it’s fine, and thank you again for taking care of her.”

“How did it go at court today?” she asked.

I looked at her with a sullen look, but I didn’t have to say a word. The single tear that fell from my eye said enough.

“What the fuck, Elle? What did she do, or didn’t, or whatever? What the f**k happened?” she whispered.

“We’ll talk about it over dinner. I don’t want to talk about it now and then again.”

As Julia started to cry, Connor walked over and took her from me so I could get a bottle ready. I got up from the couch and walked into the kitchen. Peyton followed behind.

“We need to get you fitted for your maid of honor dress,” she said.

“Ugh, I know. I just have a few more pounds to lose.”

“I think you look great, but if you insist, then I suggest you hit the gym and hit it fast. You have one month and then you’re going for your fitting,” she announced.

I took out the pizza menu from the drawer and looked it over. I grabbed my cell phone and called an order for delivery. I warmed up a bottle and Peyton and I walked back into the living room where Henry and Connor were.

“I’ll feed her, babe,” Connor said.

“I can feed her, Connor.”

“Aw, Henry, look at them. They’re fighting over who feeds Julia. That’s so sweet!” Peyton squealed.

I smiled at Connor and gave him the bottle. I walked over to the bar and Peyton sat down on the stool.

“Pour me some hard liquor, bartender,” she said with an accent.

“Let’s do some shots.” I smiled.

I took down two shot glasses and grabbed the bottle of Jack Daniels. I poured a shot into each glass.

“Here’s to a f**ked up day!” I smiled as I held up my glass.

Peyton smiled as we both downed our whiskey and slammed our glasses on the granite top of the bar. The burn made its way down my throat. Peyton looked at me.

“Remind me again why you drink this shit,” she said.

I laughed as I poured another shot and Connor came walking over to me with Julia in his arms.

“Keep that up and you’ll be drunk before you know it,” he said.

“Last shot. I promise.” I smiled.

Julia fell asleep, so Connor took her upstairs and put her in her crib. The pizza had arrived and we all went into the kitchen and sat down at the table.

“Are you going to tell us what happened today?” Peyton asked as she grabbed a slice of pizza.

“Ashlyn changed her plea to not guilty by reason of temporary insanity due to the distress I apparently caused her,” Connor explained.

“What?! That stupid bitch!” Peyton yelled.

“Connor, that’s crazy,” Henry said as he shook his head.

“She’s crazy,” I said.

“Well, we all know that bitch is crazy. So now what?” Peyton asked.

“Now, we get to rehash the past and all the shit that went on between her and Connor.”

“Ellery, don’t,” Connor said as he looked at me.

I looked away because I didn’t want to go through this again. Not now; not ever.

Chapter 10

Connor

Peyton and Henry left, and Ellery went upstairs to check on Julia. I walked over to the bar and poured myself a scotch. I could see how upset Ellery was and it killed me not to be able to make it better for her. This was just the beginning of a long and painful road, and I’d do whatever it took to shield my family from it. I walked up the steps and stopped in the doorway of the nursery. Ellery was sitting in the rocking chair, rocking Julia. As I stood there and smiled, she looked up at me with her sad eyes. I walked over to her and knelt down, placing my hands on her legs.

“I want you to listen to me, Elle. We’re going to get through this. I talked to Lou and he said not to worry about it, and that we’ll talk in the morning. He’s going to do some investigating. You know he’s the best lawyer in the country, and he’ll take care of this.”

“The only way we’ll get through it, Connor, is together. There can’t be any secrets.”

“I know that, baby, and there won’t be. You’ll be with me every step of the way,” I said.

She smiled at me as she ran the back of her hand down my cheek. “I love you so much.”

I took her hand and held it against my lips as I closed my eyes. “I love you too, and you better never, for even one single moment, forget it.”

I stood up and took Julia from her arms. I kissed her tiny head and laid her down in her crib. Ellery took my hand and we walked down the hall to our bedroom. She changed into her satin nightgown and I undressed. We climbed into bed, and I wrapped my arms around her as she snuggled against me and fell sound asleep.

When the buzzing alarm went off, Ellery rolled over and looked at me. We looked at each other and jumped out of bed.

“Oh my God, Julia never woke up last night!” she said in a panic.

