Back to the Farm Ch. 13byevanslily©
The penultimate chapter...
Sorry to have made you wait a week between each of the last chapters, but be fair, that's pretty good going for me. :) And it was the only way I could be sure I'd have this thing finished...
Pretty please don't vote me down for making you wait. If you really don't like cliff-hangers, you might want to wait until I've posted the last chapter. :) It should be up next week.
Thanks so much for all your comments and emails. You're the best!
"Oh God," she faltered, unable to control the tremor in her voice. "Matt, I'm sorry. I should've told you..."
She fell silent when he raised his hand, bit her lip as he dropped to his knees in front of her, and when he caught the hem of her shirt, she couldn't breathe. Inch by tortuous inch, he eased the fabric upwards, his fingers making her quiver as they brushed against her exposed skin, his palms at last sliding into place, framing the distinctive, tell-tale swell of her abdomen.
"This is why you wouldn't let me touch you?"
Melissa couldn't speak. Was any of this even real? Was she really there at the farm with Matt, standing on the balcony she'd helped him design? Staring down at the top of his head as he in turn stared at her tummy?
He tucked his fingers inside her trousers, worn so much lower than their designer intended, his frown deepening as he slid his thumb over the straining safety-pin holding them in place. "But surely—?"
"I know," she interrupted, finding her voice at last. "I know what this looks like. I know it's not much of a bump for five months. But Matt, I promise—"
"What?" Lifting his head, he made a sound that was half snort, half choke. "Sweetheart, did you seriously think I'd think...?"
A tear rolled down her cheek. "I wasn't sure what you'd think. But I promise you, she's yours. I'm just small because the morning sickness made me so ill. I couldn't eat, I couldn't—"
"Lissy!" He bounded upright to seize her shoulders, his fingers biting into her flesh. "Why the hell didn't you tell me? What in God's name were you thinking?"
"Matt, I knew you didn't want this," she choked out, wanting to yank herself out of his grasp but held in place by the pain in his expression. "You said, remember? No getting married. No falling in love. No having children."
"Yes." His gaze seemed to darken. "I know I said that. And I swear, I thought I meant it. But what I didn't know then—what I hadn't realised then was that..." When he trailed off, she watched in astonishment as a smile began curving his lips. "The thing is, I didn't want that with anyone but you, Liss. I've never wanted anyone else, full stop. I love you. I've always loved you. I've loved you for as long as I can remember."
Dumbstruck, Melissa could only stare back, the air on her wet face bitingly chill. "You bastard," she whispered at last, grimacing as his smile broadened to a grin. "How the hell was I supposed to—? Uh!"
He captured her mouth in a bruising kiss, a kiss which gentled the moment she stopped resisting and surrendered completely, her limbs growing slack as he gathered her up, pulling her so close it was almost as though he were trying to merge her body with his. And suddenly she was airborne, slung high in his arms as he headed for the French doors. Once inside, he kicked them closed before striding across the room to place her full length in the middle of the bed.
"This is your bed," she accused as he sank beside her. "But you let me think..."
Matt reached up to smooth back her hair. "No," he corrected. "This is our bed. At least, I was hoping it would be, if I could persuade you to forgive me for not telling you everything. Although..." His gaze narrowed, his amusement vanishing. "How come you're allowed to be mad at me for not telling you stuff, but you're allowed to keep a secret like this?"
When he dipped his head to kiss her tummy, she shuddered with guilty pleasure. "Double standards," she conceded meekly. "Matt, I'm so sorry. I just didn't know h-how—" Her voice disappeared into a squeak as once again, he grasped the bottom of her shirt and yanked it upwards, staring down at her distended abdomen with a mixture of awe and blatant curiosity.
Catching her gaze, he shook his head then planted another kiss below her navel. "You said 'she'."
Melissa nodded. "Ultrasound scans. I've had to have a few. They wanted to make sure that she was doing okay. Because—"
"We're going to have a baby girl?"
We're going to have...
Horribly self-conscious of the tears prickling her eyes, she nodded again.
"And you honestly thought I wouldn't want to know?"
She flinched. "Matt..."
"You really thought I wouldn't want to know I was going to be a Daddy? You actually believed I'd want you to do this all by yourself?"
"I just didn't want you to feel that you had to be there for me."
"What? For heaven's sake, why?"
