She was still turning the idea over in her head as Raoul came into the bedroom.
“You look deep in thought,” Raoul said. “Problem?”
“No, just thinking about things,” she hedged.
She wished she had the strength to tell him about her feelings, even tell him about her pregnancy now—to pour out how she felt and to have him take her in his arms and tell her everything would be all right. It was a futile hope. He’d so effectively compartmentalized his life and locked his feelings away that she didn’t dare expose her vulnerability to him.
She had to believe that he could love her back before she could declare her heart to him and, she realized, before she could tell him about their baby. Attraction was there—every night together was evidence of that—surely there had to be more to this for him than just a release of physical tension.
“What are you thinking about?” he asked as he began tugging his clothes off, distracting her with his movements.
“Just something Catherine said,” she answered lightly.
“Oh.” He paused in the act of pulling his sweater off and Alexis’s eyes were immediately drawn to the ridged plane of his stomach. “Is she ready to take Ruby back?”
“Hardly!” Alexis remonstrated. A knot formed in her stomach. “Are you in such a hurry to get rid of me?”
He finished shucking off his clothes and slid into bed beside her. “No,” he said, reaching over her to put her book on the bedside cabinet and pulling her into his arms. “Does this feel like I want to get rid of you?”
His erection pressed demandingly against her and her body answered in kind, hunger for him spreading throughout in a slow, delicious wave. She forced a laugh, pressing her fears and doubts to the back of her mind and grabbing the moment, and him, with both hands.
Their lovemaking was a feverish joining of bodies, as it so often was. As if each sought something from the other that only they could give. And yet, there was still that lingering sense of incompletion for Alexis as she searched for the emotional connection she so needed with the man in her arms.
That it remained a one-way street struck home now more than ever before.
Raoul fell asleep almost immediately afterward, but Alexis continued to stare at the ceiling in the darkened room, wondering just how much longer she could keep this up before she broke completely. She’d thought she had the strength to do this, to fight past his barricades, to wear them down and to fill his heart with her love. Had it all been nothing more than a pipe dream? It certainly felt like it.
Raoul looked up from his breakfast to see Alexis coming down the hall. He was getting a late start on his day, something that he found himself doing more and more often recently. Sharing a little extra time with Alexis at this stage of the day was something he’d discovered he enjoyed. And he had to admit, watching Ruby’s antics as she ate her breakfast had been known to bring a smile or two to his face.
Alexis came into the kitchen with Ruby, looking a little paler than usual—a worry mark scoring a line between her brows. He was so used to seeing her smile and being her relaxed and easygoing self that the sight of her like this rattled him. Raoul felt an unfamiliar tightness in his chest. Was she all right?
“Good morning,” she said, popping Ruby in her high chair and doing up the harness that prevented her from climbing straight back out again. “I’m glad I caught you. I need to ask you a favor.”
“A favor?” he asked, absently passing Ruby a small square of his toast, something that had become a part of their morning ritual.
Aside from wanting him to spend more time with Ruby, Alexis didn’t usually ask him anything. He wondered what was on her mind. “What is it?” he asked, getting up from the table to rinse his dishes and put them in the dishwasher—and to position himself with his back to her, so she couldn’t see the worry he was certain was written all over his face.
Alexis hesitated a little before speaking. “Look, I need to head out to an appointment this morning. I tried to see if Laura could have Ruby for me, or Catherine, but Catherine’s got plans for today already and Laura’s just texted me to say their household is down with a tummy bug so I can’t leave her there. Can you have Ruby for a couple of hours for me?”
A couple of hours without Alexis in calling distance? Without even Catherine to call upon if anything should go wrong? Icy water ran in his veins.