We ran to her room to check on her. As we looked in her crib, she looked at us and smiled. Ellery gasped and put her hand over her mouth.

“Connor, she smiled! Did you see it?” she asked excitedly.

“Yes, I saw her.” I smiled as I picked her up from her crib and stared at her. Her smile was just like Ellery’s, and I knew right then and there, I was in trouble. “She has your smile, Ellery. That means all the boys are going to fall in love with her, and we’re going to have quite a problem on our hands.”

Ellery laughed and put her arm around my waist. “The only problem we’re going to have is if you become one of those overprotective fathers that scare all the boys away.”

“She’s not allowed to date. I know what boys are like and they’re not getting their hands on my daughter.”

“Connor,” Ellery paused. “Do you realize that our little girl slept through the night?”

I looked at Ellery, who was beaming from head to toe. “You’re right. She did sleep through the night.” I smiled as I held her up in the air.

I passed Julia to Ellery as I ran to the other room to grab my ringing phone. I picked it up and saw that Lou was calling.

“Hey, Lou,” I said as I answered.

“Good morning, Connor. I have a quick meeting this morning and then I’ll stop by your office, let’s say around eleven.”

“I’ll be there, Lou, and thank you.”

“No problem, buddy. I’ll see you then.”

I hung up the phone and turned around. Ellery was standing behind me.

“What time is our meeting?” she asked.

“Our meeting?”

“We’re in this together, babe, and I’m meeting Lou with you.”

I sighed as I kissed her on the lips. “Eleven o’clock at my office. I’ll make sure to have Denny drive you there.”

“Thank you,” she said as she turned and walked downstairs with Julia.

I stepped into the shower and stood under the hot water. Thoughts of Ashlyn kept entering my mind and how she could potentially destroy my life, especially with her lies. The thought of my relationship with her and our arrangement coming out made me sick to my stomach. I finished up in the shower, wrapped a towel around my waist, and walked into the bedroom. Ellery was standing in front of the mirror in her bra and panties, staring at herself.

“Are you admiring that beautiful body of yours?” I asked as I walked up behind her and put my hands on her hips.

“No, I’m disgusted by how much weight I still have to lose.”

“Nonsense. Your body is just as amazing now as it was before you got pregnant.”

“You’re only saying that so you can get laid.”

“Oh, yeah! Is that what you really think?” I laughed as I picked her up, threw her on the bed, and started to tickle her until she couldn’t take it anymore.

I stopped and stared into her beautiful blue eyes. The smile that I loved so much didn’t leave her face as she stared back. I pushed her hair behind her ear.

“I love you, Ellery.”

“I love you, Connor,” she replied as she traced my lips with her finger.

All I wanted was to make love to her at that moment. I didn’t care what time it was. The world could wait when I was with her. I lowered my head and gently nipped her bottom lip. As she softly moaned, Julia’s screams, coming from downstairs, snapped us back into our little family world; a world where it was no longer just the two of us, but now the three of us.

We smiled at each other as I sighed and got up from the bed.

“I guess we’re going to have to get used to working our sex schedule around Julia,” I said as I walked to the closet and pulled out some clothes.

“I guess so.” Ellery laughed as she got up, got dressed, and headed downstairs.

When I arrived at the office, I sat down at my desk and went through my messages. As I turned my chair around and stared out onto the city of New York, Phil walked in.

“Did you have your meeting with Lou yet?” he asked as he sat down.

“Today at eleven o’clock.”

“Damn that bitch. She’s crazy and she’s trying to avoid going to prison for the next 25 years. You do realize that she’ll destroy you and this company in the process, right?”

I got up from my chair. “Don’t you think I know that?” I scowled.

“She needs to be stopped, Connor.”

“There’s nothing I can do. I’ll talk to Lou and see what he says.”

“I have to finish some things up. I’ll be back at eleven for that meeting.” Phil sighed as he walked out of the office.

Chapter 11

Ellery

Julia was being fussy. She was continuously crying, and I felt like I was going to pull my hair out. She wouldn’t take a bottle, she didn’t want her pacifier, and she didn’t want to be put down. Even as I held her, she still screamed. I felt so bad because I didn’t know what to do. Tears started streaming down my face as I paced the floors with her. I didn’t want to call Connor because he had enough to worry about. Just as I was thinking that, my phone rang and it was him.

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