branding the virgin (cowboys & virgins 1) Page 7

I lie there, unsure what to say. So many thing race through my mind. That was incredible and more than I ever though my first time could have been. I close my eyes, enjoying the feel of Ty absent-mindedly rubbing my stomach. I feel whole for the first time in my life. Something has come together for me, and I didn’t even know I needed it so badly. I can’t lose this.

I can’t believe how he responded. How he’s acting about finding out about the baby. He doesn’t seem mad. If anything, he seems even more possessive of me. But what will he think when he finds out it’s his child inside me? How will he react to the fact he didn't get to choose to have this baby?

I open my mouth to say something, but I can’t think of how to tell him. Then he’s off the bed and pulling on his boxers. I sit up and watch him, grabbing the sheet to cover myself as I’m still feeling a little self-conscious. I’ve never been naked in front of a man before. It’s something that will take some time to get used to.

Ty picks up my things, throwing them into my luggage I have sitting in the corner of the room. I’d unpacked all my stuff, and seeing him packing it is making my blood run cold. Had I misread him? Or maybe reality has caught up to him now that the lust haze has faded.

He goes over to the closet, and in one big grab he pulls my clothes down. Then he grabs the luggage and leaves the room, weighed down with clothes and cases.

“Ty!” I yell and chase him, but he doesn’t head towards the front of the house. Instead he enters his bedroom. I follow him, holding the sheet to me as I watch him start putting my things away in his room.

“I wanted to go sweet and slow and make you fall for me, make you want to stay, but now slow isn't going to work,” he says. I’m not sure if he’s talking to me or himself. He opens his closet, moves some of his clothes out of the way, and hangs mine next to his. Seeing my clothes next to his makes something settle inside me. A sense of belonging, which I’ve never felt before.

“No fucker is going to show up here thinking you or my baby belongs to him,” he growls, stomping over to the luggage he dragged in. He opens my black bag and pulls out more of my stuff. He stops and looks at one of the baby books and moves to put that one on the night stand.

“You know what? I kind of hope he tries to show up here. This is fucking Texas, after all. Can’t just walk onto another man’s land and try and take what’s his without ending up with a few holes in you.”

He turns to look at me, his hard, possessive eyes focusing on me. I just stare at him, mouth open, eyes wide. Then he softens.

“I’m sorry, darlin’.” His long legs eat up the distance between us. “I’d never hurt you, don’t be scared.” He leans down and places a soft kiss on my lips. So much softer than you’d think you’d get from a man like him. Then he’s lifting me, carrying me to his bed and laying me down.

“You look good in my bed. Our bed,” he corrects himself. “Don’t move.” He pulls himself from the bed and walks over to his dresser, digs through one of the drawers, and comes back.

“This baby will be a Jennings.” I feel something slide on my finger. “You will be Mrs. Jennings. No one else will show up here trying to say otherwise. We’ll go to the courthouse tomorrow and make it official.” He glances over at the clock on the night stand. “Maybe we can still go into town today and get the paperwork started.”

He goes to pull back from the bed, and I grab him. “You’re going so fast. I can’t catch up,” I tell him. It all seems too good to be true.

“You don’t need to catch up. It’s happening.” His face grows hard again, and I can see the worry in his gaze. “Whoever he was let you slip through his fingers. I won’t make the same mistake, even if I have to tie you to this bed to keep you here. I’ll bribe a judge to sign off on our marriage. It’s happening.”

That should probably scare me, but it doesn’t. In fact, I feel my body heating all over again. “I’m not saying no, but there is more you should know.”

“We have our whole lives to catch up.” He leans in, placing his forehead against mine. “I need this. I have to know you’re not going anywhere. That I won’t lose you.” I think of how he lost his mom and dad, and that fear of losing someone else rides hard on him.

“I’m not going anywhere,” I tell him. I reach up to run my fingers across his jaw, feeling the stubble against my fingers.

He nods and stands up. He reaches out for me to pull me from the bed with him. “Let’s get on the road then. We need to…” His words trail off, and his face turns white. I follow his line of sight to the spot between my legs, and I see a trace of blood on my thighs. Seeing it makes my face flush.

“Oh my God! Mary-Jane, you’re bleeding! The baby!” he shouts, panic clear on his face. He drops to his knees in front of me, inspecting the blood. “We have to get you to a hospital.” He stands, but before he can run, I grab his arm.

“Ty, I’m fine,” I try to reassure him.

“I don’t know much, if anything, about pregnancy, but I’m pretty fucking sure you aren’t supposed to bleed.”

“That blood's not from the pregnancy.” He stops and stares at me in confusion. “It’s because you were my first.” I can tell by his face he still doesn’t get what I’m saying. “You took my virginity.

“But—”

I cut him off just wanting to get the words out. “The baby.” I take a deep breath, getting my bearings. “The baby is yours.”

“Damn straight it fucking is.”

I have to bite my cheek from smiling at that.

“I mean, I was artificially inseminated, and there was a mix-up.” He just keeps looking at me like things aren’t adding up, so I continue. “I went to Caro Fertility Center to have it done. It’s actually why I’m here. I came to tell you.” It’s clear from his face that he knows the Center and things are clicking into place. “They gave me your baby.”

He just stares for a second before turning and leaving the room. I stand there, uncertain whether I should follow him, until I hear yelling coming from the other end of the house. I grab one of his shirts and slide it over my head before going to see what’s happening. When I enter the kitchen, he’s pacing back and forth with a phone pressed to his ear.

“I want it all destroyed!” he yells into the phone. The volume of his voice makes me jump. “All of it.”

He’s quiet for a second. “Were there any other mix-ups?” Those words are quiet and

sinister, and my heart freezes when I hear them. “You’re fucking lucky.” With that, he clicks the phone off and drops it onto the counter. I stand frozen in place, and he turns to see me there.

He lets out a deep breath. “It’s okay,” he tells me, but I can’t seem to move. “I got it all destroyed.” I take a step back from him. He seems so mad.

“No other fucking woman is going to have my cum inside her but you. If I had found out they’d had another fucking mix-up I would have burned that goddamn place down for you.” He closes the distance between us. “Only you carry my babies.”

His mouth lands on mine in a possessively sweet kiss. My feet leave the ground, and I feel us moving through the house until my back hits the bed.

“Never thought I’d be happy about that bull almost taking my nuts off, but I’d do it again if it set you on the path to me.” I smile up at him. “I knew you were the one the moment you stepped out of your car. Woke me back up. Knew I’d be the man that loved you forever.”

“I love you, too,” I tell him, thinking how all these little things brought us together. Like the universe was making sure we found each other, one way or another.

12

Ty

I lay her down on the bed, then hover over her and look down at her beautiful face. Her hand comes up to my cheek and I feel the cool band against my skin. Pulling her palm away, I look at the ring on her finger and then back into her eyes.

“That belonged to my mama. My daddy gave it to her when he proposed, and after they passed, it came to me. I thought maybe Dolly should have it, but she said if a man who wanted to marry her didn’t have a ring, she didn’t want him.”

Mary-Jane gives me a smile, and I feel my heart swell with love.

“I held on to it, thinking that maybe one of my brothers would want it one day. But after I saw you, I knew where it would end up. I know that my mama would have loved you from the second you walked in the house. Wrapped her arms around you and made you a part of the family. You’ve got a spirit like her. Your heart is good and pure, and I know without a shadow of a doubt that you’re the one for me.”