~Chapter 1

Kate Jones looked at her profile in the mirror one more time, smiling. She wasn’t enormous, but definitely six months pregnant with a healthy baby girl. It had been a breeze being pregnant this time. No bed rest so far or any complications except the asthma, but even that wasn’t bad she decided. Her face lit up when the door opened because Harlynn was going to break away from his meeting to be here today. If one thing hadn’t been perfect it would be her husband, Harlynn Barrett, who was beyond famous now in business and legal circles. It seemed everyone wanted a piece of Harlynn these days.

She found her most pleasant smile when she saw Meg Grayden walk in the door sheepishly. Meg was married to Henry Grayden, Kate’s Godfather. Henry was the only father figure she had known in her life. She sighed, thinking that Harlynn and Henry were trying to close the purchase of a company. She understood things happened at a closing, not long ago she had been sitting at the table doing corporate deals with Harlynn and Henry. Now she took more of a strategic planning part in her company, Moon Water. It was what she wanted she reminded herself. She wanted to be there for her son, daughter and for this unborn child.

Meg smiled, not saying anything for a minute as she took her seat in the corner like she had done numerous times in the past months with Kate. It made Kate happy to have Meg there and to have this child to share.

“I have a name,” Kate announced carefully getting on the table, waiting for the doctor.

“Really?” Meg smiled in anticipation. “Let me hear it.”

“Lane, Henry’s middle name. We can call her Laney when she is little. Harlynn wants to call her Kate but that’s just too confusing in my opinion. Ugh, people might call her Katie, I don’t like that name. Anyway Harlynn put the names together, Lane Kate Jones Barrett. “

“It’s lovely, Kateland. I know Henry will be honored.” She paused. “Where did your name come from? After all these years I can’t believe I’ve never asked you.”

“I was named after my grandfather’s castle in Scotland. Harlynn was named after his grandfather’s ranch outside San Antonio.”

“I never knew the origins of Harlynn’s name. He said to tell you he was very sorry to miss another appointment. Henry is sorry too. It’s really Henry’s fault this time because he started making changes to the final draft ten minutes before the closing, which wasn’t very nice. Did you see the picture of your husband on the cover of Forbes?”

“Yes.” Kate waited. “What do you think of this feeding frenzy? I think Harlynn is being pulled awfully thin these days. Everyone wants a piece of him if you stop and think about it. It takes him hours to calm down at night. I know it’s my fault because I created this company. I did the deal and bought the patents. Harlynn would have ended up where he is today anyway. I knew it from the beginning he would change the world. It’s always been his path.”

“Yes, it’s his path, Kateland. Your path is to take care of Harlynn and the children. I know since the plane crash it’s been difficult for you both. “

“It haunts us like you can’t imagine. I can’t tell you how many times Harlynn wakes up in a cold sweat after he has dreamt he got on the plane that day. He tells me he sees his funeral and. . .” She felt the tears come down her face as she tried to smile.

Meg stood by her side, softly stroking her long brown hair, like a mother would do for her child. They had all had the same dream a hundred times: if Harlynn had gotten on that plane that morning six months ago he would be dead. He had chosen instead to come to Kate’s doctor appointment to see this child inside of her. When the plane crashed it was reported to the world that Harlynn Barrett was in it. Everyone had thought he had perished that day, except Kate. The image of their house filled with people in shock, as they watched the plane in pieces on television, haunted her still.

“Let’s go pick out the bedding for the nursery today?” Meg suggested. “It’s time to get ready for the arrival of Laney.”

“Yes, it is time to get ready for her. I was hoping to do it with

Harlynn, but perhaps that’s wishful thinking at this point in time. With Levi we did everything together Meg, now we barely see each other. This is not how I envisioned my marriage when I agreed to spend my life with him.” She watched as Meg’s eyes filled with panic. “I’m thinking the nursery should be fuchsia pink. I already picked out the crib and an armoire. It’s going to be contemporary and delicate.”

“I’m thinking a white crib, round. How about a contemporary garden with giant flowers in pink and purple? A few little creatures added in like butterflies and bunnies.”

“Yes.” Kate felt relieved as Dr. Carr came in the room looking agitated. He slapped her folder on the counter. “Well, you’re in a good mood.” Kate giggled at him.

“I need to yell at your husband, where is he Kateland?” Carr snapped. “You lost a pound this week, again. This is getting dangerous, young lady. I will put your butt in the hospital if it doesn’t change immediately.”

“Your scales are off.”

“Kateland, you lost a pound. This baby is going to be underweight if you don’t gain weight. What do I have to do to make this happen?”

Kate concluded there was no point to answering his question. Dr. Carr would start yelling and she wasn’t in the mood for this today. Yes, he was the best doctor around. Yes, she was under stress. Yes, she had two other children to chase around. This was her life and she was doing the best she could do at the moment.

