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The Devil Gets His Due by Elizabeth O'Roark


The Devil Gets His Due

by Elizabeth O'Roark

Self-Published

Book 4 in The Devil's series


Keeley:

Last January, I drunk-married my nemesis—hot, oversized geek Graham Tate.


With no memory of how it came about, there was only one solution: run off before he woke up and pretend it didn’t happen. It would have worked perfectly if I hadn’t wound up pregnant.


Graham is the opposite of everything I want in a man—practical, disciplined, frugal—but living with him until the baby arrives has me wondering if, perhaps, I’ve been wanting the wrong things all along. And if that drunk version of me last January might have been onto something.



Graham: I never planned to have kids, and I certainly wouldn’t have planned on one with Keeley Connolly—a woman who does not believe in savings accounts or personal safety and thinks Lucky Charms is a health food because of the non-marshmallow bits.


A woman who also didn’t think twice about marrying me in Vegas and ditching me hours later.


I can’t wait to put this behind me and return to my careful, chaos-free life in New York. But the more time I spend with Keeley, the more I’m remembering the things that led me to marry her in the first place…and wondering if I can live without them when this ends.

Genre:

 

Surprise, surprise. I loved this book.

Haha, I know. It's no surprise. It's Elizabeth O'Roark! All of my reviews of her books have been positive.

But I really liked this one.

Which is surprising, because I'm normally not one who enjoys the pregnancy trope.

Pregnancy/Children should not be what brings two people together.

But it's done well in this book. Yes, a lot of it does involve the pregnancy.

It's all the other stuff I loved.

I love frenemies. Not true dislike, but just constantly razzing on one another. Graham and Keely are complete opposites, and it adds so much to their banter and chemistry.

Opposites. Attract. Is. Hot.

Add on top of that the whole grump/sunshine trope, and insane chemistry ... like INSANE, this book is hot. It's great. I just loved everything about it. The slow burn romance, the banter - how they truly drove each other nuts with their differences, but fell for one another anyway ... Perfection.

Fun story - There was a part in this book where Keely, who is dog-sitting for her best friend, feels like she is going to be the worst mom in the world because she fed the puppy too many treats, and she ended up throwing it all up. TO SAY I DIDN'T RELATE TO THIS WOULD BE A LIE! Frankly, many first time moms go through moments thinking they will be a shitty mom. One of my moments was similar - except my pet actually died, and not from anything I did.

It was a goldfish.

Yup. Eighteen year old me, into my first trimester with twins, thought it was a good idea to get a goldfish.

Why? I can't tell you. Hormones' and impending motherhood and the need to care for something probably.

So of course, as is the story with goldfish, after a few months, it died.

I. Was. Devastated.

Crying in bed while my boyfriend (now husband), flushed him.

My family, who were of course there that day, and boyfrien, couldn't understand why I was so upset. Tried comforting me.

But first of all, I was hormonal. Good luck.

Second of all, I sat there in bed and was thinking, if I can't keep a goldfish alive, how the hell was I going to keep two babies alive? Not something I was going to say out loud when everyone was already worried how an eighteen year old would cope with two babies.

Keely has this moment with the dog, and it brought me right back. Keely's feelings her whole pregnancy felt so realistic, actually. Not all authors can fully write pregnancy the way Elizabeth did here. They can write the symptoms of pregnancy, but not the emotional turmoil a woman goes through in those months.

Hell. Let's not sugarcoat it. The emotional turmoil you will go through the rest of your life. The babies I doubted I could keep alive are in fact alive and thriving. Graduating high school next year. We even added another human being to our family, and 7 years later, she is doing great too.

I still live in a constant state of anxiety.

I'm 35.

My brother is 33.

My mom says she still is as well.

Okay. This is turning into a mom blog post, and not the book review I intended.

Elizabeth can write realistic, and relatable emotions. There, haha.


If you REALLY hate a pregnancy trope, maybe avoid this book - I think you will regret it, but what do I know? If you can get past the pregnancy, and see that this a romance with to people who are not together because they feel forced to give it a go - you will love it.




I am going to wrest every ounce of fun from this weekend if it kills me, and if it does kill me—O’Keefe curse and all—I suspect Six Bailey is a good way to go: he is inappropriately dressed, drops the word fuck like it’s the only adjective or noun he knows, and is currently ogling his sister-in-law’s breasts. Openly.

Six: “Holy shit, Drew, your rack got fucking huge,”

he tells her before he turns to me.

