Hidden Tries | Carrie Ann Ryan
Carrie Ann Ryan Carrie Ann Ryan let's stay in touch:
newsletter content updates txt alerts email
Carrie Ann Ryan Carrie Ann Ryan

Hidden Tries


Today wasn’t supposed to be the day that she vomited all over her clothes, but then again, there really wasn’t a day for that, was there. Hailey leaned against the cool tile of the wall and willed her body not to betray her. Today was supposed to be momentous. It should have been the day that changed everything.

And thinking along those lines was probably why she needed to throw up in the first place.

“Everything’s okay,” she whispered to herself, hoping no one would hear. “Everything’s going to be okay.”

Strong arms wrapped around her waist, bringing her back to a strong chest that simultaneous made her heart race and helped her calm down.

“Breath, Hailey. You’re doing good. Just breathe.” Sloane’s voice sent shivers down her spine, and she couldn’t help but fall in love with him even more.

She rested the back of her head on his chest since, even in her heels,  she didn’t brush his chin. She loved how big her husband was, how comforting he was to her when some would look at his huge muscles and bald head and might feel intimidated.

Hailey never felt safer than when she was with Sloane.

And considering all the hell she’d been through in her life, having that cornerstone meant everything in the world to her. He’d loved her when she hadn’t known she could possibly love herself and had shown her that she was worth more than what she’d given herself credit for.

“Thanks,” she whispered. “I was on my way to a panic attack.”

He kissed her temple, and she turned in his arms, smiling up at him even as she slowed her breathing. They were standing in the middle of an old building, people milling about them as they waited to hear if their lives were about to change.

And what made it all slam into her over and over again was that even after today when her world might forever be changed, it could still shift again and again and again.

“It’s going to be okay, baby. You need to have faith.”

She looked up at her husband, amazed at his words and the fact that she knew he believed them. Because this was the same man who had looked into the darkness and came back shadowed. He’d fought the fire and had not only been burned, but he could still feel the heat on nights when the memories were too much.

But he believed in what they were doing.

Because she did, as well.

“I do. And you being here with me tells me that we’re doing the right thing.”

He kissed her then, not too hard, but just enough to remind her of one more reason she loved him.

“Of course, we are. Those kids need us, baby. And I can’t wait to be a fucking dad.”

He’d whispered the last part, aware that others were looking at them.

It hadn’t been easy to get to this part of the adoption process, but here they were. Thanks to her treatments for breast cancer as well as injuries Sloane had sustained over in the desert, they’d both known that having a biological child wouldn’t be an easy option. And in the end, they’d decided to help a child who needed them, one who was already in this world.

They’d known Grace for a while now, had worked through the foster-to-adopt program to start the process of making Grace theirs in truth. Grace, at age four, was Hailey’s daughter now, even though the paperwork wouldn’t be complete for another hour or so.


As in, Grace would be theirs.

And she was so damn worried that it was all going to slip through her fingers in the next hour if, somehow, they found more of Grace’s family. Only Hailey knew that would be difficult, as Grace’s mother had died three months ago delivering Grace’s brother, Oliver.

Hailey sucked in a deep breath, trying not to think about the horridness and how scared the young woman had been when everything changed for her. Both Grace and Oliver had been born with drugs in their system, and Hailey and Sloane both knew that there would probably be issues they would have to deal with as a family.

But they would be a family.

“We’re going to have two babies soon, Hailey. Two children who need us, who need love, and who we can be the best parents in the world to. The paperwork is almost done. We’ve been waiting years for this. We can do this, Hailey. We’ve got this.”

And before she could say anything, the doors opened, and Grace ran through toward them. Sloane went to his knees, holding his arms out for the little girl.

Grace it seemed, was a Daddy’s girl.

And Hailey would not let the tears fall as Grace wrapped her arms around Sloane’s neck for a hug, babbling about her day.

Hailey ran her hand over the little girl’s hair, but her attention was on the two social workers walking through the door, one with a little bundle in her arms.

Hailey would eventually think about all the legal work that would come after this, and everything that might come later. She knew the details, knew that there would be calls to the house later, name changes, long talks with both children about who their birth parents were.

There would be time for everything.

Because there would be time.

But right then, she could only look down at the little boy the social worker put in her arms. Little Ollie, who smiled up at her. Sure, it might be gas, but he was hers.

At least, he would be.

Sloane wrapped his arm around her shoulders, Grace leaning down from her spot on his hip to look at her little brother. And Hailey couldn’t help the tears that came.

This was her family, her future.

Her son, daughter, and husband.

Sure, the details and legal things would be there later. The paperwork would come. The long nights of worry and not knowing what to do were on the horizon.

But in her mind, this was the anniversary of when they became a family.

Of when their lives had changed.

This was their new life.

Hidden ties and all.





read an excerpt