There was silence as he did the ultra sound in the dimly lit room. She watched as Laney moved her right hand, finding her thumb to suck. The perfect fingers and toes in black and white stared back at her. What was she going to be like? What would her voice sound like some day? What color would her eyes be?

“Are you going to say anything?” Dr. Carr asked her sternly. “No.” Kate stared at him wanting to tell him to go to hell. She

held her tongue, which took all her self-control.

“I want you back here in three days with that husband of yours and you better have gained some weight. The baby looks fine Kateland, but you better start taking it easy. I don’t give a shit about Moon Water or your crazy families.”

“I think you should call Harlynn and tell him that Dr. Carr.” Kate watched him as Carr picked up the phone and started dialing. She closed her eyes listening as Dr. Carr chewed out Harlynn up and down, then sideways. He didn’t stop for fifteen minutes before he hung up the phone and smiled at her.

“Is that what you wanted?”

“Yes,” Meg and Kateland said at the same time. They were ganging up on Harlynn, and he deserved it.

Two hours later the nursery was ordered and paint picked out. Kate had a sophisticated modern taste and it was reflected throughout their house and now in Laney’s room. The fact Kate was a well known sculptor and painter was a plus when designing a nursery. It was pure enjoyment to bring this nursery together compared to dealing with her marriage.

Kate sat in the nursery sketching animals on the walls with giant flowers. Slowly she mixed paints getting the exact colors she wanted, the green that had a hint of lime in it contrasting the fuchsia pink along with chocolate brown. The large white walls were an endless palette for her imagination. Even if things were not perfect in her life she could make this nursery perfect. She would paint these walls with the love she had for this child.

The sound of his shoes coming down the hallway, a slide with a half step, didn’t even cause her to pause anymore, although she did feel her heart race slightly. Harlynn Barrett had always done that to her since the first moment they met. He was a natural, with stunning cheekbones, beautiful golden brown eyes and thick dark brown hair. He stood at six’ three and had played baseball in college. He had been drafted to the major leagues until he injured his shoulder and then went to law school. He had his own law firm and his own holding company. He was quoted weekly in the Financial Times, New York Times, and had a column in the Wall Street Journal that ran twice a month. He was a genius at mergers and acquisitions, but always humbled by his own success.

“Hi,” he finally said after watching her paint for four minutes.

“Hi,” she said, quietly, never turning towards him. What was the point of even saying what she felt at the moment because he would say he couldn’t help it and she would get mad?

“I thought we were going to pick out the nursery together?” “That was two weeks ago and it would probably be two weeks

before you had time in your schedule.” She slowly turned towards him putting down her paints and wiping off her hands. “This child is not going to wait on you, Harlynn. As it is the crib probably won’t be here on time.”

“Yes, it will. I will make sure it gets here on time. I still want to be part of what you are doing in the nursery or anything you do for our child.” He reassured her with his smile. “Are you going to yell at me for missing today? I’ve already gotten chewed out by everyone else in the family.”

“I only vented to Meg because it hurt you weren’t there, Harlynn. It’s not like I called everyone complaining, so don’t make it sound like I did.”

“No, you didn’t have to call anyone. Meg called Henry, Henry called Keat, Keat called Nick and Sue and Sue called your father. That’s what I have spent the last two hours on the phone dealing with instead of being home with you, Levi and Janey.”

“Have you ever thought of letting the calls go into voice mail?” She suggested smiling back at him.

“No, because then they just show up at our house. What do you want Kateland? Why are you losing weight?” He watched as she got up, slowly, and walked over to him.

“I want you to be here with me and the children! I want you to be happy instead of stressed out all the time! I want you to show up at one damn appointment to see this beautiful child because you have missed the last six, Harlynn! I ask you for so little and it doesn’t matter. You see your father more than you see me. You always have time for him. Shit, I don’t want to discuss this because it’s going to make my asthma flare up, then I have to call Dr. Carr and listen to his crap.” She sat down in the rocking chair staring out the window, wondering what was going on in her world. Maybe having children back to back was not the brightest idea they ever conceived.

Harlynn sat on the ottoman in front of her taking her hands and

he slowly kissed her. She could see his eyes move downward with fear.

“Kateland, I’m sorry for not being here for you the last couple of months.” He closed his eyes taking in a deep breath. “My dad is going into heart failure. Someday he is going to have a heart attack and they won’t be able to save him. I’ve spent the last six weeks getting all his financial affairs in order. He is only sixty-eight and I’m having a hard time with it, Kate.” He looked out the window. “You know he has always been my best friend since I was a little boy. I can’t believe that Levi isn’t going to know him.”