Six: “It’s okay for me to comment because I dated her first.”

He is in no way a keeper, and he might be my soulmate. My two-night soulmate.

Josh: “It’s not okay,”

growls Josh, Drew’s husband.

Josh: “I’m not sure how many times we will need to have this conversation, but I’m happy to end it the way the last one did.”

Drew: “Cut it out, Six. This is my first night away from the baby in months, and I want my husband in a good mood.”

Six takes a long sip of his drink.

Six: “With a rack like that, I don’t think you’ll have to worry about his fucking mood.”

Josh: “I’m going to kick your ass”

—Josh places his beer on the table—

Josh: “if you say one more goddamn word.”

Heavy drinking? Threats of violence? A serious lack of boundaries? I’ve clearly found my people. I want more of this feeling and I’m wondering where to find it when a hand wraps around my hip and an exhale grazes my ear.

Graham: “Tell me you’re not actually planning to sleep with that guy,”

says a voice I know I hate, though oddly I don’t feel any of that hatred at the moment. I turn to find Graham standing close, so close I have to crane my neck to meet his gaze. He’s looking at me in that way of his, as if he knows me better than I know myself, and resentment flares. He thinks he can loom over me, with his perfect nose and his lovely mouth, and make me feel guilty. He’s wrong.

Keely: “Why shouldn’t I sleep with him?”

I ask and his hand rises to slide over my jaw.

Graham: “You really want to know, Keeley?”

I nod because, being this close to him, my mind has suddenly gone blank. He’s near enough that I can smell the bourbon on his breath, which shouldn’t be nearly as appealing as it is. He shouldn’t be appealing at all, and yet—God—I’d challenge any woman to stand this close to him and not be drawn in.

Graham: “Because he isn’t who you want,”

he says, his fingers tangling tight in my hair,

Graham: “and you fucking know it.”

And before I can tell him how staggeringly wrong he is, he pulls my mouth to his.

I am kissing Graham Tate.

No. He is kissing me, and there’s nothing tentative about it. He kisses like a man who’s thought of nothing else for the past decade. As if he’s angry he ever had to wait. As if he resents me for pushing him this far. While my disdain for Graham is still a living, breathing animal inside me…Oh my God he can kiss. His scruff abrades my skin, his hand tight on my hip, pulling me against him. The kiss is skilled. And filthy. It is, in conclusion, nothing I’d have expected from Graham. And yet…maybe I did. As shocking as it is, I’m not actually shocked at all. It sort of feels like I was waiting for this very thing. He pulls me farther into the darkness and I’m definitely going to stop this in a minute. Maybe two minutes at most.

Keely: “Six is a guitarist,”

I say as my back hits the wall.

Keely: “He’s known for his manual dexterity.”

His mouth moves, just a hint of a smile as he pulls me against him again, his sizable erection pressing into my stomach.

Graham: “Just wait until you see what I can do with my tongue.”



What the fuck happened last night? More pressingly, what’s up with this guy? Because he is extremely still.

Keely: “God,”

I groan, reaching over to feel his carotid artery,

Keely: “not again.”

Graham: “Did you just check my pulse?” God, how embarrassing.

Keely: “This didn’t happen,”

I proclaim, jumping to my feet, ignoring that my whole body feels bruised, especially the area between my legs. My vagina took a beating last night. It deserves a beating for choosing to avail itself to the enemy when I was in a vulnerable state. I step over a condom wrapper to reach my dress, which is on the floor along with my bra, and yet another condom wrapper. No sign of my panties, so I guess I’m writing them off.

Keely: “We speak of it to no one and put it out of our heads.”

He watches me from the bed, arms folded across his broad chest, sheets bunched low at his waist.

Graham: “Because you’re still on your mission to fuck the rock star.”

I drag my eyes away from him because the sheet is riding low enough for me to see his happy trail, and I’m tempted to keep looking.

Keely: “If mankind let every simple mistake get in the way of its goals, we’d still be communicating via cave drawings,”

I reply, stepping over another condom wrapper. Jesus Christ, how many times, exactly, did we do it? He reaches for his phone while one hand goes behind his head, his bicep flexing impressively with the movement.

Graham: “Fair enough, slugger. Knock ’em dead tonight. Though not literally, which is apparently something that happens to you.”

Keely: “I’m sure it happens to everyone at some point,”

I mutter, and he laughs. I give him a small smile.

