“So you want the couch on the other wall?” Owen asked, doing his best not to frown. In fact, if he kept all of his emotions in check and looked as if he truly understood what his wife and the love of his life was saying, he just might survive the final weeks of her pregnancy.
Might being the operative word.
“Yes.” Liz nodded, her blond hair swaying around her shoulders. She’d been leaving it down for the past few weeks instead of putting it up in a ponytail, and he liked the look on her. Not that he’d say that because she’d probably find a way to make it sound as if he’d called her a heifer when she had her hair up.
Liz Gallagher, off of work since she’d been forced to start maternity leave early and almost ready to pop out their baby, was a force to be reckoned with.
Hell, she was a force to be reckoned with on any day. The added stresses just enhanced that.
And, honestly, it made Owen fear for his life and sanity most days.
But he loved her unconditionally. They’d done the whole death-do-they-part thing, and he took his vows seriously.
Hence why he was rearranging their living room for the fourth time since Liz moved in. When they found out they were pregnant, she’d moved into his place from her house next door. His brother and Liz’s best friend lived in the other house now, and were on their way to being married and all of that jazz, too, but he honestly couldn’t keep his attention on that right now.
Instead, Owen focused on the woman in front of him because if he didn’t get this couch in the right position, she might just pull his head from his shoulders with her bare hands. He knew praying mantises were known for eating the heads off their mates, but this was a whole other matter—even if it sort of reminded him of the Discovery Channel scenario.
“If we move the couch, then we’ll have to move the TV so you can see the screen.”
He was one step from walking off the plank.
One with a very, very long drop.
“And that means there will be wires across the walkway to the dining room and kitchen. Are you sure you want that?”
“Are you saying I can’t make up my mind? That the hormones are making me crazy? Because you’re the reason I’m in this mess, Gallagher. Don’t fucking test me.”
Then she broke down into tears.
So this was being married to the strongest woman he knew when all he wanted to do was hold her close and tell her everything would be okay.
He quickly set down the end of the couch, praying he didn’t hurt his back, and ran to his wife. “Baby, what can I do?” He wrapped his arms around her and hugged her close. It was a lot more awkward than it had been when she wasn’t carrying their child, but they made it work. His brother, Graham, who had been holding the other end of the couch, thankfully just stood back without saying a word. Since his own wife, Blake, was also pregnant and only a couple of weeks behind Liz, the man understood the precarious situation they were in.
“Make this baby come out because I’m tired and annoyed and making you move things that make no sense. We like order, Owen. Why am I not doing things in order?”
Graham walked past them, lifting his chin in Owen’s direction before leaving the house and shutting the front door quietly behind him. Owen would call him back or one of his other brothers if he really needed to move furniture again.
“You’re making a person inside you. You’re allowed to want things the way you want them.”
“And end up with cords in the way so we’ll trip and end up in the hospital and not be able to care for the baby? See how I am? Ugh.” She tugged on his shirt, letting out a big sigh that went straight to his heart.
“How about we both sit down and talk about this?” He did his best to sound casual, but when she leaned back and rolled her eyes, he knew he hadn’t succeeded.
“I love you. Thank you for taking care of me.”
He leaned down and touched his lips to hers. “I love you, too. You’re everything to me, Liz. You and this baby. So if you want me to move the couch again, I’ll call Graham or one of the others to help, and we’ll do whatever want. Whatever you need. I promise.”
“How about we go back to the bedroom and see how the bed is?” She waggled her brows, and he grinned.
“I like the way you think.” He kissed her again, but before he could help her to the bedroom, she leaned back, her eyes going wide.
“What?” His heart pulsed in his ears, and he was ready to call an ambulance or the Army if he needed to.
“I think my water broke.”
Then he looked down and noticed the wetness on both of their feet as well as their formerly clean area rug.
“Your water broke,” he repeated, his voice scratchy. “Holy shit, you’re having a baby. My baby. Your baby. Our baby.”
Then he kissed her again, all thoughts of cords and furniture and his orderly list going right out the window.
“What do you mean push?” Liz asked, her feet in stirrups, and her body sweaty and aching. “I can’t be ready to push. There’s no way I’m already dilated and a hundred percent effaced. That’s not the order, you guys. I’m a nurse. I need order.”
Owen squeezed her hand, and she knew he was thinking the same thing. Order was how they survived, and she knew it wasn’t logical for it to remain color-coded and list-oriented once they were parents, but they were going to damn well try.
Her doctor and friend smiled kindly. “You’re already there, Liz. The baby is doing great, and so are you. But it’s time to push.”
“I haven’t been in labor long enough,” she pleaded. She’d started off her day going insane moving couches and, apparently, she was just going to keep on that track with the ridiculous things coming out of her mouth.
“The baby wants to come out now,” her friend and fellow nurse said softly. “Time to push, Liz.”
“I don’t have my music.”
“Baby,” Owen said softly. “Maybe you should just do what the doctors tell you to.”
Liz glared at him, and her husband, the love of her life, noticeably paled. “Owen. Gallagher.”
He rolled his eyes, then kissed her on the top of the head. He would pay for that later, but first, she had to stop this horrible pain.
“Push, Liz. Let’s finish making this baby and meet him. He’s as eager as we are.”
Tears filled her eyes, and she braced herself for another contraction. “Fine. If everyone else says to.”
“Thank you,” her husband said and then let out a groan when she squeezed his hand harder.
What? Contractions were a bitch.
She pushed and pushed, screamed, probably really hurt Owen’s hand, and pushed some more. And when she heard the first cry, she knew that no matter how many lists she made, she’d never forget this moment, never forget that sound.
She was a mother. Owen was a father.
And another Gallagher was out in the world. Everyone else had better strap in because the Gallaghers were here to stay.