“Welcome to London, Your Grace,” was all he said in his heavily accented English. He guided her through the gate and the front door.
A baby’s cry greeted her as soon as she stepped inside. “Where are they?”
Sebastian came bounding down the stairs, clothes and hair all disheveled, but he smiling. It was a good look for him. “Isabella, I’m so glad you’re here.”
She smiled back, despite herself. “Thank you for texting me.”
“I’ll take her up,” Sebastian said to Ivan.
The burly Russian grunted, and then lumbered out of the room.
“Don’t mind him. He’s suffering from cupcake withdrawal.”
Bella bit back a laugh. “What about you?”
“I’m a dad. Someone’s bloody father,” he said, and then inclined his head. “My apologies. I’m still… discombobulated—the birth… the pain.”
Sebastian stopped at a door. He turned to look at her, his pale blue eyes narrowing. “Really, Isabella. Do you think Daisy would marry a man who complained about himself before, during, or after she gave birth to his child?”
“Well, when you put it like that…”
“Exactly.” He opened the door and stuck his head inside. “She’s here, love. Ready to see her?”
“I am,” Daisy said, her voice soft, and Bella rushed inside to find her friend in bed. Baby Rhys was in her arms.
“Oh my gosh,” she breathed. “Look at the two of you.”
Daisy smiled. “Do you want to hold him?”
“Of course, I want to hold him.” Bella took the baby from Daisy. “He smells sooo good.”
Sebastian came up behind her, cupping her shoulders and turning her around. “There’s a chair for you, right here.”
She gave him a look. “I’ve held plenty of babies.”
“That’s not why I moved the chair.” He gave Daisy a pointed look, and then the chair. “Easier to talk this way.”
“Oh,” she said, nonplussed. “That was very thoughtful.”
He exhaled. “Of course it was.”
And there was the Sebastian she was used to. She sat down, humming to baby Rhys while he slept in her arms. Her bottom lip trembled as she looked at him, as she picked up his tiny hand and counted his fingers.
“Yours will be here before you know it,” Daisy said, and Bella looked up to see that Sebastian had left them alone.
I won’t be here. More likely than not, she’d give birth back home in Holland Springs. Alone.
She glanced down at the baby again, and fought back tears. She didn’t know if she could do this alone. She didn’t know if she could tell her baby that she’d failed as a wife. That she’d pushed and tested a man that had already been pushed and tested by another woman.
“Has Liam been by?” she finally asked.
“When…” Her voice trembled. She cleared her throat. “When will he be by?”
Her knees shook, despite the fact that she was sitting. “Oh.”
“Do you want to stay the night?” Daisy asked, and Bella looked at her.
Smashing her lips together, she shook her head. But inside, she was dying to say yes.
Daisy’s face turned sympathetic. “Are you sure?”
“No,” Bella said. “I’m not sure of anything.”
“That butthole,” Daisy practically growled, and Rhys jumped a little, his little eyes fluttering.
Bella rocked him until he relaxed once more. “He’s beautiful, Daisy.”
Daisy beamed at her, and then asked, “Would you consider becoming his godmother?”
“Yes!” She managed to get out of the chair and place Rhys beside Daisy, before giving her a big hug. “I’ve never been a godmother before, but I promise to be the best one Rhys ever had.”
The door opened, and Liam walked inside, a smile on his handsome face. “Sorry to bother you, but I could not wait a minute longer to meet my godson.” His gaze bounced from Bella to Daisy, and then back to Bella again. Her heart slammed against her chest. He didn’t look upset at all to see her.
In fact, he looked like nothing was wrong with him at all.
“That’s okay,” she said, not meeting his eyes anymore. “I was just leaving.”
“Bella, you don’t—”
“Have to leave,” Liam finished for Daisy. “I’ll go.”
She heard the door shut, but she refused to check to see if he was still in the room.
“He’s gone,” Daisy said, a note of disapproval in her voice. But Bella knew it was reserved for Liam. “Too much of a coward to actually stay.”
“Yeah, well, I wasn’t exactly brave either,” Bella pointed out miserably.
“Do you want to go after him?” Daisy asked.
Did she want to go after him? Did she want to swallow her pride again? Hadn’t she been the one to text him first? Hadn’t she been the one to text him again and again?
No, she wouldn’t make the first move this time. Liam would.
And until he did, her plans remained the same.
“No, I’m not going after him.”
Daisy patted her hand. “Maybe he needs more time.”
“Time is not on his side,” Bella said softly.
Bella gave Liam a few more days to answer her, and when he didn’t, she emailed the head of the mission’s board to let her know that she could go early.
The next day, Bella boarded a plane. She didn’t glance back one time to see if Liam would show up.
She glanced back at least a dozen times, maybe more. Hoping that he would storm through the gates, take her in his arms, and say that he forgave her. Then he would ask for her forgiveness, which she would give, and they would reunite the way couples who worked through their problems did.
None of that happened.
Liam’s phone buzzed, and he immediately snatched it up.
Bella: I have landed.
“Damn it,” he muttered.
She’d actually gone through with it. She’d actually left him. Not that he was innocent in the situation. Far from it.
The word was on constant repeat in his head. Well, she had certainly listened. He threw back the rest of his scotch and set the glass down.
If you want to come by to talk, let me know.