Keely: “Looks like you were out of your league.”

His eyes drift over me slowly, possessively, from my lips to my breasts and down to my hips before he steps close. I shiver as his hand brushes against my waist, as his breath grazes my ear.

Graham: “Keeley,”

he says, so only I can hear,

Graham: “we both know that’s not true.” Graham: “You’re sure you’re actually a doctor?”

he asks, looking around.

Graham: “Because you live like a teenage girl who just profited from a sex tape with Kanye.”

Keely: “I’m going to take that as a compliment.”

Graham: “I assure you it wasn’t one. Graham: “I stopped drinking. Our night in Vegas was a wake-up call.”

Well, that’s flattering. Marrying me was so horrifying that it made him stop drinking. Of course, it made me stop drinking, too, but I’m a treasure.

Keely: “Ditto.”

His mouth tilts into a smug smile.

Graham: “I assumed that weekend was par for the course for you.”

Keely: “You’re awfully judgy for a guy who got so drunk you don’t even remember marrying me. To be honest, it implies you might have some issues with alcohol.”

His jaw falls open.

Graham: “You don’t remember either.”

Keely: “And now you’re deflecting blame, which is also a sign of alcoholism.”

He laughs quietly.

Graham: “Will murdering you be a third sign?”

I hold the menu in front of my face.

Keely: “Well, it certainly wouldn’t be an argument against it.” She seems legitimately peeved, which makes me wonder if she just doesn’t understand her own power, doesn’t realize that when she smiles, men turn into fifteen-year-old boys again, too overcome by hormonal impulses to make reasonable decisions. And then they marry her, apparently, if the opportunity arises. Graham: "You got some packages, by the way.”

Keely: “My bras!”

I cry, rushing across the room, all my sadness forgotten. I rip open the first package—three profoundly expensive lace bras in beige, black and red. My rack is gonna look amazing in them.

Graham: “And here I was futilely hoping you might be attempting to save money.”

I move onto the second package.

Keely: “Spare me. Hasn’t your sperm already infected me with enough enforced responsibility?”

He glances from the mountain of lingerie on the table to the candy I just set beside it.

Graham: “Yes,”

he says dryly,

Graham: “you now appear to be the picture of responsibility.”

Keely: “Your fuck-up does not mean you get to police my spending habits.”

Graham: “My fuck-up? I’m pretty sure I didn’t create this situation on my own.”

Keely: “Look, my vagina is always right here,”

I say, waving in its vicinity.

Keely: “It’s your sperm that somehow were in the wrong place at the wrong time. I’m not sure how that’s my fault.”

His mouth lifts with just a hint of a smile, as if he’s remembering. And then I am too, though it’s simply fragments, like photographs being flipped through at high speed to create a movie—his weight above me, his grip on my hips, his teeth on my shoulder.

Graham: “You’re right,”

he says, smirking,

Graham: “I don’t recall you having much to do with it.”

Asshole.

Keely: “I’m amazing in bed. You’d be obsessed with me if you could remember it.” Graham: “I’ll cook tonight,”

I tell her as we part.

Graham: “So don’t load up on Mike and Ike’s or white rice.”

She frowns.

Keely: “Is it going to be gross?”

Graham: “Would you consider anything that isn’t pizza or Lucky Charms gross?”

Her mouth curves.

Keely: “Most likely.”

Graham: “Then yes, you’ll probably think it’s gross.” She cuts up the fish and disconsolately mixes it with the salad, but nothing more.

Graham: “You’re supposed to be putting it in your mouth,”

I tell her. She grins.

Keely: “I bet I’m not the first girl you’ve said that to.”

Graham: “Most women seem to figure it out on their own.” Graham: “You’re exhausted right now, so I’m gonna go to my room and let you pretend I’m not here. And tomorrow night when you come home, I’ll make us a relatively healthy dinner and then we’ll eat Twinkies and watch some dumb TV.”

I roll toward him.

Keely: “No way you are eating a Twinkie.”

Graham: “No,”

he says, his eyes lighter as he reaches out to brush a tear off my cheek with his thumb.

Graham: “But I’ll pretend I am and then give it to Mark, which is apparently okay around here.”

Keely: “Yeah,”

I reply, smiling through my tears.

Keely: “That’s totally okay around here.” Graham: “So he’s perfect? How is the duke different from me?”

I bark a laugh. There is an entire universe between Simon, the Duke of Hastings, and Graham Tate.

