The obstetrician looked from Alexis to Raoul.
Alexis spoke up in the awkward silence that sprang between them. “I’m Alexis, Ruby’s nanny.”
“I see. Well, would you like to come through with me? And Raoul?”
“No, just me,” Alexis said firmly.
Raoul wanted to object, to shout he had every right to be there in that room with her, but he knew he had none. He’d made no commitment to Alexis and it was clear she didn’t want him there, either. He lowered himself back down onto his chair, that sense of history repeating itself hitting him all over again.
So, he was to be kept in the dark, just like he’d been with Bree. With her, she’d managed to time her appointments for days when he’d be busy and unable to accompany her, except for when she had her scans. Thinking back on it now, she must have requested that all information about her aneurysm be kept from him because he knew now that they’d monitored it carefully throughout her pregnancy.
Waiting was hell. Not knowing what was going on was even worse. He couldn’t just sit here. It was doing his head in. He went to the receptionist and told her to let Alexis know he’d be waiting outside for her, then turned and left the building.
It was cold and crisp today, the sun a distant beacon in a washed-out blue sky striated with wispy streaks of cirrus cloud. Raoul waited by his vehicle, and tried to tell himself he didn’t care that Alexis had shut him out. He should embrace the fact, be glad she didn’t want him to be a part of this. He could offer her nothing but a man broken by the past. A man now too afraid to trust. Look what had happened when he’d trusted her!
And if he kept telling himself these things, surely eventually he’d convince himself he believed them.
He uttered a sharp expletive under his breath and shoved his hands into his jacket pockets. Leaning against the side of the Range Rover he lifted his face to the sun and closed his eyes. If only he hadn’t given in, if only he had kept his distance. If only she’d never come at all.
Life was full of “if onlys,” so much so that a man could drive himself crazy worrying over them all. Things had been simpler before she came, there was no denying it. In this case, it came down to just a handful of questions. Could he go through this all again? Could he watch her grow full with child, his child, and wait again in fear for what might happen?
The answer was swift coming. No. He couldn’t.
Yes, it was cowardly. Yes, it was stepping back from his obligations. But he’d been down this road already, and he wasn’t strong enough to do this again. But, the question remained, could he let her go?
Alexis was in the kitchen making herself a cup of tea when she heard the front door open and close. Raoul was back. Her heart jumped in her chest and she wondered what he would say or do next. Since her consultation with the obstetrician they’d barely said more than two sentences to one another at a time.
She had yet to tell him everything about her examination—but she had good reasons for holding back. Raoul had withdrawn from her, wholly and completely. It wasn’t just that she now slept alone back in the master suite, it was apparent in every way he interacted with her—or didn’t interact, which was more to the point.
This pregnancy was a major step in her life, one she was willing to take on alone if necessary, and especially if she couldn’t be certain that she had the wholehearted and loving support of a man at her side. Raoul, to be precise.
His heavy footsteps sounded in the hall and she felt the usual prickle of awareness between her shoulder blades that warned her he’d come into the kitchen and was staring at her. Slowly, she faced him.
“I’m going for a shower. Are you okay? Should you be up?”
He sounded like the Raoul Benoit she’d fallen in love with, yet different at the same time. She looked at his face, met the flat emptiness that now dwelled in his eyes. Her heart sank. Any hope she’d had of possibly turning him around on this situation between them sank right along with it.
“I’ll be all right. As I’ve already told you, I’m just not supposed to do anything too strenuous. That’s all.”
He nodded. “Don’t go lifting Ruby from her crib,” he reminded her for the umpteenth time since Monday’s race to the clinic. “I’ll get her up when she wakes.”
With that, he left her. He did that a lot lately. Made sure he was home around the times that Ruby went down for her sleeps and was back in time for when she roused. On the rare occasions he wasn’t, she’d seen the censure in his eyes afterward when he returned to find she’d been lifting and carrying the baby, but she knew exactly what she was and wasn’t capable of. Caring for Ruby was high on her to-do list, with all it entailed.