"I knew I'd manage somehow, that's all. I knew I'd get through it, one way or another—"
Matt swore. "I don't believe I'm hearing this."
"It's true!" she hurried on. "Because it's not as though it's the first time I've had to get on with things by myself, is it? It's not as though—"
"No," he fired back, eyes blazing now. "But only because you've always been too pig-headed to let anyone help. Newsflash, Lissy." He leaned over her, planting a hand either side of her shoulders. "Not this time, okay? I'm going to be here, for you and for the baby. Because I love you. I'm gonna love you both. And I don't give a flying fuck whether you love me back, I'm not going anywhere."
She stared up at him, aghast. "But I do love you, you idiot," she whispered, tears at last escaping and trickling into her hair. "Didn't you know that? I've n-never wanted anyone but you. Of course I love you!"
Matt's features softened into the broadest of smiles. "Hell, woman. You're hard work," he murmured. "Have you any idea how much I needed to hear you say that?" And as she beamed back, he reclaimed her mouth, toppling into her outstretched arms with a contented groan.
Later, Melissa would wonder exactly when those languorous kisses became teasing and playful, precisely when Matt's fingers started to venture beneath her shirt and she began unbuttoning his, and in which moment he somehow managed to release the safety pin securing her trousers. For when Matt finally lifted his head, it came as rather a shock to find herself wearing nothing but her underwear, an equally naked Matt propped up on his elbows alongside.
He grinned at her startled expression, leaning over to trail another string of kisses across her slender shoulders. "Look at you," he said with a rueful sigh. "You've gone all bony. I had no bloody idea morning sickness could be so bad."
"It was HG. Hyperemesis gravidarum," she murmured, her eyes fluttering closed as his mouth slid downwards, grazing the slope of her breast.
"Hyper what?" he responded, his breath tickling her tender skin. "I love it when you talk dirty."
Her giggle turned into a moan as he worked lower, easing the cups of her bra away from her newly-enlarged and ridiculously over-sensitive breasts. "It's the medical term for it," she said unsteadily, arching away from the bed as his hands slipped underneath her to locate the clasp. "It just means 'over-sickness in pregnancy' You see, instead of feeling a little bit queasy like most pregnant women, I couldn't... Oh God!" She wailed as he caught her left nipple in his mouth and suckled gently, a thousand bliss-filled darts arcing towards her groin.
He watched her with amusement, causing her to yelp again as he swirled his tongue around the rapidly hardening bud. "You couldn't...?" he prompted, pulling her bra away and dropping it over the side of the bed, where it slithered to the floor in a series of tiny clicks.
This probably wasn't the right time to finish that sentence, she decided, watching as he manoeuvred himself into a kneeling position between her thighs. Reaching up to slide her hands down his rippling ribcage, she decided he was even more toned than before. Had he spent all his spare time in Singapore at the gym? "Doesn't matter," she breathed, hooking her fingers into the elastic of his boxer shorts and drawing them down as he obligingly raised his hips. "I can tell you all about it—" But then she stopped, her mouth going dry as her gaze dropped beneath his waist.
Oh dear God... How could she have forgotten?
"—later," she finished feebly. And realising she was still staring, she tore her attention back to Matt's face to discover he was grinning broadly.
"You're blushing," he said happily, causing the fire in her cheeks to burn even more fiercely. "I love it when you blush, too." As if to prove it, he leaned forward to kiss her other breast, laughter rippling through his shoulders as his washboard-flat abdomen brushed against the swell of her belly. "Ah," he murmured, eyes alight with mischief as they met hers. "Looks like classic missionary position's out then."
Melissa sent him a horrified glance. Desperate though she was to feel him inside her, she hadn't even considered the logistics of pregnancy sex. "Then how—?"
Before she could finish the question, Matt reached up for a pillow and in one swift movement, lifted her from the bed and wedged it beneath her hips. "I think this'll work for now," he said, laughing as she gaped up at him. "And just think the fun we're going to have, figuring out all the other ways."
"Really?" she gulped as he lowered his mouth to hers. "You reckon you're going to get lucky more than once?"
"Oh, I have a feeling I might get to do this a few more times." And making her giggle again, he slowly worked downwards, brushing his lips across her the line of her jaw, her throat, her breasts. Circling her nipples but neglecting those taut peaks, even though they yearned for his attention. Moving lower, across her rounded belly, pausing to caress his unborn daughter with his hands as well as his mouth. Then lower still, until Melissa was no longer giggling but gasping, his fingers easing her knickers away, leaving her helpless with pleasure.