“I was wondering what was going on with you. Paul keeps coming by to see Levi everyday. I took some pictures of him the other day with Levi. He asked me for a copy of them.” She waited. “This seems sudden, Harlynn? I don’t know what to say to you, Babes. I know how much you love him.”

“He smoked forever, Kate. It’s not a new thing. I could be wrong and maybe he has more time. When George told me that I needed to make sure things were in order for him, it hit me.”

“Why don’t you take some time off, and go away with him. Go to Utah to the house or go out to the ranch your family has outside San Antonio. You need that time with him, Harlynn.”

“I think the ranch would be a better idea because it’s closer to a hospital if anything happens. He wouldn’t be able to handle the altitude in Deer Valley. Will you come with us? I want you and the children there.”

“Is your mother going to come?” Kate asked with the most pleasant smile she could find.

“She hates the ranch. My father always loved going there, but she would never go.”

“What other truths has your love been keeping from me?” She watched as he struggled for a moment confused by the statement. “Why have you been keeping this from me?”

“I tried to tell you a couple of times and the words wouldn’t come out. I want you to enjoy this time and didn’t want to burden you. Your pregnancy with Levi was hell on you, Kate.” She smiled at him. He needed her to smile at him.

“Tell me,” she whispered.

“I don’t know where to begin, love,” he whispered back. “I’m very excited to have this baby girl. I love her name. After Henry finished yelling at me today I told him we were naming her after him. He actually just stammered for two minutes before he left the room. He called me in the car telling me how honored he was that we would do that for him.”

“Is that man I married still inside of you?” Kate questioned. “I miss him.”

“Yes, he is there for you and our children, but you have to understand that I’m trying to protect you, and run this company that is bigger than anything we have ever done. I’m so scared of something happening to you or me. I want to know who tried to kill me, Kateland.”

“I need more time with you Harlynn. You are cutting me out of your life and I can’t take it.” The tears came down her face, slowly. “And I’m fat. I’m tired. I just want to go to sleep in your arms and have you talk to me.”

“I’m not cutting you out even if my father is ill. I can’t stop thinking of that day I didn’t get on the plane.” He paused. “I have gone back to Dr. Brown to try to figure out a few things. We will get back to where we were before Moon Water and the plane crash. You were right when you told Meg I’m stretched too thin and everyone wants a piece of me.”

“I knew you went back to Dr. Brown, even though you didn’t mention it. I wonder why you think you can keep things from me like that, Babes.”

“You usually know what I’m up to.” He laughed. “I love you and you look beautiful sitting here in that light. I want a picture of you exactly like that, with that peaceful look in your eyes,” he told her getting up and coming back with a camera.

“Why are you blushing? I’ve taken hundreds of pictures of you? And you aren’t fat at all, Kateland. I can see I’m going to have to start making those protein shakes for you again. And you have a massage in an hour. In fact you are going to have a massage everyday from now on. I promise to be at the next doctor’s appointment and all the ones after that one. I messed up and I’m sorry, Kateland.”

“I don’t know why I lost another pound. You know I’m trying to

be very careful with what I eat and exercising. Your son keeps me on my feet all the time. Then throw Janey on top of it and we have a new form of chaos.”

“Running a billion dollar holding company and a law firm is

easier than our children.” He confessed to her. “I wouldn’t trade anything in the world for when I walk through the door and see them running towards me. You’re the best mom in the world, Kate, but you need to slow down. I got us more help for the house to free up your time. I don’t want you to worry about the house. I’m talking no wash

or cooking or cleaning of any type.”

“I think you’re right. I need to focus on the children with this baby coming. I don’t want to end up in the hospital on bed rest, which Carr is about to do.”

“I won’t let him. Okay?” He bent down kissing her for a moment. “You need some loving is what I think.”

And that’s how Harlynn could turn around her world in an

instant. He could make her stop in her tracks and watch him. There was something so comforting about his voice. Yes, that man she had married was very much there.

“I’m going to go get Levi up, while you clean up in here.” He kissed her again. “Then later on when the children are asleep we are

going to go to bed early. I promise.”

“Do you think sex at six months is such a brilliant idea?”

“Carr said it was good for you.” Harlynn blushed. “That was a very interesting conversion of what we are allowed to do and not do.” “Oh, goodness, I’m glad I wasn’t there for that one. Sorry everyone got on your case today. It wasn’t my intention to rat you


“You know you could have come to me, Kate. I deserved it, but let’s try to keep the family out of our love life. Sometimes I feel like I’m suffocating between the firm, Moon Water and dealing with the likes of Henry, Keat and Nick.” His eyes went from soft to hard in an instant. “I don’t need them all over me every time I screw up.”

“I understand. I also understand that if you had been there or

called it wouldn’t have happened.” She smiled weakly because he was gone again. He had slipped back into the new Harlynn from the old Harlynn that fast. She didn’t like the word suffocating and family used in the same thought. It stung.