Every Time We Fall in Love 6

All of them looked at his pocket.

  "Oh God..." Molly was pale as she reached for Amelia's hand.

  With a shaking hand, Harry pulled out his phone. He'd stopped breathing by the time he answered and put the phone to his ear, and there was so much blood rushing into his head that he almost couldn't hear what the doctor said.

  "Say it again," he said into the phone, his voice so full of emotion the words came out all garbled up.

  The second time, he knew he'd heard right.

  "Thank you." He hung up and put the phone in his pocket. "You're mine, Amelia. I'm your father."

  She threw her arms around him, and then Molly was in there too--all three of them hugging each other tightly, laughing and crying together.


  Amelia pulled out her phone. "Mom, Harry--" She grinned like a Cheshire cat. "I mean, Dad, come be in the picture with me."

  Amelia took the picture, and he caught a quick flash of it before she moved the phone away--the image of a fifteen-year-old girl glowing with happiness between her father, who looked like every dream he'd ever had had just come true, and her mother, who looked slightly stunned, as though she wasn't exactly sure how any of this had happened.

  Amelia's fingers flew over her phone's screen. "People are going to freak when they see this picture."

  "You didn't just put it up on Instagram, did you?" Molly asked, even though she had already pulled out her phone to look. She read the caption out loud. "First ever pic with my mom AND dad! #familygoals." Molly lifted wide eyes to their daughter. "You just told everyone who follows you about Harry, and you tagged me so everyone who follows me will also see it! I thought we were all going to sit down to figure out how we want to tell everyone the big news."

  "No way. I waited fifteen years for this--I'm telling everyone as fast as I can." To illustrate her point, she turned to one of the people in line behind them. "This is my dad. Isn't he awesome?"

  Though the woman looked a little bemused, she smiled and said, "He looks very nice."

  "Dad, what's your Instagram name?" Amelia asked. "I want to tag you too."

  Harry was finding it hard to speak around the lump in his throat at hearing her call him Dad. It was a word he'd never tire of hearing. "@HarrisonJackSullivan."

  "Is the Jack after someone special?" she asked as she quickly added his tag to her post.

  "My father was really close to his brother Jack."

  "Cool. I can't wait to meet Great Uncle Jack."

  "He passed away when I was a kid, unfortunately. But his wife, Mary, the one your mom told you about this morning, is one of the greatest people you'll ever meet. Her eight kids are also amazing. They're all out in Northern California."

  "I've never been to California," Amelia said. "Never been on a plane, actually. But we've driven to Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island--and of course Canada, because we're spitting distance from Kingston." Without so much as pausing to take a breath, she asked, "For my next school break, can we go to California to see Aunt Mary and your cousins and their families?"

  Harry wanted to say yes to every single thing Amelia asked for. But Molly was still looking a little shell-shocked. By the way she'd hugged him after the doctor had given them the test results, he knew she was happy that he was definitely Amelia's father. But it also meant plenty of big changes on tap for the three of them. No matter how much he and Molly wanted to keep things on an even keel for Amelia, the truth was that nothing would be the same as before.

  "We've got plenty of time to figure all of that out," he told Amelia.

  "Are you sure?" Amelia looked panicked again. "I don't want to have to leave tonight to go back to school tomorrow and then only see you on weekends or school breaks. How are we going to see each other when you live and work here?"

  Suddenly, what he needed to do was obvious. "I'm going to take a leave of absence."

  "You are?" Molly looked doubly shell-shocked now.

  He nodded. It was exactly the right decision.

  Nothing was more important than his newfound daughter. And even before Amelia had rung his doorbell, he'd been thinking about Molly. Wanting to search for her, wanting to find her, wanting to see if it was possible for them to have a second chance at love.

  This was it, he realized with sudden clarity. Not only his chance to be a father, but also his chance to love Molly the way she deserved to be loved. With all of his heart, instead of merely the leftover parts of it.

  No matter what, he vowed to get things right from here on out.

  With Amelia and Molly.

  "I'll call the dean right now to let her know my plans," he said, "and then I'll head to Alexandria Bay with you both tonight."

  "Yay!" Amelia threw her arms around him and hugged him tight.

  But Molly didn't jump into the hug with them this time. "Harry, we should really talk about this before you make any plans."

  "Sure," he said, though it was only for Amelia's benefit. "If you get to the front of the line while we're talking--" He handed Amelia a twenty. "--get my scoop in a waffle cone."

  Though he and Molly walked far enough away that Amelia wouldn't hear them, they stayed close enough to keep an eye on her.

  "Are you sure this is a good idea?" Molly asked him.

  "I don't see how spending time with Amelia could ever be a bad idea."

  And you, he thought. I want to spend time with you. All the time I missed when I was too young and stupid not to take you for granted. All the time we should have spent together to see if we could have made it, not just as college sweethearts, but for the long haul.

  But he knew better than to say any of that to her this soon, just minutes after they'd gotten the results of the second DNA test.

  They needed to get through one big change at time. First, Amelia finding him and Harry learning he was her father. Then, Harry moving to Alexandria Bay. And after that?

  He'd never hoped for more, never wanted anything as much as he wanted to share his heart with his daughter--and with Molly too.

  "Of course I want you to spend time with Amelia," Molly was saying, "but what are you going to do in our little town during the hours when she's at school and practicing for her musical and hanging out with her friends?"

  "I'm sure I can find plenty of ways to entertain myself."

  Molly's skin flushed, as though she was imagining all the ways they used to entertain each other. "I'm sure you can," she said in a slightly husky voice. "Well, if you think the university will be okay with you leaving on such short notice, then you're right--Amelia will love having you close by while still being able to live her normal life at school and with her friends."

  As Harry went to call the dean, he hoped Molly would love having him close by too.


  Perhaps Molly should have found it hard to imagine Harry in Alexandria Bay.

  But it was all too easy.

  Another man with his legacy of fame and wealth would surely wear it like a crown wherever he went. But Harry had always fit easily into every situation, every group, every room. A born mediator, a middle child, he knew exactly what to say and do, not only to keep from pushing people's buttons, but also to make them happy.

  Although the way he'd been looking at her when he'd been pressing his case for coming to Alexandria Bay--with heat in his eyes, the way he used to right before he kissed her and stripped away her clothes--had made her breath hitch in her chest.

  Surely she was imagining that heat. After all, the past twenty-four hours had them all reeling.

  While Harry called the dean of the history department, Molly rejoined Amelia in line.

  "He's definitely going to come to A Bay, isn't he?" Amelia asked.

  "I don't think there's anything on the planet that could keep him from coming."

  "When I got to his house last night," Amelia said, "I didn't know if he'd believe I was his, or want to talk to me. But not only was he totally great about everything, now he's going to be just down the

  "Down the hall?" Molly had to have heard Amelia wrong. "Harry isn't going to stay with us."

  "Why not? We have an extra bedroom."

  There were so many reasons why not that Molly didn't know where to start. Most of them began and ended with the fact that every time she looked at him, she either drooled or heated up all over. And now she was even imagining that he was looking at her with desire.

  Darn it, she was supposed to have gotten over this before she came down to the kitchen this morning. Clearly, she had a heck of a lot of work to do keeping her hormones from raging out of control whenever Harry was near. It had been bad enough being together last night and this morning in Harry's large home. Inside her tiny little cottage, there would be no way for either of them to keep a safe distance from each other.

  "I'm sure we can find him a rental really close by," Molly suggested.

  "But I want to have breakfast with my dad every morning," Amelia protested. "When I come home after school, I want him to be there, not on the other side of town. And if I have questions about homework, I want to be able to ask them without calling him on the phone. Or if I'm watching a show, I want him to be able to watch it with me." Amelia's eyes bored into Molly's. "I didn't get to be with my dad for fifteen years. Now that I've finally found him, shouldn't I get to be with him as much as possible?"

