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Leap of Faith (MF)

The Blake Boys

Etopia Press

Heat Rating: STEAMY
Word Count: 53,155
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Sometimes a leap of faith is all you need...

Channing Blake thought he couldn't be happier. He's working for Blake Enterprises. He's married to Cassidy, the woman of his dreams, and her cancer is in remission. Now he's ready to start a family, but his wife is haunted by the fear they may not be able to conceive children. Meanwhile, a case Cassidy is working on spills over into their home life, complicating everything. As the clock ticks to help her client, he must convince his wife to take a chance. To try for a family of their own...

Cassidy Blake should feel like she's the luckiest woman in the world. Her family law practice is thriving, and her handsome husband supports her in every way. So why can't she escape this fear of trying to start a family and failing? So when a troubled new client needs help keeping custody of her son, Cassidy quickly throws her heart into the high-stakes case. But helping the young mother and son only makes her yearn for a budding family of her own, even as she worries any change might steal their happiness forever.

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Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE



Channing Blake surveyed the room, trying to figure out which of the gathered Blake clan, all the friends and extended family, was keeping the juicy secret. His mom Teri-Lyn had found a positive pregnancy test in the bathroom, and that shocking reveal had blown the roof off the party.

There was always a lot to be celebrated in the family, but this year had to be a Blake personal best. Avery and Wyatt had graduated college. Parker was contemplating a career change. Jared and Autumn had gotten engaged. Now the news of another baby coming really had the crowd abuzz. Any of his older brothers were the most likely suspects, always willing to add a new bundle of joy to their growing families. But their wives had other plans.

He carefully scanned the faces of his brothers, looking for any tells that would indicate they were keeping the truth secret. Seth had that glazed-over look as he planted a kiss on Morgan, but Channing was pretty sure they weren’t expecting. She’d threatened Seth with a homemade vasectomy if he even thought about having another child after Mackenzie. J.J. and Sam were juggling two kids and careers and wanted some more time as a family before they added to their brood. Tate had hinted to Isabelle last week at the Sunday family dinner that it would be nice to have a little girl. She’d responded by plopping barbecue sauce-covered Mackenzie on his lap and telling him to clean her up. Tyler and Michelle were having too much fun jet-setting around to be thinking of kids right now.

He looked over at his wife Cassidy. Could it be…? No, of all the people in the room, they were the least likely candidates for a baby. Not that he wouldn’t be thrilled if she were expecting. The gnawing urge to have a child of their own had all but consumed him lately, but he’d been keeping it under wraps. They’d been told her chances of conceiving would be small due to the medical treatment used for her cervical cancer. The doctor-recommended healing period ended two months ago, and now they were in clear to review their parenting options. Unfortunately, Cassidy didn’t seem as enthusiastic about it these days.

Instead of pondering what ifs, she’d focused her energy on building her family law practice instead. It was thriving, and she’d recently expanded her one-woman show to a staff of five and had entertained taking on a partner. She loved her job even when she had more difficult cases, like custody battles and people bickering about splitting up property in a divorce. The domestic violence and child abuse cases were the hardest. They affected her the most. There were days she’d come home crying after witnessing the cruelty in the world that landed on the doorstep of her law firm. That just about broke his heart every single time it happened, but he tried to comfort her the best he could. He loved that she had such a big heart, but he also worried that she took on too much.

After giving every possible guilty party a onceover, he finally gave up trying to figure out which couple was pregnant. For now. By nine o’clock, the party was winding down. It looked like the expecting couple would be keeping their announcement under wraps. Mama Teri-Lyn was a little disappointed that after all her probing no one had fessed up to owning the pregnancy test. He went over to the buffet table and cut a hunk of the graduation cake to take home. Michelle had outdone herself this time with the yellow cake with lemon filling and butter cream icing. No wonder Tyler looked like he’d put on a few pounds. It was a match made in heaven as his brother loved taste testing his wife’s new recipes. He was just about wrap up some of the appetizers too when he heard a blood curdling scream coming from kitchen.

“Tyler!”

Channing darted into the room to see Michelle kneeling down next to her husband, patting Tyler’s cheek. Tyler was pale and still, his eyes closed and unresponsive to Michelle’s increasingly powerful “pats.”

“What happened?” Channing got down on his knees and checked his pulse, praying this wasn’t some kind of heart attack. No, Tyler’s pulse was strong and steady. He blew out a sigh of relief.

“I told him the news.” Michelle stopped patting Tyler’s face and held up the pregnancy test. “And he keeled over!”

“Oh.” But then it occurred to him what Michelle had just said. She and Tyler were going to have a baby. He broke into a wide grin. “Congratulations!”

“Thanks.” Michelle offered a shy smile before frowning again. “Too bad you can’t celebrate with your brother.”

Teri-Lyn burst into the kitchen and took one look at the scene. “Oh my gosh, Ty! What’s wrong with my baby?” She dropped a pan she was carrying and came rushing over.

“He’s fine mama. He just fainted when Michelle gave him the good news.” Channing patted her hand.

“What news?”

Michelle held up the pregnancy test again and gave another hesitant smile. “It was mine.”

“My goodness! What a pleasant surprise!” Teri-Lyn bent down and gave Michelle an awkward hug.

A few minutes later, half the party had crowded into the kitchen, including the kids. Now it was Channing’s turn to slap Tyler’s face, trying to get him to wake. Maybe he should try dumping water on his brother. A small kiddie pool might work…

Derek and Charisma did their best to corral the kiddies back in the living room. Avery, who’d been out on the veranda talking to Wyatt and Parker about their new living arrangements, came running into the house.

“Uncle Tyler!” Avery shrieked but then composed herself and turned to Michelle. “Did he hit his head?”