Keely: “He’s a duke.”

Graham: “I’d actually figured that out on my own.”

Keely: “He’s—”

Cranky, commanding, intense, smug, fierce, handsome, amusing, intelligent. All words someone other than me might use to describe Graham, too, dammit.

Keely: “British.”

His lips twitch.

Graham: “Yes, there’s not much I can do about that part.”

Keely: “It’s sort of a dealbreaker, unfortunately.” We’re at the final scene: Daphne and the Duke’s first dance, under the stars. Fireworks explode, the music swells…and Graham speaks.

Graham: “Those fireworks are going to destroy that lawn. Seriously. That grass is never coming back.” Keely: “What do you think of the name Maddox for a boy, by the way?”

Graham: “He sounds like a runaway who’s turned to sex work to survive life on the streets.”

Keely: “So that’s a maybe, then,”

she says cheerfully.

Keely: “I like Kalamity for a girl. Spelled with a ‘k’, though.”

Graham: “At least we won’t have to worry about paying for college.” Graham: “I don’t understand. You will look exactly like those girls in a year. You’ll be able to go to Coachella. What’s the difference?”

She finally meets my eye.

Keely: “When I meet Harry Styles and Machine Gun Kelly backstage and they’re like, ‘hey, let’s go to Amsterdam’, you know what I’ll have to say? ‘Sorry, Harry Styles. Sorry, Machine Gun Kelly. I have to go feed my baby.’”

I am at a loss for words. Mostly because I can’t imagine that she’s serious, and I’m a little worried she is.

Keely: Sorry, Harry Styles and Machine Gun Kelly, but I’ve got to get home and sew a Pilgrim costume. Sorry, Harry Styles and Machine Gun Kelly, but I have to chaperone a school field trip in the morning.”

Graham: “Just out of curiosity, how long would you call them by their full names? At what point do you just call them Harry and, uh, Machine Gun?” I laugh, that soft thing in my chest growing a little bit more, though I wish it wouldn’t. Because she has no idea how or why she married me—and she’d never have done it sober—but I’ve known, all along, exactly why I married her. Keely: “If you showed up for a date in this car, you’d never get a second one.”

Graham: “Given how far you apparently go on the first date, I wouldn’t need a second one.” Graham: “Did you seriously just tell me that your father and your stepmother were English professors?”

Keely: “Is that really so hard to believe? It’s not like I didn’t finish high school. I am a doctor.”

Graham: “The last thing I saw you reading was ‘The Cast of Dawson’s Creek: Where are they Now?’ So, yes, I did not expect you to be the child of an English professor.” Graham: “I’m not putting up with this,”

he says quietly.

Graham: “And neither are you.”

He rises, tugging my hand to join him.

Graham: “My wife, a doctor, has been in the same field for eight years. And, as I believe I mentioned, she’s my wife, so in the future, I’d suggest you keep the nicknames and comments to yourself. Which you might want to do anyway, Shannon, because they make you look petty…and jealous.” Keely: “Ordering in is easier,”

she mumbles, but she reaches back to tighten her ponytail before washing her hands, and a memory hits me out of nowhere: It was last winter, after the party, and her hair was falling out of its careful updo for a very different reason, her cheeks flushed, her eyes bright. When you kiss me,” she said,I forget how to think.” I already knew we were more than some drunk hook-up, but that was the moment I hoped she might be figuring it out too. Keely: “Have you given any more thought to the name Kalamity?”

she asks. I glance at her.

Graham: “I assure you, I never gave it any thought in the first place. What about Esther?”

Keely: Esther? Isn’t that name, like, from the Bible?”

I take the spatula and nudge her out of the way since she’s letting the chicken burn. She takes a seat at the counter and watches me work.

Graham: “Half the names you know are from the Bible.”

Keely: “My Bible must have been missing the story of Jesus’s friends, Keeley and Graham. Did they, like, go on a road trip?”

Graham: “I’m not sure road trips feature heavily in the Bible.”

Keely: “They absolutely do. They just don’t sound like fun. Although the one where Jesus walked on water…you can’t tell me drugs weren’t involved there. I did shrooms at Burning Man and let me tell you…I saw a lot of things.” Graham: “You’re aware the qualities that make a good wife are probably the same qualities that make a good mother, right?”

Keely: “Like what?”

I shrug.

Graham: “Cooking, cleaning, laundry…”

Keely: “Fuck you. I don’t even do those things for myself, so I’m sure as hell not doing them for a man. None of that is a wife’s job.”

Graham: “So, what do you think a wife’s job is?”

Keely: “Pretend to listen to your boring stories about actuarial tables,. I don’t use actuarial tables. I’m not sure how many times I have to tell you that.”

I’m pretty sure she knows it by now and is just saying this to mess with me. At least I hope so.

Keely: “Fine, listen to your boring stories about whatever it is you actually do, tiptoe around you all afternoon after your football team loses a big game, provide frequent blow jobs and anniversary anal.”

Graham: “Anniversary anal?”

Keely: “You know, like once a year. It’s a thing.”

Graham: “I wasn’t aware that was a thing.”

I’m fighting a grin and failing.

Keely: “You can’t do it too often or that area might not go back in place. So, you know, a few times a year. Anniversary, special occasions.”

Graham: “I wasn’t objecting to the infrequency of the anal sex. I was just surprised to hear it offered up so openly,”

I say, finally giving in to the urge to smile.

Graham: “But I’m thinking marriage to you might not be so terrible after all. Perhaps I was hasty.”

She throws a napkin at me and I laugh.

Graham: “Anniversary anal,”

I say, taking our plates to the sink.

Graham: “Where the fuck do you get this stuff?” Graham: “I can’t wait to hear what you think I should do with my ninety-year-old great-aunt instead of the Getty, then.”

Keely: “Does she drink? I’d start there and see where the wind takes you.”

He sets his phone down and turns toward me.

Graham: “So my great aunt is flying across the country, and your suggestion is that I take her to a bar. For the day.”

I hitch a shoulder.

Keely: “Well, she’s Irish and from Boston. I doubt it’ll be the first time she’s spent a day in a bar.”

His mouth moves as if he wants to laugh.

Graham: “That’s an offensive stereotype.”

Keely: “If I’m wrong it’s only because she was too busy spitting out one baby after the next to get a day in a bar to herself.”

He shakes his head.

Graham: “Keeley…Jesus. That’s another offensive stereotype.”

Keely: “A, I can say these things because I’m Irish. And B, how many kids did she have?”

Graham: “I don’t see how that’s relevant.”

I laugh.

Keely: “More than six, then?”

He sighs and runs a hand through his hair.

Graham: “Eight. It’s still a stereotype. Keely: “They aren’t going to demand we kiss, right?”

I ask on Saturday night, preparing for the worst. He cuts a glance at me from the driver’s seat.

Graham: “What kind of people would demand we kiss?”

Keely: “It happens in movies all the time. You can’t be in a fake relationship without winding up on a kiss cam or having to kiss because someone’s family has demanded it.”

Graham: “That has literally never happened in a single movie I’ve watched, nor in a book I’ve read.”

Keely: “If that economics book you’re reading had a fake relationship trope in it, you’d have finished it weeks ago.” Graham: “Why am I giving you my phone?”

Keely: “Don’t worry, I’m not going to try to see all the fetishy porn you’ve downloaded of Japanese men’s feet or whatever.”

Graham: “Is that actually a category of porn? And more to the point, is that actually a category you think I’d be jerking off to?”

Heat shoots through me at those words. Does he? Does he lay there at night with his hand wrapped firmly around what was, as I recall, a pretty significantly sized erection? Mind, pull thyself from the gutter.

Keely: “No, your preference is probably something more like Girl Takes it From Behind While Balancing Checkbook.’” Graham: “There’s something in the way you lob an insult, Keeley, that makes it sound an awful lot like foreplay. Every single time you call me boring”

—his gaze falls to my mouth for one long moment—

Graham: “it feels like you’re hoping I’ll pin you down and fuck you, simply to prove you wrong.” “Graham, what else do you want from me?”

And then I grasp him again, harder, and air hisses through his teeth.

Graham: “Everything,”

he grunts, moving away.

Graham: “But not when you’re offering it as a one-off.” Keely: “I want dessert,”

I announce on the way home.

Keely: “Like I don’t even want dinner. I just want dessert. And because I just cried, you have to give in and coddle me.” Graham: “You can have dinner with any person, past or present. Who do you choose?”

Keely: “Can it be a person made of chocolate?”

Graham: “I’m referring to a dining companion you do not intend to eat, Keeley.”

She really must be starving if that’s the first place her mind went.

Keely: “Gandhi,”

she replies.

Keely: “Or Khloe Kardashian.”

