Keeping her, he fiercely, and silently, told himself, wasn’t an option, not then and not now. He liked his own company, liked the freedom of not being tied down to a woman, a place, city or town. If he wanted to he could leave New York and go to Delhi or Djibouti; he could go anywhere. Lachlyn would be fine. He would sell or rent his space and he could take off. He could only do that because he was free of commitments; he didn’t have another person to consider, someone else’s feelings and wishes to take into account.
He wouldn’t have to explain...
Maybe when Sage was back to full strength, he’d backpack for a couple of months. He could travel, only coming home a week or two before the baby was due to be born.
But then, he thought as he lowered Sage into the back seat of the waiting taxi, he’d miss seeing Sage’s tummy grow with life, would miss the ultrasound scans, the doctor’s visits. Could he do that? Could he leave?
He so badly wanted to say yes, to be convinced that she would be fine, but uncertainty twisted his stomach, his gut instinct insisting that he wasn’t going anywhere, that he was going to see this process through.
So no Delhi or Djibouti then. That was okay, Tyce thought as he took the seat next to Sage. He could deal.
* * *
Much later that afternoon Sage’s eyes fluttered open and she pulled in the familiar scent of her apartment... She was home, in a bed. Rolling over, she yelped. Every inch of her body was sore, from the back of her head to her shoulders, her damned tailbone, her legs. Her wrist throbbed. Glancing down at her cast, she sucked in an astonished gasp. Her plaster cast was no longer white but filled with miniature portraits, all wickedly accurate. Linc, Jaeger, Beck, Jo, Connor—God, Connor’s picture looked so like him, his patrician face wearing a huge smile. Tyce had sketched her nephews, her niece. Her brother’s partners. She could see that they’d been drawn quickly but, quick or not, they were fantastic. It was another reminder that Tyce was phenomenally talented...
“I was bored.”
Sage’s eyes shot up to see Tyce leaning against the half wall that separated the spare bedroom from the rest of the apartment. Uncomfortable with Tyce carrying her up the narrow staircase to her bedroom, she’d told him she’d be fine in the spare.
She immediately noticed the smudges of charcoal on his white T-shirt and faded jeans. Sage traced the outline of Connor’s face with her finger, happy to see that the lines didn’t blur. “They are fantastic. How did you seal them to stop them from smudging?”
“There was a tin of clear lacquer under your workbench.” Tyce shrugged. “Thanks to your obsession with framing photographs, I managed to get them all.”
“They are amazing. How long did they take you to do?”
Tyce shrugged. “Not long. I would’ve been quicker but you kept distracting me.”
She distracted him? How on earth? “I was asleep when you did this!” she protested.
“You’ve always been beautiful but I’d never watched you sleep before. You’re simply stunning,” Tyce said, sounding utterly sincere.
Sexual awareness arced between them and Sage pushed her fingers into her hair, thinking that it felt odd to wake up with someone in her home. She felt a little self-conscious, a tiny bit awkward but, mostly, having Tyce in her apartment made her feel protected, cared for. Safe.
Safe? Not possible, Sage thought. She hadn’t felt safe for years, not truly safe, not since before her parents were alive. She was misreading what she was feeling; she had to be because safe wasn’t something she expected to feel, would allow herself to feel, ever again.
Either way, it was time she stopped.
Sage rolled onto her back and winced, using her good arm to push up. In a flash Tyce was at her side, strong arms helping her up the bed so that she could lean against her headboard. He disappeared into the bathroom and came back with a glass of water and two pills. “Acetaminophen—they’ll take the edge off.”
“Thanks.” Sage took the pills, threw them into her mouth and chased them down with a long pull of water. Right, it was time to take back control. She needed her home back, some distance between her and whatever she was feeling for Tyce.