"Matt..." she breathed, guilty that in this position, there was little she could do to reciprocate. She could reach his shoulders but no more, her fingers digging into his flesh with every pass of his mouth. Each swipe of his tongue... "Matt!"
"Sh-sh-sh," he soothed, watching her as she watched him through half-lidded eyes. "It's okay."
"No, it isn't! You—what about...? Oh..."
He chuckled as she trembled beneath him. "Liss, I know I'm going to get my turn. This is yours."
"But I want—oh—oh God! I want you inside me."
"Oh you do, do you?" He sent her a considering look before returning to his self-assigned task, grinning when she released a moan. "Then you'll have to answer a question."
"It's an easy one." Straightening up, he reared over her, allowing his heavy erection to brush against her slick, aching centre. "A really easy one."
He laughed as he ground against her again, pressing oh-so-close to but not quite where she needed him to be. "You see, I sort of asked you earlier, but I didn't do it properly."
Suddenly, the realisation of what he was going to say filtered through the heady heights of her arousal. And when the shimmering glow of comprehension coupled with that rapidly coiling inner pressure, she feared she might actually explode before he could touch her again. "Matt..."
He smiled, moving almost imperceptibly, enough to make her yelp with frustration. "Melissa Barton," he said, cupping her face in his hands, his dark eyes appearing almost black as she stared up at him. "Will you marry me?"
She nodded, gasping when he promptly slid into position but didn't enter her, his gaze turning quizzical.
"Say it," he urged, still smiling, as though he knew just how close she was to flying off into the wide blue yonder.
Maybe he did...
"Will you marry me, Liss?"
She nodded again, steeling herself against the soaring wall of pleasure, holding it back with everything she had, just so she could utter one word.
"Yes," she managed, her gaze locking on to his as he surged into her, her body rising to meet him.
"Yes... Yes... Ye- e-ess..."
"Please tell me you're kidding."
Darkness had fallen by the time they emerged from the bedroom and ventured downstairs to the only other room that had 'furniture'. With no groceries in the house, it'd been Melissa's suggestion to order a takeaway. But when the pizza arrived and she insisted a single slice was all she wanted, Matt had demanded an explanation.
He regarded the last two pieces in the box with sudden revulsion. "You seriously started to look at food in terms of what it'd taste like coming back up, rather than what it tasted like going down?"
Melissa grimaced, wriggling into a more comfortable position on her brown velvet beanbag and gazing up at the tiny spotlights glittering from the living-room ceiling. Dimmed to a soft, amber glow, she decided they resembled stars. "Believe me, you have to think about these things," she said, trying to keep her tone light. "But we really don't have to talk about this now."
Matt certainly looked as though he wished he hadn't asked. "So when did it stop? How long did you have to go through all that?"
She bit her lip. "Well, it hasn't stopped, exactly. It's better," she put in hastily as his eyes narrowed, "a lot better. But without the medication I'm taking, I think I'd still be in trouble. I got lucky, you see. Thanks to Jonathan's wife, it got diagnosed early. Otherwise..." She lifted her shoulders in an attempt to appear nonchalant, but in truth, it had been three months she'd rather forget.
"Liss..." Sending the pizza box skimming across the polished floor, Matt scooted his beanbag beside hers and tugged her into his arms. "God," he muttered into her hair. "I'm sorry."
She forced a laugh, pressing a kiss to his chest. "Hardly your fault."
"But I should've been there. I should've—"
"Matt, you weren't there because I didn't tell you. How could that be your fault?"
"I was the one who got you pregnant."
She lifted her head and smiled. "I think you'll find everyone knows it takes two to tango."
Matt wasn't convinced. She'd trusted him with her virginity that dark night in the kitchen and what had he done? He'd taken all she had to give, paying no heed to the consequences, his desire to make her his, to bury himself deep inside her outweighing all other considerations.
Not that he regretted the conception of their child. As he looked down at her now, he felt another overwhelming rush of love. "I still wish I'd been there for you," he murmured, shunting his beanbag behind hers now, and tipping her backwards into his arms.
"Yeah, well. I'm kind of glad you weren't," she retorted, relaxing as he traced lazy circles over her tummy. "It wasn't a pretty sight—ooh!" She caught his hand. "Feel that?"
