Wanting What She Can't Have - Page 7

Outside in the hall she came to a halt. She really didn’t know what to do next. Should she seek out Raoul and press him for more explanation over his behavior earlier, or simply carry on as if nothing had happened? She worried at her lower lip with her teeth. Until she’d seen him again today she would have done the former of the two—without question. But after that stilted, almost hostile, encounter, she was reluctant to muddy the waters between them any more than they already were.

She still needed to unpack her things, so she went into the master bedroom where she’d put her suitcase earlier on. The door to the walk-in wardrobe stood open and she gravitated toward it. One side was completely bare of anything but naked hangers, the other still filled with women’s clothing. Her heart stuttered in her chest as she reached out and touched a few of the things hanging there, as a hint of Bree’s favorite scent wafted out.

That awful sense of emptiness filled her again along with a renewed feeling of deep sympathy for the man who hadn’t yet been able to bring himself to pack his dead wife’s things away. She stepped out of the wardrobe and closed the door behind her, turning instead to the native rimu tallboy that stood proud against one wall. The drawers were empty, so she filled them with her things, then shoved her now-redundant case into the wardrobe without looking again at the silent memorial that still hung there.

A knock at her door make her start.

“Yes?” she called out.

The door opened and Raoul filled the frame. Instantly her senses sprang to life. Her body hummed with that almost electric responsiveness to his proximity—her eyes roaming over him, taking in the way his clothing hung just a little too loosely on his rangy frame. It was hard to believe he was the same man as before. But then again, he wasn’t, was he? He’d been through hell and she needed to remember that as she tackled her new role. To perhaps be a little less judgmental.

For all the differences—from subtle to striking—in his appearance and in his manner, there was no doubting the instant effect he had on her equilibrium. Even now she could feel her heart beat that little bit faster, her breathing become a little more shallow. She dug her fingernails into her palms in an attempt to distract herself from her reaction to him.

“I just wanted to make sure you’d settled in okay,” he said stiffly, not quite meeting her eyes.

She nodded, unsure of what to say about Bree’s things. Or even if she should say anything about them at all.

“The baby’s quiet now. Is she all right?”

“Ruby’s down for the night. Catherine tells me she usually goes through until about six-thirty, or seven, so as long as she isn’t unsettled by sleeping somewhere unfamiliar, you shouldn’t hear from her again until morning.”

“How do you know she’s okay? You’re not with her right now.”

Alexis tapped the monitor on her belt loop. “I have the monitor. As soon as she stirs I’ll know, trust me.”

“Hmm, are you sure it’s working?”

“It looked pretty new when I removed it from the packaging and I put fresh batteries in this unit myself before Ruby arrived.”

He flinched slightly and Alexis took a moment to realize why. Of course, he and Bree would have bought all the things in the nursery in readiness for when they brought their infant home for the first time. Bree was likely the last person to have touched that monitor before Alexis.

“They might be old. I’ll get you new ones. Make sure you change them immediately.”

Alexis fought the urge to salute at his command. Instead she merely inclined her head. He was showing concern, which was a good thing even if she wished it came with a less imperious tone.

“Is there anything else? I thought I might start getting our evening meal ready. Ruby obviously ate earlier but now I have time to put something together for us. Will you be joining me?”

“No.” His response was emphatic. “I’ll see to myself.”

“It’s no bother. I may as well cook for two adults as for one. I’ll leave your meal warming in the oven.”

His body sagged, as if he was giving up in this battle—perhaps choosing to shore up his strength for another time. “Thank you.”

“If you change your mind about eating with me, feel free. It’d be nice to catch up. Or, if you’d rather, have breakfast with Ruby and me in the morning. It’d be good for her to spend more time with her dad, and good for you, too.”

Raoul sighed and swiped one hand across his face. She saw his jaw clench before he spoke again.

Tags: Yvonne Lindsay Billionaire Romance
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