Double Trouble (Maternal Instincts Mystery Series: Book Twelve) Sneak Peek – Chapter Three | Diana Orgain

Double Trouble (Maternal Instincts Mystery Series: Book Twelve) Sneak Peek – Chapter Three

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From Double Trouble 

Chapter Three

The hot water felt absolutely heavenly on my pounding head.

Jim had chosen the guest bathroom, leaving the larger shower in our master for me. I took my time scrubbing away the remnants of the sticky frosting, secure in the knowledge that Paula would pull out all the stops to play hostess to our guests.

Another pang ricocheted through my abdomen, the sickening, tightening sensation hitting me like a piano falling out of the sky. I slammed one hand against the wall and grabbed at the shower curtain with the other. The fabric jolted, a ripping sound telling me I’d pulled the curtain halfway off the hooks. I staggered to keep my balance, leaning forward with both my palms pressed against the fiberglass.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Just a Braxton Hicks.

The seconds dragged on and on and on. Finally, the tightening sensation eased. I stood up straight, took a slow breath, and turned the knob to send a stream of cool water washing over me.

I couldn’t be starting labor already, could I?

But I dismissed the treacherous thought by pure force of will. The twins might come early, but not this early. We just have to get through this party and Laurie’s birthday, and then the twins can make their debut anytime.

Squinting at the drooping curtain, I half-considered trying to reattach it to the hooks, but decided against it. I need to get back to Laurie’s party. Jim will fix it later.

I shoved aside folds of fabric, toweled off, and scrunched my hair mostly dry, then picked out a cute maternity dress that flattered my bump.

When I made my way back out to the party, my dad was sitting on the floor with Laurie, reading a board book to her. The other party guests milled around the living room and kitchen. When Jim saw me, he crossed the room and pulled me into an awkward over-the-bump hug.

“Feeling better?” he murmured in my ear.

“Much! Is Laurie having a good time?” I asked, standing on my tiptoes to peer over his shoulder at my baby girl on her grandpa’s lap.

“She’s having a great time,” he said. “Her grandparents were positively fighting over her.”

Galigani and Rhonda, my stepmom, walked out of the kitchen chatting and laughing. I smiled a little. I was glad everyone was starting to become friends. My dad had moved back to San Francisco a couple months earlier, eager to make up for lost time. While I’d been hesitant to accept his presence at first, it felt really nice to have a dad again.

But speaking of Laurie’s grandparents . . .

“Where is my mom?” I asked.

Jim shrugged. “She left a few minutes ago.”

“She left early?” I demanded, crossing my arms. “Her own granddaughter’s first birthday party? Why? Is something wrong?”

“No, no. She said she’d be right back.” He scratched the back of his neck. “You know how your mom gets. She was on a mission. She takes an idea into her head and runs after it like the bulls in Pamplona.”

Olé!” Vicente cheered from across the room upon overhearing the word Pamplona.

Truer words were never spoken. I chuckled. “Did she say what her mission was this time?”

He shook his head. “Nope. We were mid-conversation when her face lit up and she declared she’d be back in fifteen minutes.” He glanced down at his watch. “Which means she should be back in ten or so?”

My dad set down the board book and stood up, swinging Laurie high into the air. She let out a shriek of high-pitched toddler giggles, and a warm feeling filled my chest.

I squeezed Jim’s hand. “I’m so glad we’re celebrating Laurie’s birthday before the twins arrive—that she gets to be the complete center of attention on her special day.”

Except that we had the twins’ gender reveal and made her cry. Guilt—or acid reflux—burned my esophagus. I swallowed it back.

“Me too,” said Jim. “Even if it is one day earlier than her actual birthday.”

“Kate’s back!” cried Paula from behind me.


I turned around with a grin. “Refreshed and ready for the rest of the party,” I declared.

“Well, then,” said Paula, “if you haven’t already had too much cake, is it time to sing happy birthday to Laurie and let her eat her first piece of chocolate cake?”

Holding up a hand, I said, “Yes—almost. I guess my mom stepped out for a few minutes. We should wait for her.”

Paula glanced up at the clock in the living room and nodded, a frown on her face. “We’re behind schedule because of the disaster, but that’s my fault—I’ll make it work.”

Where did Mom run off to? Annoyance coiled in my stomach. “If she’s not back in fifteen minutes, we’ll do it without her,” I said. I walked over to the hooks by the door and grabbed my phone out of my purse. “I’ll text her to let her know.”

“Sounds good!” called Paula. “I’ll push the big surprise back a few minutes.”

Paula had been talking about the big surprise for a whole week.

“Is that too much trouble?” I asked, opening up my text messages with Mom.

She waved a hand. “It’s not ideal, but it is what it is. I’m sure it’ll be fine.” With a half-sigh, she swept out of the living room into the kitchen.

I bit my lip and tapped out a text to Mom: Can you come back now? We need to serve Laurie’s cake.

“I think this girl wants her mama!” called my dad.

I glanced up, and Dad handed Laurie to me. I tucked my phone in the dress pocket and took my baby girl. She cuddled up against me, and a wave of maternal feeling pulsed through my core.

And then I smelled it—the telltale stench of an especially gnarly poopy diaper.

I wrinkled my nose and locked eyes with my dad.

He shrugged, a twinkle in his eyes. “Oh, and I think she’s got something in her diaper. You might want to take care of that.”

“You don’t say?” I replied with a laugh. “I’ll change her and be right back.”

Another contraction hit me, and I sucked in a gasp.

“Kate?” Dad asked, but it sounded like he was speaking through water. “Kate? Are you all right?”

I sank back a couple steps, and Dad took Laurie from me.

“Jim!” he called. “Jim, I think Kate might be in labor!”

“What?” gasped Deb, my policewoman friend. “Kate, do you need a ride to the hospital?”

“No. Fine,” I hissed. “Just Braxton Hicks.”

I sank back against the wall to steady myself, focusing on breathing in and out. When the contraction finally eased, I looked up to find the whole party staring at me. Jim stood at my side, resting a protective hand on my shoulder.

“Honey, are you in labor?” he asked.

“No,” I exclaimed breathlessly, though doubt nibbled at my insides. My eyes rested on Laurie.

If I started labor now, the twins would be born on her birthday. She’d have to go the whole rest of her life sharing her birthday with her little sisters. That couldn’t happen.

Which meant I couldn’t be in labor. Not yet.

“I’m so sorry to alarm everyone,” I said, trying to look as calm and unruffled as possible. “Braxton Hicks contractions get really strong. I need to change Laurie’s diaper now.”

I snatched Laurie from my dad and marched down the hall, determination flooding me with each step.

This isn’t labor. I absolutely, positively am not going into labor.

I made faces at Laurie to make her giggle as I changed her diaper. By the time we rejoined the party, I felt normal again. Except my feet were killing me.

False alarm, thank goodness.

My phone buzzed in my pocket, and I sank down to sit on the couch with Laurie, then fished the phone out.

The message was from my mom: Sorry, darling. Back in a jiffy!

Laurie squirmed. I set her down on the carpet so she could run after little Danny.

The police contingent—Sergeant McNearny, Officer Deb, and Nick the medical examiner—approached and sat on the floor across from me.



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Diana Orgain is the USA Today Bestselling Author of the Maternal Instincts Mystery Series, Love or Money Mystery series, and The Roundup Crew Mysteries. Diana is also the New York Times Bestselling co-author of the Scrapbooking Mystery Series with Laura Childs. To keep up to date with the latest releases visit Diana at


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