#NewRelease Making It by Christine D'Abo (A Ringside Romance Novel) #3 Available Now!
Title: Making It
Series: A Ringside Romance #3
Author: Christine D'Abo
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Publication Date: August 7, 2017
Page Count: 239
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, MMA
Devan knows exactly what he wants from life: a good career, a husband who loves him, and a child to call his own. He’s working at the perfect job, and has found the man of his dreams in Eli. That only leaves one box left to tick. When his friend offers to be a surrogate mother for Devan and Eli, he’s convinced all his dreams have come true.
Eli has been fighting his entire life. Fighting to keep his sick mother safe, fighting his frustration, and fighting daily as an up-and-coming MMA star. The one thing he can’t fight is the feeling that he’s made a terrible mistake agreeing to be a father with Devan. On the worst night of their lives, Eli knows Devan is better off without him, and leaves.
When Eli returns three years later, he comes face-to-face with Devan and a son who might be his. Devan has moved on with his life, but seeing Eli once again reignites forgotten passion. Yet if Eli wants to make it work with Devan, he must decide if he’s ready for the biggest fight of his life.
Devan hated waiting. He’d never been particularly good at it, especially when it involved something important to him. If there was even the slightest chance that his dream could be snatched away, he’d barrel through until he made it a reality. Who cared if there was a mess left in his wake? That could be cleaned up, polished, and moved past.
His foster mom had tried to help overcome this particular personality quirk when he’d first come to live with them. She’d eventually given up.
He still hated waiting.
The PA system voice cut through the din of the emergency room. “Dr. Coi, code white. Dr. Coi, code white.”
Devan turned the yellow hospital mask over and over in his hands, picking at the corners and snapping the elastic band. The only thing he hated more than waiting was feeling helpless. Sitting here, his mind turning over every worst-case scenario about what could happen to Meg and the baby . . . fuck.
Knowing if he and Eli were still going to be fathers was as high on his list of important shit as he could manage. It wasn’t that he was simply nervous; that state of being was par for the course most days. Nervous would have been manageable. This was terror: scared raw, right through to his bones, chew him up and spit him out. Terror like he’d never felt from any fight he and Eli had ever had. What if it all fell apart, and they went home empty-handed again? What if something happened to Meg? He’d never be able to forgive himself.
Please, God, let Meg and the baby be okay.
Eli put a hand on his leg. “Put that on. If you don’t, you know you’re going to worry about getting the baby sick once you calm down enough to think about all the germs in here.” They were the first words spoken between them since they’d arrived at the hospital. The first words since their latest argument and Meg’s phone call. Eli’s voice sounded wrong in Devan’s ears, foreign.
“Right. Thanks.” The elastic band felt odd around his ears and the air suddenly too close as he tried to calm down. He lasted about five minutes before he took it off again, earning him an eye roll from Eli.
Eli was like a rock beside him, but not the silently supportive kind. More like the actual hard, round kind that might start rolling in the opposite direction at any moment. It was startling to realize that although they were sitting together in the hospital, legs touching and waiting to hear if their baby would be okay, they were the furthest from each other emotionally as they’d ever been.
Their fights had grown more frequent in recent weeks. Devan had tried to figure out why one of them would eventually be set off. It was never anything big; money, the apartment, friends, that stuff they were solid on. It was the stupid little things.
Why’s there no milk? Fight.
Where have you been? Fight.
Want to go to the movies? Fight.
Devan knew—regardless of what Meg thought—that having this baby was what they needed. It would not only be the glue to solidify the weak points of their relationship, but it would finally give him the last piece of his ideal life. Eli was a good husband, despite his occasional bad mood, and would make an excellent father as well. All they needed was for this baby to be born healthy, and everything would be fine.
With the memory of Meg’s first miscarriage dancing in his head, Devan glanced at Eli. Rather than looking concerned, he appeared as though he was reviewing his training schedule. Typical.
“This is taking too long.” Eli’s voice was low, gravelly. “It can’t be a good sign.”