Graham: “Gandhi is rolling in his grave right now.”

Keely: “Gandhi was cremated, so I doubt he’s doing much rolling. Keeley stiffens.

Keely: “Did you call an ambulance?”

Server: “We did but they said it’ll be a while and—”

He flinches as a female scream cuts through the air.

Keely: “Jesus Fucking Christ,

Keeley says, pushing past him like she owns the place.

Keely: “You guys owe me some fresh chicken tikka.”

Server: “Is she really a doctor?”

he asks me as we follow.

Graham: “It shocks me too.” I just fell more in love with the mother of my child than I already was. Which is really inconvenient. I was already a little too far gone. I turn to Graham, swallowing down my panic.

Keely: “I guess I’ll see you afterward.”

He hears the uncertainty in my voice, and though he’s clearly tense, he leans down, his lips right beside my ear.

Graham: “In an hour, you’ll be back home. I’ll order us both steak frites and we’ll watch the movie about the kidnapper. You’ll think it’s sexy and I’ll be horrified by your taste but a little turned on. Focus on that.”

Warmth rushes through me. There are ten employees here whose job is to make me feel cared for, but it’s this, it’s Graham knowing just what I need to hear—or maybe the idea of Graham turned on—that actually succeeds.

Keely: “Will you give me back my sweatshirt?”

Graham: “Now you’re pushing it,”

he growls, and when I laugh, he does too. Keely: “Are you hungry? I can make a mean grilled cheese. Well, I can start one and you’ll take over when you smell it burning, but my intentions are good.” Graham: “I want you to pull my hair when you come,”

Not if you come. When. Keely: “Jesus, you’re big. It’ll be like trying to put my lips around the head of a Coke can.”

His quiet laugh is cut off by the first flick of my tongue, and as I pull him into my mouth and moan, he stiffens and gasps.

Graham: “Keeley, stop.”

I release him.

Keely: “You don’t want me to?”

He winces.

Graham: “Just the sight of you on your knees asking me that question is enough to make me come.”

Keely: “I thought that was the point.”

Graham: “The point is for me not to come in two seconds flat, which is something you’d never let me live down.”

I fight a smile.

Keely: “That does sound like the kind of thing I’d dwell on, yes. Do you want me to talk about the patient I killed when I was a resident?”

His gaze holds mine.

Graham: “Yes, but not now. Also, if I remain hard while you describe someone dying, I’m going to creep us both out.”

My gaze drifts to his lovely, sizable cock.

Keely: “I’m going back in,”

I warn him.

Keely: “Think about something unsexy. Calculate how much I could have invested if I hadn’t bought all those designer bags.”

He gasps again as I slide him into my mouth.

Graham: “I’ve already done that calculation in Excel.” I go to my own room and climb into bed, wishing I could have stayed. And suddenly a memory hits me out of nowhere: sometime, during our first night together, he’d pulled me against him and asked if I was thinking about how to sneak away.

“Actually,I’d said, I’m thinking you should marry me, and we should have a billion kids.”

It was me. This whole fucking thing was my idea. Possibly even the kid. Keely: “How do you know about all that?”

Mark shrugs.

Mark: “I had the same job, you know, and it’s stressful as hell. Graham’s a young guy with a good head on his shoulders. I’m just keeping tabs to make sure it stays that way.”

Keely: “Maybe I should have been asking more questions,”

I say quietly. Mark shakes his head.

Mark: “You’re already performing the most important role, and it’s the one thing I really needed back then.”

Keely: “What’s that?”

Mark: “You give him a reason to wake up in the morning, Keeley.”

He laughs when my mouth opens to argue.

Mark: “No, not the baby. You.” Graham: “Keeley, if I don’t seem any different…it’s because I’m not. I’ve been trying to get over you for months, and…I’m still trying. I’m going to be trying for a long while. This is just what it looks like.”

A tiny flame ignites inside me, flickering at first and then growing stronger. He wants this. He wants us. And it’s incredibly risky and doomed to failure, but I want it too. I place my palms on his chest as I look up at him.

Keely: “I don’t want you to get over it, Graham.”

He swallows, hope and uncertainty dancing in his eyes.

Graham: “You once said you were a butterfly who couldn’t stay in one place for long.”

I take a deep breath before I answer.

Keely: “Maybe I just needed a safe place to land.” When they finally open again, I reach up to his throat.

Keely: “You have my favorite thyroid cartilage in the entire world.”

He laughs.

