PROLOGUE

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The older I get, the more I thank past Hannah for kissing her bodyguard all of those years ago.

Even now when I think about, I think about how that was so out of character for me. I was always the girl who was careful with her actions...until Nathan came to my life. He taught me to let loose. To do whatever I wanted to do. Before we even fell in love, Nathan had already changed me. He changed my life.

Who would have thought that I, Hannah Collins, was going to find love? Who would have thought that I was going to fall in love with my bodyguard? Who would have thought that I was going to marry him?

I always dreamt of that perfect man that would sweep me off my feet. I would tell myself that it wasn't realistic to wait for that ideal man. Maybe I was asking for too much. There were times when I was sure I was better off alone. Now, I was one of the lucky ones. I was the happily married woman. I actually meant it when I said that I was happy. Things were not always easy, of course, especially after we had Sophia.

I still remembered the day she was born. I was in labor for 16 hours before she finally decided she was ready to come out. Each contraction made me more angry at myself for allowing that to happen to me. I felt horrible but the pain was excruciating. Why did I think I was fit to have a baby, to give birth? And then I remembered that Nathan was the whole reason why I wanted to be a mom in the first place. He made me think I could do it.

"You can do this, Hannah," he said to me on that day. It was hour 16 and I was sweating and crying at the same time. The room was full with nurses with the doctor in between my legs, hidden behind my swollen belly, urging me to push but I had no strength in me to do it. I was in so much pain. And there was Nathan holding my hand and pressing his other hand against my wet forehead. "Come on, babe, it's almost over."

I remembered shaking my head in anger and desperation. "No," I said angrily, glaring at him. "I can't do this. I can't." I cried.

I knew the labor process wasn't Nathan's fault. He had to be the most innocent person in that room but I was so angry at everyone in that moment. I hated that my body was splitting open slowly to bring a little human to the world. It was both a miracle and a curse.

"Yes, you can." He told me grabbing my face so that I would look at him.

I shook my head. "No, I'm too...tired." I let my breath out through my mouth as I felt a contraction across my belly. It was time. I knew it was. The doctor was telling me that I was crowning, I just needed to push. If only I could...

"I know, baby, I know," Nathan said, soothing me with his voice. His green eyes looked into mine and I could see that he was desperate. I knew he felt useless and a part of me began to soften. He was just trying to help. He was being nothing short of a supportive husband. He was the only family in the delivery room—I wanted to keep this private. Just between us. Rachel and my brothers were waiting outside. "Do this for her," Nathan was saying. "She needs you, Hannah, only you can get her here."

Maybe it was his words or his desperation to do something to help or maybe it was my body ordering me to push this baby out—but I began to push as hard as I could. I felt my body being ripped apart as Sophia finally came through my pelvis. And then we heard her cry and it was the most beautiful cry in the world. I allowed my body to relax back against the pillows as the doctor pressed her tiny naked body against my chest. "Oh my god." I gasped as the tears rolled down my cheeks. "Nathan—" I said as I looked down at her tiny head which was covered with the thinnest black hairs I've ever seen. She was covered in blood and fluids but feeling her warm, soft skin against mine was a feeling I would never forget. Nathan was frozen next to the bed. I thought maybe he was in a bit of a shock. I reached for his hand and brought it up to her. His fingertips trailed against her tiny back.

"Mr. Hayes?" The doctor called. "Would you like to do the honors?"

"Nathan." I looked up at him when he didn't move.

He shook his head. His green eyes were glassy. He was completely in awe of his daughter. Our baby daughter. "Yes. Yes, of course."

I smiled adoringly at little Sophia as Nathan cut the umbilical cord and then she was taken away by one of the nurses.

Later, after I was patched up and the room was cleaned up, Nathan took Sophia in his arms for the first time. He held her so carefully—as if he were afraid to break her. She was sleeping, rolled up in a burrito with a pink blanket. He smiled down at her as he walked to my side. "She's so perfect." He murmured, looking at her.

Looking at him with her in his arms made me the happiest woman in the world. I felt satisfied. I had done something right. I had actually done it. The painful part was over. Now we got to go home with a little human of our own. Sophia was half me and half Nathan. I knew Nathan was meant to be a dad all along. He was meant for this. Sophia didn't know it yet but she was so lucky to have him as her dad just as we were lucky to have her as our daughter.

The feeling got even better after Liam was born two years later. It was different, in a way. Everything was then. Nathan was in the process of being promoted to detective. We had a new baby. For a moment, I thought I was going to go crazy with a toddler and a baby but I still managed to keep a certain level of sanity.

It was happening. I was a grown adult. I was a married woman. I was a mother. I had a house. My husband had a good, stable job and it felt like nothing could go wrong.

Of course, it was impossible to know then about what would happen. I still didn't fully understand where it all went wrong, though I could guess. I still didn't know how everything got so messy. For a moment there, it felt like Nathan and I were in our happily ever after but that is not how life works. We had no idea of what was going to happen...or if we would survive what was coming...

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