“It’s probably just like the false alarm three weeks ago. Everything’s fine.” Devan spoke with a confidence he certainly didn’t feel. The look on Eli’s face said that he didn’t buy it either.
Meg had been Devan’s best friend growing up, and had offered to be their surrogate mother one night when the two of them had gotten into the tequila. She’d continued to make the offer sober, and after a bit of convincing, Devan had gotten Eli on board.
Now she was ten weeks pregnant and somewhere on the other side of the hospital wall with what sounded like another ectopic pregnancy.
It was probably nothing.
Devan turned the mask over in his hands again, before stopping to make tears in the paper.
“Will you stop fidgeting?” Eli glared at him. “That’s not going to help.”
“I’m not.” The words snapped out of him. “Sorry.” He set the mask on his lap for a moment before picking it up again. “There’s no reason why it should be taking this long. The last time . . .” The remaining words evaporated in his mouth.
This wouldn’t be like last time.
Eli grunted. “We’ll know soon.”
The clock on the wall told him they’d been not knowing for an hour and forty minutes now. What could they possibly be doing that it would take that long? Blood work maybe? An ultrasound?
Devan sighed. “I wish she would have let me come in.”
“She probably didn’t want to deal with your nerves.” Eli reached over and took his hand. The contact should have been comforting. “It’s going to be okay.”
“What if it isn’t?”
Eli squeezed his hand hard enough to make his fingers ache. “Then it isn’t. There’s nothing we can do.”
Devan slowed his breathing and did his best to relax. He’d managed to get himself under control, when a nurse came through the automatic double doors. “Devan Walsh?”
He got to his feet so quickly that he yanked Eli’s arm and the mask fluttered to the floor. “That’s me.”
“She’d like to see you.” The nurse eyed Eli. “You’re the husband?”
Eli nodded and stood.
“This way, please.” She scanned her ID badge and the doors swung open. “They took her to maternity.”
As they passed the little emergency room sick bays on their way to maternity, Devan tried to ignore the people within. Of course, he failed and caught glimpses of the patients. Elderly man surrounded by family, little kid and mom, woman and her husband. They kept going past the emergency room to the elevators. Up to the seventh floor, down the hall all the way to the last room. The nurse stopped and stuck her head around the drape before indicating they could go in.
“Oh hon, are you okay? You look so tired. Do you need anything?” Devan rushed to Meg’s side, not liking how pale she looked. Her blue eyes were bloodshot, her black hair was stringy around her cheeks, and her body looked so small in the large bed.
Eli stood with his back to the drape. As always, he was quiet, observing, not getting involved the way Devan did. Not that Devan gave him much of a chance.
Meg had been crying, the tear tracks visible, but mostly dry. She reached over and took his hand. “I’ll be fine.”
Relief hit him far harder than he thought it would. “Thank God. I was getting really worried out there waiting for you. I mean, I wasn’t even freaking out about the germs. No doubt I’ll probably get out of here with three strains of the flu—”
“Devan, shut up.” Eli’s voice hitched, causing Devan to turn to look at him.
Meg squeezed his hand again. “It’s okay. I’ve been his friend longer than you’ve been married. I know about the nervous rambling.”
“Yeah, she knows me.” He grinned before turning back to Meg. “If I weren’t gay, we’d have been hitched ages ago.”
Her smile was sad, but oh so very Meg. “We probably would have. Though you’re a slob and would have driven me nuts.”
“But this way I get the best of both worlds. I get you in my life, being the mother of my kid, and I get this bald, super-sexy fighter guy. Even if he’s a bit rough around the edges.” Even if they fought, and the chasm between them was spreading further apart.
Meg’s smile wavered, morphing into a frown for a moment before tears slid down her cheeks once more. “I’m so sorry.”
“Sorry for what?” Devan leaned over and kissed her forehead. “You’re amazing.”
She shook her head. “I . . . I lost the baby.”
Devan continued to push her bangs from her sweaty forehead. He’d heard the words. They’d registered in his brain, coalescing there. But his body refused to do anything to acknowledge them. He continued to brush Meg’s hair and wipe the tears from her face.