Graham: “That’s probably the weirdest compliment I’ve ever received.”

Keely: “All the blood may have rushed from my brain. I’m not thinking all that clearly right now.” Keely: “Are we talking about a house like Ben’s, or some kind of Warren Buffett-style ‘look how frugal I am despite all my money’ thing?”

He laughs.

Graham: “Yes, Keeley, you’ll get your Mariah Carey closet.”

Keely: “You have no idea how horny that just made me.” Keely: “I’d feel like I was being kept by a Saudi prince.”

He smiles.

Graham: “I thought you wanted to be kept by a Saudi prince.”

Keely: “I do. It’s a good thing. We might need to do some roleplay.”

Graham: “Saudi prince roleplay and anniversary anal. I like it. Just out of curiosity, are we going with January eighth for our anniversary? Because I want to make sure I mark it on my calendar.”

I place my mouth against his ear.

Keely: “Graham, once I get this kid out, you aren’t going to have to wait for once a year anything.”

Graham: “Jesus,”

he says under his breath.

Graham: “Are you ready to get out of here? I’m tired.”

Keely: “How can you be tired? This was the laziest day I’ve ever seen you have.”

He gives me a sidelong look, one that starts at my eyes and lands on my mouth for a long moment.

Graham: “I’m not actually tired, Keeley.”

Ohhh.

Keely: “I hate to eat and run,”

I announce to the table, as I rise. Drew: “Wow. You really don’t remember anything, do you? It was so cute. He said he knew he was going to marry you the first time you ever spoke on the phone.” I doubt you’ll believe any of this. I know it won’t change anything. I just wanted you to know I love you, and there’s no one alive I’d rather have raise our daughter than you. She’ll know more about The Jonas Brothers and the cast of Dawson’s Creek than any child should, but she’ll also be loved in a way only you love the people you care about. Being one of them, briefly, was the happiest time of my life. - Graham Graham: “Do you actually want all these people in here?”

Keely: “Well, no, but they just want to celebrate and—”

I stand.

Graham: “Everyone? I’m this kid’s father. Nice to meet you. Now get the fuck out unless you’re assigned to this room.” Keely: “They’re all going to hate you,”

she says. Her eyes fall closed. It seems early in the process for her to be this tired.

Graham: “Like I give a shit,”

Keely: “You need to give a shit,”

she says with a too-small smile.

Keely: “We can’t piss them off in case we ever decide to have another one.”

My heart stops. I didn’t write that letter hoping to change her mind about us, but that she wants me here and is talking about a future us has me hoping for it anyway.

Graham: “You mean…together? We’d stay together?”

Keely: “God, Graham, you haven’t already changed your mind, right? I mean, you only sent that email last night.”

I can’t speak for a moment. I lift her hand and press my face to its back.

Graham: “No, I haven’t changed my mind. I just thought…”

I don’t finish the sentence. I can’t.

Keely: “People aren’t quite as unforgiving as you seem to think. And besides, we both know I can’t afford a Mariah Carey closet on my own.” No, not settled. Resigned. She reaches for my hand.

Keely: “Graham, you’re going to be such a good dad, and she’s so lucky to have you—”

Graham: “Stop,”

I demand.

Graham: “You’re fine.”

Nurse: “I’m sorry. We need to leave now.”

They push the bed from the room and Keeley grips my hand as I walk alongside her down the hall.

Keely: “Listen to me, okay? I love you. I love this baby, and I don’t regret any of it. Convincing you to marry me is smartest thing I ever did.” Keely: “It can’t even taste that good,”

I coo to her.

Keely: “Just wait until I get ahold of some Hot Tamales.” Keely: “I want a wedding. A big one. With a carriage. And doves.”

He scrubs his face and looks up at me, astonished for a moment, but then his mouth softens.

Graham: “Yeah?”

Keely: “Yeah. And a parade. Like they have in New Orleans.”

His smile grows.

Graham: “I’m not sure they could do that in LA.”

Keely: “I thought we could do it in Santorini. And then we’ll do our honeymoon on a murder mystery train.”

He laughs.

Graham: “You’re just throwing in as much crazy shit as possible right now because you know I’ll agree. I guess that means you’re going to name her Kalamity too?”

Keely: “I was thinking about Delilah—”

Graham: “You realize that’s in the Bible—”

Keely: “Please don’t ruin this for me. Anyway, we’ll name her Delilah but we’ll call her Daisy.”

