Being pregnant hasn’t moderated Ria’s behavior in the least, and Andrew must become very creative to rein her in while she’s carrying their child. Her plans for the nursery as well as her resolve to stay independent clash with his protectiveness, leading to both humorous and difficult moments for them.

The annual trip to Scotland forces Andrew to think seriously about how to give his child roots in both cultures. Finally, the birth of their son brings great joy to their families, who come together yet again both to celebrate the next generation of MacNeils and to share the American Thanksgiving tradition with the Scottish side of the family.

How are Ria and Andrew going to keep their future as rich and vibrant as their early years have been? How will they keep the passion alive? The epilogue will give us a peek into their future.

Publisher’s Note: This contemporary romance contains both explicit scenes and domestic discipline.

 

Excerpt

 

Chapter One 

Does Being Pregnant Make the Naughty Gene Grow? 

 

Ria ran into Andrew’s home office waving an envelope. “Andrew! Look what we just got from Mama!” 

Andrew looked up from some blueprints he was studying. “What is it, lass?” 

“She sent us a gift certificate for Metro Baby! A nice big one.” 

“That didn’t take long,” replied Andrew, smiling and shaking his head. Ria’s parents were always very generous with their two daughters, especially Ria, the family baby.  

Ria and Andrew had returned only days earlier from Christmas with her family in Raleigh, and while there, they’d shared the exciting news that Ria was a couple of months pregnant. Her parents had been ecstatic, and here was the first concrete reaction. 

She came around his desk and sat down on his lap, holding up the gift certificate so he could see it. 

“Wow! That is a nice gift,” he said, seeing the number on the amount line. “Can we spend that much in that one store?” 

“Of course, silly!” she answered, wondering how he could even question it. “Some of the furniture I like is at Metro Baby, and so was that English pram.” 

“How did she know that was the store you liked?” 

“She asked.” 

Andrew wrapped his arms around her and kissed her. He wondered briefly what it would be like when she was eight- or nine months pregnant. He’d find out soon enough. 

“So, let’s go spend some of it,” suggested Ria, grinning at the prospect. Andrew had the briefest twinge of resentment that it was her mother’s money rather than his own that would buy the crib for their baby, but he realized he was probably being petty. Her mother, Sarah, meant well, and in the end, it was all family. 

“Are you sure you’re ready to start buying?” he asked. “It’ll be hard to paint the room if it’s already full of things.” 

Ria sighed. “Don’t ruin my fun with logic. Let’s go buy at least one thing and then eat at Abuelita’s.” 

Andrew smiled. He loved her enthusiasm, and he tried to go along with whatever she wanted right now. He was one of those men who believed pregnant women should be spoiled, and he worked very hard at doing so.  

“Okay, but I won’t be free until after four-thirty.” He was an architectural consultant who had his office at home. 

In the end, Andrew talked her into waiting to buy any furniture, but they did buy the pram Ria had been talking about as well as a car seat that caught her eye.  

“Did you thank your mother for the certificate?” he asked as they sat in Abuelita’s eating nacho chips and salsa while waiting for their dinners to be served. 

“Yes, but I’ll send her pictures of what we bought, too.” Then she laughed and added, “You do know, don’t you, that when Fetus is born, my mother will probably move in permanently.” 

Andrew smiled. He genuinely liked Sarah and Richard, Ria’s parents. His own parents had died in a small plane crash when he was only nineteen, so he was grateful that his wife’s parents were a real addition to his life.  

“That actually brings up something I’ve been meaning to talk to you about,” he started, but before he could say any more, the waiter brought their food, and then some friends stopped by their table to say hello. They’d already eaten, but Ria persuaded them to sit down for a drink, so Andrew’s topic was put on hold. 

Later that evening, as they were together on the sofa looking for a movie, Ria reminded him of his interrupted idea. “So, what were you going to tell me before Katie and Dave stopped by?” she asked, tucking herself under his arm.  

“It might be better to wait until we’re not watching a movie,” he replied, leaning around to kiss her. 

“If I’ll like what you’re going to say, we can turn the TV off,” she volunteered, “but if I won’t like it, then let’s just ignore it.” She smiled impishly towards him. 

Andrew chuckled and shook his head. Ria was like no woman he’d ever known before. He gave her a squeeze. 

“So?” she persisted. “Will I like it?” 

“It’s hard to say,” he answered, still looking amused. “It’s a new idea, and you’re slow to warm up to new ideas, but after you think about it for a while, I think you might really like it.” 

“Is it worth turning off the TV?” 

“Why don’t we just wait until tomorrow?” 

“’Cause now I’m curious.” 

“Okay, turn off the TV.” 

Ria turned it off and then scooted down to the other end of the sofa, where she turned towards him and crossed her legs Indian style on the cushion. “All right, I’m ready.” 

“Do you remember what you said about your mother moving in?” he began, wishing she was still tucked under his arm. 

“Yes.” 

