Wanting What She Can't Have - Page 53

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Raoul flicked the collar of his jacket up and pulled his beanie down lower on his head. The weather had turned bitter cold. Or maybe it just seemed that way since Alexis had left four weeks, three days and two hours ago. He could count the minutes, too, but that had proven to be a fast track to Crazyville.

God, he missed her. It went beyond the physical. As much as he’d tried to ignore it and push her away, he missed what she’d come to mean to him. It had been difficult from the first to adjust to no longer sharing her bed after he found out about the pregnancy. He’d assumed that her permanent absence would make things more comfortable for him, ease the longing he felt for her touch. But the longing had become much worse, instead—now there was so much more of her to miss. Not just her body but her laugh, the sound of her voice. The warmth she brought to his life.

The house just didn’t feel the same, didn’t feel like a home. Ruby had become more irritable than she’d been under Alexis’s care and he found himself watching over Jenny with the baby more and more often, hardly wanting to trust her with the child.

As a result, Ruby had begun to turn to him when he was in the house—complaining loudly if he didn’t pay her the attention she obviously felt she was due. He felt the bond between him and his daughter growing stronger every day. And this time, he didn’t try to fight it.

Somehow the little tyke had wrapped him right around her little finger, and now she had a hold on his heart that terrified him and thrilled him in equal proportions. He found himself looking forward more and more to spending time with her each day, and to reading her bedtime stories at night—because one was never enough.

When she’d caught a cold from one of the other children at the play center, he’d been the one who’d sat up with her in a steam-filled bathroom at night as she’d coughed and spluttered herself back to sleep. He’d been the one to take her to the doctor every day until the doctor himself had told him—in the nicest way possible—that Ruby really, truly was going to be okay and to stop wasting their time.

He began to have a new appreciation for what Alexis had done in caring for her, and how she’d managed it all on her own. Realizing that had highlighted his own inadequacies as a father, and as a man. How he’d thought he could hide in his work and relegate his responsibilities to others—that it was enough to simply provide, but not to participate. How he’d made himself believe that if he stayed away, if he just threw enough money at a problem, that it would miraculously go away.

He’d been such a fool.

And that’s what had led him here today, to Bree’s final resting place. He laid the bunch of yellow roses, her favorite, at the base of her headstone and knelt beside her grave. The ground felt cold, so cold—as cold as his heart had been for far too long.

For quite a while he said nothing, remaining still, listening to the birds in the trees around him. He’d avoided coming here since the day they’d buried her. He’d told himself it didn’t matter—that the Bree he’d known and loved had gone, she wasn’t here anymore. But when he’d known he needed to talk to her, really talk, one last time, it had only been natural to do it here.

A cool wind worked its way around him, sliding under his collar and tickling around his ears. He shivered. He’d been compelled to come here—as if he couldn’t move forward again until he’d done this. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

Any other time he’d have thought it verging on the ridiculous, needing to talk out loud to a headstone, but today nothing else had ever felt so right.

“Hi, Bree, it’s me.” He huffed a self-deprecatory laugh. As if it would be anyone else. “I know I should have been here more often, and probably brought Ruby, too, but I was so angry at you, Bree, so bloody mad I couldn’t even think straight anymore.”

Exasperation, fury, helplessness—they all flooded through him all over again. “What the hell were you thinking not telling me about the aneurysm? How could you have kept that from me? I wanted a family, but I wanted you more. Why couldn’t you tell me about the risks?”

The cold air whipped around him more sharply and he pulled the collar of his jacket closed around his throat. He stayed like that for a while, not daring to speak for the emotion that built up inside him like a volcano about to blow. He closed his eyes and when he opened his mouth again, he talked instead about the first thing that came to mind. Ruby. Bit by bit, he felt the roiling emotions inside him begin to subside.

Tags: Yvonne Lindsay Billionaire Romance
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