Matt did, the fluttering sensation beneath his fingertips like the flapping wings of a large butterfly. "Wow. That's some kick. Are you sure she's a girl?"
"Yep, I've seen the pictures. Well, all right," she confessed. "I couldn't really tell. But that's what all the people who've done scans have said."
"How many have you had?"
"Three?" She frowned, counting on her fingers. "Or is it four? Let's see, they did one the first time I was admitted to hospital but she wasn't big enough that time. Then the second time they made me stay in—"
"The second time?"
Melissa winced. She knew she'd have to tell him everything eventually, but she'd hoped to be able to release the details in bite-size pieces. "I got a bit dehydrated, that's all. I thought I'd be all right 'cos I was on the new medication by then, but the stupid midwife insisted—"
"Wait." Leaning forward, Matt peered down into her face. "The first time was after Jonathan found you in your office, flaked out on the floor?"
She nodded reluctantly. "Stupid," she muttered. "But I thought it was ordinary morning sickness. I thought I was being a wimp. Everyone says you should try ginger and eat dry crackers." She shuddered at the memory. "Dry crackers—not good."
They really hurt on the way back up...
Melissa immediately resolved to spare him the worst of it. The last thing she wanted was to make him feel guiltier. "Hey, it could've been so much worse," she said lightly. "Jonathan guessed what was going on, thank God. I think he might even have known I was pregnant before I did. And because Joanna—his wife—had HG when she was pregnant, they knew what to do. She insisted I saw her obstetrician. They were even willing to pay for me to see him privately, can you believe that? But they didn't need to. He came to see me when I was in hospital that first time, got me on to some medication and when that didn't work, got me on to some really expensive stuff which did, all on the good old NHS. Still felt sick, but I didn't actually throw up so at least I could eat something."
"Sweetheart, I'm so sorry."
"Will you stop apologising? It's all right. I'm mostly okay now." She smiled. "I even get hungry now and again. And look on the bright side. I actually got to wear Gemma's skinny jeans for a while."
"Huh." Matt made a growling sound under his breath. "I can't believe she didn't tell me any of this. I can't believe—"
"She didn't know." It was Melissa's turn to feel guilty. "She still doesn't know."
"She thinks I had some kind of bug. She doesn't know I'm pregnant."
"I don't believe I'm hearing this." Matt grasped the sides of the beanbag and swivelled it around until she faced him. "Why?"
After taking one look at his grim expression, she told him.
"Nah," he said when she finished, shaking his head. "I don't get it. Just because she's been trying so hard to get pregnant and hasn't managed it yet, you couldn't tell her that you had?"
"Matt, I got pregnant the first time I had sex. The very first time!"
"You really think she'd have cared about that? How's she going to feel when you tell her now?"
Melissa gnawed her lower lip. Now that the baby bump was growing noticeably bigger, it was a thought she'd started to have with disconcerting frequency. "I could say I didn't want to tell her before I told you," she suggested, knowing how lame an excuse it sounded even as the words left her lips.
Matt shot her a sceptical glance. "I think you're going to have to come up with something better than—" Then he stopped, his brow furrowing. "What's that?"
She strained to listen, recognising the distant jaunty tune moments later. "It's my phone," she said, attempting to struggle upright. "It's in my bag upstairs. I'd better go and—"
"Uh uh," Matt pushed her back down again. "Run that by me again. You've got a phone?"
"Matt—I should get that!"
"A mobile phone? Lissy Barton's entered the twenty-first century?"
Laughing, he sprang to his feet. "I'll get it."
But on his return, her handbag dangling from his fingers, he looked suspicious. "Wait a minute. Is that why you had your land line disconnected?"
Ignoring him, she snatched the bag and rummaged inside, pulling out her phone with a flourish. "Oh," she said, checking the caller display. "Speak of the devil. It's Gemma."
"Tell her," Matt said as she flipped it open.
"Tell me what?" Gemma demanded.
It was Melissa's turn to glare at Matt. "Nothing," she told her hastily. "Is everything okay?"
"I was just about to ask you the same thing. Please tell me I left it long enough. Please tell me I didn't call just at the wrong time. Because if I did, tell me to get lost. Tell me to—"
"Gemma, it's been—" she grabbed Matt's wrist and consulted his watch "—four hours!"