“Well, I’ve been thinking that, once the baby comes, we may well want more living space. We’re fine here for now with the addition we put on, but the guest room your parents stay in is going to become part of the nursery. Also, I may want to convince my grandparents to come visit, and that might mean Ian’s coming along too.” Andrew’s grandparents lived in Aberdeen, Scotland, as did his younger brother, Ian, who was a pediatrician. 

“Are you going to put on another addition?” Ria didn’t sound overjoyed. When she’d first met Andrew, she’d owned a wonderful bungalow on a double lot in an upscale neighborhood. She was proud of having bought it herself with income from her work as a designer, although, in fact, her father’s support had played an important role too. After Ria lost her job with the design firm and started her own business, Andrew put on an extension that included a huge new master suite plus a home office for each of them. Now it seemed he had even bigger ideas. 

“Not exactly,” Andrew replied, “although I was thinking about adding a nice guest suite since we’ll be losing the one we have now.” 

“So what does ‘not exactly’ mean?” asked Ria, sounding cautious. 

“Why don’t you come back over here so I can hold you?”  

“Is your idea so awful you need to hide it behind cuddles?”   

Andrew shook his head yet again and decided to let her stay at the other end of the sofa. Talking with her was never a matter of following a straight line.  

“Do you remember last year when we were talking about schools for future children?” he asked, trying a different tack for the conversation. Ria looked briefly puzzled but then remembered and nodded her head. 

“So, let’s put together the ideas of wanting enough space for multiple family visitors and also having our choice of good private schools. I’m thinking that if we moved a little closer to Philadelphia, still in New Jersey but in the eastern suburbs, like Cherry Hill, we could find a nice piece of land and build exactly what we’d like to have. You could design anything you wanted, like a playroom you could see from the kitchen, or a nursery big enough for an adult to sleep in if they wanted to. We could build enough guest space so that we could have several family visitors at the same time. Also, when Fetus and any follow-ons are old enough for school, we’d have good ones around to choose from. What do you think? You could have whatever you’d like in the design.” 

Ria’s face had taken on a set look while he was talking. She tended to like the status quo, something he’d learned in the past four years. He’d had to struggle to get an engagement ring on her finger and then later to get her to set a wedding date. She was a totally modern young woman, but she had to be cajoled into change, and Andrew fully expected this new idea to meet a lot of resistance. 

“I like it here,” she said emphatically. 

“So do I, but our life is going to change soon, and the house won’t be as good then as it has been.” 

“You’re an architect. You can figure out how to make it okay.” She looked at him with a scowl on her face. 

“I can make it work for more guests, but it will be loud and dusty in the meantime. You’re not supposed to be breathing dust and paint fumes, and you don’t want to spend your pregnancy climbing over construction piles. Anyway, that still doesn’t address the subject of schools.”  

He looked at Ria’s face and knew he wasn’t making much headway. Her arms were crossed and her bottom lip was starting to stick out. He decided to throw in a sweetener. 

“If we were closer to the city, we could go to the symphony more often,” he added. Ria loved classical music. “Think about having easy access to downtown Philly or even to Drexel, for that matter. We could take the kids into town when they’re older.” 

“Where did the plural on kids come from?” she asked, practically glaring at him. 

“Thinking ahead, that’s all. We can keep it singular if you prefer. It would be really easy to take Fetus to the children’s theater or museum. It would be a richer cultural environment both for us and for Fetus and any follow-ons.”  

Ria sighed. “You know you’ll probably get your way in the end, don’t you?” she said unhappily.  

“No, Baby, this is something we both need to decide.” ‘Baby’ was what Ria’s family called her, and since first meeting them, the name had slipped easily into Andrew’s vocabulary. 

“Well, I don’t want to think about it anymore right now.” She looked very close to tears, so Andrew knew it was time to drop the subject until she’d had time to mull it over on her own. 

“So, why don’t you come back over here and let me hold the two most important people in all the world?” 

“I think it’s more like one-and-a-half or maybe even one-and-a-third.” 

Andrew grinned as he reached towards her to pull her over. “I was never good at fractions, so I rounded up.” 

“Well in that case, my answer is no. There’s no way I’m going to live in a house designed by an architect who isn’t good at fractions.” 

“Why do you think I have an assistant?” he replied, his eyes twinkling as he wrapped his arms around her. Whatever else might go on in their lives, he could never be bored living with her.  

They turned on a movie, but the cuddles, as Ria referred to them, grew more and more serious. “How about calling it a night?” asked Andrew. “I think the bedroom is calling our names.” 

“I think my leg went to sleep,” answered Ria, giving the leg in question tiny karate chops. 

Andrew scooped her up and started down the hall. “You’ll do anything to avoid walking, won’t you?”  

“There’s no point in having a big Scottish beast in the house if he doesn’t earn his keep,” replied Ria with a mischievous grin. 

“So what happens when the Scottish beast reaches his lair with the fair maiden in his arms?” 

“Prince Charming comes and rescues her.” 

“Does being pregnant make the naughty gene grow?” 

“I don’t know. Why don’t you ask the doctor at our next appointment?”