Devlin jerked at his tie and pointed toward the kitchen where Laurel and Brenna were busy doing something, presumably putting the finishing touches on dinner. “Do you have any idea what those two are up to?”
Trahern shook his head, not any happier than his friend was to be decked out in a suit, especially for a dinner at home on a weeknight. “All I know is that Brenna told me to meet her at your house dressed like this.”
Considering he’d once died to save Brenna, there wasn’t much Trahern wouldn’t do for her, even wear a suit for no discernable reason. He also knew Devlin had the same strong feelings for his wife. “I thought we were all going to go out for Valentine’s Day, but that’s still a week away.”
Devlin shrugged and shot the cuffs of his shirt. “As far as I know, we still have those reservations. Besides, we’re both smart enough to not expect them to cook on Valentine’s Day. Not if we really want to celebrate the occasion, if you catch my drift.”
Trahern grinned. “So true.”
That still left them with a mystery to solve. They looked around at the decorations that festooned the living room. Pink and blue balloons. Hearts. Ribbons. They both shuddered.
Devlin looked particularly grim. “This reeks of a surprise party, but Laurel knows how I feel about those.” He shot Trahern a suspicious look. “Maybe all of this is your fault. Have you got some anniversary to celebrate that I don’t know about?”
Trahern ran through the important ones in his head. “Nope. It’s not our wedding anniversary or the anniversary of our first date or even the anniversary of the day we both got shot. How about you?”
“Not a damn thing.”
Before they could discuss it further, the two women filed into the room. Laurel gave Devlin an admiring look. “Ooh, big guy, you look positively yummy.”
Trahern knew better than to laugh or comment on the fact that Devlin was blushing. Besides, his own wife was giving him the same kind of once over. That was all right. Brenna was looking pretty damn hot herself.
She smiled at Laurel. “I told you they’d clean up nice.”
“Thanks, I think,” Devlin said. “Now, you want to tell us what the big occasion is?”
Laurel walked over to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Brenna, presenting a united front to the two men.
“We have news for both of you.”
Trahern’s stomach did a nose dive. Brenna and Laurel were the two bravest women he’d ever met. Yet right now they were both a bit pale, and their hands were trembling.
Despite his growing sense of dread, he had to know. “Brenna, for the sake of my sanity, just spit it out. Whatever it is, we can handle it.”
Her answering smile looked a bit desperate. “I hope so, Blake, because there’s no taking this back.”
She picked up one of the small gift bags that had been sitting on the coffee table and handed it to Blake while Laurel held the other one out to Devlin. Considering the look of stark terror on his wife’s face right now, the last thing Trahern wanted to do was unwrap whatever was in the sack. It weighed next to nothing, but that didn’t mean its contents were inconsequential.
He met Devlin’s gaze. “How about on a count of three?”
“Sounds good,” Dev nodded and counted down, “Three, two, one.”
Each of them stuck an oversized hand down into the small bags and pulled out a wad of tissue paper. Trahern let the bag drop to the floor while he concentrated on gently unfolding the layers of tissue paper. When he got a look at the small gift that was tucked inside, all the blood in his head drained straight down to his feet, leaving him seeing spots and weaving from side to side. From Laurel’s panicky voice, Devlin was having the same problem.
Brenna sound as if she were talking from deep in a well when she said, “Blake, sit down on the couch before you fall over.”
With Brenna’s help, he shuffled over to the sofa and fell more than sat down. He felt the impact of Devlin’s heavy body landing on the other end. He held the present out to Brenna to ask what he had no words for. She smiled and nodded. God help them both, but he got the message loud and clear. When he showed his gift to Devlin, he had one just like it sitting in the palm of his hand.
Booties. Baby booties.
Trahern lurched back up to his feet and dragged his woman, his wife, the future mother of his child into his arms where she belonged. Damn, the last thing he should do is let tears fall in front of Devlin, but right now he didn’t care.
Brenna looked up at him, her own eyes shiny with emotion. “I know this wasn’t exactly planned, but I’m so happy, Blake. And Dev and Laurel are due two days after us!”
“This is the best gift ever, honey.” Then he kissed her several times, punctuating each one with a “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Then he swept her up in his arms and spun her around and around while they both laughed with joy. After setting her down, he hugged Laurel while Devlin did the same to Brenna.
Laurel announced, “We’ll get the sparkling apple juice so we can drink a toast!”
The two women disappeared back into the kitchen, leaving Devlin and Trahern alone. Blake suspected he looked every bit as dazed as his friend did. They both stared at the booties. Amazing.
But surprise was turning into fear. “Devlin, what do I know about being a father? Hell, I grew up out on the streets.”
“And I’m in my eighties, for Pete’s sake. None of that means squat.” His friend’s big hand came down hard on his shoulder. “Trahern, you’re the most honorable man I know. You’ll be there for your son or daughter every step of the way. No kid can ask for more than that.”
He was right. Besides, the Paladins stuck together. “I guess that’s true, but it’s still damn scary.”
Then Blake smiled. “But there’s one other thing that will help both of us get through this, Dev. Come what may, I’ll have your back just like you’ve always had mine.”