Meg reached up and took his hand in hers. “Say something. Please.”
Right, this wasn’t about him. This was Meg, his best friend and the mother of their . . . His throat began to tighten and tears welled up, causing him to blink.
Devan let out a sob. Only one. He then squeezed her hand. “You’re okay, right? Were there complications? Did this cause any damage?”
“I’m okay. The doctor said this thing can happen. Does happen.”
“Hon, it’s okay.” Devan kissed her knuckles. “Not your fault. Let us look after you for now.”
“I’m willing to try again.” She sat up a bit straighter. “Not like tomorrow or anything. But I’ll go through the in vitro again. I want to do this for you. I want this for you.”
They both looked at Eli, who appeared as though he’d been stabbed. Devan felt the shock of his words like a shot to the chest. “What do you mean, no?”
“Exactly what I said.” His gaze locked on to Devan’s, and there was no mistaking the finality of his resolve. “I won’t go through this again. I can’t.” Without another word, he turned and walked away.
Meg shoved at his hands. “Go.”
Devan was moving before he realized it. Eli’s long legs had put him far ahead already, forcing Devan into a near run to try to catch him. He finally pulled him to a stop outside the elevator. “Eli, wait.”
His husband of six months stopped, keeping his back to him.
The doors slid open, letting five people out, drawing attention to the drama that was unfolding whether he wanted it to or not. Devan hesitated, but they needed to have this conversation sooner rather than later. “I know you’re hurting too. We all are. Come here and let me hug you.”
Eli didn’t move. “I can’t do this.”
His nerves chose that moment to begin to misfire, creating the sensation of creeping ants below his skin. Devan didn’t know exactly what Eli meant, not really. Eli was hurting and didn’t know what he was saying. “I know the thought of going through this again is painful, especially after we just found out a few minutes ago about the . . . about the miscarriage. I think Meg’s probably still in shock. We don’t have to do the baby thing again for a while. It’s best if we don’t. We can wait a month, or maybe more, if that’s what you need.”
“I don’t mean the baby.”
Devan’s stomach churned, making it difficult to think. “Okay. We can talk at home if you want.”
“I should probably go back and stay with Meg for a while though.”
When Eli finally turned around, Devan was shocked to see tears. Eli never cried. He was the toughest man Devan had ever met. He’d seen him demolish opponents in the octagon, and verbally in the prefight interviews. Tears were for the weak. For Devan.
Devan swallowed hard. “Please don’t. Whatever it is you’re going to say, please . . . don’t.”
Eli didn’t back down. He took a step closer, his wet face shining from the glow of the dim hospital light. “I can’t do usanymore.”
Bile rose, and Devan had to swallow it down hard. “What?” It barely came out as a whisper.
“You and I. Everything happened so fast. We weren’t ready to get married, and definitely not ready for a family.” He glanced over at an orderly, who was pushing an empty stretcher down the hall. “I’m on the cusp of making something happen with my career. I have a match next month that I’m nowhere near prepared for. We’ve been fighting when I should’ve been at the gym training. I’ve been planning for a baby that we’re never going to have.”
The pain in Eli’s voice gave Devan a straw to grasp. “I know I’ve been hard to live with. I’ll do better. We’ll get better, and then we can still have a baby.”
“That’s what I’m trying to tell you. I don’t want one.”
“But . . .” Devan inched closer. “You said you did.”
“I lied. You wanted to get married. You wanted a kid. I wanted you.” Eli shook his head. “I’m going back to our place. I’ll get my belongings and be gone before you get back. Thank Meg for me. Tell her I’m sorry. She went through a lot for us.”
All for nothing. “Please don’t do this.”
Eli tossed the car keys to him as the elevator doors opened once more. “Keep the car. You’ll need it more than I will.”
Eli turned, hands in his pockets, and stepped into the elevator.
Devan could only watch as the doors slid shut, his body shaking as he clenched the car keys in his hand. The two most important people in his life were both hurting, each in a different way. Meg had given so much, and was still willing to give more despite what she’d been through physically and emotionally. Eli had simply left.