“No.” Michelle’s eyes went up as if thinking about it. “It’s was more of a dramatic crumple to the floor like a cool poisoning scene in a play. He’s more graceful than I thought.”

“That’s good.” Avery waved a hand over his nose. “We need to get him on the couch and raise his legs and loosen any constrictive clothing.”

“It’s Tyler. Everything he wears is snug,” Michelle replied.

“You know he and Seth have that second-skin policy when it comes to clothing.” J.J. peered over his little brother while bouncing a now-awake Gabe in his arms.

“Let’s get him over to the couch,” Tate said as he contemplated which limb to grab. “C.J. give me a hand.”

Seth and Bo came over to help move him. Each man tugged on a limb but clearly didn’t anticipate Tyler weighed so much, so they dropped him back on the floor.

“Be careful boys!” Teri-Lyn said.

“Mama,” Channing grunted as he gripped Tyler’s arm again. “He’s heavier than he looks.”

“I think I slipped a disc,” Bo lamented. “What are you feeding him Michelle?”

“He eats like five times a day.” She shrugged as she rushed out to fluff up the pillows on the couch.

“Boys, stop playing around,” John Jacob said. “You’re all in great shape. Get your brother off the floor.”

“Daddy, pulling a tractor would be easier than moving the Rock of Gibraltar over here.” Seth nodded to the fellas so they could sync their movements. “On three.”

Once they finally got him onto the couch, Avery checked to make sure his airway was clear then stuffed a few pillows under his legs while Sam and Morgan loosened his belt and his tie. With all the commotion going on, no one noticed Jared taking pics of Tyler with his phone. Channing gave him a thumbs-up, because this was going to be a funny family story for years to come, then he went back to tending to his brother. Cassidy brought two glasses of water out of the kitchen, one for Tyler and the other for Michelle. Isabelle and Autumn fanned him with the linen napkins.

Tate chuckled. “He should wake in a few minutes. I’m sure he loves all of this attention.”

“Wake up, Uncle Ty.” Mackenzie came over and tweaked her Uncle’s nose.

A few minutes later, the race car driver began to show signs of life. He jumped back when he saw half the family standing over him.

“What happened?” Tyler grumbled.

Channing laughed. “You fainted rather ineloquently after you heard the news.”

“Ah-hem,” Michelle interrupted and shot a look at everyone. “Can we have some privacy?”

“Sure.”

Everyone scattered to the dining room and kitchen, not wanting to be too far away. Channing couldn’t help but hang near the archway. Since Tyler was safely on the couch and in no danger of falling, Michelle took his hand and repeated what she’d said earlier. Tyler looked faint again but then flashed the biggest smile.

Channing was happy for his big brother. It was a wonderful surprise. The two of them had often said that their busy lives didn’t allow for anything more than occasionally babysitting the precocious kids in the family. But his brother’s hectic life would forever be changed. There was a baby on the way.

Channing wrapped his arm around Cassidy’s waist as she snuggled against him.

She smiled. “Looks like he’s taking the news much better the second time around.”

“That’s good. I don’t think I can carry him again.” Channing rubbed his lower back.

She raised an eyebrow. “I’ve seen you lift six of the kids at one time.”

“The kids are made up of mostly giggles and ice cream. Ty’s solid mass.”

“Isn’t this such a wonderful day? Avery and Wyatt are starting a new journey together and now there’s another baby on the way.”

“Yeah. There’s never a dull moment in this family.” He kissed her.

In the other room, Tyler and Michelle hugged and kissed for what seemed like an eternity until Teri-Lyn couldn’t stand it anymore and burst in on the couple. The rest of the family followed suit. The news had made the race car driver hungry, so they moved the celebration over to the table covered with food. He let everyone else get in their hugs and congratulations before Channing went over and gave the couple a hearty embrace. Tyler had that same nervous smile and gleam in his eye, just like he did before a race.

“Congratulations.” He patted Tyler on the back. “I am so excited for the two of you.”

“Who would have thought it?” Tyler scooped up the hot crab dip with a cracker and popped it into his mouth.

“Well, it couldn’t have happened to a better couple.”

“It will be your turn soon.” Tyler winked. “No pressure, but we did say we would have our kids at the same time.”

“It’s still early days for me and Cassie.”

“She’s healthy and still in remission. Knock wood.” Tyler tapped on the table.

Avery approached with a worried look on her face. “Uncle Tyler, how are you feeling? I think you should put down the food and get to the emergency room to get an assessment.”

“I’m just fine, doc. There’s no need for a trip to the germ factory. I just got really overstimulated from the news.” He smiled.

She furrowed her eyebrows. “I still think—”

Tyler gave her a bear hug. “I’m fine darlin’. Your Uncle Tyler has been through a lot worse. You’re going to be a damn fine doctor someday but you should be celebrating. This is your party after all.”

“He’s right,” Channing said. “You haven’t opened the rest of your graduation presents, and I know you’re dying to wrap things up so you can go off with Wyatt.”

“Are you sure?” Avery took Tyler’s wrist and checked his pulse again.

“One hundred percent positive.” Tyler nibbled on more crab dip with his free hand.

“You see the way he’s eating? Ty is definitely on the mend.” Channing chuckled. “But I’ll keep an eye on him to be sure.”

“OK.” She hugged Tyler again before heading off in Wyatt and Parker’s direction.

John Jacob asked for quiet as he made his fourth toast of the night to his latest grandbaby. The champagne and apple cider began flowing again as the party became animated once again after the exciting news. Channing looked over at Cassidy, who was standing next to Michelle while holding Owen in her arms. She was a natural mother, and the Blake brood loved her. After hearing Tyler and Michelle’s wonderful news, he wanted to start trying for a family more than ever. He only hoped he and Cassidy were on the same page.