He winces.

Graham: “Or we could, you know, just call her by her actual name.”

Keely: “I nearly died, Graham.”

Graham: “Daisy it is, then,” Keely: “It still felt like you singled me out. You gave me a patient with a rare disorder and then described in detail how I messed up.”

Dr. Patel: “I absolutely did single you out,”

he agrees, setting his coffee down.

Dr. Patel: “Has it ever occurred to you, though, that I perhaps did that because I knew you could figure it out, and suspected the others wouldn’t?”

I grin.

Keely: “So you’re saying I’m actually the greatest resident you ever had?”

He laughs.

Dr. Patel: “No, far from it. But you could become a very good doctor. And if you ever tire of telling rich women which retinol to use, I’d be happy to find a place for you here.”

He’s a pain in the ass, but I’ll probably become a better doctor because of him, and the idea of working here excites me in a way Beverly Hills Skin never could.

Keely: “I want to stay home with my daughter for a while first. She hasn’t seen the first two seasons of Bridgerton yet.”

He sighs and shakes his head.

Dr. Patel: “Yes, yes, of course. But for your daughter’s sake, I hope her father is good at telling you no.”

I smile. Our daughter is named Delilah Kalamity Tate. He’s not that good at it. Keeley’s love for our daughter is a staggering thing, and I suspected it would be. It’s a big part of the reason she’s only going back to work half-time when she starts at the hospital in a week. The other part is that she just realized there are eight seasons of Love Island UK and she and Daisy have only watched two of them. She told me and Daisy last week that Jonny from season two is a douche and if Daisy brings home a guy like that, she’ll make sure he’s dead by morning. Our daughter gave me a big toothless grin when she said it—Daisy looks like me, but she’s an O’Keefe through and through. I’m in so much trouble.


Graham: “Marry me,”

I say, and when the words emerge, I expect to regret them. I expect to want to pull them back…but I don’t. I’m simply stunned by how perfect a solution it is.

Graham: “That’s how I want you to prove it. Marry me.”

She laughs.

Keely: “Sure, I’ll marry you…like, eventually. But right now, we really need to go back to your room.” Keely: “Graham thinks we ought to get married. Like, tonight. In Vegas.”

Drew’s eyes widen, and I wait for her to say, “that’s insane” or “you guys hate each other.” Instead, she looks at Keeley.

Drew: “Wow. What are you going to do?”

Keely: “I still don’t even know why he asked,”

Keeley says, but she’s smiling, and it gives me hope that I can still sell her on this. My fingers twine with hers.

Graham: “Maybe I just wanted someone who’d force me to go to Santorini.”

She grins wider.

Keely: “We both know that’s not true.”

I was joking, of course. But maybe I wasn’t. Maybe I do want someone to force me to go Santorini. Maybe I’ve been locked up for a long time and I’m starting to think she’s the key to the outside.

Graham: “I want to marry you because you don’t wear enough clothing when you go out, and I want it to be my jacket you wear home at night. And because a part of me has wanted to marry you since the first time we spoke. You bring my entire world into color, and I don’t want to go back to the way it was.”

Tears spring to Keeley’s eyes.

Keely: “I wasn’t planning to ever get married,”

Graham: “I wasn’t either. But I want to marry you.”

Drew: “Oh boy,”

says Drew, pulling Keeley away.

Drew: “We’re going to have a chat outside. Meet us out there in five.”

Keeley allows herself to be led, but at the last moment she turns and smiles at me. I’m pretty sure it was a yes. And for the first time in decades, the future is technicolor and open wide, and I can’t wait for it to start. I open the box and my jaw drops. Not out of horror. It’s a massive rose-cut diamond, just like the one Lily Collins has.

Keely: “Oh my God,”

I whisper.

Keely: “How did you know this is what I wanted?”

He laughs as he slides it on my finger.

Graham: “You’ve shown me that ring every day since you got out of the hospital, Keeley. You made a TikTok about your love for that ring.”

Okay, yes, I did do those things. I laugh but it comes out a little like a sob. He frowns.

Graham: “Is it okay?”

I swallow hard and press my face to his chest.

Keely: “It’s better than okay. J Lo only wishes Ben Affleck loved her this much.” Keely: “We probably need a classy, elegant story to tell Daisy one day.”

He grins.

Graham: “So this is going to be classy and elegant? That’s disappointing.”

Keely: “We’re 100 percent still having sex in that limo.”

 


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