  "Are you two going to order, or not?"

  They both turned to look at the irritated server, but Molly was too flattened by the look on Amelia's face when she'd said, I didn't get to be with my dad for fifteen years, to respond.

  Amelia took over the ordering. "Can we get two waffle cones with a scoop of Rocky Road and a scoop of strawberry in a cup?"

  Molly was still reeling--from the DNA test and the thought of Harry moving in with them--when she and Amelia headed outside with the ice cream.

  "Do you think he still loves you? Do you still love him?"

  Molly nearly dropped her ice cream, barely managing not to sputter as she said, "We haven't seen each other in nearly sixteen years."

  "Yeah, but obviously you loved each other enough back in college to have me. He doesn't seem to be with anyone. And you've never dated any guy you really liked."

  Before Molly could figure out her reply, Harry came over and took his cone from Amelia.

  "Everything's set. My classes will be covered by my head TA. I just need to drop by my office to pick up a couple of things after we're done with our ice cream." He grinned at Amelia. "I'm really looking forward to seeing your house and school and meeting your friends."

  "It's going to be amazing," Amelia agreed. "Especially with you staying with us."

  Harry's eyebrows went up. "Molly?" He turned to look at her in surprise. "You and Amelia want me to stay with you?"

  Despite her reservations, Molly wanted to do whatever she could to help Amelia get to know her father. And she was also desperate to make it up to Harry for her massive mistake. "We both think it would be better that way, as opposed to you getting a rental in town."

  "This way we can be close to each other all the time," Amelia said. "And Aldwin too."

  Molly barely stifled a groan. How could she have forgotten Harry's dog? Yes, he was sweet, but he was also huge. And her cottage was tiny.

  "Will you do it?" Amelia asked Harry. "Will you and Aldwin stay with us?"

  He grinned at Amelia. "Aldwin and I would be very happy to accept your invitation to stay in your home."


  Molly hadn't been back on the Columbia University campus since freshman year. "It looks the same and yet totally different." She looked at a twentysomething girl coming down the steps. "Probably because I feel about a hundred years older."

  Harry laughed, and the sound vibrated all the way through her. Especially her foolish heart that should know better. "I know what you mean. When I started teaching, though I was barely older than the students, it already felt like there was a massive age difference between us."

  They walked inside the building and down the hall to Harry's office. Lost in the past, Molly found herself saying, "I'd love to see one of your lectures. I've read some of your work online, but I'm sure you really bring medieval history to life in your classes."

  He had just unlocked his office door and was about to step inside when he turned back to her. "You've read my work?"

  She didn't realize he had stopped in his tracks until she nearly plowed into him. Amelia didn't stop fast enough, however, and did plow into Molly--which meant Molly stumbled into Harry's chest. His arms automatically went around her and Amelia to steady them both, with Molly as the filling to their sandwich.

  In an instant, she catalogued half a dozen things about Harry: his taut muscles, the searing heat of his body, the way his pupils dilated when he looked into her eyes, the fact that his delicious clean, masculine scent hadn't changed.

  But most of much she wanted him.

  More than ever before.

  And that was saying something, considering how insatiable she'd been for him way back when.

  "Are you okay?" His voice was slightly hoarse, as though he was feeling the same things.

  No, she couldn't let herself go there. Couldn't let herself dream of being with him again. Not when so much had already changed in their lives.

  Besides, for all she knew, he was with someone else. A woman as brilliant and charismatic and well connected as he. Someone he would trust with his whole heart, instead of just tiny pieces of it. Someone he would ask to help him when he needed it. Someone he would want on his team, instead of always feeling that he had to soldier on alone.

  Molly made herself shift away from him, pushing Amelia back with her hip so that she could move to a safer place. Anywhere Harry wasn't touching her. He led them into his office.