“Fuck you, then.” He wiped the tears from his face and went back down the hall to Meg.
The nurse was checking her blood pressure when he finally stepped into the room. “She’s doing really well. The doctor will be in to go over what to expect in the next few days.”
“What?” He walked around to the other side of the bed. “I thought . . .”
“Remember? It . . . ah doesn’t happen all at once.” Meg couldn’t meet his eyes. “It takes a few days.”
“Right.” His heart ached a bit more. “I’ll take some time off work so you’re not alone.”
“You don’t have to do that.”
The nurse pulled the Velcro cuff from Meg’s arm. “Let your man pamper you. Plus, it’s good to have someone with you. As support.”
Meg waited for the nurse to leave before she met his gaze. “Where’s Eli?”
“I knew this would be hard on you, but I didn’t think he’d take it that hard.”
It was weird how he’d gone from being overwhelmed by his emotions to feeling a bit dead inside. “I mean he’s leaving me.”
“What?” Meg bolted upright. “The hell he is. He loves you.”
“Yeah, apparently not enough.” He straightened his shoulders. “Well, fuck him. I have you and don’t need anyone else.”
“You needed this baby.” Meg leaned back against the pillows, wincing. “It might have made a difference.”
“I don’t think it would have. He . . . Things haven’t been great for a while. Maybe I saw things that really weren’t there.” Dating, the sex, their engagement, they had been a whirlwind. “I did want a family. Do want. I thought he did as well.”
How had things gone so wrong, so fast? He loved Eli, loved the idea of the life they’d been building. But apparently even if you spent time polishing a turd, that didn’t magically turn it into gold.
“I can’t worry about Eli tonight.”
I was really looking forward to, Making It, as we've been getting bits and pieces of Eli from the previous books in this series. As a whole, I really enjoyed it overall, but there were pieces missing for me, things left unsettled, and the conclusion felt wrapped up too quickly.
Go back three years and Eli and Devan's marriage implodes with Eli walking out leaving Devan in tears standing in a hospital foyer after another loss of trying to have a baby. Devan has no idea what just happened but he must focus on his best friend, at the moment, who just had a miscarriage.
Now, three years later, and present day, Eli comes back to town to help his friends at Ringside gym using his MMA status for promoting, but he has no intention of seeing Devan.
However, Devan finds out he's in town and searches him out because, technically, they have never divorced due to Eli's disgusting manager throwing roadblocks every time Devan tried to make contact over the three-year period.
Sparks reignite and feelings are left exposed because both of them have been in limbo this whole time never really knowing what happened in the relationship. Both held secrets and insecurities from each other so—now do they finally talk about what pulled them apart and go their separate ways—or can they make it work this time?
They definitely have chemistry and I loved watching Eli around the baby and seeing him in the domestic environment and realizing he could have that life. Sex is very low key but they have a lot of communication that goes a long way in repairing what was broken between them. The character growth between both men was evident and seeing friends living happily together open a lot of eyes and hearts.
I hated HATED his manager and how he was so uncompromising over everything with Eli and how he never willingly agreed to work out anything with him. I did not trust him—at all—and I hated that Eli never really got the courage to stand up to him.
Eventually, it works out at the end and the right decisions are made but I couldn't help feel it worked out a little too easily considering the build up and threats plus, and/or because of these threats, I was certain there would be evidence of foul play that caused Devan a trip to the hospital, but my imagination was taking the plot too far.
With that said, I still enjoyed it a lot, and even though there were no hints that I could see who the next book will be about, there is another book, Losing It, coming. Yay!
* I was provided a copy through Netgalley/Riptide for an honest review *
MEET THE AUTHOR
MEET THE AUTHOR
A romance novelist and short story writer, Christine has over thirty publications to her name. She loves to exercise and stops writing just long enough to keep her body in motion too. When she’s not pretending to be a ninja in her basement, she’s most likely spending time with her family and two dogs.
Connect with Christine: