Wanting What She Can't Have - Page 8


“Look, I know you’re determined to do what you think is the right thing, but you and the baby being here is a complication I can do without. Don’t make it any harder for me than it already has to be.”

“But—”

“No buts, Alexis. I mean it. If there had been any other alternative to this, believe me, I would have chosen it. Once Catherine is mobile again I expect things to return to normal.”

“Normal? But this isn’t normal, is it? Not by any stretch of the imagination,” Alexis protested. “Bree wouldn’t have wanted you to be so distant from your own flesh and blood.”

He paled as if he’d been dealt a mortal blow. “Don’t,” he said brokenly, shaking his head and backing toward the door. “Don’t throw that at me. You have no idea—” He shook his head once more. “Just do what you were hired to do, Alexis. End of topic.”

He was gone in an instant and Alexis wrapped her arms around herself in a vain attempt to provide some comfort for herself where there was none. So, it seemed she couldn’t even mention her best friend without making Raoul run. That he’d loved her deeply was patently obvious. But how could that love not extend to their little girl?

Three

Raoul lay in bed unable to sleep any longer. It was time he rose anyway, time to escape to the winery before Alexis and Ruby took over the house. No longer was his home the quiet sanctuary contained by the boundaries of his property. No longer was coming to the house a peaceful pilgrimage to the past. No longer was it his safe place where he could be alone with his memories.

They’d been here a week—a hellishly long time, in his estimation—and since Alexis’s and the baby’s arrival he spent as little time as humanly possible in the house. And since he still wasn’t ready to face the world at large, that meant he spent as much time as he could in the winery where he wasn’t constantly being distracted by the presence of two very unsettling females.

Just yesterday he’d caught Alexis shifting things in the sitting room—raising the tide line, she’d called it—because Ruby was pulling herself up on the furniture and starting to walk around things, grabbing for whatever she could reach. While he understood the necessity of keeping Ruby safe, the idea of changing anything from the way Bree had left it was profoundly unsettling.

He yawned widely. Sleep had been as elusive last night as it had been since Alexis’s accusation of his behavior being abnormal. Her words had stung. She had no idea what he went through every time he looked at Ruby. Every time he saw a miniature Bree seated before him. He’d almost managed to bring the shock of pain under control, but the echoing empty loss that came hard on its heels unraveled him in ways he didn’t even want to begin to acknowledge.

And then there was the fear—an awful irrational beast that built up in his chest and threatened to consume him. What if Ruby got sick, or was hurt? What if he didn’t know what to do, or didn’t react fast enough? It was an almost unbearable sense of responsibility lessened only slightly by knowing Alexis was here shouldering the bulk of it. Raoul shoved aside his bedcovers and got out of bed, yanking his pajama bottoms up higher on his hips. Everything slid off him these days. It hadn’t mattered when he was here alone but now, with his privacy totally invaded, he had to be a little more circumspect. Even locked in his antisocial bubble he could see that.

Suddenly his senses went on full alert, his skin awash with a chill of terror as he heard a muted thump come from the nursery followed by a sharp cry from the baby. For a second he was frozen, but another cry followed hard on the heels of the first, sending him flying down the hallway toward God only knew what disaster. His heart felt too big in his chest, its beat too rapid, and he fought to drag in a shuddering breath as he reached the doorway, almost too afraid to open the door and look inside.

Ruby’s howls had increased several decibels. Where the hell was Alexis? The child’s care was her job. Reluctantly, he turned the handle and pushed open the door. He winced as Ruby let out another earsplitting yell. Something had to be horribly wrong, he was sure. Fine tremors racked his body as he visually examined the red-faced infant standing up in her crib, howling her throat out.

His eyes flew over her, searching for some visible cause for her distress. She was so small—miniature everything from the tiny feet tipped with even tinier toes to the top of her auburn fuzzed head—all except for the sound bellowing from her lungs.


Tags: Yvonne Lindsay Billionaire Romance
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