Would it be too hard? Yes, it would. In so many ways. But to admit that would be to let him know why she’d let him go all those years ago.
“We’re both grown-ups. We’re both a lot older and a whole lot wiser than we once were.”
Was that true? Damn, she wasn’t sure. But it wasn’t like she had a choice.
She had to know something, though. “So no catching babies?”
“I decided that I was better suited to defective hearts than to children.”
A spear went through her. And if she’d told him that he’d very nearly fathered a child? If she shared the heartbreak of losing that child? She swallowed back an unexpected rush of tears—needing to repeat the act several times.
A hand circled her arm, and she realized she’d closed her eyes, hoping to block him out, for some reason. Or maybe she was afraid those choked-back tears were about to escape.
“Hey, are you okay?”
She pulled in a ragged breath before looking at him, seeing his dark hair and steel-gray eyes. His hair was shorter than it had been in school, the bad-boy curls tamed to a more conservative length. But it made him no less attractive than he’d been when they were in school. She somehow found a smile and forced it to the surface. “I’m fine. It’s just been a long day already.”
“Because of me?”
There was no way she was going to admit that. She couldn’t, not and hold it together. “No, of course not. I’ve already assisted in three surgeries, and it’s not even ten o’clock. And I still have a full slate of cases left.”
“Do you need to go?”
“I have about an hour before I need to scrub in again, so let’s finish the tour.”
Somehow she managed to show him the cardiac unit and the surgical area before he stopped her. “I think I can figure the rest out, and you look like you could use a cup of coffee. Or at least to get off your feet for a few minutes before you head back in to surgery. Let me buy you a cup.”
What she wanted more than coffee was to be able to go somewhere and compose herself. Or to try to wake herself up from what was rapidly becoming a nightmare. But she was afraid this was very, very real. So she’d just prove she was the grown-up she’d claimed to be and sit down at a table with him for a few minutes.
“Coffee sounds good, thanks.”
Realizing he didn’t know where the café was, she walked ahead, feeling his eyes on her. Were her hips swishing back and forth on purpose? Or was it just nerves that made it seem that way?
Fortunately, the cafeteria was right ahead. She slipped through the door and went to stand in line. How long before this would just seem…normal? Before seeing him was a mundane, everyday experience that no longer made her heart race, no longer put her senses on high alert?
How long before her belly no longer ached with an emptiness that wouldn’t be filled?
The word whispered through her mind before she caught hold of it and pushed it to the farthest reaches of her brain, hoping it would stay put for as long as Dax was on the island.
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