Leo tried to think. What was going on? He’d walked up the stairs full of anticipation and joy, planning to declare his true feelings, to tell Roxy how he felt about her. Déjà vu trapped him to the spot. Had he got it completely wrong again? Misread the past few days, the joy, the laughter, the connection. He stepped back, anger with himself vying with the blow to his pride. Surely he’d earnt, deserved more than this brush-off. Again.
Stop. Think. Four years ago, he’d let injured pride stop him from questioning Roxy’s rejection. Had accepted her verdict. Made assumptions. Not this time. ‘Roxy, wait. Please. I don’t want us to end like this again, without me understanding why.’
There was a silence. ‘I’ll give you a lift home. I promise. Just let’s talk first.’
Roxy sighed, met his gaze and gave a small, defeated shrug. ‘OK, let me call Ava.’ Once done, she turned to him. ‘She said she’d wait.’ She inhaled deeply. ‘I’m leaving because I have to. I’m worried that I am getting too…involved.’
Hope uncurled in his chest. ‘But that’s not a bad thing.’
‘Yes, it is.’ The sadness in her eyes made his heart ache. She lifted her hands and dropped them again. ‘You’re right. I do owe you an explanation this time. I can’t get involved with you. I can’t really get involved with anyone.’
‘Why not?’ Fear clutched him. ‘Are you ill? Are you—’
‘I’m not ill exactly. I…I can’t have children. The accident damaged my fallopian tubes.’
Roxy saw the impact of her words, saw pity seep into his eyes exactly as she’d dreaded and foreseen.
‘Oh, Roxy. I am so very sorry.’
‘Don’t, Leo. Don’t pity me. Please.’
‘I’m not. But…’
‘I am fine. I found out a couple of weeks after we split up and I’ve come to terms with it. But it does mean I can’t get involved with you. With anyone.’
‘Yes. Yes, you can.’ He stepped towards her and instinct propelled her backwards, knowing his proximity would test her resolve. ‘I was about to ask you if you would give us another chance, to tell you I want to be with you. I want a future with you.’
A laugh born of hysteria bubbled up. This was four years ago all over again. ‘Don’t you see? We don’t have a chance. You have this beautiful house and you want and deserve a family. We need to end this here.’ Before she gave in to temptation, decided to believe that somehow this would work out. When she knew it couldn’t; because she loved him too much to put him through the travails of not being able to have the family he wanted, the brood of children to fill this house. Because deep down she knew he would end up regretting choosing her, would replace her with someone better. Just as her foster family had done. ‘Goodbye, Leo.’
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