  "I'm fine," she finally said, even though she was nearly as far from fine as she'd ever been. "Like I said this morning, though I wasn't able to finish my degree here, I wanted to continue my studies in any way I could. Since you're one of the top minds in the field, it made sense to read your work."

  "I can't believe you had to leave school when you got pregnant with me," Amelia said. "It's not like it was the Middle Ages, or anything."

  "Well, the school didn't kick me out." Molly felt horribly put on the spot. It was a sensation she should have been used to after the past twenty-four hours. Clearly, she was a slow learner. "But like I said, the guy I thought was your dad wasn't very nice. I needed to make sure he wouldn't try to take you away from me, which is why I left."

  Amelia turned to Harry. "If Mom had thought you were my father and told you about me, wouldn't you have helped?"

  "Of course I would have."

  "I wish I had gotten to know you before now," Amelia said in a shaky voice. "I wish I had grown up with you as my dad. Instead of always wondering. And instead of Mom thinking some total creep was my father."

  "I do too," Harry said, emotion making his words sound thick, heavy.

  "You know what's weird?" Amelia flopped onto his couch. "Your office is almost exactly like the archive room at Boldt Castle. Full of a ton of books and maps and a big desk and a leather seat."

  Harry looked momentarily surprised by her non sequitur. If Molly's heart hadn't currently been in her throat, she might have laughed. He was quickly learning the way a fifteen-year-old's mind worked, jumping from one subject to another totally unrelated one without pause. Right when you thought you were having a heart-to-heart, your teenager would start talking about fixing a chip in her nail polish.

  "Speaking of castles," Harry said as he walked over to his desk, "what kind of work do you do at Boldt Castle?"

  Molly had to work really hard not to notice what a seriously hot professor he was. She could only imagine the way his students must drool over him. Especially if he put on the reading glasses on his desk. Swoon. Of course, she doubted he noticed his students' reactions to him. Harry would never consider having a relationship with someone he was teaching.<
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  "I work in the gift shop." From the start, Molly's boss had been so nice that if her babysitter ever fell through, she had been allowed to bring Amelia to work with her.

  "She doesn't just work there," Amelia said. "She manages the whole place. She redid their inventory system and is putting in a new ticket system online. But she loves the historical archives most of all, don't you, Mom?"

  "I do." Molly smiled at her daughter. Amelia had always been her biggest champion. "Every time I'm in there, I learn something new."

  "You guys must have been total nerds when you were together," Amelia commented as she grabbed one of the leather-bound books on a side table and started flipping through it.

  "I don't know if we were nerds all the time." Harry's words held enough warmth that Molly couldn't help but be thrown into vivid memories of the deliciously un-nerdy things they'd done together. "Although we did meet in the library."

  Amelia looked between the two of them thoughtfully. Then she smiled.

  Molly wasn't stupid. She could guess at the direction Amelia's mind was spinning. Especially after her questions about whether Harry might still love Molly, and if Molly might still love him back. If it was great to finally have her father in her life, surely Amelia would think it would be even better to get her parents back together.

  But though the situation might seem clear-cut to a fifteen-year-old, in reality Molly and Harry's relationship was anything but clear. Even when they were dating, she'd never really known where she stood. And now?

  Now, she had so much to make up to both Harry and Amelia. Time they could never get back. Memories they would never have.

  Thankfully, Harry didn't seem to have noticed the matchmaking gleam in Amelia's eyes as he unplugged his laptop and slid it into a leather bag, then gathered up several stacks of papers and put them in with his computer, and his glasses.

  Molly silently prayed he would never put those on in front of her. Otherwise, it just might be her undoing.

  Harry gave his desk and shelves one last scan. "That should do it."

  A knock came at the open door, and then a guy looked in. With the requisite man bun, beard, and cuffed jeans, Molly guessed he was in his mid to late twenties. "Professor Sullivan, sorry to intrude. I thought I heard voices and figured I'd check to see if you were in."

  "Amelia, Molly, this is my teaching assistant, Kelsin," Harry said. He looked so proud as he said, "Amelia is my daughter."